Recently my brother Prabhat went to Lucknow for some of his official work. Having a special connect with Lucknow, as we have lived and worked there for many years, I called him to know that which all places he is planning to visit in Lucknow. Prabhat told me that he is skipping Lucknow and is visiting Chitrakoot instead, the land of Lord Ram & Tulsidas.
I questioned, “Is this the same place, which has mention in the famous ballad “चित्रकूट के घाट पर हुई संतन की भीड़, तुलसीदास चन्दन घिसे, तिलक देते रघुबीर” He laughed when I recited the Ballad to him. Going by the fact that the religious and spiritual person he is, he sounded quite excited about going to Chitrakoot. He called me once he reached Chitrakoot after driving for nearly six hours and was mesmerized by the greenery and beauty of the place. My curiosity grew in the place but I had to wait for some more days for him to return to get updates on Chitrakoot. He doesn’t like to be disturbed in his religious and meditation sessions. But the wait was worth. The place is indeed very religious and spiritual and is a heaven for Ram Bhakts. I thought of sharing the details shared by him with my readers. You will particularly love the place if you are a true Ram Bhakt!
Celebrated in ballads and the scriptures for its natural beauty and closely associated with the epic Ramayan, Chitrakoot or “the hill of many wonders” is a hallowed centre of pilgrimage. Prabhat first told me how you can reach there. The nearest airport Khajuraho is 185 kms and the nearest railway station Karvi is 8 kms. Also, Chitrakoot is well connected by road. There are regular bus services to Banda, Allahabad, Jhansi, Varanasi, Chhatarpur, Satna, Kanpur, Faizabad, Lucknow, Agra, Maihar, etc. Some Road distances are : Allahabad – 125 km. Satna – 75 km. Lucknow – 285 km, Mahoba – 127 km, Kalinjar 88 km and Jhansi 274 km.
Prabhat first told me about Hanuman Dhara, a place he loved immensely. Located on a steep hillside, it is approachable by a flight of 360 steps. Here, the waters of a natural spring cascade over an image of Lord Hanuman. This is a hill where there are 3 main spots – Trimukhi Hanuman mandir, Panchmukhi Hanuman mandir (Main) and Seeta Rasoi at the top. There is a continuous stream of water that falls on Hanuman idol and the source of water is not known.
He bought grams of “Chana” and fed langurs there which are in abundance. He added, “Langurs are very calm and will hold your hand and eat every chana one by one. This is a real fun for the kids.” People return after seeing Panchmukhi Hanuman mandir and do not go to Sita Rasoi. Sita Rasoi is not in good condition and is just an old room where Sitaji cooked food during ram vanvas. There are two ways so take one way to go up and come back using other. This place is around 3 km away from Ramghat.
Now tell me about Ram Ghat, I quipped. On the banks of the River Mandakini, and centre of ritual activity, this ghat is the most frequented in Chitrakoot. The “Aarti” performed in the evening is particularly beautiful. This is a main ghat in Chitrakoot. You can do boating here by hiring boat for around Rs. 100–150 for an hour. Many of them have pet rabbits on the boats and playing with them would be really fun for the kids. Tulsidas statue is there on the ghat. Bharat Milap temple is also there on this ghat and all this you can cover this in around two hours. Daily arati happens at 6PM in the evening and you should find some time to secure a place to attend the arati. This is a central place in Chitrakoot.
Other attractions being:, Gupt Godavari Caves where there are around three caves. Water streams flow through these caves. You could see few crabs in the water but they do not and never harmed pilgrims. It becomes very humid in these caves since there are no proper arrangements of ventilation, so be prepared. In one cave water flows over stones and it is not be convenient to walk over such short stones, so be prepared as per your physical fitness/weight. This place is around 20 km from Ramghat.
Kamadgiri is a forested hill of prime religious significance, this is believed to be the original Chitrakoot. The Bharat Milap Temple is located here. Pilgrims perform a ritual circumambulation of the hill to seek blessings. Sphatik Shila: This picturesque spot is marked by two immense rocks. It is believed to be the place where Lord Rama and Sita feasted their eyes on the beauty of Chitrakoot.
Chitrakoot is also known for its Kamadgiri Parikrama which is around 5 kms round which can be completed in approx 2 hours. One should be beware of notorious monkeys on the parikrama, at times they can be really nasty.
So when you are in Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad or Jhansi, must pay visit to Chitrakoot to enjoy nature in its most unadulterated splendor.
– With inputs from UP Tourism.