THE ANCIENT PILGRIMAGE
Situated in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of river Paisuni (Mandakini), Chitrakoot Dham is one of the most ancient holy pilgrim places of India. Lying in latitude 25 10N and longitude 80 53 E, on the road from Banda to Allahabad, it is 285 km from Lucknow and 120 km from Allahabad.
The fourteen years of exile of lord Rama have impressed the human mind more vitally than other period of his life. Wherever his august feet tread in the years that he roved the wilderness, the land sprouted a pilgrimage center. Chitrakoot is one of them. Legend has it that during his fourteen years exile, lord Rama, along with his consort Sita and brother Lakshman came to Chitrakoot and in the solitude of its forests came in intimate contact with sage Atri and Sati Anasuya.
Goswami Tulsidas, the author of epic Shri Ramcharitmanas, spent many years on the soil of Chitrakoot, rendered sacred by the touch of the Lords feet. He composed many of his verses surrounded by nature, in its fullest splendour. Wrapped in peace and tranquility, broken only by the flutter of birds and the murmur of gushing streams, Chitrakoot is a symbol of faith-dotted with myriad temples and filled with the reverberating sound of bells- truly, an abode of the gods.
Anasuya- Atri Ashram:
About 4 kms away from Sphatikshila is the hermitage of sage Atri and Anasuya, surrounded by dense jungles. The peace and tranquility is occasionally disturbed by the sound of wild animals. The ashram houses the statues of Anasuya, Atri, Dattatreya and Durvasa Muni.
A natural wonder, the Gupt-Godavari caves are at a distance of 9.66 km, from Anasuya Atri Ashram. In the heart of a dark cave is a tank, which is perpetually fed by a small stream of water. This tank which is known as Sitakund is not too deep. Gushing out of the cave into two tanks outside, the water disappears suddenly, creating an aura of mystery.
To attain salvation, the pilgrimage to Chitrakoot is incomplete without a visit to this hallowed place of worship. It is said that, to crown lord Rama as the king of Ayodhya, his brother bharat, collected the waters of all the sacred rivers to anoint him with. On the advice of sage Atri, the waters were later poured into a deep well popularly known as Bharat Koop. A temple dedicated to Lord Rama is also found here.
On the banks of the river Mandakini, bathed in a golden hue is the Jankikund, where Sita took her ceremonial dip every morning.
Situated around 1.5 miles from Jankikund, on the banks of river Paisuni is the Sphatikshila, where Ram & Sita used to sit and watch the beauty of the serene surroundings. It is also said that at this place, Jayant, son of lord Indra, in the guise of a crow, had attached and pecked Sita.
Approachable by a flight of 360 steps, situated atop a hill is Hanuman Dhara, which has a big statue of lord Hanuman. A streak of water, gushing out from the hillock falls into a tank situated in front of the statue.
88 km from Chitrakoot lies the invincible fort of Kalinjar. Once desired by kings & dynasties, it house the Nilkanth Temple, Swargarohan Kund, Balkhandeshwar Mahadev Temple, Shivasari Ganga & Koti Tirth. Other interesting spots within the fort area are Sita Sej, Patal Ganga, Pandu Kund, Budhi-Taal, Bhairon-Ki-Jharia and Mrigdhara.
Allahabad, at the confluence of the three holiest of Indian rivers, the Ganga, Yamuna & the mythical Saraswati, has been the center of Hindu faith and devotion for centuries. People congregate in hundreds to take a dip in its sacred waters every day.
Lying on the left bank of Paisuni about 8 km from Karvi, it is intimately connected with the sacred hill of Kamtanath, which is 2 km to its southwest. Pilgrims first bathe in Paisuni, at Sitapur and then move on to do the parikrama of Kamtanath Hill.
Originally known as Jaisinghpur, it was given to Mahant Charan Das by Aman Singh Raja of Panna, who gave it the new name Sitapur, in honour of goddess Sita. There are twenty-four ghats and several temples along the river, which add to the glory of the town.
42 km from Chitrakoot, this place is believed to be the birthplace of Goswami Tulsidas. A Tulsi Mandir is situated here.
4 km from Gupt Godavari is Marpha famous for its natural beauty along with waterfalls, Jal Mohan Sarovar, Sri Balaji Mandir, five-faced statue of lord Shankar and ruins of a fort, believed to be built by Chandela rajas.
11 km. from Chitrakoot at Ganesh Bagh, on the Karvi Devangana Road, an exquisitely carved Shiva temple, a seven-storeyed Bawali and remains of a residential palace, built during the Peshwa rule, popularly known as mini Khajuraho are well worth a visit.
Nearest airport is at Bamrauli (Allahabad) 135 km.
Rail: Chitrakoot is connected by rail with all major cities- Delhi , Calcutta , Jhansi, Gwalior , Lucknow , Jabalpur, Varanasi, Allahabad. Nearest railway stations are Karvi (8 km) and Atarra (40 km).
Road: By road, Chitrakoot is 8 km from Karvi and 72 km from Banda. For tourists, it is advisable to reach Karvi, headquarters of the sub-division, from where one can go to Sitapur, situated at the foothills of Kamtanath hill. Buses of both M.P. and U.P. state roadways ply on this route.
Jeep, rickshaw, tonga, taxi services available for local sight seeing.
For accommodation there is a Tourist Bungalow of U.P.
Tourism available at Chitrakoot. Pilgrim visiting this sacred site can
also check in the various Dharamshalas offering resonable accommodation
Tourist Information Office: U.P. Tourism, Tourist
Office, Near Tourist Bungalow, Chitrakoot.
Restaurants: Tourist Bungalow Restaurant, Jaipuria Bhawan Restaurant, Annapoorna Restaurant, Chaturvedi Restaurant, Gupta Restaurant.
Area: 38.2 sq. km
Population: 37494 (1991 census).
Altitude: 207 m above sea level.
Clothing: Summer: Light Cottons.
Ramayan Mela: Feb-March
Ramnavami: March- April
Deepdan during Dipawali: October- November.