Celebrated in the entire Indian literature and sacred books; the abode of Lord Ram, his spouse Sitaji and his brother Lakshman during their exile for about eleven years and a half; capable of purifying the human heart and of attracting the tourists by its charms of nature. Chitrakoot is a holy place famous both for its natural scenery and its spiritual altitude. A tourist is as much thrilled by sighting its beautiful waterfalls, playful young deer and dancing peacocks as a pilgrim is overwhelmed by taking a dip in the Payaswani/ Mandakini and by immersing himself in the dust of the Kamadgiri. From times immemorial, the Chitrakoot area has been a live centre of inspiration for cosmic consciousness.
Thousands of mendicants, hermits, sages and saints have attained higher and higher spiritual status and have exerted a beneficial impact on the world through their penance, sadhana, yoga, tapasya and various arduous spiritual endeavours. Nature has been very generous in bestowing over the area all the gifts in her power, which enable it to attract pilgrims and tourists alike from all over the world. Atri, Anasuya, Dattatreya, Maharshi Markandeya, Sarbhang, Sutikshna and various other sages, seers, devotees and thinkers have lived in this area through all the ages; and knowledgeable people say that many of such figures are still engaged in tapasya here in various caves and little known places. This lends the area a spiritual aroma which permeates its entire atmosphere and makes it spiritually alive to this day.
Chitrakoot is the teerth of all teerths. According to the Hindu belief, Prayagraj (modern name- Allahabad) is the king of all teerths; but Chitrakoot is rated as more elevated. When Chitrakoot did not go to him as all the other teearths did, Prayagraj was told that Chitrakoot enjoyed a higher status and it was Prayagraj who was expected to go to Chitrakoot and not vice versa. It is said that Prayagraj comes every year to wash off his sins by bathing in the Payaswini. It is also said that all the gods and goddesses came to Chitrakoot when Ram performed the Shraddha ceremony of his father to partake of the shuddhi (i.e. a feast given to all the relatives and friends on the thirteenth day of the a death in the family). They were captivated by the beauty of the place. Lord Ram's presence there added a spiritual dimension to it. So they were unwilling to depart. Vashishtha, the family priest sensing their desire to stay and in accordance with the wishes of Lord Ram, forgot to utter the visarjan (departure) mantra. Thus, all the gods and goddesses have made this place their permanent abode and are always present there. Today also, even when a mere tourist reaches this place strewn profusely with ancient rocks, caves, ashrams and temples with sages engaged in holy and spiritual sadhana, he loses himself unwittingly in the atmosphere charged with unceasing holy rites and enlightening sermons and partakes of the bliss of a world very different from our own. Thousands of pilgrims and seekers of the truth from all parts of the world resort to this place impelled by an irrepressible desire to improve and elevate their lives.
Chitrakoot has had its own identity and this very name since times immemorial. The first known mention of the place is in the Valmiki Ramayan, which is believed to be the first ever Mahakavya composed by the first ever poet. As an unwritten composition, an epic of growth, it was handed down from generation to generation by an oral tradition. As Valmiki is said to be contemporaneous with (or even earlier than) Ram and is believed to have composed the Ramayan before the birth of Ram, the antiquity of its fame can well be guaged. Valmiki speaks of Chitrakoot as an eminently holy place inhabited by the great sages, abounding in monkeys, bears and various other kinds of fauna and flora. Both the sages Bharadwaj and Valmiki speak of Chitrakoot in glowing terms and advise Ram to make it his abode during the period of his exile, as the place was capable of relieving a person of all his desires and of giving him a calm of mind that could make him achieve the highest of the goals in his life. Lord Ram himself admits this bewitching impact of this place. In the ‘Ramopakhyan’ and descriptions of teerthas at various places in the Mahabharat, Chitrakoot finds a favored place. It ‘Adhyatma Ramayan’ and ‘Brihat Ramayan’ testify to the throbbing spiritually and natural beauty of Chitrakoot. The writer has been told that the latter work devotes as many as sixteen cantos to the description of Chitrakoot and its principal places. Entire Indian literature relating to Ram gives it a unique pride of place. The Rev. Father Kamil Bulke even mentions a ‘Chitrakoot—Mahatmya’; found among the collections of Mackenzie.Various Sanskrit and Hindi poets also have paid similar tributes to Chitrakoot. Mahakavi Kalidas has described this place beautifully in his epic ‘Raghuvansha’;. He was so much impressed with its charms that he made Chitrakoot (which he calls Ramgiri because of its time-honoured associations with lord Ram) the place of exile of his yaksha in Meghdoot. Tulsidas, the saint-poet of Hindi has spoken very reverently of this place in his entire major works-Ramcharit Manas, Kavitawali, Dohawali and Vinay Patrika. The last-mentioned work contains many verses which show a deep personal bond between Tulsidas and Chitrakoot. He spent quite some part of his life here worshipping Ram and craving his darshan. It was here that he had what he must have considered the crowning moment of his achievements--ie. The darshan of his beloved deity Lord Ram at the intercession of Hanumanji. His eminent friend, the noted Hindi poet Rahim (i.e. Abdur Rahim Khankhana, the soldier-statesmen-saint-scholar-poet who was among the Nav-Ratnas of Akbar) also spent some time here, when he had fallen from favor with Akbar's son Emperor Jahangir. According to the Beetak literature of the Pranami sect, the saint-poet Mahamati Prannath wrote two of his books-Chhota Kayamatnama and Bara Kayamatnama here. The exact place where Prannath lived and composed these works interpretting the Quran and showing its similarities with Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapuran, could not be traced.
A newly district was created on 6th May 1997 in U.P. named Chhatrapati Shahuji Mahraj- Nager, which comprises of Karwi & Mau Tehsils and has been carved out from the Banda district. After some time, the district name was converted in Chirakoot on 4 th Sept. 1998. It falls in the northern Vindhya range of mountains spread over the states of Utter Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The larger part is included in the District Chitrakoot of U.P. and the District Satna of Madhya Pradesh. The word "Chitrakoot" has been used here to refer to this larger area and symbolizes the rich and varied cultural, religious, historical and archaeological heritage of the various places and sites of this area. Lacs of people gather here at these sites on each Amavasya. Somwati Amavasyas, Deepawali, Sharad-Poornima, Makar-Sankranti and Ram Nawami are special occasions for such gatherings and celebrations.
Chitrakoot incorporates very many places of religious and pauranic importance, visited both by devotees and sight-seers. From the administrative view point, some of these places are situated in Uttar Pradesh and others in Madhya Pradesh. As all these places are popularly associated with religious feelings of the people and a large number of pilgrims visit these sites. Both the state governments as well as local religious and charitable institutions have tried to develop these places. The following are the principal ones:-
Kamadgiri is the main holy place of Chitrakoot. The sanskrit word 'Kamadgiri' means the mountain which fulfills all the desires. The place is believed to have been the abode of Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman during their exile. Lord Kamtanath, another of His names, is the principal deity not only of Kamadgiri but of the whole of Chitrakoot. The religious-minded believe that all the holy places (i.e. teerthas) are in the Parikrama or its pilgrimage-path. The pilgrimage path around this hill is about 5 Km. long and was built by Pratap Kunwari ,the Queen of the Bundela King Maharaja Chhatrasal in 1725. There are a large number of temples in the Parikrama Path. Except during the summers, the hill remains green throughout the year and appears like a bow seen from any place in Chitrakoot.
It is the most beautiful bathing ghat of the Payaswini river believed to be capable of absolving a person from all his sins.It is believed that Lord Ram bathed here with Laxman and Sita Ji on their arrival in Chitrakoot.The famous saint-poet Tulsidas is also believed to have lived here for quite some time.It is the place where he is believed to have darshan of Ram and Laxman.Tulsidas was preparing sandal-paste for himself,when Ram and Laxman appeared before him as two children.
Ram asked him to mark a tilak on his forehead.Tulsidas did this even without recognizing Him as God whom he so devotedly worshipped and for whose darshan he was craving.Hanuman ji made Tulsidas recognize his Lord by uttering the famous couplet :- The devotees usually take a dip here before going for Parikrama and darshan of Kamtanath Ji. There is a group of temples here on the Ghat which is known as Puri and some devotees go around this group of temples also in the Parikrama. Many important places like Raghava Prayag Ghat,Mattgajendreshwar Swami, Parna Kuti and Yagya Vedi are nearby.
The famous temple of Mattagajendreshwar or MadganjanSami is situated on the Ramghat. According to a pauranik legnd,Brahma offered penance here in the Satyug and foundeda Shivling here as Kshetrapal (i.e. protector of the area) whch was known as Mattgajendreshwar Swami.Laterwhen Sri Ram came to Chitrakoot, he did Rudrabhishe here after bathing here in the Payaswini. Much later, Raja Aman Singh,the King of Panna built a temple here.
This is to the south of the Ramghat of the Payaswini and is the convergence point of the three rivers—the Payaswini ,the Mandakini and the Gayatri (or the Savitri ,a river not visible to the eye) meet here. Lord Ram performed the pitra tarpan ceremony (sacred offerings to a deceased father by his son) of his father King Dashrath, who had died after Lord Ram’s exile. It is believed that even the King of Teerths Prayagraj also comes once every year to absolve himself of all the sins by taking a dip here.
This is near the Parn Kuti on the Ramghat. It is said that Lord Brahma performed Yagyas here. Hence, the name.
This beautiful Kund is situated at a distance of about half a kilometer from the Pramod-Van, on the left bank of the Payaswini. 'Janaki' means the daughter of Raja Janak and is another name of Sita Ji, who used to bathe here during the period of her exile. The rocks nearby bear the foot prints of Janaki Ji.there are a number of charitable institutions in the area, including the Janaki Kund Eye Hospital, the Raghuvir Temple, and the Blind School.
'Sphatik' is a Sanskrit word meaning a crystal. There is a huge rock resembling a reddish-white crystal, about 1 Km. away from Janaki-kund on the left bank of the Mandakini. Sri Ram and Janaki Ji used to rest here perhaps while going to and coming from the Atri Ashram. Once, Jayant, the son of Indra pecked at the feet of Sita Ji to test the might of Sri Ram. Thereupon, Ram, sitting in the veerasan Posture, released an arrow at him. Jayant could not find anyone who could protect him against this arrow and ultimately sought shelter with Lord Ram himself, who pardoned him after taking one of his eyes as punishment. The rock bears the foot prints of Sri Ram, Sita Ji and Jayant.
This Ashram is situated about 15 Km. to the south of Ramghat in a dense forest area. It is dedicated to Maharsi Atri and his wife Sati Anasuya. Sati Anasuya transformed the three supreme gods-Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to small babes by her miraculous powers earned by penance. She is also believed to have brought down the Mandakini which is believed to be a streamlet of the river Ganges. The Ashram has an idol of Anasuya, her husband Maharshi Atri, their sons Duttatreya, Durwasa, Chandrama and various other gods and sages. The famous Paramhans Ashram is nearby. The Ashram gets its name from the late Paramhans Parmanand Ji who was believed to have attained the highest spiritual status and was the founder of this Ashram. The disciples of Paramanand Ji have established a chain of Ashrams mainly in North India.
About 10 Km. to the south west of Chitrakoot near the village Pathra Pal Deo, this Ashram is situated amidst the hills. It is a beautiful place with waterfalls worth seeing.
This place is situated at the foot of a hill about 12 Km. to the south west of Chitrakoot. Actually, it is an incessant stream flowing between two rocks which is known by the appellation of Gupta-Godawari. Beautiful and natural carvings in varied designs enhance the attraction of the caves many a time. A number of local legends are associated with this place.
This place is near the Bihara village about 3 Km. to the west of Pili-Kothi Ashram. It can be seen even from the Parikrama Marg. During the exile Sri Ram with his consort Sita Ji used to sleep on a huge rock here, which even now carries imprints which are made, as it were by lying down on a mattress. These are believed to be due to Sri Ram and Sita Ji lying down on them. Beside the two marks, another mark made by placing the bow is also very clear. Lakshman-Chowki About 100 Mt. away from the Ram-Shaiyya rock, and overlooking it there is another rock which is known as Lakshman-Chowki. It is believed that Lakshman used to be on guard here to protect Sri Ram and Sita Ji. This beautiful rock bears a mark resembling the head side of a bed. It also has imprints which are believed to have been made by Lakshman sitting down with his bow by the side. The Ram-Shaiyya rock is clearly visible from here.
This is about 4 Km. to the east of Ramghat at the beginning of the Vindhyas. A stream of cool and clear water originating inside the mountain falls on the idol of Hanuman Ji and loses itself in a kund below. It is a popular belief that Hanuman Ji came here to cool down the heat after burning Lanka.
About 18 Km. from the district headquarters on the Allahabad road, the Valmiki Ashram is situated on a lofty hill on the bank of the Valmiki river. Sita Ji gave birth to and nursed her sons—Kush and Lava here, after she was deserted by Sri Ram. Sri Ram, Lakshman and Sita Ji had also passed through this Ashram on their way to Chitrakoot.
This Ashram is situated at a distance of about 20 Km. to the south east of Sati Anasuya Ashram. There is a Ganga-Kund and a Shiva Temple here. Beside the Ashram, there are 108 Yagya Vedikas at the foot of the hill. Sri Ram accorded darshan to the sage Sarbhang here during his forest sojourn. Bathing in the Ganga-Kund of this Ashram has a special religious significance. The saying is that one dip in the Sarbhang Ashram equals repeated bathing in the sacred Ganges.
About 20 Km. to the west of Chitrakoot, there is a huge well near Bharatpur village which is known as Bharatkoop. Today, the residential area surrounding it is also known as Bharatkoop. Bharat brought from Ayodhya water from all the holy places (teerths) to annoint Ram as the King during his exile. When Ram did not agree to this, Bharat, at the behest of Maharshi Atri, poured all this holy water into this very well.
Just near Bharatkoop there is a temple of Mandvi, the consort of Bharat and there is also a Bharat Mandir nearby.
A small hillock, parallel to and to the east of the Kamadgiri, about half- way in the Parikrama, is known as Lakshman Pahadi. Lakshman used to guard Sri Ram and Sita ji from here, while they rested on the Kamadgiri. There is a Lakshman Temple here and also a Lakshman-Stambh. The visiting pilgrims embrace this pillar with the same reverence as if they were embracing Lakshman Ji himself. There is a flight of steps from the Parikrama Marg leading to this hillock.
This is one of the most beautiful and charming sites in Bundelkhand. Ram appeared to Maharshi Sutikshna here in compliance of the latter’s desire to have His darshan. A beautiful stream flows down from amidst the mountains falling in a kund below, probably giving its current name Dharkundi. this Ashram is situated about 4 Km. to the north of Sarbhang Ashram. One of the eminent disciples of Paramhans Parmanand Ji, Swami Sachchidanand Ji has his Ashram here. It is a place frequented by many persons in search of mental peace. Though the place is not as developed as it should have been, many a hermit and sage is engaged here in various religious and spiritual activities. The devotees visit this place in search of spiritual peace.
About 2 Km. to south of Ramghat on the Satna road, there is a beautiful grovery on the bank of the Payaswini. Maharaj Vishwanath Pratap Singh Judeo, the King of Reewa got this built for his pleasure. It has a temple of Lord Narayan surrounded by numerous rooms. There is a celebrated place nearby which is known as Das Hanuman. There is a celebrated tree in the Pramod-Van known as Putra-Jeeva or Putrada. Childless couples visit this tree with a desire of being blessed with a son. It is a popular belief that such visits bring the desired result.
About half way in the Parikrama Path, there is a place named Bharat Milap.It is reputed to be the place where Bharat and his mothers met Sri Ram, Lakshman and Sita Ji during their exile. It was such a touching occasion that even stones melted owing to overwhelming emotions and carry their foot prints to this day.
There is a small streamlet above the fourth Mukharvind of Kamtanath Ji known as Saryu Dhara. It is believed that Hanuman Ji lives here and there is a popular legend that Tulsidas used to recite the Ramayan here everyday before him. The devotees feel spiritually charged after resting here a while.
There is a beautiful spring at the origin of Payaswini near Jamunihai village , about 8 Km. to the south of Markundi, a frontier village of the district. One spring just below another, this fall is unique in the entire country. It is more glamorous and charming than even the Dhunwadhar Fall of Bhedaghat, Jabalpur or the Rupahaladhuwan Fall of Rewa Chechai. There is a huge water reservoir below which is very deep and is also known as the Mandakini Kund. This Fall was discovered by the District Magistrate-Chitrakoot, Sri Jagannath Singh during his tour on July 31st, 1998 and was named and dedicated by him. No one except the local villagers had reached this place earlier. Nor was it known to the people.
Viradh – Kund About 6 Km. to the east of the Shabari Fall and at the meeting point of Bambiha and Tikariya villages on the Amrawati Ashram road, there is a vast reservoir of water known as Viradh–Kund. According to a popular belief, this reaches down to the Patal Lok . There is a well accepted legend that a terrible monster Viradh used to live here and was later killed by Sri Ram during his exile. This Kund was the monster’s place of shelter and through it he could escape down to the nether world ( i.e. Patal ). Adventure-loving tourist, will definitely be attracted to this place.
This fall is at a distance of about 1 Km. from the Tikariya village and presents a beautiful sight. It is a unique pleasure to walk along the flowing stream on the rocks and to bathe in it. There is a statue of Vanwasi Hanuman on a huge rock here. There is an annual fair attended by throngs of local people.