Holy Places In Ramayana

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M.P. Bhattathiry - 10.6 2017

In Kerala Ramayana month begins on 1st karadakam (17th July 2003). In almost all Hindu families one will read the holy Ramayana and other members will listen. The climate during the period is almost rainy and many people will not have any work and it is also considered as a month for preventive treatment. Elaborate arrangements will be made in the temples to read Ramayana and preach the message.

The Ramayana (The Journey of Rama) belongs among the world's oldest literature. Cherished throughout India and Asia for millennia, it has been faithfully preserved and passed on in varied forms of popular expression - epic poems, folk tales, music, dance, drama, puppet shows, sculpture, painting and even films and comic books. Its story and characters have captured the hearts and minds of countless generations.

Despite its huge popularity in Eastern cultures and even though it is recognized by many Western scholars as a literary masterpiece, most people in the West have never heard of Ramayana.

The story of Lord Rama is both a spellbinding adventure and a work of profound philosophy, offering answers to life's deepest questions. It tells of another time when gods and heroes walked among us, facing supernatural forces of evil and guided by powerful mystics and sages.

Revered throughout the ages for it's moral and spiritual wisdom, it is a beautiful and uplifting tale of romance and high adventure, recounting the odyssey of Rama, a great king of ancient India. Rama, along with his beautiful wife, Sita, and faithful brother Laksmana, is exiled to the forest for fourteen years, where Sita is kidnapped by the powerful demon Ravana. Along with his brother Laksmana and a fantastic army of supernatural creatures, Rama embarks on a perilous quest to find his beloved Sita.

The Lord Himself says in Ramayana, "If one surrenders unto Me sincerely, saying, 'My Lord, from this day I am fully surrendered unto You,' I always give him protection. That is My vow." Since the ultimate benefit of hearing the Ramayana is increased faith in Lord Rama, everyone will want to read this important book.

Kanak Bhavan, Ayodhya

Ayodhya

Lord Rama was born and had many of His pastimes here. It is a very holy city and is an important pilgrimage site. It is said to have once had the perimeter of 96 miles and was the capital of Kosala. It is on the banks of the Gogra (Sarayu) River, bathing in which is supposed to destroy even the sin of killing a brahmana.

Rama Janmabhumi

At Rama Janmabhumi Lord Rama have taken birth. There is a small Lord Rama temple here. At this location there used to be the Babri Mosque, constructed in the 15th century by the Moghuls. The mosque was destroyed in 1992 and at the present time there are plans to build a grand Rama temple here.

Guptar Ghat

At Guptar Ghat there are some nice temples and nearby there is a nice park. Gupta means disappearance. It is said that Lord Rama disappeared at this spot. The three temples in the area are called Gupta Harji, Chakra Harji Visnu and the Raja Mandir. In the Cakra Harji Visnu temple there is an imprint of Lord Rama's feet.

Other Places to See

There are over 100 temples in Ayodhya. At Janma Sthana Lord Rama have been brought up.

There is a popular temple dedicated to Hanuman called Hanuman-gadhi. It is located right by the main road where the tempos from Faizabad stop. Kanak Bhavan, which is an interesting temple, and Kala Rama temple, by the river, have both Deities of Sita-Rama.

There is a nice area by the river surrounding Laksmana Ghat. Laksmana, the younger brother of Rama, is said to have bathed at Laksmana Ghat.

Vasistha Kund is a temple with a small round kund (pond) like a well.

Rama is said to have performed a yajna (sacrifice) at Treta Ka Mandir. There are Sita-Rama Deities in this temple.

Kausalya, the mother of Rama, is said to have established the Ksiresvara Natha temple for Sita.

Bharata Kund, at Nandigram, 20 km from Ayodhya, is the place where Bharata ruled while Rama was in exile for 14 years.

One half km north of Janmabhumi is Svarga Dvara or Rama Ghat, which is an important bathing ghat.

Ramesvaram

There are four dhamas - Badrinath, Jagannath Puri, Ramesvaram and Dvaraka. Ramesvaram is located at the southeastern end of the Indian Peninsula. Ramesvaram is on an island, which is the shape of a conch shell, in the Gulf of Mannar. The island is sanctified by the footprints of Lord Rama. It is said that Lord Rama bathed at Dhanushkodi, where the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet.

There is a major Lord Siva temple here called the Ramanathasvami temple. This name indicates that Lord Siva is a great personality, whose worshipable Deity is Lord Rama. This temple is very popular.

Temple Story

It is said that the Siva-linga in the Ramanathasvami temple was installed by Sri Rama on His return to the mainland from the island of Lanka, after killing Ravana. Rama wanted to install a Siva-linga in Ramesvaram to absolve Himself of the sin of killing Ravana, who was a brahmana. Rama sent Hanuman to Mount Kailas to get the linga. Since Hanuman was late when the auspicious time for installation neared, Sita made a Siva-linga out of sand. This linga was then installed by Rama and is known as the Rama-linga, because it was installed by Lord Rama.

At the time Hanuman came with the Siva-linga from Mount Kailas, he was disappointed to find a linga already installed. Rama told Hanuman that he could remove the linga made by Sita and install the one He brought in its place. Hanuman took hold of the linga with his hands but could not move it. He then wrapped his tail around it and tried to pull the linga out, but it did not move. The linga is said to still have the marks of Hanuman's tail on it. To pacify Hanuman, Rama had the linga he brought, the Visva-linga, installed alongside the Rama-linga. He ordered that puja (worship) be performed first to the Visva-linga, which is still being done today.

Gandhamadhana Parvata

This two-story temple is on a small hilltop, about 2.5 km northwest of the Ramanathasvami Temple. There is a set of Lord Rama's footprints on a cakra here and the small Ramjharoka temple. There is a good view of the island from here. The place is called Vedaranyam. It is said that Hanuman made his great leap to Lanka from here.

Kothandaramsvami Temple

There are Deities of Sri Rama, Sita, Laksmana, Hanuman and Vibhisana here. It is said that Vibhisana, Ravana's brother, surrendered to Lord Rama at this place. A series of paintings inside the temple tells the story. In 1964 a cyclone wiped out everything in the surrounding area. The only thing left was the temple. It is located about 8 km from the southernmost tip of the island going toward Dhanushkodi.

Dhanushkodi

This is the place where the bay meets the ocean. Pilgrims are supposed to bathe in the small lagoon here called Ratnakara. This is a place to offer sraddha to the ancestors. It is especially auspicious to bathe here in May.

Dhanushkodi is about 20 km southeast of Ramesvaram. It is said that Lord Ramacandra destroyed a small bridge with His bow here due to the request of Vibhisana.

Darbha Sayanam and Adi Jagannatha Temple

At Darbha Sayanam (Tirupallani, Pullanranyam) Sri Rama observed penance, lying on darbha grass here for three days. It is said that Adi Jagannatha appeared before Him, gave him the weapon called Divya Chapa, and blessed Him with success.

5 km south of Darbha Sayanam at Adi Setu is the Adi Jagannatha Temple. The Deity of Sri Visnu here is in a reclining posture on Sesa Naga. It is said that King Dasaratha, the father of Rama, came here to pray for a child, when all his wives were childless. Hindu couples still visit this temple to pray for children. The place where Lord Rama built His bridge is not far from here.

It is said that at the coastal town of Devi Patnam (Navapasanam) Lord Rama put nine stones standing upright in the shallow bay. They are supposed to represent the nine planets that He worshiped for success.

Other Places

There are many pastime places connected with the Ramayana in the area. There is a temple near the bridge that you cross to enter Ramesvaram with a floating rock inside. When Lord Rama went to Lanka with the monkey army, they crossed the ocean on a bridge of floating rocks. Near this temple, close to the bridge, is Laksmana Tirtha and Rama Tirtha. Lord Rama is said to have bathed in these two tanks. Kodi Tirtha is supposed to be a spring that Lord Rama created by shooting an arrow into the ground. It is said that at Jata Tirtha, Sri Rama washed His hair to get rid of any sins that He might have incurred in the battle at Lanka.

Hampi (Vijayanagara)

Hampi was once the capital of the powerful Vijayanagar empire, which for two centuries was one of the most powerful empires in Indian history. Vijayanagara means "the city of victory". It was considered at one time greater than Rome and "the best provided city in the world". At its height half a million people lived in the city, and the Vijayanagara empire had an army of over one million.

At this place Lord Rama first met Hanuman. It is also said to be the spot where Parvati (known as Hampi) met and married Lord Siva.

Hampi Virupaksha temple

Kiskindha

The town of Anegundi, about 5 km from Hampi, is situated on the north bank of the Tungabhadra River. Local people believe this to be the ancient place known as Kiskindha where Rama met Hanuman and Sugriva. By Hampi is also the Rsimukha Mountain mentioned in the Ramayana.

The ancient place, Kiskindha, was ruled by two monkey-chiefs, brothers Sugriva and Vali. After a quarrel with Vali, Sugriva along with Hanuman were driven out. They then went to stay at Matanga-parvata Hill. You can get a good view of the surrounding area from the top of this hill. While searching for Sita, who had been kidnapped by Ravana, Rama and Laksmana came south and met Sugriva and Hanuman. Rama killed Vali and restored the kingdom to Sugriva. While Hanuman went to search for Sita, it is said that Rama stayed at Malyavanta Hill, which is on the road to Kampili, about 6 km east of the Virupaksa temple. There is a Ranganatha temple there with a large Deity of Lord Rama.

On the way between Virupaksa temple and Vitthala temple there is a cave on the bank of the Tungabhadra where Sugriva is said to have hidden Sita's jewels for safety. There are marks and streaks on the rocks, which are said to have been made by Sita's garments.

There is a huge mound of scorched ash in the nearby village of Nimbapuram that is said to be the cremated remains of Vali. The birthplace of Hanuman is said to be a little to the northwest.

Other Places to See

The Hazara Rama temple ("one thousand Ramas") is believed to have been a private temple for the royal family and was originally called Hajana Rama, which in Telegu means the "palace temple". It was originally dedicated to Lord Rama in the 15th century and contains many interesting sculptures of scenes from the Ramayana on the walls. It is no longer active.

From the Virupaksa temple of Lord Siva along the path on the river bank toward the Vitthala temple, there is a natural cavern marked with painted stripes where Sugriva have hidden the jewels that Sita dropped after Ravana abducted her.

At the Kodandaram ("bow-bearing Rama") temple there are large Deities of Sita Rama and Laksmana. It is opposite the bathing ghat. Here Rama crowned Sugriva as the monkey king.

The very ornate 16th century Vitthala temple is dedicated to Lord Vitthala, after the Deity in Pandharpur. It is on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra. It has musical pillars, which make different sounds when struck. It is considered to be the most outstanding temple in Hampi.

The Virabhadra temple is at Matanga Hill, where Lord Rama have stayed.

Nasik

Nasik is a holy city located about 5 hours northeast of Bombay (187 km). Lord Rama stayed here for some time during His exile and Sita was carried off by Ravana from this place. Nasik is on the banks of the Godavari river, which flows to the bay of Bengal. Laksmana cut off the nose of Surpanakha, the younger sister of Ravana, here. That is why this place got the name Nasik. Kumbha Mela takes place here every 12 years. Sri Caitanya visited here.

The Rama Kunda area is the main pilgrimage place in Nasik. Here Rama and Sita used to bathe, so the tank is considered especially sacred. It is also called Asthi Vilaya Tirtha ("bone immersion tank") because bones dropped here dissolve. In recent years the following people's bones were dropped in the Tirtha after they died: Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and many other famous people. Lord Rama is said to have performed funeral rites in memory of His father, King Dasaratha.

Citrakuta

Lord Rama and Sita are said to have stayed in the forest here during Their 14 year exile. Citrakuta is by the border of Uttarpradesh and Madhyapradesh, due south of Lucknow. It is 132 km south of Allahabad.

Lord Rama and Sita lived here for 11 years of Their 14 year exile. Citra literally means "beautiful" and kuta means "mountain".

Bharat, the brother of Rama, came to Citrakuta and begged Rama to return to Ayodhya, but Rama would not disobey His father's order. Rama stayed on Kamadgiri ("the hill which can fulfill all desires").

Lord Rama would daily bathe in the river here. Sita's footprints are on the rocks at Janaki Kund, where Sita took bath.