In India, a river does not merely serve the purpose of irrigating the fields. They are also considered to be of extreme religious significance. Infact, they are worshipped as Goddesses and numerous festivals and rituals are celebrated on the banks of these revered rivers. Apart from Ganga and Yamuna, Godavari also holds the exceptional religious importance in India. Godavari is one of the sacred rivers in India. According to the Puranas, River Ganga should only be visited after the visit to the Godavari. There are several pilgrimage places on the banks of the river Godavari. The major spot of pilgrimage is Trimbakeshwar, the ancient temple of Lord Shiva. Nanded Takht Sri Hazur Sahib is one of the sacred places among the Sikhs, while Bhadrachalam is the temple of Lord Rama and many more.
Godavari is sometimes referred to as the 'Ganga of the South'. After every twelve years, a major bathing festival held is called as Pushkaram held on the banks of the Godavari River. Scores of people take a holy dip in the sacred waters of Godavari to cleanse themselves of all their sins. Some of the well-known personalities who took bath in its holy water include Baladeva 5000 years ago and the saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu 500 years ago.
Legends associated with Godavari River
As per mythology, Godavari, one of the most sacred rivers of India, is believed to be the sister of Ganga. It is believed to have originated from the "jata" of Lord Shiva, while he was meditating on Mount Kailash.
A legend has it that the Sage Gautama lived in the Brahmagiri Hills at Trimbakeshwar with his wife Ahalya. The Rishi kept his stock of rice in a granary. Once, a cow entered his granary and ate up the rice. When the Rishi tried to ward the cow away with Durbha grass, it fell dead. The cow is considered as an extremely holy animal in Hinduism. The Rishi wished to atone for the sin of Gohatya - killing a sacred cow. He prayed to Lord Shiva and requested him to divert the river Ganges to purify his hermitage. Lord Shiva was pleased with the Rishi so appeared in his Trimbaka manifestation and diverted the river Ganges to flow past his homestead. Satisfied with the devotion of Sage Gautama, Lord Shiva also gave some water from his Kamandalu. When the waters of the just descended Godavari River flowed over the dead cow, Sage Gautama sprinkled the water Lord Shiva had given him and the dead cow came back to life. Thus, Sage Gautama was redeemed of all his sins. Ganga was brought down to Trimbakeshwar by Sage Gautama, she is known here as Gautami. It is also known as Godavari, since the river helped Gautama to relieve him off Gohatya.
It is also believed that a childless woman conceives a child when she drinks the holy waters of the River Godavari.
As per another legend, at Panchavati, located in Nashik on the banks of the River Godavari, Lakshman (brother of Rama) had cut off the nose of Surpanakha (Sister of Ravana). Both Rama and Lakshmana are believed to have taken the ritualistic bath in Godavari, upon hearing about the demise of their father, King Dasharatha.
Another legend has it that Sage Gautama was married to the very beautiful Ahalya. Lord Indra upon learning about her beauty had lusted for her. To get closer to her, Lord Indra disguised himself as Sage Gautama and embraced her. Upon seeing this, the angry sage cursed Ahalya to turn into stone and also cursed Lord Indra to a life full of diseases. The curse to Ahalya was later absolved by Lord Rama. After severe and extreme penance, the curse to Lord Indra was absolved when he took a dip in the holy waters of Godavari. The River Godavari was brought down upon the earth to end the curse of Lord Indra.
Pilgrimages near Godavari River
The banks of Godavari River consist of several pilgrimage sites. They are as listed below.
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