By Rida Abbasi | CHITRAKOOT | THE HILL OF MANY WONDERS
Chitrakoot is a small town located in the northern parts of the Vindhya Range. It is located over the districts of Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh and Satna in Madhya Pradesh. Chitrakoot means the ‘Hill of many wonders’. Chitrakoot falls in the Vindhya Range which is in the Northern side of mountains spread over the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Its spiritual legacy stretches back to legendary ages. It is believed that Lord Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana spent eleven and a half years of their fourteen years of exile in this area. Chitrakoot is the place where the greatest sage devotees and thinkers meditated. It holds great importance according to Hindu mythology and the epic Ramayana.
According to Ramayana, Chitrakoot was the place where the brother of Lord Ram, Bharata came to visit Ram and ask him to come back to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom. It is also believed that the principal gods of Hindus, (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) took incarnations in Chitrakoot. This city is also known as the ‘Hill of many wonders’ and the scenic views totally justify the name. Chitrakoot mountain range has a number of places of great religious importance like Hanuman Dhara, Bharat Milap Temple, Janki Kund, and much more. It is indeed a gift of nature and the gods.
Chitrakoot is also the place where Goswami Tulsidas, author of ‘The Ramcharitmanas’ spent many years of his life. Not many know that Chitrakoot is also home to the only university in the world specially made for the differently-abled, Jagadguru Rambhadracharya Handicapped University.
CHITRAKOOT | MYTHOLOGY
Chitrakoot has a richly significant mythological history. Furthermore, Chitrakoot was a part of Hindu mythology since ancient times. The exact origins of the name remain unknown, legends attribute it to the plentiful presence of Cheetal (spotted deer) in the area.
According to the great sage Valmiki in his epic Ramayana, it was the abode for Ram, Laxman, and Sita during a part of their exile. Chitrakootwas the place of Bharat-Milap, where Bharat met Lord Ram and requested him to return and take the throne in Ayodhya. Ram refused this proposal and left Chitrakoot with Sita and Laxman. Bharata Mandir now enshrines that moment and carries stone etchings of footprints of Lord Ram and all his brothers.
Chitrakootis where Lord Ram performed a shuddhi (purification) ceremony in memory of Dashrath, his father. Both the ancient poets Kalidas and Tulsidas speak glowingly of Chitrakoot in their writings. Tulsidas spent a considerable time here meditating and worshiping Lord Ram. Ramghat is a significant place where Lord Ram appeared in front of Tulsidas and gave him his blessings. Lord Brahma also chose this site to light one hundred and eight fires before creating the universe. Now Yagya Vedi only remains as a pit to mark the once-grand fire.
As you read in the first para,Chitrakoot is a place of hills. There are so many wonders in Chitrakoot for tourists to get an eyeful of.
- Gupt Godavari: In this place of Chitrakootreside a pair of caves. One of the caves is high and wide and one can barely pass through the entrance. The other long and narrow with streams of water running along the base.
- Sati Anusuya Temple: Sati Anasuya Temple or ashrama is located further upstream, sixteen km from the town of Chitrakoot, set amidst thick forests that round to the melody of birdsong all day. Anasuya and her three sons (who were the three incarnations of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh) lived here and are said to have meditated.
- Hanuman Dhara: This wonder of Chitrakootis located on a rock-face several hundred feet up a steep hillside is a spring. A beautiful couple of temples commemorate this spot, which offers a panoramic view ofChitrakoot.
Interested travelers should also visit Sphatik Shila where Rama and Sita used to sit during their exile period. Also present are sites of interest like Bharat Milap Mandir. Which marks the exact point where Bharat and Rama met during the exile period. For the bold travelers, there is Gupt Godavari, where streams flow beneath the enclosed, rather stuffy caves.
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