Chitrakoot Dham : Part V :Other places of interest
Introduction : Other places of interest at Chitrakoot
Chitrakoot Dham has many other attractions too. As the place where Lord Rama lived for eleven & half years, Chitrakoot Dham is dotted with many places associated with Lord Rama, Sita Devi, Lakshman & Bharat. Devotees spend a lot of time to all these places. Some of these are being described here.
Janki was the other name of Sits. Sita, while in Chitrakoot Dham, used to have her bath in dtfferent places scattered in the area. One such area is the Janki Kund. It is a beautiful spot few km upstream from Ram Ghat on the holy river Mandakini. Now, a small temple dedicated to Sita is situated here. The adjacent river flows along after creating a small pool, which is Janki Kund.
Literally Sphatik means crystal & Shila means stone, so Sphatik Shila means Crystal Stone. Situated few km from Chitrakoot Dham, this is a place where there are footprints of Lord Rama on a block of stone by the side of Mandakini river. The stone has some glaze, probably that’s why it is called thus. As per the legend, Jayant, the son of Indra the King of gods, came here as a crow & attacked Sita with its bill.
About 14 km from Chitrakoot Dham is a small place by the river Mandakini surrounded by hills & forest which was the place of dwelling (Ashrama) of the famous sage Atri & his pious wife Anusuya. Legend says that once the Trinity of Hinduism Bramha, Vishnu & Maheswara came here to test the chastity of Anusyua. Anusuya easily passed the test as she was & still is the epitome of chastity.
Now-a-days there is a huge temple built in the memory of Sati Anusuya by a religious sect. The river nearby is very scenic. There are a large number of fishes in the river. Devotees feed the fishes as well as the monkeys, who are also abundant here.
The surrounding hills also contain a variety of fauna, the rock vulture is one of them.
Legends go that when Hanuman returned from Lanka after putting fire to the capital city of the Demon King Ravana who eloped with Sita, he was very hot from anger & physical exertion. Lord Rama, with a plan to make him cool, pierced the rock surface of the hill where they were standing by his arrow, & a gush of ice-cold water came out. Hanuman bathed in that water & was cooled.
The place is now known as Hanuman Dhara. It is about 5 km from Ram Ghat & is a medium sized hill. A long series of staircases (some says in total 762 stairs!) goes up the hill where there are two temples dedicated to Hanuman (one at mid level – a temple of Pancmukhi Hanuman, Hanuman with 5 faces, & a second temple at the top dedicated to the single-faced Ekmukhi Hanuman) & a number of small temples dedicated to various gods & goddesses, including a small temple known as Sita Rasoi (Sita's kitchen). The interesting point, is , however, the flow of water from the rock surface. Unlike hilly streams, here water appears in drops dripping from the rock surfaces which accumulate to form a small stream.
From the top of this hill, one can get a bird’s eye view of the Chitrakoot Dham.
It is a new museum constructed by a trust to spread the knowledge about Lord Rama among the masses. A visit to this museum is worth every penny it costs. Inside, the first pavilion displays the legends of Lord Rama & the Ramayana as seen in different foreign countries including Thailand, Indonesia & China. The other pavilions display the life-events of Lord Rama by real-life statues , huge pictures & murals.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside, so these lovely & interesting displays cannot be shown to others.
Chitrakoot Dham is a place where a visitor, whether Rama-devotee or not, can attain at least some sort of spiritual awakening & inner peace.
As the sun sets against the majestic temples, & boats in the Mandakini are lighted up with colourful lamps, the mind travels to a far off time, when Lord Rama walked on this land.