I have visited Nashik many a time, sometimes for music festivals, sometimes for conferences and other times as a tourist. But every time I am here, I get to see a new side of this city. From ghats bathing in evening luminescence to days putting a spotlight on century-old carvings, Nashik never fails to intrigue my interest. The city has a magnetic pull that lures you into exploring its sensational landmarks. On a recent visit to Nashik, I got drawn to the Buddhist Stupa, the Buddha Vihar that pretty much marks the entrance to the 1st-century Pandavleni Caves.
The uber dropped me off at the large green gate that marks the entrance to Dadasaheb Phalke Memorial, Buddha Vihar and the ancient Pandavleni Caves. To visit Dadasaheb Phalke Memorial, one must purchase tickets from the ground level counter, whereas for Pandavleni, you first need to climb 300 stone stairs to reach the ticket counter. In between, you have Buddha Vihar, a venue that offers free, 10-minute short visits to the visiting guests. Buddha Vihar is Nashik’s way of honouring each Buddhist monk that contributed to the foundation of the Pandavleni Caves.
The Vihar is typically a stupa housing a giant Golden Buddha. However, to get inside the Stupa, you first need to remove your shoes and walk a short blistering-hot or icy cold trail to get to the main entrance. This path is composed of stone tiles, and so the floor is ‘extremely’ hot during summers and equally chilly in the winter. Once you are near the Vihar entrance, a curvacious hallway will guide you into its house of Buddha. Positively, one of the most beautiful Buddha idols I have seen until today.
On the inside, Buddha Vihar Stupa is a silent zone that restricts guests from making any noise and even limits the visit by 10-15 minutes. I was greeted, by the temple staff, who was prompt to request me to switch off my mobile phone and maintain silence. He did let me take a few pictures of the Buddha idol, though! I typically love Stupas for their well-thought design, and this one right here is capable of echoing even the most-feeble sounds. The reason why you are expected, to remain silent! Irrespective of the worldly constraints, this domed structure evinces calm like no other.
While here, I learnt that this Buddhist Stupa is a tribute to the history of Buddhism that dominates Nashik ever since the first century. In the olden days, stupas were built in stone to mark important dates and note the importance of the Buddhist relics. With time, most stupas have perished, except the ones in Gaya, Sanchi and Amaravati that still stand as Incredible India’s most sought-after architectural remains. Nashik being no exception, now that it is home to an equally magnificent Buddha Vihar.
I would have loved to spend more time here but, after 15-minutes, I had to say goodbye to this impeccable dome, only to commence an onward journey to Pandavleni Caves. When in Nashik, you ‘simply can’t miss this house of peace!