Crouched in the shadow of the Western Ghats, 28km west of Nasik, the village of Trimbak – literally “Three-Eyed”, another name for Lord Shiva, in Marathi – marks the spot where one of the four infamous drops of immortality-giving amrita nectar fell to earth from the kumbh vessel during the struggle between Vishnu’s vehicle Garuda and the Demons – the mythological origin of the Kumbh Mela. Among India’s most sacred Shiva centres (it houses one of the twelve holiest Shiva temples, known as jyotirlingas), the Trimbakeshwar Mandir, in the centre of the village, is closed to non-Hindus. Its impressive eighteenth-century shikhara, however, can be glimpsed from the backstreets nearby.
Trimbak is also close to the source of one of India’s longest and most venerated rivers, the Godavari; the spring can be reached via an ancient trail that cuts through a cleft in an awesome, guano-splashed cliff face. The round trip to Brahmagiri, the source of the Godavari, takes between two and three hours. It’s a strenuous walk, particularly in the heat, so take enough water.