Chitrakoot Dham Part IV : Gupt Godavari
Gupt Godavari : Introduction
About 18 Km from the town of Chitrakoot Dham is located a natural wonder consisting of two natural caves in a hill, harbouring a natural stream of water which appears in one of the caves & then goes underground to reappear in the second. This stream which has a subterranean origin is considered by the devotees as the river Godavari, one of the seven holy rivers of India (the other six are : Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Narmada, Sindhu or Indus & Kaveri), & because of its subterranean origin & course, it is called Gupt Godavari (Hidden Godavari).
For benefit of the visitors, now-a-days, electric lights have been provided to the caves.
It is said that while in exile in forest (Banabasa) Lord Rama stayed at Chitrakoot & the surrounding areas have many of the spots where Lord Rama or His wife Sita Devi or brother Lakshman visited. Gupt Godavari is one of such spots.
Cave No. 1
This cave has a narrow entrance, a rather moderate slit capable of allowing one person at a time with a little difficulty. But inside, the cave flares into a very big chamber, often called Ramji ki Darwar (Lord Rama’s Court). At one side of this chamber, on a naturally raised stone platform, Lord Rama held His court.
A little inside, there is a small pool-like area called Dhanush Kund (Dhanush means Bow & Kund means pool or well). Here, one can see the small stream appearing from the rocks & the water collecting in the small pool of Dhanush kund. It is the Gupt Godavari . Devotees believe that the holy river Godavari secretly appeared here to have a view (Darshan) of Lord Rama.
The water flows from this pool into another slightly bigger pool called Sita Kund. It is believed that Sita Devi used to have her daily bath here. It is such a beautiful place, with cool clear water & protected from general view that one has to believe that saying. However, eve teasers were active during that ancient period too. A demon named Mayank tried to see Sita Devi taking bath, but unfortunately for him Lakshman came to know about Mayank’s (mis-) adventure. He killed the demon & stuck the dead-body on the roof of the cave. It is still there, a large chunk of stone (actually a large stalactite) hanging precariously from one corner of the roof of the cave.
Unfortunately, photography is strictly not allowed inside this cave.
Cave No. 2
The second cave, about 50 metres from the first one, is however a different story.
This cave has a broad entrance, but then it narrows down into a narrow lane full of above-knee water. One has to wade through the water to reach the inner chamber where there are two small pools of water, known as Ram Kund & Lakshman Kund. It is believed that Lord Rama & Lakshman used to seat here after taking bath in the pools named after them.
The source of the water in this cave is a subterranean stream, believed to be the same one in the first cave, which emerges at the far end of the inner chamber.
Fortunately, photography is allowed in this cave ( please see the accompanying photographs).
Besides the caves, the place here is quite picturesque. With low hills as the background, there are a number of temples here. The place is serene, & a visit here gives a blissful sense.
Gupt Godavari is attractive to both the devotees & the general tourists. The caves really inspire a feeling of awe.