Chitrakoot, "the hill of many wonders, nestles peacefully in the northern spurs of the Vindhyas, a place of tranquil forest glades and quiet rivers and streams where calm and repose are all- pervading. This loveliest of Nature's gifts is also hallowed ground, blessed by the gods and sanctified by the faith of pilgrims. For Chitrakoot's spiritual legacy stretches back to legendary ages: it was in these deep forests that Rama and Sita spent eleven of their fourteen years of exile: here, that the great sage Atri and Sati Anusuya meditated; and here where the principal trinity of the Hindu pantheon, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh took their incarnations. Sufferers and seekers, poets and visionaries, princes and noblemen have, through the ages, sought and found solace in Chitrakoot, drawn inspiration from its sublime natural beauty, gained spiritual strength from its serene temples and, in turn, become part of the hallowed legend that is Chitra koot.


PLACES TO VISIT

RAMGHAT
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. 

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.

SATI 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 through her meditation. Sati Anusuya lies about 16 km. from the town and can be reached by road.

SPHATIK 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.

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 afire. 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 peepal tree, a lovely halting place after the long climb up.

ALSO VISIT: Janaki Kund, Gupt-Godavari, Deep Daan, Bharat Koop and Bharat Milap.


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