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Valmiki Ashram Lalapur, Places In & Around Chitrakoot - Sri Ramanin Padhayil

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Lord Rama reaches Chitrakoot. If you look at the mountain, the greenery and the place where Rama lived there, it looks just like Kubera lived in his place. Bharatha came to Chitrakoot and received Rama's padukas. Soon thereafter, since people will know his whereabouts, Rama left to Dandakaranyam. Sri Lakshmana prepared a small boat made of Bamboo sticks, with which Rama and his parivar crossed Yamuna river, from Prabhu Ghat to reach this place. Before Rama went to Chitrakoot, Rama came to see Valmiki at this place. The Valmiki Ashram at this place is still preserved.

There is a small river called 'Valmiki river' that runs before the Ashram. We saw sacred rivers like Sarayu, Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswathi, Gandaki etc. and now we are seeing Valmiki river. There is a small hill after the river which we climb up. First comes the place narrating where Valmiki first encountered the hunter who killed the 2 Krauncha birds, statues of Valmiki and of the Krauncha birds is found here. Sage Valmiki has lived in several places. Here, near Kanpur - bittoor and also in Naimisaranya. Because Sages don't live in one place, they keep moving from one place to another.

Valmiki Ashram, Lalapur
Valmiki Ashram, Lalapur
Valmiki Ashram, Lalapur
Valmiki Ashram, Lalapur
Valmiki Ashram, Lalapur
Valmiki Ashram, Lalapur
Valmiki Ashram, Lalapur
Valmiki Ashram, Lalapur
Valmiki Ashram, Lalapur
Valmiki Ashram, Lalapur
After paying obeisance to Sage Valmiki here, Rama takes leave to go to Chitrakoot. Chitrakoot is a lovely place. Circumambulating this mountain will reap great spiritual rewards. The Mandakini river flows by that Sita and Rama would have spent so much of their time here! Kamadagiri mountain (the mountain that can give all that we want) is found here. In one place, 'Bharatha mila' where Rama and bharatha met is there where statues of Rama and Bharatha's meeting is found. You can see Rama's feet imprints here still. 'Ram Ghat' - a place in Mandakini river, where Rama and Sita did pinda pradhan for Rama's father. 'Janaki Kund' - Sita used to bathe here alone. 'Hanuman Ghara' - a place where a Hanuman shrine is found. Water from unknown source flows on Hanuman's head. Sita Rasoi - Sita's kitchen is found next (another site to see on Mandakini's banks). 'Spatika Sheela' - here on Sita's laps when Rama lay rest his head, Kakasura assaulted Sita and Rama finally taught him a lesson. 'Gupta Godavari' - here Godavari flows under earth where Godavari is said to have come hiding to pray to Rama.

Chitrakoot Parikrama:

Celebrated in the entire Indian literature and sacred books; the abode of Lord Ram, his spouse Sitaji and his brother Lakshmana 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 tirth of all tirths. 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 tirths 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 tirthas at various places in the Mahabharat, Chitrakoot finds a favoured 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 all his 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 favour 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 interpreting the Quran and showing its similarities with Shrimad Bhagwat Mahapuran, could not be traced.

River Mandakini:

River Mandakini

Kamadgiri Mountain:

Kamadgiri Mountain

Bharat Milap Temple:

Bharat Milap Temple

Ram Ghat:

Ram Ghat

Janaki Kund:

Janaki Kund

Hanuman Dhara:

Hanuman Dhara

Sita Rasoi:

Sita Rasoi

Sphatik Shila:

Sphatik Shila

Gupt Godavari:

Gupt GodavariWe shall see all the above places in detail in the next upcoming articles and let us get relieved from all our mental stress.


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