Where the Epic Ramayan Comes Alive: Exploring Chitrakoot
The holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are believed to have taken their incarnation in Chitrakoot.
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Located in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district, the town of Chitrakoot has a rich spiritual legacy that very few other places in India can match up to, and that is saying quite a lot. The story goes that out of their 14 years in exile, Ram, Sita and Laxman spent 11 of them in the forests of Chitrakoot. This should give you a fair idea of the importance of this town in the Ramayan. Visiting Chitrakoot is like almost like turning through the pages of this enigmatic epic.
The town is also said to have been the meditation site of many legendary sages and has been a regular feature in Indian folklore. The holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are believed to have taken their incarnation in Chitrakoot. No wonder then this town has great religious and mythological significance and is rightly known as the ‘Place of many wonders’. Chitrakoot falls in the northern Vindhya Range of mountains and it’s believed that the town gets its name from the Cheetal deer found in the region. If you’re visiting Madhya Pradesh and are looking for some much needed spiritual calm, head to this town and revel in all the fascinating stories it has to offer.
What to see
When in Chitrakoot, you’re never too far away from mythology and the Kamadgiri mountain is testimony to this. Believed to be wish-fulfilling, this bow-shaped hollow mountain has found mentions in many a legend. The story goes that before creating the universe, Lord Brahma performed a havan over here. So in many ways, this place is older than time itself.
That this town was the abode of Ram during his exile years is evidenced in the structures that stand even today. One visit to Chitrakoot and you will see how some of the chapters of the Ramayan simply come alive. The spot where Ram’s brother Bharat convinced him to come back to Ayodhya is called Bharat Milap and a temple stands there today. It’s said that the footprints you see inside the temple are those of Ram and his brothers. Param Kutir was the cottage that Laxman had built for Ram and Sita. Now you have a temple at the same site.
Ram Ghat, located on the banks of river Mandakini, is considered to be very auspicious. Devotees congregate here in the belief that they will be absolved of their sins. The water body that was Sita’s bathing place during the exile period is today known as Janki Kund. For the uninitiated, Janki is another name for Sita. It comes from the name of her adoptive father Janak.
The caves of Gupt Godavari are nothing short of a marvel. Narrow pathways, beautiful carvings and perennial water streams not only make it an interesting, but also an adventurous place to visit. The best part is that these are caves relatively unknown and will surely appeal to the explorer in you.
There’s also a flat boulder in this town by the name of Sphatik Shila. It’s said that Ram and Sita would often rest on it and admire the beauty of their surroundings.
A sight to behold in Chitrakoot is the Deep Daan. During the holy Hindu month of Kartik, devotees flock the ghats at the banks of river Mandakini and worship God by offering lamps (hence the name deep daan), flowers and food.
The Hanuman connection
When you have so many tales of Ram, how can Hanuman be far behind? Chitrakoot has a Hanuman Dhara temple that has a rather interesting story behind it. While setting Lanka on fire, Hanuman had hurt his tail and requested Ram for a place in his kingdom so the injuries would heal. What Ram did was shoot an arrow that pierced the tip of a mountain. A stream of water flowed out from where the arrow struck the mountain. He asked Hanuman to rest at the spot, so the water would heal his burn injuries. And that’s how the Hanuman Dhara temple came to be made, where a stream of water is seen falling on the deity.
At a distance of about 123 kms from Chitrakoot is the Panna National Park, that’s home to some of the biggest predators including the Ghariyal, a reptile that’s native to the Indian subcontinent. Two dizzyingly high waterfalls, Pandav falls and Raneh falls, can also be found in Panna.
Rewa, that’s best known for its rare white tigers, is nearly 3.5 hours away from Chitrakoot. After you’re done with the white tiger safari here, you can go clickety-click at some of the really beautiful waterfalls that surround this town. Another special attraction here is the 35 feet-long Bhairav Baba statue that’s sculpted from a single rock.
How to get there
The nearest railway station is Chitrakoot Dham, that is 12 kms away from the main city. It is well-connected to major Indian cities. If you wish to get here by road, just board a bus from Allahabad, Satna, Panna or Banda, and you’re sorted.
For those who want to fly in, the nearest airport is 135 kms away at Allahabad. You can also come from the Khajuraho airport that’s located at a distance of 175 kms.
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