The word ‘Godavari’ literally means granting water to kine. It is divided in two regions of Dakhsinapatha, the region of trap, in the north granitic and calcareous country in the south.
The very name Godavari rings like the symphony of great culture shared by the southern people. Godavari is a river; however, it is more than a geographical entity. It carries some-thing more than long-history of spiritual pursuits, a flowing sequence of the joys and sorrows of the people, not only those living on its banks but also those who traverse long distances to get a glimpse of the river, to take a dip in its waters and to immerse the ashes of their near and dear ones into it, so that they become a part of the Godavari. The River is a stream of eternity. It is therefore the river of the gods.
One of its sources springs from a hill behind the holy spot of Triambak named after the god Shiva, lies 18 miles west of Nashik. Here is shown the “Gomukha- Cow Mouth” where the water drips down from a lofty cliff through a stone-cow’s moth. A larger branch takes its rise in the ridge that joins the Triambak and Brahma mountains. The temple of Triambakeswara, cast of the town, was constructed by Balaji-Baji Rao, the third peshwa (1740-1761) standing in a stone enclosure, with a portico which is the music gallery, the shrine reached by steps, encloses a shivalinga, the ninth of the 12 great lingas of India. A flight of 690 steps up the Triambakeswara leads to the source of Godavari.
Nashik, the Nasika of Ptolemy, has developed on the banks of the river Godavari, a series of Buddhist caves of Satavahana times datable from second century BC to sixth century AD notable for the inscriptions dealing the genealogy of that dynasty. The city is divided into panchavati and Topovan. There are nearly 200 temples in Nashik famous for the holiness of the Godavari, by Panchavati being regarded as the place the exile of Rama for years.
South-west of Nashik a group of 24 Hinayana Buddhist caves excavated of these caves, cave no.3 and 18 are the most important. In cave No. 21, the third largest vihara, is a colossal seated image of the Buddha, 10 feet high, attended by two chauri-bearers.
The ancient city of Pratishtanapoura, the celebrated abode of the gods, situated 28 miles south of Aurangabad, established by the legendry Salivahana, the founder of the Satavahana dynasty. He initiated Saka era in 78 AD. In his reign Paithan, became a great centre of trade, visited by Greek merchants in 200-300 BC Asoka’s 14th rock edict second century BC mentions the inhabitants of Pratistanapura.
Paithan has been a great religious centre from early times and the birth place of eminent saints, Bhanudas, Eknath and Muktesvar, revered even today. The temple, which housed the throne of Salivahana has been supplanted by a mosque built by Aurangzeb, another mosque was constructed by a Maulana Sahib where a shrine to Renuka Devi existed.
In 1604, the marriage of prince Daniyal, the son of the emperor Akbar, to the daughter of the king of Bijapur, was celebrated at Paithan.
The river Godavari, after traversing the district of Parbhani, enters the town of Nanded on the bank of the Godavari, whose name is derived from Nandi, the mount of Shiva, is believed to have performed penance, whose name changed later into Nanded, nine rishis known as Nand-tat. According to another account the term Nanded, formed the boundary of the nine Nanda rulers of empire of Magadha. One mile from the railway station is a gurudwara, containing the tomb of Guru Govind, the last of the 10 gurus who was assassinated near Nanded in 1708 AD
After flowing for about 113 kms on the northern boundary of the Nizamabad district, the Godavari is joined by its chief tributary, the Manjira, 16 kms from Bodhan, stands Kandukurti on the border between Maharastra and Telangana. The temple of Srirama here is held in great reverence.
At the ancient village of Basara, on the banks of the Godavari, 28 kms from Nizamabad – is one of the temple dedicated to the goddess Saraswati. Another temple is at Kashmir. According to Brahmandapurana, the poet Valmiki, the celebrated author of Ramayana epic was established this temple Basara. On the south of the courtyard of the temple is a tank, by the side of which is the Samadhi pointed out to be Valmiki’s. The deity here is greatly revered by her votaries from far and near who throng here mainly to initiate their children in to the alphabet.
An ancient village on the west bank of the Godavari amidst a dense forest, Dharmapuri, 36 miles from Jagitial in the Karimnagar district is celebrated as the abode of the god Narasimhasvami.
The God Narasimha here is seated in yogic form other deities sculptured in the temple comprise Brahma, Yama, Muralikrishna and Balarama. Adjacent to the Narasimha temple are those of Ramalingesvara the linga of sand stone and Shiva and saptamatrikas are famous. Dharmapuri is famous as a seat of vedic studies, for centuries it has produced out great Sanskrit scholars.
Some 37 miles from Karimnagar on the right bank of the Godavari, is Kotilingala called form a mud fortress, with brick bastions dated to Satavahana times. At stambalapalli (village of columns) two miles away, were discovered brick built walls, besides two Buddhist stupas a total of 800 coins out of which the earliest, 38 of Samagopa, 10 of Gobhada and Bhagabhadra of local rulers displaced by the Satavahanas. Eight coins of Simuka, the founder of Satavahana dynasty were unearthed here at Kotilingala.
Kalesvaram, an ancient Saivite centre, lies on the south bank of the river Godavari at its confluence with the Pranahita united with Winaganga in Karimnagar district. Many ancient temples such as Venkatesvara, Saraswati, Bindumadhava, Chandrasekhara, Sangamesvara, Mukteswara and Somesvara are most important. Kalesvaram is one of the Jyotirlinga of Shiva one of the three (trilinga), the others at Srisailam and Draksharama. The Telugu country called Trilinga.
Situated on the left bank of the Godavari, 35 kms from Bhadrachalam lies parnasala, a noted pilgrim centre where Rama with Sita and Lakshmana is believed to have stayed towards the end of his exile in Dandakaranya.
Bhadrachalam, sanctified by the sojourn of Rama during his long banishment, and renowned for its temple consecrated to the god, stands on the left ban of the river Godavari, 26 kms from Dummugudem in the Khammam district. It was here that Srirama is said to have crossed the river on his journey to Sri Lanka in quest of Sita. Bhadrachalam takes its name from Bhadra, a sage, who attained his deliverance by from Rama.
The temple was constructed by a great devotee of Rama, Kancharla Gopanna (Ramadas), by diversion of the revenues of the Qutub Shahi Sultan of Golconda, Abul Hasan Tanasha. According to legend Ramadas was released from the prison by Rama. Here the image of Rama known as Chaturbuja Rama, Sita, Lakshmana are exquisite pieces of sculpture. The annual Sri Rama Festival attracts thousands of devotees from all over the country.
Pattisam is situated at a distance of 4 kms from Polavaram and 26 kms from Kovvur Railway Station in West Godavari District. It is one of the ancient and sacred places of south India and picturesquely situated on the Devakuta Parvatam overlooking the Papi Kondalu (Hills), in the heart of the river Gautami, a branch of the Godavari. Due to Saivite and Vaishnavite shrines of Virabhadra and Bhavanarayana respectively gains religious importance.
It is one of the five famous Saivite Kshetrams known as Pancha Kasi Kshetrams in India, the other four being Srisailam, Kasi (Banaras), Kedareswara and Srikalahasti. Apart from the religious sanctity attached to this place, it is a good scenic and picnic spot of some tourist interest. Pattisam Kshetram attracts thousands of pilgrims on the annual day of Shivaratri.
This village was previously known as ‘Govur’ lies on the right bank of the river, facing Rajahmundry on its left bank. The sage Gautama is believed to have done penance here for bringing down Godavari and established temple for Varada Gopala Swamy. Of the several temples in the town, the temple of Radhakrishna is the most famous.
Rajahmundry on the left bank of the river Godavari owes its origin to the Vengi Chalukya ruler Raja Raja Narendra in 1022 AD and is variously called, after him, Raja Raja Narendravaram, Rajamahendravaram. But the city Rajamahendrapuram city was built by the Ammaraju II of Vengi Chalukya.
The celebrated Nannaya Bhatta translated the Sanskrit Mahabharata into Telugu language, the poet laureate.
Kandukuri Veeresalingam, famous writer and social reformer, Damerla Ramarao, the renowned painter hailed from Rajahmundry.The Godavari is crossed here by Asia’s longest rail cum road bridge 2,743 meters long of 27 spans of 100 feet raising to 75 feet above the water level.
Of the Navajanardanams, of Narapratishta, Dhavalesvaram, seven kilometres south of Rajahmundry, is the most important. The temple of Janardana on a hill nearly, Dhavalagiri (the white hill), is celebrated, spoken of in the Gautami Mahatyam, and renowned as a seat of Vedic learning.
A fort, Yomagiri (Vemagiri) was constructed on the mound by the Vengi-Chalukya king Vijayaditya.
A remarkable anicut across the Godavari was constructed here in 1850 by Sir Arthur Cotton who conferred the boon of inestimable fertility on both East and West Godavari districts and is still regarded as Delta Silpi.
Standing on the banks of the Vasishta, about 13 kms from Tanuku in the West Godavari, it is notable for its temple of Markandesvara, Mukundesvara, of five Shiva lingas, a rare phenomenon, giving Khandavalli its other name Pancha Lingala Kshetram.
Narsapur is situated at a distance of 56 kms from Nidadavolu and about 128 kms from Eluru. The town is picturesquely situated on the right bank of the Godavari about 10 kms from the sea. The place is famous for settlements of the Dutch, French and British. The inscriptions in the Madanagopala temple testify to the existence of this place from 1173 AD. It was used as a port by the Dutch and ships and boats were built here. Narsapur lace work commands a good market in USA, England and France. Here the Kapila, Mallesvara and Madanagopala temples are most important.
Kotipalli lays 38 kms from Kakinada at picturesque banks of the Godavari. By tradition, Indra for his misconduct with Ahalya established a linga here and was bathing it with water a crore times, becoming Kotisvara.
Remains of a Buddhist Mahastupa were discovered in 1925 at Adurru, near Nagaram in Razole taluk of the East Godavari. The village lies on the west bank of the Vainateya branch of Godavari River 10 kms from the sea. The excavations were conducted in 1925 and 1953 to the east of the Vainateya on a high mound, Dubaraju Gudi, despoiled by the local Zamindar, uncovered a great stupa 17 feet across, structured as a wheel in cross-section. Other important finds at the site of the Maha-stupa were foundations of dormitories for monks in a ‘vihara’ and in them, copper coins of the Satavahanas from the first century BC to the second century AD and a lead coin of Gautami Putra Satakarni.
This village is located in the Tadepalligudem sub-division of West Godavari revealed the remains of a large vihara, with two small stupas and Mahachaitya. At Pedda Lanja Dibba, the ruins of buildings, two relic caskets were discovered at the site.
Situated 10 kms from Narsapur, at the point where the Vasisht discharges into the sea, known as the Sapta Sagar Sangamam, with the river Raktakulya to the north, stands the holy pilgrim centre of Antarvedi, the Varanasi of the South (Dakshina Kasi), the Chakra Tirtha, the most important of the seven sanctified bathing places. The Lakshminarasimha temple here was re-established in 1825 after the original shrine was submerged in the Bay of Bengal.
Positioned on the Gautami at the point where the Coringa canal takes off, 26 kms from Ramachandrapuram in the East Godavari. Alamuru is like Kapileswarapuram in its vicinity, one of the Nava Janardhanas where the temple is consecrated to the deity of Janardana. The nearby village, Chintaluru, is famous for the Ayurvedic medicines.
Pilgrims across the country have flocked to pushkaralu in the Godavari river, this tirtha for centuries as a holy place located at the confluence of tributaries, with plenty of water, had the purifying element Godavari stands at the very centre of south has hailed the Daskhina Kasi of Varanasi (Benaras).
But today, what is happening to the material form of our rivers by way of pollution caused by man. Is this the way to show one’s gratitude to the eternal mother? All efforts so far have been eyewash. It is high time that we realised that the Godavari is carrying power both spiritually and physically is diminishing. And the guilt lies with man. Modern man believes in indiscreet exploitation on natural resources and has no spiritual attitude. This attitude has to change.
On the banks of the Godavari, in the east Godavari district are nine temples in which a traditional style of dance Navajanardhana- Parijatam also called Bhamakalapam is performed at Dhavalesvaram, Mandapeta, Jonnada, Madii, Alamuru, Kapilesvara Puram, Korumilli and Kotipalli. The dance from derives from the episode in the life of Krishna Navajanardana parijatam is performed in nine temples. Raja of Pithapuram had patronised this art form. The revived dance form has propagated by the Natyacharya, Nataraja Ramakrishna.
Dr P Joginaidu