Ramnavmi Rathayatra which Nashik City mainly knows as Trith shetra, is the place where Lord Ramachandra stayed for more than 12 years in the area known as Panchavati. The Janmotsava of Lord Ramachandra begins from the first day of Chaitra till the Chaitra Poornima, spanning 15 days.
The Janmotsava takes place exactly at 1200hrs (in the noon) when thousands of piligrims are present on this holy occassion. This janmotsav is celebrated by the Sansthan Shri Kalaram Mandir, Panchavati every year.
Another attraction of Janmotsava is on the 2nd day of Navmi when the Rathyatra starts from the east door of the temple moving through the city of Nashik. The Rathyathra starts at about 4.30 p.m. with the Shri Ramrath and Shri Garuda Rath.
We are aware that Shri Hanuman was the parmabhakt (foremost disciple) of Lord Rama and that is why the the first rath in the fair is Garud Rath. The second Rath is that of Lord Rama.
The Ramrath is a heavy Rath and was prepared by Shrimant Peshwan in the year 1785 and handedover to Sardar, Sardar Raste Rs.200/- was granted per year to look after the lighting, repairing and other expenses incurred at the time of Utsava, which, with the passage of time has increased.
The management of the Ramrath was handed over to Raste Akhada, Panchavati. The volunteers of this Akhada took full responsibility of this Rath.
The other Rath i.e., Garud rath belongs to Sansthan Shri Kalaram Mandir. This Rath is slightly smaller than Ramrath both by height and weight. The management of this Garud Rath on the particular day of the Rath Yatra is handled by Shri Ahilya Ram Vayam Shala.
The volunteers and students of the Ahilya Ram Vayam Shala help out on this auspicious day. Theleadership of the Garud Rath was given to Late Digambar Dixit till the year 1940. Under his able guidance the Rath Yatra was conducted in a disciplined manner without any incident, except once whenhe had to save the life of one of the piligrims. It resulted in the wheel of the Chariot going through his thigh. He succumbed to his injuries after 5 days.
The leadership was then passed on to his elder son Baburaoji Dixit in the year 1941. Under the guidance of Late Baburaoji Dixit the Rath Yatra was disciplined. In 1991, After his death charge has been taken by Shri Govindrao Dixit.
The Rathyathra is made up of 5 links, 1st is the bullock cart of Sanai/Choughada, followed by the Palkhi of Shri Ramachandra, Pujadhikari, Garudarath and finally the Ramrath.
The Pujadhikari walks all the way during the Rath Yatra by facing towards the Rath with folded hands. He fasts on all the days from day one of the Chaitra to the Rath yatra. Both the Raths are pulled by the Rath sevakas who belong to different institutes with the help of a heavy rope. The Raths have a big wooden round rod known as Dhuri.
The intention of a Rathyatra is that the pilgrims who could not witness the event in the temple will be able to see the splendour at the time of the Rath Yatra. There are thousands of piligrims who attend this auspicious Rath Yatra every year.
There is a Ganga Snan (bathing of the idol of Lord Ram in the holy water of the Ganges) given to Shri Ramchandra while the Rath Yatra halts for a period of two hours at the holy Godavari, named as Avabrutha Snan. This has been made festive at the holy Ramghat by bursting crackers supported by olourful lightings.
The Rath Yatra ends late in the night at about 2′ O-clock at the same place from when it began.