If you are looking for a new place to visit these holidays, a place that is not very familiar and offers scope for discovering things new, and of interest, you must visit Chitrakoot. A place that provides a lot of treks and nature sights for the outdoors’ lover, locations of interest that are closely associated with the epic Ramayana for the historian, and a calm and peaceful atmosphere to unwind for the public at large. Chitrakoot comes up to the levels of expectation of many a visitor who gets amazed when visiting for the first time.
The reason to visit Chitrakoot
Chitrakoot is a town and Nagar Panchayat in the district of Satna, Madhya Pradesh. It also has the municipality of Chitrakoot Dham (Karwi) in Uttar Pradesh adjacent to it. In fact Chitrakoot town lies between these two municipalities. Chitrakoot by its very existence since historical times and continuing to remain unchanged till date, presents a fascinating peep into history and tradition, and how it is coping up with modern times. It has besides, the religious aspect of discovering certain facts from the Ramayana for oneself that would be interesting and thrilling as well. Many of the nearby locations have certain archeological importance and besides there are quite a number of temples for the religious-minded as well. In fact occasions like Amavasya, Deepawali, Sharad Poornima, Makar Sankranti, Ram Navami are celebrated with a lot of fervor and gusto by huge crowds of people from the nearby areas and visitors from other parts of the state. Besides there are Arogyadhams or camps that offer free discourses and training in Ayurveda and Yoga.
With such an environment there is plenty to see and discover for oneself, and gives all the more reason to make a trip to this place at least once.
Chitrakoot – a spiritual journey undertaken as well
When you reach Chitrakoot (‘the Hill of many wonders’), this place takes you on a spiritual recall as well. It has several associations from ancient times that will be told you.
- The divine trio of Ram, Sita and Lakshman spent most of their 14 year period of exile in Chitrakoot. 11 ½ years almost.
- Renowned sages, seers, devotees have made Chitrakoot some time or the other the base for their spiritual pursuits. Like Atri, Sati Anusuya, Dattatreya, Maharishi Markandeya, Sarbhanga, Sutikshna etc.
- Incarnations of the Celestial Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva also had their origins in Chitrakoot.
- Lord Rama had performed the thirteenth day of the funeral rites with most of his family members present here.
- Chitrakoot finds mention in Sage Valmiki’s writing of the Ramayan. In fact the sage had advised Lord Rama to make Chitrakoot his abode for the entire period of the exile.
- Later other poets, writers have described Chitrakoot as a sacrosanct place with a serene atmosphere where flora and fauna existed in peace. Some have even praised the natural beauty that abounded the place.
- Many poets and writers in later times have described the natural beauty, the hallowed atmosphere of Chitrakoot, the religious connect of the place in their works. The poet Kalidasa impressed by the beauty of the place and also being a disciple of Lord Rama made Chitrakoot the location for his famous dance dramas. The saint poet Tulsidas, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama stayed in Chitrakoot for a few years in the hope of getting ‘Darshan’. His friend the Hindi poet Rahim also stayed in Chitrakoot for some time.
- Many have come to Chitrakoot, stayed and moved on, but not before penning down or narrating their wonderful experience of being in this place.
Exploring the wondrous ‘Chitrakoot’
- Ramghat – They are ghats one after another lined up against the Mandakini river. The chanting of hymns, the scent of incense sticks, holy men in saffron in silent meditation create a picture of holiness and divinity. The trio of Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana had appeared before the saint poet Tulsidas at Ramghat.
- Kamadgiri – is a place of religious significance, a for sted hill skirted by temples all along the base. Lord Rama also known as Kamadnathji, the fulfiller of wishes is believed to abound here, and those moving along the Parikrama path or circle of 5 Km around the Kamadgiri mountain with prayer, get their desires fulfilled.
- Bharat Milap – a temple believed to be the spot where Lord Bharata met Lord Rama to persuade him to return. The re-union of the four brothers Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughana was said to be so full of divine love that the rocks melted. There are footprints of the brothers to be found here.
- Janaki Kund – Located upstream of the Ramghat, it was here that Goddess Sita used to have her bath in the clear waters of the Mandakini river during the period of exile.
- Sati Anasuya Ashram – located further upstream about 10 plus km from the town, it was here amidst thick forests that Muni Atri, his wife Anasuya, and three sons (said to be incarnations of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh) did their meditation. It is said that once when there was no rain for very many years, the penance of Sati Anasuya brought Mandakini to Chitrakoot and since then there has always been greenery here.
- Sphatic Shila – a dense forest area beyond Janaki Kund, where one can see the footprints of Lord Rama and Sita on the boulder on the banks of the Mandakini. It was here that Lord Hanuman came to give the news that Goddess Sita was indeed in Lanka, imprisoned by Ravana the demon king.
- Gupt – Godavari – Slightly away from the town at this place there are two caves, one high and wide, with an entrance through which one could barely pass, the other long and narrow, with a small stream at its base. Here in the latter cave, Lord Rama and Lakshmana had their discussions on two natural throne like rocks.
- Pamapapur – situated in the valley of Devangana these are sacred caves related to Lord Rama.
- Hanuman Dhara – is a spring on a rock face several hundred feet up a steep hillside, said to be created by Lord Rama after Hanuman returned from setting Lanka on fire. The view from here is panoramic.
- Bharat Koop – Here Bharath got water from holy places across India with a view to get Lord Rama coronated as King here itself and get him to come back to Ayodhya since ther father Dashrath was no more. Lord Rama declined saying that the period of fourteen years had to be completed. Sage Vashisth advised him to put the water and the flowers with it into an earmarked well nearby. The well then on always provided pure water and has been doing so till this day. Since Bharat obeyed him, the place came to be known as Bharat Koop.
- Ram Shaiya – located between Chitrakoot and Bharat Koop, it was here that the trio of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana spent their time of sleep and rest. An isolated place with a huge rock, it also bears their imprints.
Take the time to roam around, explore the nook and corner of Chitrakoot. Gather the stories, garner the information, spend time with nature, visit the temples, mingle with the locals and come back with a rich experience of fervor and devotion, imagination and spirituality, freshness and fascination.
For places such as these abound in locations of bewitching beauty, tranquil surroundings, calming influence and a mix of the real and surreal that it is an experience of a lifetime that one can never forget nor want to.