Chitrakoot Dhama, Part 6
BY: SUN STAFF
Ramghat at Chitrakoot
Jan 22, CANADA (SUN) A serial exploration of the Holy Dhama of Chitrakoot.
The foremost theertham in Chitrakoot Dhama is the Ramghat, where devotional life is carried on constantly by pilgrims taking bath, sadhus offering arotik, and Rama bhaktas meditating on the Lord's pastimes in Rama-lila. Ramghat's name is a glorification of the pastime wherein Sri Rama, Laksman and Sita Devi bathed here during their time in Chitrakoot.
The Ramghat is reminiscent of Varnasi, with long stretches of steps lining the Mandakini River. Not to be confused with another Mandakini -- a Ganga tributary that runs through Kedernath and Chopta -- the Mandakini Ganga at Chitrakoot is closely associated with Lord Rama's pastimes.
Just south of the main bathing area of Ramghat is the Raghav-prayag ghat on the Payaswini River. The Mandakini is also often referred to as the Payaswini, but there is a distinction. At the Raghav-prayag ghat, there is a confluence of the Mandakini, Payaswini, and Gayatra (or Savitri) Rivers, but it is not visible to the eye. At this place, Lord Rama performed pitra tarpan, making offerings to his father, King Dasarath, who departed after Rama went into exile.
Tulsidas gets darshan of Rama and Laksman
Along the main Ramaghat at Chitrakoot there is a famous shrine marking the place where the poet Tulsidas lived for some time. It is said that he got darshan here of Rama and Laksman. Tulsidas was preparing sandal paste, when Rama and Laksman appeared before him as two children. Rama asked Tulsidas to apply tilak to His forehead, which the poet did without recognizing that this was the Lord Himself, who Tulsiddas had so devotedly worshipped, and whose darshan he greatly desired. It was Hanuman who helped Tulsidas to recognize the Lord, by uttering this famous sloka:
The origin of the Mandakini River is about 50 kilometers south of Chitrakoot, near Manikpur. There, a massive and ancient gorge empties into another gorge, and from this the Mandakini flows.
Gorge at Manikpur
[Photo: G. Humakkar]
A great many shrines and ashrams line the banks of the Mandakini at Chitrakoot, and we'll visit several of them over the course of this series. Each evening, sadhus line the ghats offering arotika, while devotees take evening bath.
Devotees also bathe in the Mandakini before going on parikrama around Chitrakoot dhama, which begins with darshan of Lord Kamtanath. There is an interesting group of temples along Ramghat which are collectively known as Puri, and many devotees go on parikrama around this complex of tirthas.
Boats along Ramghat
Among the many important shrines around Ramghat are the Raghava-prayag ghat, Mattgajendreshwar Swami mandir, Parna Kuti, and Yagya Vedi. Beside the Raghava-prayag ghat, to the north of the Ramghat, is found the Bharat Ghat, where Sri Bharat bathed while in Chitrakoot.
Boat ride on Mandakini River
Mattagajendreshwar Temple is a very famous shrine along the Ramghat. Also known as Madganjansami Mandir, according to the Puranas, Lord Brahma offered penance here during the Satya yuga, and installed a Shiva-linga here as Kshetrapal, or the protector of this tirtha. The linga deity is known as Mattgajendreshwar Swami. Later, while Sri Rama was at Chitrakoot he performed Rudra abhisheka at this spot. Many years later the King of Panna, Raja Aman Singh, built the Mattagajendreshwar Temple here.
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