The Ramayana

what lies in chitrakoot?

what is it about?is it a place? and what does it consists of?

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Celebrated in ballads and the scriptures for its natural beauty and closely associated with the Epic Ramayana, Chitrakoot or "the hill of many wonders" is a hallowed center of Pilgrimage. Together with its twin town of Karbi, 8km east, Chitrakut, known also as Sitapur or Chitrakut Dham, is a major Vaishnavite pilgrimage centre.

In the Ramayana, Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana, sought refuge in a forest that covered this entire area, after being banished from Ayodhya. (1)

"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.

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 Rama’s 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 Rama’s exile, welcomed his elder half-brother. But that is another story in itself (see Ramayana under Know India: Ancient Scriptures & Folklore for more details).

11 out of the 14 years of Rama’s 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 nature’s 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. (2)


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