( Sightseeing )
: 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 Chitrakoot.
rippling blue-green waters of the Mandakini can be traversed by
boats, readily available for hire.
Kamadgiri : 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.
Janaki Kund : 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.
are two approaches to Janaki Kund: 2 km up from Ramghat by boat,
or by road along a foliage-lined drive.
Anusuya : 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
Shila : 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.
Gupt-Godavari : 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.
Hanuman Dhara : 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 : 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.