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The Godavari is popularly referred to as the Dakshina Ganga and is considered one of the sacred rivers of India, as it is associated with the Ramayana. The Godavari is the longest of the east flowing rivers of the south. It is born further north, in the ranges of the Western Ghats.
There are many legends and myths associated with the Godavari. According to one legend, it is at Panchavati, a place near the town of Nasik on its bank that Lakshmana, the brother of Rama, cut off the nose of Surpanakha, the sister of King Ravana of Lanka. It is also believed that it is here that Rama and Lakshmana took their ritual bath on hearing of the death of their father, King Dasharatha.
The Godavari begins its course in the heights of the Western Ghats and then flows east into the Bay of Bengal. It goes on collecting tributaries all along its course. The river begins it journey through the state of Maharashtra and flows near the town of Nasik. From here it crosses the Eastern Ghats and reaches Rajahmundry where it becomes a broad and mighty river. The railway bridge across the Godavari at Rajahmundry is said to be the largest in India. Before reaching Rajahmundry it passes through the town of Bhadrachalam, which was home to the great Rama devotee Ramdas. It then flows past the town of Dhavaleshwaram where it divides into three rivers. The eastern one is the Gautami Godavari, the one flowing west is the Vashishta Godavari and the middle one is called the Vaishnava Godavari.
These three rivers form the Godavari delta just before they flow into the sea.
The Godavari is a useful waterway and there is a lot of boat traffic on it. Logs are floated down the river to distant places instead of being taken by road or boat. The banks of the Godavari are rich with teak and bamboo forests.