Chitrakoot

Tourism in Chitrakoot revolves around Lord Ram and a journey to Chitrakoot Dham is reliving Ramyana. It is one of the oldest pilgrimage sites in India. Chitrakoot is spread over two states – Uttar Pradesh & Madhya Pradesh. Where Ram, Sita and Laxman spent eleven out of fourteen years of their exile is a place still rich with verdant cliffs, tranquil glades, gurgling waterfalls, clean air and chirping birds, with the waters of the Mandakini River washing its shores. Over the ages, Chitrakoot’s visual splendor has appealed the poets, writers and dramatists. Valmiki sings paeans to its beauty in the Ramayana. Kalidas is said to have been enamoured of its charms that his yaksha of Meghdoot was exiled here. Later, the poet Tulsidas meditated here to find inspiration to write his epic work, the Ramcharita Manas. It is also believed that with the help of Lord Hanuman, Tulsidas got to have ‘darshan’ of Lord Ram in Chitrakoot. Even today, Chitrakoot remains a calm oasis of great beauty.

‘Sri Ram told Sita of the satisfaction that his heart felt, and the pleasure that his eyes derived at the sight of both the Chitrakoot mountains and the Mandakini Rivereveryday, that comparatively he preferred this place to his dear Ayodhya.’ Ram met Bharat, who came in search of him, here in Chitrakoot. The great Sage Atri and Sati Anusuya are said to have meditated here. A beautiful folktale says that when he god and goddesses came to Chitrakoot to witness the ‘shraddh’ ceremony Ram performed for his father, they were so captivated by its beauty that they were unwilling to leave. Sage Vashishtha, the family priest, sensing their desire to stay and, in accordance with Lord Ram’s wishes, forgot to utter the ‘visarjan’ (departure) mantra. Thus, all the gods and goddesses made this place their permanent abode and they are believed to be always present here.

Chitrakoot’s splendor and grandeur lies in its natural beauty. The shrines related to Ram’s years in exile are simple ones. The Gupt-Godavari Caves are temples hewn by nature, and easily the best that Chitrakoot has to offer. Chitrakoot is a small town where all the temples are easily covered by foot in just a day. However, the larger mountainous area, over which are scattered many sacred sites associated with ram, are at a considerable distance from each other. People come to the religiously sacred city of Chitrakoot and consider themselves blessed. Every month on Amavasya, a large number of devotees from all over India, and even from abroad, throng here. The inflow of the tourists continues throughout the year.

There are several legends attached to the region covered by the present district Chitrakoot, which are mainly connected to the Ramayana period, and thereby it has acquired a religious sanctity. It is said that a great sage Bamdeo, (the contemporary of Ram) lived in this region. Village Bagrehi is noted as containing the Lalapur hills, the reputed residence of sage Valmiki who was also the contemporary of Ram. The holy hill of Chitrakoot is famous as the residence of Ram, Sita and Lakshman during their exile from Ayodhya. Sitapur, on the bank of the Payaswini, is said to be the place where Ram lived with Sita. Kamadgiri, one and a half mile from Sitapur, is reputed to be the hill on the top of which many sages through meditation and penance achieved emancipation. Local tradition confirms that it was at Sitapur that Bharat, the younger brother of Ram, came to entreat Ram to return to his kingdom. The union of two brothers was so moving that even the inanimate rocks softened with compassion and took the imprint of their feet. A little away from this place is a hillock named after Lakshman. It is said that while Ram and Sita retired for the night, Lakshman kept vigil, sitting on this hillock. There are many other places like Kamadgiri to which many legends are attached entitling them to be held as sacred places.

The famous hill of Kalinjar or "Kalanjaradri” is said to have derived its name from Shiva himself, who as ‘kal’ or “time” causes all things to decay (jara), and who is, therefore, the destroyer of all things and the god of death. The ascetics of Kalinjar were devoted to the worship of Shiva.

According to local tradition, the great sage Mandavya lived at the sacred place Madafa (मड़फा) which is 10 miles west to Kamadgiri. All these legends interwoven into the fabric of traditional beliefs and history have made this district a sacred place which has attracted hermits and sages from times immemorial, who built their ashramas in the Vindhyan ranges, faraway from busy highways of life, Kusa, who was the son of Rama, the king of Ayodhya, is said to have migrated from Ayodhya and settled in this region. He is said to have founded a town Kushasthali on the Vindhyan hills.

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