Sri Rama Anu Yatirai-
A curtain Raiser
Prostrating at the feet of Asmath acharyar His Holiness Sri Sri MudaliAndaan swamigal , adiyen wishes to briefly mention about the holy places connected with Lord Sri Rama who appeared as the eldest son of King Dasaratha and lived for 11000 years. Our poorvacharyas reveal that Lord Rama chose to appear in Ishvaku dynasty of Surya vamsam because Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam who appeared from paarkadal answering Brahma’s prayers was presently being worshipped by Ishvaku dynasty . Lord who desired to taste the “nectar of worshipping” appeared in this Raghu vamsam and worshipped HIS own Narayana swaroopam.
As Nammazhwar aptly points out “Karpaar Ramapiraanai Matrum Karpaaro”, we need to know about Lord Sri Rama and HIS qualities and follow HIS footsteps for our upliftment. Lord Sri Rama purified the holy Bharata bhoomi by placing HIS holy feet covering the length and breadth of our country. Sri Rama set out on HIS journey twice.
In HIS first yatra, Srirama covered the north and north-eastern part of our country covering Ayodhya, Buxar, Ahroli, Chapra, Hajipur, Sitamarhi, Janakpur. In HIS second yatra which was the longest and extended for 14 years, HE purified Srungaberipuram, Allahabad, Chitrakut, Satna, Nagpur, Nasik,Panchavati, Hampi,Mysore, Thirupullani (near Rameswaram) and now gives darsanam to us in Srirangam as Lord Ranganathar.
Thirumazhisai Azhwar questions Lord Aravamudhan at Thirukudandhai as to whether the Lord is resting because of the long trek undertaken as Rama ? ) “Nadandha kaal nondhanavo???” Lakshmana accompanied Srirama in both the journeys. Our poorvacharyars say that Lakshmana who was Adisesha amsam didn’t live even for a second without Sri rama. Lakshmana appeared in this world 2 days after Sri Rama’s appearance and disappeared from this mortal world before Sri Rama’s descent to Sri Vaikuntam. Lakshmana is known as “Kainkarya Lakshmi sampanna”-the one who is born for performing kainkaryam to Perumal. While conversing with Hanuman, Mother Sita glorifies Lakshmana as the one who is more dearer to Srirama than anyone in the world and regards him as Dasaratha because he used to take care of THEIR welfare like a father.t
All the places connected to Sri Ramayanam are still existing and can be visited. Adiyen is greatly indebted to my manasika guru, Sri Velukudi Krishnan Swami for the extensive research in identifying the places and enabling us to visit them. Due to official constraints, adiyen couldn’t join his yatra but later due to acharyar’s krupai, undertook this journey of visiting the holy places in two phases with family so that the sparsham of these places would purify us and charge Rama bhakti in us. We continuously prayed to Hanumanji, the embodiment of Rama Bhakti all through this journey by reciting Sundara kandam daily. WE also read the respective sargam connected to the respective places given by Sri Velukudi Krishnan swamy and sang “Naama Ramayanam”everywhere.
We had booked circular tickets with more of night journeys and day time to visit the holy places. We accommodated ourselves mostly in ISKCON guest houses and other ashrams wherever present .
Adiyen is briefly mentioning the details of places so that it would be useful to others who wish to undertake this yatra on own. Please forgive me for the shortcomings.
The detailed diary is penned in the below blogs .
click the links
and Part (2)
Sage Valmiki at the behest of Brahma wrote the famous epic Sri Ramayanam at Bittoor located about 60 kms near Kanpur. Places to be visited in Bittoor are:
Valmiki muni ashram:- about 2 kms from Brahmavrath theertham. In this temple complex, we find Lava,Kusha sannidhi with Sitadevi, their birth place , the valiant sons of Sri rAma and Sita, bandhey Hanuman sannidhi where he was bound. In the same ashram, we find the tree where the Aswamedha horse was bound, Sita rasoi, Sita paatal pravesh from where Sitadevi disappeared into the earth.
Other places of interest:-
Brahmavrath Theertham:-Brahma placed his foot for the first time in bhoomi at this place. Ganges here is known as Brahmavrath theertham. There is a small temple in which Brahma’s foot is worshipped
Dhruva Tila:- the place where the child devotee,Dhruva did meditation on the Lord by chanting Dwadasa mantram . This is in Bittoor.
ISKCON, Kanpur:- This is on the way to Bittoor
Sri Ramacharitram written by Sage Valmiki divided into 7 parts and the present location with the places to be visited is briefly given below:-
Bala Kaandam about Sri Rama’s life upto 12 years starting from HIS appearance upto the divine marriage with Mother Sita.
Places covered : Ayodhya, Buxar, Sidhasramam, Chapra, Hajipur, Ahroli, Madhuban,Sitamarhi, Janakpur and Dhanusha in Nepal
Temples to be visited in Ayodhya:- Time required :- 1 full day
Ram Janma bhoomi-Sri Rama’s birth place
Magouda:- Putrakameshti yagam was performed here
Dasaratha palace-. After marriage, Srirama along with Mother Sita first arrived here
Kanak bhavan(Sita Rama’s palace ) –made of gold. 3 sets of Sita,Ramar are decked in gold and are placed in golden throne. The utsava murthis are also of gold. We can have darsanam of Sri Rama padhukai-when Sita Ramar left for forest, Sri Rama climbed the chariot at this place.
Hanuman gaddi- where Hanuman used to rest-beautiful temple on a hillock
Raj Darbhar:- When Sita and Rama came to Ayodhya for the first time, as per the local authorities, Sitadevi honoured Kaikeyi,Sumitra,Kousalya and Dasaratha with food. In return, Kaikeyi presented kanak bhavan, Sumitra with nethi chutti, Kousalya with haaram and Dasaratha blessed Sita that Sri Rama would attain fame only because of HER and would be addressed as “SitaRam”
Sarayu river also known as Nethraja, Vasishti:- As she appeared from Perumal’s thirukangal(eyes), she is known as Nethraja, as she rested in Brahma’s manasu (heart) as water , she is known as Sarayu and as she was brought down to earth by Sage Vasishtar, she is known as Vaasishti.-Go dhaanam(cow dhaanam) on the banks of Saruyu is very auspicious
Valmiki Bhavanam : where the entire Valmiki Ramayanam is inscribed on the walls. Valmiki maharishi along with Lava and Kushan gives darshanam,
Ammaji mandir-a South Indian temple which is considered as the divyadesa Perumal temple built by Yogi Parthasarathy couple from Tiruvellikeni
Barat bhavan-where Bharata lived
Vasishta bhavan- where Sage Vasishta taught the royal princes. The level of water in the Vasishta kund here is the same as that of SArayu rivier
Outskirts of Ayodhya :-
Gupthar ghat and Lakshmana ghat:- about 15 kms from Ayodhya near Faizabad from where Sri Rama and Lakshmana ascended to Vaikuntam respectively-Lakshmana was forced to be separated from Rama and had to leave him. Lakshmana came to Sarayu river and walked into the river and disappeared to reach Vaikuntam. Lakshmana, the Adisesha swaroopam left first so as to welcome Sri Ramar at Vaikuntam. SriRama who couldn’t bear Lakshmana’s separation shed all the royal robes and ornaments and clad in a white dhoti holding darbha grass walked from HIS palace to the present Guptar ghat and taking everyone including innate things walked into the river and disappeared. very auspicious to bathe here
Nandigramam :-about 35 kms on the outskirts of Ayodhya enroute to Allahabad where Bharata stayed and ruled the kingdom on Sri Rama’s behalf for14 years- the pond where Bharata used to bathe, Bharatha mandir in the ground floor, Lagey Hanumar sannidhi, Rama padhukas in both the floors, meeting of Bharath and Hanumar,Bharath Milap mandir (old and new) , Sri Ramar temple near the pond where Sri Ramar and HIS brothers shed their mara-vuri and adorned royal dresses.(Ayodhya kaandam, Yuddha Kaandam)
Srimurthis at Bharat Mandir,Nandigramam
Tamasa river:- the residents of Ayodhya who followed Sri rAma’s chariot were misled here. Srirama asked Sumantara to drive the empty chariot towards ayodhya so that the residents would think that the Lord returned to Ayodhya
Lord Rama’s first journey towards north-east was at the age of 12 when HE along with Lakshmana accompanied Sage Viswamitra to protect the latter’s yaagam. Places covered :Srungi ashram, Kamasram, Sidhasram, Ahroli,Madhuban, Janakpur,Dhanusha, Punouda and return to Ayodhya
Srungi asramam near Sarayu river on the outskirts of Ayodhya- Sri Rama Lakshmana during THEIR first journey walked about 25 kms and spent HIS first night with Viswamitra rishi (this place was visited by Velukudi swami by bus, as we went by train , we missed this. Viswamitra taught Bala,Athibala mantras here
Base: Buxar– about 5 hours from Ayodhya via Azamgarh(south-east of Ayodhya)
Time required : 1 full day
Places to be visited in Buxar :- Kamasramam, Sidhasramam, Tataka vanam,Vaikuntanathar kovil
Kamasramam-The trio reached this place on the second day. Earlier this place was the sangamam of Sarayu and Ganges river. Now due to geographical dislocation, the confluence is at Chapra now. Here Manmathan was burnt to ashes- Sri Rama along with Viswamitra stayed here for a night. This was earlier known as Punyasramam. 26 kms from Buxar via Chitapada gaon in Balliya taluk. As Manamathan(Kamadevan) was burnt to ashes by Siva., the place came to be known as Kamasramam/Kameshwar Dhaam. Thre tree which also got burnt by Shiva’s fury can be seen. There is a temple for Shiva and a kulam on the left side. We can overcome Kaamam and krodham by clingling to Sri Rama’s holy feet.
Bhrigu rishi ashram- on the way to Kamasramam with a slight deviation-While going in search of Kamasramam, the driver took us to this place . Happy to note from the local people that this place also was visited by Sriramar.
Tatakavanam:- Tataka the demonness who had the strength of 1000 elephants was killed by Rama- a huge figure of the demoness can be seen here. This is in present Buxar. The trio spent the third night here
Ram Rekha ghat –Sri Rama crossed Ganges here in Buxar- beautiful temples for Rama and Shiva on the banks of Ganges, evening aarthi performed to ganges daily. We can have darshan of Sri Rama charan padhuka here. Akhand Ramayana parayanam goes on here.
Siddhasramam-where Viswamitra rishi performed yagam (this is in Buxar Central Jail premises), –Rama Lakshmanar guarded this place for 6 days (from 4th to 9th day) while Viswamitrar was performing yagam. Sri Ramar killed Subahu and drove away Marrechan. Killing Subahu is like Perumal absolving us from our past karmas and driving away of Mareechan is like driving away the sins which we would be committing in future. Also this is the appearance place of Vamana murthi-the 5th avataram of Mahavishnu- we can find a small temple housing shiva lingam
Vaikintanathar temple-locally known as Navalakh mandir- in south Indian style following Thenacharya sampradayam with separate sannidhis for Perumal, Thayar,Andal(Azhwars and Acharyars vigrahams are kept in Andal sannidhi)
Chapra(near Rewalgunj):- where Sarayu mingles with Ganges. While in Balliya , Rama hears a huge sound and asks Viswamitrar . Viswamitrar says that this is the confluence of Sarayu with Ganges. But due to geographical changes, it is now presently found near Chapra. This is on the way to Ahroli.
Ahroli- This is Goutama muni’s ashram . Local residents say that Ahalya who was cursed to turn into a stone was redeemed by Lord’s holy feet. We can have darshan of Sita-Ram,Lakshmanar in one sannidhi. In another sannidhi, we can find Goutama muni with his wife Ahalya and son Sadananda rishi who was King Janaka’s kulaguru, Hanuman. Also, Rama padhukai beneath a tree and small vigraham of Ahalya being touched by Srirama’s holy feet can be worshipped. Behind is the confluence of rivers . As per Valmiki Ramayanam, Ahalya was redeemed from curse at Kamtaul near Mithalapuri.
Sronepur:-confluence of River Srona with Ganges near Dhorigunj. Gajendran was granted moksham here- beautiful temple of Gajendravaradar. While staying here on 11th night, Viswamitrar told about his story, Ganges story and Kumara urpathi(Subramanya swami’s birth)
Ram Chouda at Hajipur: about 12 kms from Patna. King Sumathi hosted the royal princes and the rishi here. The overwhelmed king questions Sage Viswamitra as to why the delicate princes had to walk all the way without taking a chariot. Beautiful mandapam on a hillock where we can find Thiruvadi chuvadugal of SriRama. Confluence of Ganges with gandaki.
Madhuban:- Sri Rama and Sita saw each other in this beautiful garden. (This is mentioned by Ramanand SAgar but as Velukudi swami didn’t mention about this, we skipped it
Sitamarhi:- the last town on India-Nepal border-the birth place of Mother Sita. King Janaka who was childless intended to do a yagam and taking his acharyar’s permission, started to plough the yaaga bhumi when he heard a sound. He found a beautiful baby in a casket whom he named Sita as she was found at the edge of the plough. The place where Mother Sita who was an ayonija appeared is Sita Kund which is now filled with water.
Old and new temples of Mother Sita along with Rama,Lakshmanar,Hanumar can be seen. Beautiful vigraham of Janaka ploughing and Mother Sita appearing from the earth. The temple also displays a beautiful photograph of the divine wedding.
Janakpur:- where the divine wedding of Sita-Ramar along with the Urmila-Lakshmana, Mandavi-Bharata, Shrutakeerthi-Shatruguna took place- beautiful Janakpur palace turned temple and nearby kalyana mandapam known as “Sheesh mahal”to be visited. WE can find Sita,Ramar in Kalyana Thirukolam along with THEIR parents, Vasishtar,Sadanandar and others. Around the mandapam , we can have darshan of all the four couples-Sita-Ramar.Urmila-Lakshmanan, Mandavi-Bharatan, Shrutakeerthi-Shatrugunan.
Kanak mahal temple:- Sita’s jewellery were heaped like a mountain here. Very near to palace. There is another temple beside this where dieites are carved out of a single stone.
Dhanusha dham:-about 20 kms from Janakpur where a piece of the bow broken by Srirama can be seen. As per the pujari, when Sri Rama lifted the bow,it broke into three pieces-first piece fell at Dahnushkodi near Rameswaram, the second went into pathala in Janakpuri where we can now find a small kund, the centre piece fell at Dhanusha dhaam and this piece attached to a banyan tree is growing along with the roots by 2 inches every year.
Punouda:-after wedding, the retinue while returning to Ayodhya camped here- Parasurama was humbled by SitaRam here. The banyan tree under which the palanquin was kept is worshipped with reverence. The local people believe that only truth has to be spoken here else it would be disastrous. They assemble here for any dispute.
From Punouda, the retinue reached Ayodhya and Sri Ramachandran spent 12 years happily in the company of Mother Sita serving all the elders . Dasaratha with the consent of everyone including the citizens decides to crown Rama as the prince and arrangements are made. Lord Rama prays to Lord Narayanan(Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam) to fulfill the purpose of HIS avataaram.
Ayodhya Kaandam – the pastimes at Ayodhya including HIS exile upto the age of 24.
Places covered:-Ayodhya, Nandigramam,Triveni Sangamam, Allahabad, Chitrakut
Ayodhya:- As mentioned earlier , places in Ayodhya and nandigramam can be visited in a day.
Allahabad and Chitrakut can be covered in one and a half days.
Srungaberipuram- about 30 kms from Allahabad where Guha helped Rama cross the Ganges. Lord Rama accepts Guha as HIS brother. Sri Rama and Lakshmana applied thick gum from tree to his jadai mudai which was later followed by Barata and Shatruguna. Sumantara came upto this place and after waiting for 2 days returned to Ayodhya
Ram Sayya: The place where Sita-Ramar laid down to rest on the bare floor, Guha and Lakshmana stood guard the whole night. This area is fenced and worshipped by the devotees.
Guha temple, Rsihyasrunga temple on a small hillock. Guha Temple:- Sita,Ramar,Lakshmanr, Guhan and the boat rower seated on a boat.
The archeological survey has proved Rama’s visit to this place.Beautiful temple of Sita,Rama,Lakshmanar.
Rishyasrunga temple:- this rishi played vital role in performing putrakameshti yagam for Dasaratha. The rishi along with Shanta devi, his consort gives darsanam. Shanta devi happens to be Dasaratha’s daughter.
Ganges:- The trio with the help of Guha crossed Ganges here. Kavet is a beautiful temple near the shore where we can find the trio with Guhan and the boatman on a boat.
Triveni Sangamam-Prayag-Sita,Rama,Lakshmana offered oblations to the holy rivers here while crossing .Hanuman temple and Ramar temple( need to take permission to visit this temple which is now used by military )
Bharadwaja ashram, Allahabad: –Sri Rama visited this ashram twice – at the beginning and while returning to Ayodhya after exile
Akshaya Vat:- near Das Aswamedha ghat. Sri Rama performed pinta pradhaanam for HIS departed father while returning to Ayodhya. SriRama has done pinta pradhanam at Akshayavat, Varanasi and Gaya. It is customary to have bath in Triveni Sangamam, perform panda pradhanam at Akshaya vat. The two branches represent pithrus from mother’s and father’s side.
Veni Madhavan sannidhi:- the presiding diety of this city. on the north of Sangamam,western side of Ganges
Yamuna river:-Sita Ramar,Lakshmana took a boat to cross Yamuna river. Now this place can be reached by travelling over a bridge and reach via busy market place(We didn’t visit this place. Sri Velukudi Swami visited this during his second trip in 2014) The place where the trio crossed Yamuna and Sitadevi offered prayers is known as “Prabhu ghat”. Nearby there is Tulsidas temple-the house where Tulsidas was born. Flight of steps leads us to this place. Here the dieites worshipped by Tulsidas including Salagrama murthis, and the vigraham of Tulsidas which was found in nYamuna at Prabhu ghat after his demise are worshipped,his padhukas, original palmleaf manuscript of bala kandam. (we didn’t visit this place but on the way to Chitrakut at Rajapur, there is another temple for Tulsidas which we visited)
Rajapur:- on the way to Chitrakut- birth place of Tulsidas- Here the original manuscript of Ramcharitra manas is preserved.
Valmiki ashram on the way to Chitrakut, Valmiki river can be seen
Chitrakut:– the place where Sita, Rama Lakshmana stayed for some time. Bharata along with his retinue fell at Rama’s feet here and requested him to return to Ayodhya. When Sri Rama declined, he persuaded Srirama to part with his padhukas to rule over the kingdom .
Kamadgiri mountain:- Sita,Rama,Lakshmana stayed in a beautiful hermitage here as per Baradwaja muni’s advise. Devotees have bath in Mandagini Ganga and do parikrama around Kamadgiri mountain. This mountain is considered sacred as Sri rAma stayed here. The incidents of Lakshmana spotting Bharata and his retinue by climbing a tree, Bharata surrendering to Rama , Sri Rama hugging Barata, giving padhukas to Baratha , the brothers performing oblations to their departed father ,Sri Rama offering roots and twigs to the departed soul, etc will bring tears to our eyes. (Our hearts melt when the vendors sell the roots and twigs saying that this was Sri Rama’s food for 14 years)
Ram Ghat:- Sri Rama performed last rites for Dasaratha along with his brothers .Vanvaas Mandir where Rama Lakshmanar are adorned in mara vuri dress whereas Sita is dressed in silk as the local devotees treat Mother Sita as royal princess.
Brahma Theertham: Braham performed 108 yagas here
Parna Kutiram:-Sita Ramar stayed near Brahma theertham and purified the place.
Janaki kund-the place where Mother Sita used to bathe
Sita Rasoi:- the kitchen where Mother Sita used to cook the roots and figs to offer to Rama.
Hanuman Dhaara:- Beautiful and famous temple dedicated to Hanuman on a hill where Hanuman is bathed continuously with water from a waterfall , the source of which is not known to cool him from the heat caused during Lanka dahanam.(this incident appears in Ramcharitramanas) .There are about 250-300 steps to reach the temple. Virat swaroopam Panch mukha Hanuman at Hanuman dhaara is very powerful. Hanuman controls the nava gruhangal. Oil to keep his body cool, sindhoora podi, flags (Because he is Vijaya anjaneyar). Another temple on the top.
Sita Rasoi:- 100 steps above Hanuman dhaara-Mother Sita used to cook food for Sri Rama here .She followed Sanatana dharma of feeding guests even in forests. She has offered food to sages like Atri,Agasyar,Suteekshanar,Sarabhangar, Valmiki. Their idols can be seen here. Sitadevi in sitting posture while cooking ,Ram and Lakshmanan standing on either sides of HER.
Spatik shila:- While Sita and Rama were resting, Indra’s son, Kakasuran injured Mother Sita. Sri Rama got infuriated and aimed Brahamstram at Kakasuran. Kakasuran who couldn’t get asylum anywhere finally surrendered at Sita Rama’s holy feet and was rescued. Sri Rama plucked only one eye of the crow. , Spatik shila-where Kakasuran who injured Mother Sita was granted asylum by the all compassionate Lord Rama are other places of interest.
Our poorvacharyars opine that if Mother Sita is beside Rama, even Kakasuran who physically injured was saved but RAvana who didn’t even touch Mother Sita was killed because he didn’t have Thayar’s kataksham. On the rock , we can find Sri Rama’s holy feet and Kakasuran’s imprints.
Das Hanumar temple: on the way to Atri-Anasuya ashram-beautiful images of Hanuman and pictures of Swamy RTamanujar, Desikar and others can be seen.
Sati Anasuya Ashram- on the banks of Mandagini river, few kilometers away from Chitrakut on the way to Sarabhanga ashram. Sita,Ram,Lakshmana visited Athri muni ashram and spent few months there. Mother Sita described in detail about THEIR divine wedding to Sati Anasuya who gifted Sita with divine robes and ornaments which wouldn’t get spoilt. Anasuya is known for her chastity . Trinity were born to her-Shiva as Durvasar, Brahma as Chandran and Vishnu as Dattatareyar. Beautiful vigrahams of various gods can be seen here. It is customary to offer bangles and bindhis to Anasuya and take her prasadam. We can also find beautiful pictures from Sri Ramayanam here.
Gupt Godavari:- River Godavari secretly worshipped Sri rAma here. This is located in a cave. WE cannot find any water body around the cave but only inside the cave we can find Godavari upto our knee level. Godavari came secretely and prayed to Rama to bless her. That’s why Sri Rama went to Nasik –the birth place of Godavari and spent few years there. Beautiful vigrahams of Rama,Sita,Lakshmana, Godavari, few demigods, Dhanush kund, Sita kund etc can be seen here.
Aaranya kaandam:- the pastimes of the Lord in Dhandakaranyam for 13 long years upto the age of 38. This area is known as” Ashrama mandalam”. Even the rishis who have conquered everything and who were always meditating on the Supreme Lord were also mesmerized looking at Sri Ramachandran’s beauty. These rishis were born as gopikas in Krishna avataram to relish the Supreme beauty.
Places covered Virata kundam, Sarabhanga ashram, Suteekshana ashram, Agastya ashram, Nasik, Panchavati, Taket,Kishkinda(Hampi) Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana traversed through Dandakaranya forest covering present day Uttar Pradesh border, Madhya Pradesh,Maharashtra, part of Jharkhand, disfiguring Surpanaka at Nasik, giving moksham to Jatayu at Taket,
Viratha kundam:- on the way to SArabhanga ashram but deviation to be taken and we have to trek 10 kms in wild animals infested forest. Very risky and hence not approachable.
Sarabhanga muni ashram:-17 kms from Anasuya ashram- located on the outskirts of Chitrakut on the way to Satna. Sita,Ramar,Lakshmanar on the advise of Atri muni visited this place. When the trio were approaching the ashram, Indra had come with a divine chariot and was conversing with Sarabhanga muni . Indra disappeared from the spot. Sarbhanga muni greeted the Lord and did all the upachaarams. He requested the Lord to permit him to leave this mortal body and in the Lord’s presence, he lit a pyre and sacrificed his body. The rishi immediately took Narayana swaroopam and with folded hands left for Vaikuntam. This ashram can be approached only after 8 a.m. .In this ashram, we find Sarabhanga muni in Narayana swaroopam holding conch and disc along with the vigrahams of Sita,Rama Lakshmanar. A branch of Mandagini river known as Sarabhangi river flows nearby. This ashram is situated in the midst of a forest.
Suteekshana muni ashram:- beyond Sarabhanga muni ashram. These ashrams can be approached by road only and it is advisable to take a local guide with us as these are situated in remote places . Velukudi Swami ahs visited this place. Amidst natural scenic beauty, the ashram is situated which now houses the vigrahas of Sita,Ram,Lakshmanar and Suteekshana muni near THEIR thiruvadi in sitting meditative posture. Suteekshana muni gave directions to various ashrams to SRiramar.
Agastya muni ashram:- 5 kms from Salega(near Satna) is Patna Thamoli in Panna district. To take a jeep/ track and travel for about 5 kms. U reach a river which has to be crossed by either walking or lay a bridge and then climb a small hillock to reach Agastya muni ashram. Agastya muni presented a divine bow and arrow to Sriramar. Beautiful vigraham of Sri Ramar aiming an arrow. Here Sri Rama takes an oath to destroy the rakshasas who were causing trouble to the rishis in Dhandakaranyam.
Pl. note:- Initially we planned to go to Sarabhanga muni and Suteekshana muni’s ashram after visiting the important temples in Chitrakut. But after knowing the importance of Kamadgiri parikrama, we decided to join the other devotees in doing parikrama and hence we didn’t have enough time to go the ashrams. So we skipped it by offering our manaseeka prayers .
We need one full day to visit Sarabhanga muni and Suteekshana muni’s ashram for which there is no proper transport and the temples would be closed. However, Velukudi Swami visited these places and infact has renovated Sarabhanga muni temple.
Ramtek (Agastya muni ashram):- 60 kms from Nagpur known as” Ramtek”. As per the priest’s description, Agastya muni gave divine weapons to Sri Rama here and Srirama vowed to destroy the rakshasas . Hence this place is known as “Ram-Tek”. But as per Valmiki Ramayanam and Sri.Velukudi Swamy, this incident occurred in Uttara kandam .Srirama killed Sambakasuran here.
Enroute, there is a museum depicting entire Ramayanam which is a feast to the eyes. Separate sannidhis for Ramar, Lakshmanar, Mahalakshmi, Agastyar,Ram talab-a beautiful pond where Srirama had bath , nearby mandapam where Rama padhukas can be seen here.
Triyambakeswar- about 35 kms from Nasik- one of the 12 jyotirlingas and is also connected with Jnaneswar’s brother.
Godavari Udgam:-Godavari originates from Brahmagiri mountain- Ganges on Siva’s jadamudi appeared at this place to redeem Gowthama muni from Go-hathya dosham. Hence, she is know as Godavari. Sita requests Godavari to inform about HER abduction by Ravana to Srirama but fearing Ravana, Godavari didn’t oblige. When Srirama enquired from the river, it remained silent. Our poorvacharyars opine that Godavari out of fear for Ravana who was thousands of miles away from her did not do Rama kaikaryam whereas Yamuna who was flowing right in front of Kamsa’s palace in Mathura fearlessly participated in Krishna kainkaryam. So drinking Yamuna water will bestow dhairyam in us. But Vedanta Desikar opines that despite not doing Rama kainkaryam, Godavari is still considered to be punya nadhi because she has name “Godha” meaning Andal in her.So all her mistakes are wiped off. Godavari appears in a small kund and nearby we can find Goutamar and Ahalya.
Nasik, Panchavati:- Nasik and Panchavati are on either sides of Godavari.
Ram ghat, Gore Ram mandir, Kaaley Ram mandir, Ram kundam where Srirama used to bathe,
Mother Sita was abducted by RAvana from this place. The place from where Mother Sita was abducted by Ravana, the place where Sita was asked to Lakshmana disfigured Surpanaka and this place is known as Nasik.
Tapovan-Lakshmana was doing tapas of protecting Rama. Hence, it is Tapovan. Beautiful small vigraham of Lakshmana under adiseshan can be seen here. Lakshmana cut Surpanaka’s nose and threwl on the other side of Godavari which is presently known as Nasik. AS many rishis and munis did tapas in this serene place, it is known as Tapovan.
Brahma Kund, Vishnu kund, Shiva kund, Kapila theertham, Sita kund are all nearby.
Panchavati:- Lakshmana constructed a hermitage for Sita,Rama to live amongst 5 banyan trees . hence known as “ pancha vati”-Banyan tree grows from a small seed but gives shade to a vast area Pancha vati represents truth, patience, tolerance, speak sweetly, easy accessability. Then, we also become a banyan tree. Krishna states in Bhagavad Gita that amongst trees,” I AM THE BANYAN”
Parnasalai:- The beautiful hut constructed by Lakshmana for Sri Rama’s dwelling. Srirama appreciates Lakshmana for his craftsmanship adding that he never misses DAsaratha because like a father , Lakshmana caters to all the needs of Srirama.
Sita gufa- in Panchavati- there are 2 versions. While Rama was fighting with 14000 rakshasas headed by Kara,Dhooshana, Sitadevi was requested to be in a cave which was protected by Lakshmana from outside. Another version is at the time of abduction, the devas requested Mother Sita to hide inside the cave and Ravana carried tha Maya Sita who was Vedavati with him to Lanka. During Mother Sita’ agni pravesham , the original and maya Sita were flipped. Mother Sita requests Rama to accept Vedavati but Perumal refuses that it is not possible in this avataaram and when HE appears as Lord Srinivasa, SHE would appear as Padmavathi and marry HIM. (this incident of Vedavati doesn’t appear in Valmiki Ramayanam but is mentioned in Ramcharitra manas , Thiruvengada varallaru)
WE can find beautiful lively images of Mother Sita’s abduction by Ravana ,Mareechan appearing as deer, Sita cooking, and other incidents in this beautiful place.
Sundara Narayana temple: -one of the oldest temples in Nasik. This is bit away from Panchavati. Lord gives darshan to rishis as Narayanan along with Lakshmi devi and Tulasi devi.Beneath we find Garuda with folded hands.
Ram mandir:- about 32 kms -While chasing the maya maan(deer), Srirama felt thirsty and for drinking water, aimed an arrow on the ground, Ganga emerged from the ground
Baneswar:- 39 kms from where Rama let loose arrow
Madhyeswar -41 39-seeing arrow mareechan started running
Mruga vaadhyeswar-the place where the arrow hit Mareechan. Mareechan fell near Aurangabad
Taket: 65 kms from Nasik on Nasik-Igatpuri Highway.Drive for about 35 kms on the highway,take left turn, reach Gothi and proceed to Taket. It was here that Jatayu, the aged eagle fought valiantly with Ravana while he was carrying away Sita and in the process laid its life for a divine cause. Sri Rama who was searching for Sita everywhere learns about Mother Sita’s abduction from Jatayu. Srirama sent Jatayu to moksham and performed the last rites just like as a son would do to his father. Even Dasaratha was deprived of this opportunity. Kooratazhwan wonders in Athimanushasthavam that the Lord who knew to send Jatayu to Vaikuntam pretended to search for Sita and was enquiring about her whereabouts from Godavari, trees, birds etc.
SArva theertham: Rama aimed an arrow at the ground for water with which HE performed last rites.
Ram Mandir:-Sita,Ram,Lakshmana mandir
Jatayu moksha mandir”-Lord Rama seen with Jatayu on HIS lap with Lakshmana beside. An eagle made of cotton is hung on the roof.
Kishkindha kaandam– for about 10 months – redemption of Kabandhan, giving moksham to Sabari, the meeting of the Lord with Sugriva, vanara army setting out in search of Mother Sita. Places covered: Hampi, Lakshmana theertham near Mysore, Mahendra giri parvatham , Swayamprabha cave
Hampi:- Kodandaramar temple, Yanthrothkari Hanuman temple, Malyavan parvatham, Rishyamukha parvatham, SAbari ashram, Anjanadri
Anjanadri: Birth place of Anjaneyar- Hanuman’s parents were Anjana and Kesari . Anjana performed tapas for 7000 years.
Pampa saras:- This is one of the four sarovars created by Brahma-the others being Manasa sarovaram, Bindu sarovaram, Narayana sarovaram . We can find Rama Lakshmana foot prints near it and visit Sabari asramam by ascending few steps. Sabari, the devout disciple of Matanga muni was awaiting Srirama’s arrival as per her guru’s instructions and discharged her duty. Srirama accepted fruits given by her and in HIS presence she ascended to higher lokam.
Lakshmi Temple: located near Sabari ashram
Madhuvan: After Hanuman returned from Lanka, the vanaras on their way to Kishkinda halted at this place and after taking permission from Angadan satisfied their hunger and destroyed the beautiful garden which was close to Sugriva’s heart. Sugriva’s uncle Dhadhimugan went to Rishyamukha parvatham and complained about the vanaras atrocities to Sugriva who concluded that the vanaras have returned victoriously by finding out Mother Sita’s whereabouts. Beautiful tall vigraham of Hanuman about 9 feet smeared with sindhoor can be seen here. This temple is situated in a beautiful garden.
Malyavan Hill:- Here Lord Rama stayed here for four months. Srirama used to lament uncontrollably thinking of Mother Sita and Lakshmana used to console HIM. These incidents in Kishkinda kaandam will definitely bring tears to the readers. Such was the inexplicable love for Mother Sita. Hanuman used to wonder at the Lord’s behaviour . Lord Rama who is Sarvantaryami sensed Hanuman’s views and chose Hanuman to accomplish the task by giving HIS finger ring to him. The Lord wanted Hanuman to know Mother Sita’s greatness . When Hanuman introduced himself to Mother Sita in Ashoka vanam, he said “Rama dhoothan” whereas when he returned to Malyavan parvatham to convey Mother Sita’s news, he used “Rama dhaasan”. Such is the greatness of Sita, the Universal Mother who does Purushaakaram for our sake.
There is a beautiful Raghunath mandir here. The divine serpent, Adisesha has assumed the form of a single rock and the temple along with SriRama’s idol is carved out of this single rock. In another sannidhi, we can have darshan of Sita,Rama,Lakshmana and Hanuman. Here Lord Rama is in meditative posture holding japa maala without HIS kodhandam, Lakshmana is seen standing with folded hands, Mother Sita is beside Srirama and Hanuman is in kneeling posture offering the choodamani to Sriramar. When Srirama came to know about Mother Sita’s welfare, with tear filled eyes full of gratitude, the Lord of the Universe hugged Hanuman, vanara for saving THEIR lives. Such is the Lord’s compassion,gratitude and love for HIS bhaktas. This beautiful incident which brings to tears to whoever reads Sundarakandam took place here. We can have darshan of 2 ponds from which Rama and Lakshmana drank water during THEIR stay at this place. All around the temple, we can find huge boulders . .WE can have darshan of Lakshmi devi sannidhi. Opposite to this hill, we can find Hanuman sculpted on a rock. During Srirama’s stay in Malyavan parvatham, Hanuman used to stay here to have darshan of HIS Lord staying here. Mother Sita with chathurbhujam gives darshan.
Chintamani:- Near Rishyamukha parvatham. Vali wanted to test Srirama’s prowess and asked him to shoot at a sala tree on the other side of Tungabhadra. With a single row, Lord Ramachandran pierced not one but 7 saala trees in a single shot and instilled confidence in Vali. It was from here that Lord Rama aimed arrow at Vali and killed him. The place where Vali and Sugriva fought can be seen only through binoculars from here. We need to drive around to reach the place. Rama padhukai at this spot and a bow on a pillar can be seen . In the nearby cave, we can find a stone on which Lord Rama used to sit and converse with Vali. They entered into friendship in presence of fire at this place.
The place where Vali and Sugriva fought is about 45 minutes trek. From this side, we can see the fighting ground but this place is not visible f rom where they spot. On the ground where Vali and Sugriva fought, we can have darsanam of Srirama’s paduka. While Vali was dying, Srirama came in his presence, justified HIS act of killing by hiding and sent Vali to heavenly abode. This place is worshipped even today.
Kodandaramar sannidhi:-Sita,Rama,Lakshmana,Hanuman ,Sugrivar are sculpted from a single rock –Srirama performed Sugriva pattabhishekam here
Yanthrothkari sannidhi- this sannidhi is beside Kodandaramar temple . Here we find Hanumar and Sudarshana chakram on either sides of Yantram. Vanaras honoured Hanuman after he returned from Lanka.
Swayamprabha cave:- Krishnapuram near Kadayanallur (Rajapalayam)- vanaras who lost their way while going towards south were fed by Swamyamprabha and were transported to the sea shore. There is a sannidhi for Hanumar and a small vigraham of Swayamprabha inside the cave along with the theertham can be seen.
Sundara kandam:- After hearing the whereabouts of Mother Sita from Sampaathi, the eagle , brother of Jatayu, Hanuman assumes a big form and leaps into the air towards Lanka crossing 100 yojanas of sea after winning over all the hurdles, converses and pacifies Mother Sita who was about to end her life, Ravana sambashanam, setting Lanka to flames and victoriously returning to Mahendragiri to convey the news to his friends, return to Kishkinda on the way destroying Madhuvan near Hampi and offering the choodamani given by Mother Sita to Sri Rama and thus saved the lives of Sita,Rama and the entire world.
Places covered:- Mahendragiri mountain(Podhigai hill), Indian ocean, Lanka,Madhuvan and Malyavan hill in Kishkinda
Hanuman’s search in Lanka and return to Kishkinda to convey the news
Mahendra giri parvatham:- located in Thirukurungudi near Tirunelveli on the hill where the Divyadesa Perumal Malai Nambi resides. Hanuman leapt from here to cross the vast ocean and reached Lanka.
Lakshmana theertham, Thirupullani and Sethukarai near Rameswaram, Lanka
Sri Rama sets out to Lanka to defeat Ravana and rescue Sita. Returns to Ayodhya via Hampi, stops at Allahabad, meets HIS brothers, sheds THEIR maravuri and jadai (robes similar to that of rishi’s), adorns royal robes at Nandigramam and return to Ayodhya where Pattabhishekam is performed.
Lakshmana theertham :- 60 kms from Mysore –also known as Irruppu Falls- Lakshmana quenched Vanara’s thirst by aiming an arrow on the mountain from which water sprung. This water has lots of medicinal properties. To visit Rameswara temple at the foot of the hillock.
Thirupullani:- Lord Rama did saranagathi to Samudrarajan for 3 days starving and lying on darbhai. This is one of the 108 divya desams. . Here Vibhishanan, Samdura rajan with this wife are seen standing with folded hands in Perumal sanndihi . There is also sannidhi for Adi Jagannathar whom Dasaratha worshipped for progeny.
Sethukarai:- Vibhishana did saranagathi to Sriramar at this place. SEthu snanam at any time is considered auspicious
Kodandaramar sannidhi:- near Sethukarai. Beautiful picture of Vibhishana saranagathi can be seen. Srirama orders Lakshmana to perform pattabhishekam to Vibhishanan. Srirama proclaims here that it is HIS dharma to protect whoever surrenders to HIM. On Aani maasam Sukla paksham dasami thithti , every year vibhishana pattabhishekam is performed here. Sita,Rama,Lakshmanr, Hanumarwith Vibhishanar gives darshan
Gandhamadhana mountain:-Srirama padhukai to be worshipped here. It was from here that Srirama surveyed the entire area and it was here that all the vanaras assembled for taking further instructions.
Nepali Ramar temple: 200 years old temple constructed by Nepali king. The vigraham is made of salagramams brought from Muktinath
Dhanushkodi:- Driving on the Pamban bridge, we reach this place which was badly affected by Tsunami. There is a Ramar temple here.
Villundi Theertham:- This well is surrounded by sea water. Srirama aimed an arrow at the ground to quench Mother Sita’s thirst. The water in the well is sweet whereas the surrounding sea water is salty. The priest hands over a small vessel for us to draw water from the well and drink it.
Navapaasham:- Srirama is believed to have done puja to navagruhas by installing them here before going to Lanka. Very famous for navagraha dosha parihaaram.
Rameswaram:- In almost all the temples, we find “Ram paththar”(boulders and big stones used by Vanara army for constructing the bridge) which float in water.
Sugriva temple:- where Sugriva stayed. A very small sannidhi for Sugriva beside a pond can be seen here.
Incidents like Srirama quenching Mother Sita’s thirst at Villundi theertham, Srirama performing puja to Siva for victory ,Srirama performing navagruha puja etc are mentioned here as part of the sthala varalaaru even though it is not mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana .
Uttara kandam:- Sri Rama was crowned as Chakravarthi at the age of 38 and ruled over the earth till 11000 years. The Lord ascended to Srivaikuntam from Gupthar Ghat at Ayodhya taking even the innate things with him. Kulasekara Azhwar in Peria Thirumozhi beautifully describes the entire Ramayana and mentions about HIS ascent “ Andru Sarasarangal Vaikundhathukku yethi….)
Places covered:-Ramtek near Nagpur, Ayodhya, Valmiki rishi’s ashram in Bittoor
Ramtek:- Srirama killed Jambakasuran and rescued a brahmin’s child.
Lava Kusha Janmasthaan:- Situated in Valmiki ashram at Bittoor.
Sita Paathal Pravesh:- Mother Sita who was an ayonija (not born to human- she appeared as a small baby at Sitamarhi while Janaka was ploughing the yaaga bhoomi) finished HER role in Bhoolokam and disappeared into the bowels of earth after entrusting Lava and Kusha to Sriramar. This is located in Valmiki ashram at Bittoor.
Gupthar ghat and Lakshman ghat: Sri Rama and Lakshmana ascended to Srivaikuntam from this place. This is situated about 15 kms away from Ayodhya near Faizabad. There are separate temples for Ramar and Lakshmanar