Chitrakoot Dham Part II : River Mandakini

Mandakini at Chitrakoot Dham 1
Mandakini at Chitrakoot Dham 1
Mandakini at Chitrakoot Dham 2
Mandakini at Chitrakoot Dham 2
Two thirsty monkeys drinking water from Mandakini
Two thirsty monkeys drinking water from Mandakini
Picturesque Mandakini at Chitrakoot Dham
Picturesque Mandakini at Chitrakoot Dham

Mandakini River : Introduction

Chitrakoot Dham is an important place of pilgrimage to millions of Hindus. It is the place where Lord Rama along with his wife Sita & brother Lakshman spent eleven & half years when he was in exile -at-forest (Banabasa). The place is situated on the northern spur of Vindhya mountain, amidst lush green forests & sparkling rivers. The holy river Mandakini (not to be confused with the river with the same name situated in the Garhwal Himalayas) flows through the place, adding serene beauty.

The name Chitrakoot means “Picturesque hills” or “Hills with many wonders”, & the name is totally apt for the place. A visit to this place is sure to bring peace & calm in the minds of any visitor, pilgrim or not.

Mandakini River & its Ghat-s at Chitrakoot Dham

Mandakini (known a s Payasini in Govt records) originates in Kelhauna hills about 20 km west of Majhgawan town in Satna district of M.P. In the upper reaches, the river is essentially seasonal, becoming dry in non-monsoon seasons. It is at Sati Anusuya Ashram several streams feed it from nearby hillocks & convert it into a perennial river. It then passes through many hillocks & ultimately drains into the river Yamuna at Rajapur.

Considered holy by the Hindus, especially at Chitrakoot Dham where it is believed that Lord Rama spent eleven & half years during his exile (Banabasa), the river is a highly popular spot for holy dips by the faithful, especially during festivals & auspicious days as per Hindu almanac. Many Ghats or bathing areas are there in the river for convenience of the people, the most important being the Ram Ghat, where it is said that the great devout poet Tulasi Das, the composer of Hindi Ramayana, had a vision (Darshan) of Lord Rama.

Mandakini river at Sati Anusuya Ashram
Mandakini river at Sati Anusuya Ashram
Mandakini at Sphatik Shila
Mandakini at Sphatik Shila
Mandakini at Janki Kund
Mandakini at Janki Kund
A beautiful Ghat (Bathing area) in Mandakini, upstream from Ram Ghat
A beautiful Ghat (Bathing area) in Mandakini, upstream from Ram Ghat
A bridge on Mandakini, just upstream of Bharat Ghat
A bridge on Mandakini, just upstream of Bharat Ghat
Mandakini near Bharat Ghat
Mandakini near Bharat Ghat
Mandakini upstream
Mandakini upstream
Mandakini from the bridge
Mandakini from the bridge

Ram Ghat

Beautifully constructed with stone, the long stairs of this ghat or bathing area slowly descend into the deep water of Mandakini. There is a flurry of religious activities here with priests offering their religious services, pilgrims taking holy dips, sellers trying to push-sale their merchandise of things needed for religious activities, sadhus with various dresses sitting or walking or trying to catch hold of devotees to extract money, few bulls & cows standing here & there or slowly moving around & above all hundreds of monkeys trying to steal anything like flowers, fruits, nuts, bags or cameras from the people meandering at the ghat.

There are many well decorated boats waiting to be hired for a joyride in the calm river. In the evening the boats are all lighted up with beautiful coloured lamps.

In the evening along with chanting of Vedic hymns & devotional songs, priests perform Aarti (paying homage by lighting Diyas or lamps) to the river which is considered as holy as the great river Ganga. Devotees also float small earthen lamps in the water, making the scene a memorable one, though the pollution thus aggravated is a major concern for the Environmentalists.

Boats in Mandakini 1
Boats in Mandakini 1
Ram Ghat from opposite bank of Mandakini 1
Ram Ghat from opposite bank of Mandakini 1
Ram Ghat from opposite bank of Mandakini 2
Ram Ghat from opposite bank of Mandakini 2
Ram Ghat, Mandakini 1
Ram Ghat, Mandakini 1
The boatman of Mandakini
The boatman of Mandakini
Ram Ghat 2
Ram Ghat 2
The confluence of the rivers Payaswini & Mandakini at Raghab Prayag, Chitrakoot Dham
The confluence of the rivers Payaswini & Mandakini at Raghab Prayag, Chitrakoot Dham
River Payaswini now
River Payaswini now
Ram Ghat at night 1
Ram Ghat at night 1
Ram Ghat at night 2
Ram Ghat at night 2
Ram Ghat at night 3
Ram Ghat at night 3
Ram Ghat at night 4
Ram Ghat at night 4

Other Ghats of Mandakini at Chitrakoot Dham

Though Ram Ghat is the most important one, other ghats are there with equally religious importance. One of those are the famous Raghav Prayag Ghat, where a small stream named Payaswini meets Mandakini. It is believed that there is a third river there at the confluence called Saraswati, which may be a subterranean stream. The confluence of three rivers is always considered highly sacred by the Hindus, hence the importance of Raghav Prayag Ghat is no way less than that of Ram Ghat. It is said that Lord Rama offered homage to the departed soul of his father King Dasharatha here by doing the ritual of Tarpan. Devotees also perform Tarpan here for the departed souls of their near & dear ones.

Another important ghat here is the Bharat Ghat named after the younger brother of Rama Bharat. People take holy dip here too.

Decorated boats at Bharat Ghat
Decorated boats at Bharat Ghat
Bharat Ghat 1
Bharat Ghat 1
Bharat Ghat 2
Bharat Ghat 2
Raghab Prayag Ghat with Ratneswar Rama temple in the background
Raghab Prayag Ghat with Ratneswar Rama temple in the background

Temples near Mandakini at Chitrakoot Dham

There are innumerable temples, both big & small, along the banks of the river Mandakini. Some of the important ones are Ratneswar Rama Temple, Bharat Temple, Mattagajendra Shiva temple, Ram baithak, Tulasi Das temple, Hanuman temple etc.

Ratneswar Rama temple

This temple, situated on Raghab Prayag Ghat, is a huge one with the idols of Lord Rama, Sita Devi & Lakshman in the sitting posture, which is rather rare.

Bharat temple

This is situated at Ram Ghat, & is a huge temple.

Mattagajendra Shiva temple

Situated on Ram Ghat, this temple has four Shiva Lingams together.

Tulasi Das Temple

This is on Ram Ghat, & is dedicated to the memory of poet Tulasi Das, the author of Hindi Ramayana.

Ratneswar Rama temple at Raghab Prayag Ghat
Ratneswar Rama temple at Raghab Prayag Ghat
Ratneswar Rama temple 2
Ratneswar Rama temple 2
Ratneswar Rama temple 3
Ratneswar Rama temple 3
The idols of Lord Rama with Sita & Lakshman at Ratneswar Rama temple
The idols of Lord Rama with Sita & Lakshman at Ratneswar Rama temple
Hanuman idol at Ratneswar Rama temple
Hanuman idol at Ratneswar Rama temple
Stairs to Mattagajendra Shiva temple
Stairs to Mattagajendra Shiva temple
Shiva Lingams at Mattagajendra Shiva temple
Shiva Lingams at Mattagajendra Shiva temple
Ram Baithak
Ram Baithak

Conclusion

Chitrakoot Dham is a very important place with temples & other attractions. These will be continued in subsequent parts of this article.

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