Sri Tryambakeshwar temple is famous as one of the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is located in a small village named Trambak in Nasik, Maharashtra near the mountain Brahmagiri from which the river Godavari flows.
There is a story in the Shiva Purana associated with the Trambakeshwar temple and the river Godavari. Once there was a sage named Gautam who resided on the Brahmagiri hill with his wife Ahilya. At this time the land was struck by a long-lasting famine. All around the sage there was a scarcity of food and water. But Rishi Gautam was blessed with a bottomless pit from which he could receive grains and water for his devotion to the god Varuna. The rishi was very generous hearted and distributed the food among the local people. For his deeds, Gautam became very popular among the village people. The other rishis of the ashram were soon jealous of his fortune. So they plotted to have a cow enter Gautam’s granary and die. While Gautam attempted to shoo off the with a bunch of Darbha grass, the plan was successful and the cow dead. Now Gautam Rishi and his hermitage had both became impure due to the sin of a cow dying.
It was said that only the river Ganga’s water would wash the sins of Gautam and his hermitage away. So Gautam Rishi began worshipping Shiva and prayed with all his faith that Shiva would send down Ganga to cleanse his ashram of the sin.Gautam also hoped that the arrival of Ganga would help to solve the problems rising from the famine. Impressed with the rishi’s devotion, Shiva decided to grant his wish and requested Ganga to flow down and purify sage Gautama and his hermitage. He also told Ganga to stay there eternally. The name given to Ganga when she landed on earth was Godavari. Godavari is also known as Gautami Ganga and is considered the most sacred river in South India.
Later, the other gods and goddesses requested Shiva to reside in Trayambak. Shiva conceded and came to reside by the river Godavari and was given the name of Trayambakeshwar in the form of one of the twelve jyotirlingas. This extraordinary jyotirlinga has three faces symbolizing Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
According to Hindus, the Trayambak jyotirlinga fulfills everyone’s desires. It is said to releasethe devotees from their sins and miseries. And anybody who visits the Trayambakeshwar temple attains salvation.
The other gods and goddesses were so pleased by the Trayambakeshwar temple that they promised to come down to the temple once in twelve years. The old holy books also say that all the deities stay in the Trayambakeshwar temple during the period of Sinhastha Parva so that they may wipe off their sins and to get purified.
The Trayambakeshwar temple is the only temple in India where people who with the ‘Kaal Sarpa Dosha’ in their kundli (horoscope)can go and take part in a special puja which lessens the effect of this dosha.
Lord Shiva at Trayambakeshwar is worshipped by the recitations of Rudra, Rudri, Laghu Rudra, Maha Rudra and Ati Rudra. It is said that this temple pledges to give its devotees inner peace and bliss.