Nanded is a Sikh Pilgrimage city in Nanded district of Maharashtra. It is known as Nanded Gurudwara or Hazur Sahib Nanded. Guru Govind Sing Ji named this city Abchalnagar which means the reliable city. Nanded or Abchalnagar and its outskirts have a lot to offer to the seekers. So ‘Footlooseinme’ will take you to Nanded for a devotional tour and a soulful escape to its lush and green surroundings.
I had a list of places to see in Nanded on my mind when we started our drive from Pune. It was a pretty long drive. The road to Ahmednagar (as expected) was more or less congested. Later the busy road made its way to reasonably empty roads within the green farms. I was pleasantly surprised to see so much greenery around. I did not expect to witness so much vegetation in the Marathwada region known for its irregularity of monsoon rains.
Vast stretches of farms were lush with soybean and cotton plants while there were other large trees in between them. They act as the cover crop and also help in maintaining the groundwater level. Soybean and Cotton being the major crops of the Beed and Nanded district we could see them throughout our drive. Yes, we also saw a lot of Sweet Lime orchards in between and the trees were all laden with fruits.
Local villagers were sitting outside such farms to sell fresh fruits to the travellers. We could not resist the temptation and bought some farm fresh Sweet Limes and Guavas. The Sweet Limes did not meet our expectations but the Guavas were very sweet and juicy. We thought to ourselves that these Sweet Limes must be the pre-harvest crop so they were not as tasty as expected. After a long yet pleasant drive, we reached our hotel in Nanded.
Our stay at Nanded was just outside the city beside the bypass road and we were thankful for this (you will come to know why). Hazur Sahib Nanded was in the first place on my list. The same evening we headed for the Nanded Gurudwara (also known as Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib) when we got the opportunity to explore the Nanded city. We were perplexed at the very beginning as the city turned out to be very busy with highly crowded roads and messy traffic.
A little distance took us around half an hour and we reached Hazur Sahib Nanded. It was within an even busy area of the city with lots of people visiting the Hazur Sahib. A handsome white horse was kept in front of the main entrance, and many enthusiasts were getting themselves clicked with the horse. We covered our heads and entered the Gurudwara premises. Hazur Sahib Nanded was built where the tenth and the last Sikh guru, Guru Govind Singh left his Earthly abode.
The main gurudwara building within the complex is known as Sach-Khand (meaning Realm of Truth). The inner scantorum of the gurudwara is known as Angitha Sahib which is built over the place where Guru Govind Singh was cremated. Gurudwara Nanded is one of the five ‘Takhats’ in India. ‘Takhats’ or ‘Takhts’ are the most holy places of the Sikhs. Sri Akal Takht Sahib at Amritsar, Takhat Sri Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur, Takhat Sri Patna Sahib in Bihar and Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda, Punjab are the other four Takhats in India. (Read my previous post on Golden Temple and the Sri Akal Takht.)
Govind Das (later known as Guru Gobind Singh Ji) was born on 22nd December 1666 in Patna Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa community (the warrior clan) of Sikhs and introduced the five articles of faith also known as the Five Ks. This is considered the basis of the Sikh way of living for the Khalsas. The Five Ks are the five items that the Khalsa Sikhs wear all the time – Kesh (uncut hair and beard), Kanga (a wooden comb), Kara (a steel or iron bangle), Kachera (an undergarment) and Kripan (a small iron or steel sword).
Govind Das was made the tenth Sikh Guru after the death of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur. He was beheaded on the orders of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb for refusing to convert to Islam and the ongoing dispute between the Sikhs and the Mughals. Guru Govind Singh continued this fight against the Mughals for the rest of his life. He finalised the manuscript of Guru Granth Sahib (the holy scripture of Sikhism) and also declared this text to be the final and eternal Sikh Guru.
After many battles with the Mughals, Guru Govind Singh was assassinated by two Afghans sent by Wazir Khan the commander of the Mughal army against whom the Guru had fought several battles. The Guru was on his way to meet Bahadur Shah I after the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb when the assassins secretly attacked Guru Govind Singh. The assassins were killed but the Guru succumbed to his severe wounds a few days after the attack in Nanded.
Guru Gobind Sing Ji while transferring the guruship to the Guru Granth Sahib, named the city of Nanded as Abchalnagar which means the Steadfast city. Later the Sikhs built a platform in the same place where Guru Govind Ji used to sit while holding his court in Nanded. They called it the holy Takhat or the Takht and installed the Guru Granth Sahib on it. Maharaja Ranjit Singh built the Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Gurudwara between 1832 and 1837.
This was the long story short of Gurudwara Nanded. After our evening visit to this grand historical as well as religious monument, we returned to our stay just outside the busy city premises. In this short trip within the city, we realised that a lot of road work was in process here. We are going to have a tough time the next day. I already had a few places to see in Nanded on my mind. Among them, I saw the Hajur Sahib Gurudwara but was sceptical about the rest (the Khandar Fort, the ruins of the Nanded Fort, Isapur Dam, Kaleshwar Temple and Shastrakund waterfalls) sighting the road conditions.
A few kilometres outside the city is the Khandar Fort in Khandar. This fort was built by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III of Malkheda in the 10th century. The remains of the fort by the banks of the Manyad River was my next destination. Thankfully, before we started for this place we came to know that it was closed.
So we went to the other side and this place was quite far from the city. The Sahastrakund or Sahasrakund waterfall is located at a distance of 100 Km from Nanded. The Painganga River originating from the Ajantha range of hills in Aurangabad District travels a long distance and is joined by many tributaries as it reaches here. The river cascades down from a height of 50 ft to form this beautiful waterfall.
The Sahastrakund waterfall is often called the Niagra waterfall of Maharashtra. This waterfall is situated within the lush green forested area of Islapur. This mighty river waterfall is a major tourist attraction here. A walking platform is constructed for the tourists that projects out facing the plunge giving a spectacular sight of the falls. After this drop, the Penganga or the Painganga River flows along with its other tributaries to finally drain into the Godavari River.
The visit to Sahasrakund Waterfalls was refreshing and energizing and then we were on the way back to Nanded. Again through the beautiful green roads, we reached the horrible roads and the journey became unending. Our visit to Nanded coincided with the mending season. Road work was going on on every road within the city as well as the highways outside the city. The bad bumpy roads took us a very long time to reach the Kaleshwar Temple. We were so tired of the road conditions that we dropped our plan to go to any other place and return to our stay in Nanded after this spot.
The Kaleshwar temple is located on the bank of the Godavari River. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. After the long dusty drive, we relaxed for some time on the bank of the river in the afternoon before heading back to our stay. Returning to the city was again a tough job. This time along with the bad roads there was another obstacle: the vegetable market. It was the weekly market day and our approach road to the hotel was completely blocked because of the market.
Numerous fruit, vegetable and other vendors set up their makeshift stalls by the road and it was next to impossible to drive through this patch. With a lot of hardship and taking a large amount of time we safely managed to cross the market patch on the road. On returning to the hotel we promised not to get out of the hotel anymore before we checked out.
Finally, the next day we checked out and through the bypass road, we safely bypassed the bad roads and the busy city to get back on the highway. We returned from Nanded with the hope that the road works will be over soon and the city and surroundings will have wonderful roads for a smooth drive. Again through our favourite green fields of Soyabean, Cotton and Sweet Limes, we drove back to Ahmednagar. Taking a small break at Ahmednagar we returned back to our home in Pune.