Located on the banks of the holy Godavari River, Nasik (or Nashik) derives its name from the episode in the Ramayana where Lakshmana, Rama’s brother, hacked off the nasika (nose) of Ravana’s sister, the demon enchantress Surpanakha. True to its name, the town is an absorbing place, and you can’t walk far without discovering yet another exotic temple or colourful bathing ghat that references the Hindu epic.
Adding to Nasik’s spiritual flavour is the fact that the town serves as a base for pilgrims visiting Trimbak (33km west) and Shirdi (79km southeast), once home to the original Sai Baba. Every 12 years, Nasik also plays host to the grand Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering on Earth, which shuttles between four Indian religious centres on a triennial basis. The next congregation in Nasik is due in 2015.
Mahatma Gandhi Rd, better known as MG Rd, a few blocks north of the Old Central bus stand, is Nasik’s commercial hub. The temple-lined Godavari flows through town just east of here.