Panchavati is a very important place in the Ramayana. It was the place chosen by Lord Rama to stay during his exile from Ayodhya. It was a beautiful place. It got its name from five banyan trees growing there, which are known as ‘vati’ in the local language. Panch Vati means five banyan trees. The River Godavari flowed nearby. Events that happened there led up to Lord Rama’s war with the forces of Ravana, king of Lanka.
While Rama, Lakshman and Sita were living there, Ravana’s sister Shoorpanaka visited them, and troubled them. Lakshman cut off her nose, and this led to a battle between Lord Rama and Lakshmana and two of Shoorpanaka’s brothers and their supporters. Finally, Ravana decided to kidnap Sita. His uncle took the form of a deer, which attracted Sita. Lord Rama went to get it for her, and Lakshman was also tricked into leaving her alone. Ravana then took Sita away. Lord Rama, Lakshman and their friends went after Ravana, and in the war that followed, Ravana was defeated and killed, and Lanka was destroyed.
Panchavati is located close to the city now known as Nasik, in Maharashtra. There are still five banyan trees there, believed to be the same ones which were there during Lord Rama’s time.
There is a Kala Ram temple there, and a cave named ‘Sita Gufa’ where Sita is believed to have spent time. The place named Tapovan is where Lakshman is believed to have cut off Shoorpanaka’s nose.
There are several large statues in Panchavati of Lord Rama and other important people in the Ramayana, giving a sense of the importance of the place. It is a very interesting place to visit.