destination india

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

on the banks of the godavari

Originating in the mountains of the Brahmagiri in Trimbakeswar, the Godavari wends its way through the Deccan plateau and flows into the Bay of Bengal, bisecting the country into two halves. Starting as a trickle, it grows from strength to strength till its confluence in the Indian Ocean and, the first important city on the banks of this mighty river is Nasik (also called as Nashik). Till thirty-six years ago, Nasik was known to the outside world more as a pilgrimage center where kumbhmela was held once every twelve years.

I arrived in Nasik in 1967 – just one year before the kumbhmela of 1968. I was employed in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and, whilst I stayed in Deolali, my work place was in Ojhar – a distance of nearly 30 Kms.. I used to travel by our company bus and, the only memory I have of the 1968 mela was that I had to get myself inoculated since the bus would travel touching Nasik. The inoculation was a precaution against spread of epidemics. The next kumbhmela that I witnessed was in 1980. I am not much of a believer in the fact that just by immersing oneself in the waters of the Godavari, one can wash off all of ones sins! Moreover, I was still a young man and my idea of cleansing oneself of sins was not commensurate with the thinking of others. Therefore, I did not involve myself much. However, in the next kumbhmela in 1992 I decided that enough was enough. Staying in Nasik and not witnessing the kumbhmela was an unpardonable offence like visiting Paris and not taking in the Eiffel Tower. My relatives saw the makings of Satan in me. A non believer in the Holy Scriptures deserved to be isolated in Society. Hence, throwing caution to the winds, I prepared to take the plunge. And, what a plunge it was!!

People from all over the country come here to participate in kumbhmela. But, today, there is the added incentive of participation in a very different kind of mela – the mela of Industries, the mela of IT revolution. Thirty-six years ago, one had enough leisure time to relax on the banks of the Godavari, atop the Hill Temple or amidst the Pandu caves. The only worthwhile industrial activity in those days was confined to the village of Ojhar, situated approximately 30 Kms. from the Railway station, where an aircraft factory was being set up to manufacture the sophisticated MiG class of fighters. And, of course, the India Security Press which printed currency notes and the Government of India Press which printed Stationary. The villages of Ambad and Satpur were not even in the map of the Nasik of the sixties.

Times have changed. Several million cusecs of water have flown down the Godavari since then.

Nasik today is a tremendously busy industrial center, which does not have time to even sleep. Fairly well connected by road and rail, industries are localized in the two villages of Ambad and Satpur in Nasik and Sinnar on the Pune highway. Sanction has also been granted for the setting up of STPs (Software Technology Parks) under the aegis of MIDC. The wide range of Industries, which have found permanent footholds and have become the pride of Nasik, range from Plastics to Transmission Towers. Some products have become household names like VIP suitcases and MICO spark plugs. And, to cater to the needs of people who have migrated to this part of the world, any number of eateries, shops and such subsidiary establishments have mushroomed all over the city. Not to mention a full fledged Engineering College and a Medical College. To meet the continuously rising demands of local transportation, bus routes are being extended and new ones are being introduced. Even then, during peak hours, one will have to, more often than not, travel standing. A situation which the old timers could never have imagined!

This tiny hamlet town of Nasik, situated less than 200 Kms. from Mumbai, the financial capital of the country, is poised for even further growth. Its wonderful environment used to, once upon a time, attract vacationers. Today, it attracts entrepreneurs.


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