Distance: 175km from Khajuraho, 115km from Allahabad, 110km
¤ Chitrakoot Considered As
Sacred Place of Hindus
of the most important centres of Hindu faith and culture, Chitrakoot
is known for its scenic beauty and its holiness.
The Ganges Valley, considered to be the seat of Hinduism, one of the
most ancient religions of the world, is only 50km away from this
small, yet important pilgrim centre.
Chitrakoot was considered to be a very sacred place in the Tretayuga,
or the third epoch of the Hindu cosmogony. It is said that Rama and
Sita visited Chitrakoot during their 14-year long exile. Lord Rama, an
incarnation of Vishnu (the Preserver in the Hindu Holy Trinity of
Creator-Preserver-Destroyer), is the hero of the great Indian epic
Ramayana, written by Sage Valmiki.
¤ The Legendary Tale of Ramayana
According to the Ramayana, Rama was the eldest son of Dashratha,
ruler of the kingdom of Ayodhya, the region around the present
Gangetic Plains in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Rama was married to Sita, the princess of Videha in northern Bihar.
However, Rama was exiled for 14 years at the behest of his stepmother
Keikeyi, who wanted her son Bharata to be the ruler instead of Rama.
Therefore, Rama, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, left
Ayodhya to live in forests for 14 long years. But this was just the
beginning of Ramas woes.
After spending 13 years in hiding, tragedy struck the unfortunate
trio in their final year of exile when Ravana, the 10-headed king of
Lanka (Ceylon), abducted Sita.
The epic culminated in the battle of Good and Evil (symbolised by
Rama and Ravana respectively) in which Good eventually triumphed over
Evil. Ravana was vanquished and Sita returned to her husband. After
his return to Ayodhya, Rama became a judicious ruler. Bharata, who had
administered the kingdom during Ramas exile, welcomed his elder
half-brother. But that is another story in itself (see Ramayana under
Know India: Ancient Scriptures & Folklore for more details).
¤ Attractions of The City
11 out of the 14 years of Ramas exile were spent in the jungles
of Chitrakoot. This is reason enough for pilgrims to flock to the
place. Chitrakoot seems to sum up the religious ambience of the
northern plains. It lies in the Vindhya escarpement, and is dissected
by torrential rivers. Situated amidst natures bounty on the
banks of the Payaswini River, Chitrakoot forms the tip of the district
of Satna in Madhya Pradesh, the heart- state of India.
The Payaswini River flows around the base of the Vindhya Hills
describing a circumference of 5km.
In the year 1775, the Bundela chief, Chhattarsal constructed a
terrace here on which the pilgrims perform a ceremonial
circumambulation. Be it the banks of the Payaswini, or the surrounding
hills, the entire terrain of Chitrakoot is dotted with temples and
shrines dedicated to various deities. Situated on the banks of the
Mandakini, yet another important river flowing through this place, are
Ramghat and Janaki Kund where devotees come to pray.
¤ Centre of Meditation and Peace
Chitrakoots atmosphere replicates the essence of the Hindu
faith. Goswami Tuslidas, a contemporary of the Mughal Emperor Akbar
(reigned a.d. 1556 to 1605), is said to have visited Chitrakoot to
meditate and seek divine inspiration when he was about to begin
Ramcharitamanas, his opus on the life of Rama.
¤ Temple Attractions
Centuries later, pilgrims find themselves inspired by the divine
environs of Chitrakoot. One of the shrines even houses the idol of
Tulsidas, Ramas great devotee. Pilgrims visit the temples of
Hanuman Dhara, Kamadgiri, Sati Anusuya. There are numerous other
shrines around Janaki Kund, the tank in which Sita once bathed, and
Sphatik Shila, the quartz rock.