Chitrakoot, 'the hill of many
wonders', nestles peacefully in the northern spurs of the Vindhyas. This
loveliest of nature's gifts is also hallowed ground, blessed by the gods and
sanctified by the faith of pilgrims. A city with more than legendary
significance, it was the abode of Lord Ram and Sita for eleven year when in
exile, the place where Sage Atri and Sati Anusuya meditated, the divine spot saw
the incarnations of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. This holy city is dotted with
innumerable temples and shrines today.
The ghats that line the banks of the
river Mandakini reveal a constantly moving and changing kaleidoscope of
religious activity. Here, amidst the chanting of hymns and the sweet fragrance
of incense, holy men in saffron robes sit in silent meditation or offer the
solace of their wisdom to the countless pilgrims who converge here. With
the very first rays of dawn that gleam upon the river, Ramghat stirs into life
as the devout of all ages take the ritual, purifying dip in the waters and
invoke the blessings of the gods. The activity builds up in a crescendo of
colour and spontaneous expressions of faith through the day, past high noon,
gently diminishing as the setting sun picks out the bright colours of flower
petals floating down the river, while the evening 'arti' lends its melodious
cadences to the deepening dusk. At all times, Ramghat witnesses a deep and
abiding faith which finds expression in the rituals which honour the sanctity of
The rippling blue-green waters of
the Mandakini can be traversed by boats, readily available for hire.
Kamadgiri, the original Chitrakoot,
is a place of prime religious significance. A forested hill, it is skirted all
along its base by a chain of temples and is venerated today, as the holy
embodiment of Rama. The Bharat Milap temple is located here, marking the spot
where Bharat is said to have met Rama to persuade him to return to the throne of
Ayodhya. Many are the faithful who perform the ritual circuit (parikrama), of
the sacred hill, to ask for a boon or a blessing.
Upstream from Ramghat is a beautiful
stretch of the Mandakine, a symphony of nature in tones of earth-brown and
leaf-green, the intense blue of the river waters finding a paler echo in the
canopy of the sky. It is said
that in this idyllic pastoral setting, Sita would bathe in the crystal clear
waters, during the years of her exile with Rama. Certainly, this quiet spot
seems to have been specially blessed, for an aura of total harmony and
quietitude haloes it, setting it apart from the bustle of the everyday world.
There are two approaches to Janaki
Kund: 2 km up from Ramghat by boat, or by road along a foliage-lined drive.
Sati Anusuya is located further
upstream, set amidst thick forests that resound to the melody of birdsong all day.
It was here that Atri Muni, his wife Anusuya, and their three sons (who were the
three incarnations of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh), are said to have meditated.
The Mandakini is believed to have been created by Anusuya lies about 16 km
from the town and can be reached by road - an undulating, curving drive through
densely wooded areas.
A few kilometers beyond Janaki Kund
is again a densely forested area on the banks of the Mandakini. One can climb up
to the boulder which bears the impression of Rama's footprint and where Sita was
pecked at, by Jayant in the form of a crow. There are large fish in the river
here, easily visible in the pellucid water; and a few temples.
18 km from the town by road is a
natural wonder located some distance up the side of a hill. The wonder here is
a pair of caves, one high and wide with an entrance through which one can barely
pass, and the other, long and narrow with a stream of water running along its
base. It is believed that Rama and his brother Lakshman held court in the latter
cave, which has two, natural, throne-like rocks.
Located on a rock-face several
hundred feet up a steep hillside is a spring, said to have been created by Rama
to assuage Hanuman when the latter returned after setting Lanka on fire. A
couple of temples commemorate this spot which offers a panoramic view of
Chitrakoot. There is an open, paved area here in the shade of a massive peepul
tree, a lovely halting place after the long climb up.
Bharat Koop is where Bharat stored
holy water collected from all the places of pilgrimage in India. It is a small,
isolated spot a few kilometers from town.
Lying on the left bank of Payaswani about 8 km. From
it is intimately connected with the sacred hills of Kamtanath, which is 2 km to
its south – west. Pilgrims first bathe in payaswani at Sitapur and then move
on to do the Parikrama of Kamtanath hill. Originally known as Jaisinghpur, it
was given to Mahant Charandas by Aman Singh Raja of Panna, who gave it the new
name Sitapur in honour of maa Sita. There are twenty four Ghats and several
temples along the river, which add to the glory of the town.
11km. On the Karvi-Devangana road near Bankey Siddhapur
village, is located Ganeshbagh, where a richly carved temple, a seven storeyed
baoli and ruins of a residential palace still exist. The complex was built by
Peshwa Vinayak Rao as a summer retreat and is often referred to as a mini-Khajuraho.
4 km from Gupt Godavari is Marpha, famous for its natural
beauty alongwith waterfalls, Jal Mochan Sarovar, Shri Balaji mandir, 5 faced
statue of Lord Shankar and ruins of a fort, believed to be built by Chandel
Rajapur is situated 42 km from
place is believed to be the birth place of Goswami Tulsidas. A Tulsi Mandir is
88 km. From Chitrakoot lies the invincible Fort of
Kalinjar. Once desired by kings & dynasties, it houses within itself the
Nilkanth temple, Swarga Rohan Kund, Vakhandeshwar Mahadev Temple, Shivasari
Ganga & Koti Tirth. Other interesting spots within the fort area are Sita
Sej, Patal Ganga, Pandu Kund, Budhi-Tall, Bhairon Ki Jharia and Mrigdhara.
By Air:- The nearest
airport is at Khajuraho (175 km ),
connected with Delhi, Agra, and Varanasi.
Connected with Jhansi, Mahoba, Chitrakoot Dham,
Harpalpur, Satna and Chhatarpur.
The nearest railhead is at Chitrakoot Dham
(11 km ) on the Jhansi-Manikpur main line.
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