Tourist Attractions in Chitrakoot

Chitrakoot, a celebrated place of pilgrimage, is one of the popular tourist destinations in Uttar Pradesh. It is home to several religious tourist attractions. Among the places to visit in Chitrakoot are temples, ghats, hills, caves, akharas, ashramas etc. The hill which is the object of pilgrimage, is known as Kamta Nath or Kamadgiri, and the name Chitrakoot is applied to the hill, the ‘parikrama’ and the locality generally. The hill is about two and a half km in circumference. The name Kamta Nath is the same as Kamda Nath meaning the “lordly granter of desires”, and the hill is said to have attained its great sanctity in the Tretayug, when Ram, Sita and Lakshman lived here during their exile. Its praises have been sung by sages like Valmiki and Tulsidas and many later poets. The name Chitrakoot is derived from two words – ‘Chitra’ means ‘of various colors’ and ‘Koot’ means ‘a hill’. Conspicuously, a large number of colored stones are found on the hills. Round the base of the hill is a terrace, on which pilgrims perform the ‘parikarma’. It is said to have been erected about 1725 A.D. by Rani Chandra Kunwar, the queen of Chhatra Sal, the great Bundela leader. To the south of the Kamta Nath is the Lakshman Pahari, named after Lakshman, the younger brother of Rama. It is said that from this hillock Lakshman used to watch over Ram’s hut on the Kamta Nath hill. There is a temple on the top of the hill constructed in the memory of Lakshman. The Payaswini river flows at a distance of about a kilometer from the base of the hill to the east and there are thirty-three places of worship dedicated to various deities, situated in the low surrounding hills, on the river banks, and in the valley and plains at the foot of the hills, all of which are connected with the various ceremonies of pilgrimage performed at Chitrakoot.

Eight of these places, namely Koti Tirth, Devangana, Hanuman Dhara, Janki Kund, Sphatikshila, Anusuya, Gupt Godavari and Bharat Kup are much frequented by devout Hindus, who go through the ceremonies of bathing meditation, are easily approachable from here. The Kotitirth is the name given to a hill which is said to have been named after the Sage Koti. It is some 6 km distant from Sitapur. Nearby is the place known as Devangana, named after the wife of Jayanta, the son of Indra. It is said that from this place she saw Rama and Sita and encouraged Jayanta to test the strength of Rama. Hanuman Dhara is situated about 5 km away from Sitapur. It is approached by a flight of 360 steps. There is an image of Hanuman upon which a spring falls. Janki Kund, a beautiful spot, is about 2 km distant from Sitapur on the bank of the Mandakini. It is said that Sita used to take bath here. About 3 km from Janki Kund is the Sphatikshila. The unique and most picturesque spot is located on two huge rocks. It is said that Rama and Sita used to sit there and see the immortal scenic beauty of the place. Sometimes Ram is said to have helped Sita in her toilet and adorned her hair with flowers. About 18 km from Sitapur is the hermitage of Sati Anusuya who is said to have lived here with her husband, sage Atri. Ram visited the place on his way to Sarvang Ashram. At the foothill of the Mandarachal, the temples of Anusuya, Atri, Dattatreya and Hanuman are situated. The river Mandakini emerges from this hill. Gupta Godavari is situated about 16 km from Chitrakoot. The holy waters of the river at the extreme end of the cave fall into two kunds. The river is said to flow underground. The cave is very dark therefore it is necessary to take a lamp or a candle while entering it. Most of these places lie inside the limits of Madhya Pradesh, except the Bharat Kup which is about 8 km by a road. It is said that the waters of all the holy and sacred rivers brought by Bharata to celebrate the ‘Rajyabhishek’ (coronation) ceremony of Ram were poured into this well under the instructions of the sage Vashistha. The Mandakini stream, a tributary of the Payaswini, flows at the distance of about 1.5 km from the hill joining the Payaswini below Sitapur. At the temple of Charanpaduka, the rock is said to exhibit the impression of the feet of Rama.

There are several akharas (religious orders of different sects) in Chitrakoot town, the finest being that of Charan Das. There are twenty-four ghats along the river, some of which are lined with shops; these become inundated in the rains when the Paisuni is in Hood. The four recognized ghats are Ragho Prayag, Kailash Ghat, Ram Ghat and Ghritkalya Ghat. The two large Chitrakoot fairs are celebrated here in Chaitra and Kartika.

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