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Ayodhya Deepotsav: Yogi Adityanath attends the Grand Celebration on the banks of Saryu River; Chants of “Jai Shri Ram” Echoed

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The small oil clay lamps are lit on this auspicious festival of India
The small oil clay lamps are lit on this auspicious festival of India "DIWALI". Pixabay

Ayodhya, October 18: Chants of “Jai Shri Ram” echoed on the banks of the Saryu river as actors portraying the roles of Lord Rama and Sita arrived here on a chopper decked up to resemble the mythological Pushpak Viman – in a recreation of Lord Rama’s return from 14 years of exile to Ayodhya – as part of a grand ‘Deepotsav’ celebration, attended by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik and senior ministers were also in attendance for the event in the flower-bedecked and gaily lighted temple town on Wednesday evening.

Tonnes of flower petals were showered as the actors portraying the characters from the Ramayana arrived at the venue of the Ram Lila.

As part of the Deepotsav, a record 1.73 lakh diyas or earthern lamps will be lighted on the banks of the Saryu.

The event is being hosted by the Tourism Department of the Uttar Pradesh government.

The state government placed full-page advertisements in newspapers and the entire government machinery has been pressed into service to make the event a grand success.

The Chief Minister has said the efforts by his government to “recreate the treta yug Diwali” was aimed to promote Ayodhya as a tourist draw, but opposition parties have alleged the BJP is trying to drum up support for its communal politics.

“This is all being done with an eye on the Gujarat elections and the BJP leaders are trying to deflect the attention from its failure in UP,” a senior BSP leader said.

Talking to IANS, a Samajwadi Party leader said the past governments have been promoting Ayodhya as a tourist destination and the Adityanath government’s mega event was “merely to whitewash its failures”.

Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya has trashed the opposition charges as baseless.

Senior Congress leader Alok Sharma said the event was being held with an eye on the Gujarat elections. “I hope the BJP also finds equal focus for the innocent infants who died in Gorakhpur due to shortage of oxygen,” he said.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made for the Deepotsav, that will commence after dusk. (IANS)

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Ever Wondered what do Ancient Sites mentioned in Ramayana look like? Visit these Ramayana Destinations to know!

Visit these Ramayana destinations the first chance you get, to feel closer to your roots.

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Ramayana destinations
Ramayana is not just a story, it is a way of life which has been guiding believers and non-believers for centuries about the right way to live on this planet. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 8, 2017 : Ramayana is not just a story, it is a way of life which has been guiding believers and non-believers for centuries about the right way to live on this planet. I can confidently vouch that we have all heard stories from Ramayana at one point in our life. Ramayana is not just a story, it is an indispensable part of the Hindu religious law.

There exist innumerable arguments questioning the authenticity of Ramayana. While it is almost impossible to prove or disapprove anything, what is feasible is to trace the chronology of events, focusing on various Ramayana destinations that can still be visited to experience the ethereal world that is believed to have existed in the Treta Yug.

Here is a list of ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana.

You can plan a trip to these Ramayana destinations to feel closer to Him, and personally experience what we have all grown up reading and hearing about.

  1. Janakpur

Mention in Ramayana

First on our list of Ramayana destinations is Janakpur. A key phase took place at Janakpur, one of the many other Ramayana destinations. The ancient city of Mithila, as it was previously called, was home to Sita, where she lived till her marriage.

Legend has it that to get rid of a devastating drought, the King of Janak ploughed the land in Janakpur when he stumbled upon an earthen pot out of which Sita emerged. This also explains why the place is also known as Sitamarhi.

King Janak brought the child back to the palace at Mithila, where she grew up and was married to Ram.

The Ramayana explains Mithila as a ‘divya-bhumi’, a sacred land that pulled Ram to it.

Visiting Janakpur

A small town in Nepal, you are sure to come across compelling stories of Sita (or Janaki) infused in the landscapes, temples and the people of Janakpur.

Sita’s  swayamvar, the ceremony which saw participation of learned men from all big and small territories, took place at Rangbhoomi. It was in this ceremony that Shiva’s bow was broken into pieces by Ram.

Dhanush Sagar is a tank on the area where a piece of the bow of Shiva, broken by Ram in an attempt to win Sita’s hand, had fallen. Another piece is believed to have fallen at some distance, now known by the name Ratan Sagar. And the third piece is believed to have fallen in Dhanusha, 15 km away from Janakpur.

Ramayana destinations
Dhanush Sagar in Nepal. Wikimedia

Visitors can also visit the Ram-Sita vivah mandapa, which has been made in Janakpur.

Multiple devotees flock Janakpur every year o pray and pay homage to Sita during Vivah Panchami, the day Ram and Sita are believed to have got married. The quaint little town also witnesses tourists on Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Ram.

How To Reach Janakpur

Janakpur is one of the ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana, only a few km from the Indian border and can be reached by flight, train or via road.

Travelers can fly to Kathmandu and take a smaller airline to Janakpur. However, make sure you check flight availability beforehand as they only ply a few times in a week.

Otherwise, one can also visit Janakpur via buses.

  1. Chitrakoot

Mention in Ramayana

Next on our list of Ramayana destinations is Chitrakoot. It is one of the most intricately explained Ramayana destinations. Upon being banished from the royal palace, it was here that Lord Ram, accompanied by wife Sita and brother Lakshmana spent eleven of their 14 years of exile (vanvas).

Ramayana also mentions of Bharat who came to Chitrakoot to persuade his brother Ram to return to Ayodhya. It was also here that Ram performed the last rites of his father, King Dasharatha in presence of all gods and goddesses.

Chitrakoot’s peaceful environment also acted as a source of inspiration for the great poet Goswami Tulsidas to pen the Ramcharitmanas, retelling the life of Lord Ram in Awadhi.

Visiting Chitrakoot

Nestled between the borders of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Chitrakoot has a breathtaking location with a tranquil aura.

Quick fact : ‘Chitra’ means a beautiful painting and ‘Kuta’ means mountains.

While all ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana hold spiritual transcendence, located along the Mandakini River, the sacred city of Chitrakoot is particularly known as a centre for spiritual enlightenment, and is a potpourri of devotion, legend and traditions.

Pilgrims can visit the Bharat Milap Mandir, where Bharat visited elder brother Ramand requested him to return to Ayodhya to claim his rightful throne. Upon his refusal, Bharat took his khadau (slippers) with him to the palace to place on the throne until Ram returned to the kingdom after 14 years.

Located on the Kamdagiri Hills near the temple premise, there exist engraved footprints of Ram and his brothers that are worshipped till date.

Located at the centre of the town is Ramghat where Ram used to take a dip in the mighty Mandakini river. This also happens to be the place where Tulsidas met Ram and Lakshmana.

Ramayana destinations
Ramghat in Chitrakoot. Wikimedia

Legend has it that Tulsidas was making sandalwood paste when the two brothers disguised as two kids approached him and asked him to apply a tilak on their forehead too. Not knowing the boys were really God, the poet made the tilak. It was Hanuman who helped Tulsidas recognize the brothers by reciting the famous verse,

“Chitrakoot ke ghaat pai bhai santan ki bheer,

Tulsidas chandan ghise tilak det Raghubeer.”

One can also visit the Gupt Godavari caves at a distance of 18 km, where inside the saves stand two natural throne-like rocks where Ram and Lakshmana sat during their stay.

How To Reach Chitrakoot

You can take a flight to Khajuraho, from where buses and taxis operate. The nearest railway station is Chitrakoot Dham. You can also choose to take the road to reach Chitrakoot.

3. Panchvati, Nasik

Mention in Ramayana

Third on our list of Ramayana destinations is Nasik. During his exile years, Lord Rama, accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana moved from one place to another, to find tranquility in nature and feel closer to the natural way of life. After staying in Chitrakoot for eleven years, the next Ramayana destination was Nasik where they spent a significant amount of time.

Their hut was built in Panchvati, which is famous for its five huge Banyan trees and is only 4 km away from Nasik.

Located on the banks of the Godavari, it was in Nasik that Lord Rama and Lakshmana had an encounter with Surpanakha, Ravana’s younger sister, where consequently her nose was cut off. This explains the rationale behind the name of the place. (Nasika means nose in Sanskrit)

To avenge the disrespect faced by his sister, it was from here that Ravana abducted Sita and flew her to Lanka on his Pushpak Vimaan. Needless to say, it was here where Lakshmana drew the ‘Lakshmana Rekha’,.

Visiting Nasik

The Kala Ram Mandir in Panchvati, Nasik is believed to have been built right where Lord Rama’s kuti (hut) was built.

Ramayana destinations
Kalaram temple in Nasik. Wikimedia

Nasik’s Rama Kunda is the chief pilgrimage place in Nasik. The Kunda is primarily a tank where Lord Rama and Sita allegedly bathe. This makes the tank extremely sacred.

The Rama Kund is also known Asthi Vilaya Tirtha, because human bones are known to dissolve here. Legend has it that Lord Rama performed funeral rites at the Kund in memory of His deceased father, King Dasharatha.

How To Reach Nasik

Nasik is very well connected via air, trains and road.

Panchvati is only 4.2 km away from Nasik and can be easily reached through road.

4. Kishkindha, Hampi

Mention in Ramayana

Next on our list of Ramayana destinations is Kishkindha. Marked by dense forests, huge rocks and the Tungabhadra river, Karnataka’s Hampi can be mapped to Ramayana’s Kishkindha, one of the most active Ramayana destinations.

In the forests of Dandak, Kishkindha was the kingdom of the Vanara king Bali.

It was in the forests of Kishkindha where Lord Rama met Hanuman.

After Sita was abducted by Ravana, Lord Ram had first entered the kingdom of apes looking for her, along with Lakshmana.

After a fight between the two monkey kings, Sugriva and Bali, Sugriva took refuge on the Matanga mountain along with Hanuman. Lord Rama had killed Bali and helped Sugriva win the throne. The brothers then stayed in Kishkindha awaiting results of Hanuman’s search for Sita.

Sugriva’s army of apes also pledged their support to Lord Ram here and hence came into being his army against Ravana.

Visiting Kishkindha

Ramayana clearly traces the roots of Kishkindha to the Tungabhadra river, which till date is counted among some of the major rivers of Karnataka.

One of the many ancient sites mentioned in Ramayana, the region along the river near Hampi in Karnataka is identified as Kishkindha from Ramayana.

Ramayana destinations
Kishkindha mountain. Wikimedia

Hampi has a culturally rich past and has much more to offer to visitors. However, for those of you looking to trace Ramayana’s trajectory, this place will not disappoint you.

Tara Mountain near Hampi is named after Bali’s wife, who had been saved by the monkey kind from demons.

As per Ramayana, Sugriva had taken refuge inside the Rishyamuk mountain. Legend has it that Bali had been cursed by a saint, who said the monkey king would perish if he entered the mountain. Thus, to save his life, Sugriva took refuge inside this mountain.

Pilgrims can also visit Nidapuram where a huge mound of scorched ash remains and is believed to be the cremated remains of Bali.

A little to the north-west lie the Anjanadri mountain, which is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, who lived here with his parents, Kesari and Anjani.

The mountain has been named after Hanuman himself, who was called Anjaneya.

Quick fact : You will have to climb 550 stairs to reach to the ancient Hanuman temple situated on this mountain.

How To Reach Kishkindha

Hampi is at a distance of 330 km from Goa and can make for a comfortable road trip. The nearest railway station is Hospet Junction which is merely 13 km away. The station is well connected with trains, and roads. You can also avail the bus services by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation

While it cannot be confirmed that everything we know about Ramayana took place as we know of it. However, these Ramayana destinations continue to exist till date and prove that they may just have transpired in reality.

Visit these Ramayana destinations the first chance you get, to feel closer to your roots.

 

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Annual 14-Kosi Parikrama in Ayodhya begins among heavy security deployment

It is believed that on the day of Kartik Poornima, Lord Vishnu wakes up and any body who undertakes this parikrama gets his or her all wishes fulfilled.

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14-kosi parikrama
Hindi priest saluting the sun in the Ganges, Varanasi Benares India (representational Image), Wikimedia

Lucknow, October 29, 2017 : The (42 km) 14-kosi parikrama in Ayodhya began on Saturday with lakhs of people converging in the temple town for the annual event.

Amid heavy security deployment, the devotees first took a holy dip in the Saryu river and then began the process of the trip on foot.

Priests said that there are three types of ‘parikramas’ in Ayodhya – the ’84-kosi’, the ’14-kosi’ and the ‘5-kosi’. The 14-kosi parikrama takes place in the heart of the city, while the other two are held in Awadh region and the Ayodhya district.

It is said that on the day of Kartik Poornima, Lord Vishnu wakes up and any body who undertakes this parikrama does get his or her all wishes fulfilled.

Several hundred buses have been plying for the last 24 hours to ferry pilgrims from all over the state. Mela officer and ADM (city) Vindhyavasini Rai told reporters that the panch kosi parikrama would start on Devthani Ekadashi on October 30. (IANS)

 

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Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath arrives in Taj City Agra

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BJP, Yogi Adityanath
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath. Twitter

Agra, October 26: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath arrived here on Thursday, a visit seen as a damage control exercise.

He will first visit the Nagla Pema area where a rubber check dam is likely to be constructed.

Locals are hoping that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will unfold a package for infrastructural development of Agra and soothe frayed tempers ignited by a series of controversial statements by politicians on the Taj Mahal.

He will visit the Taj Mahal where a cleanliness drive has been organized at its western gate.

The Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is also scheduled to launch Pro-Poor Tourism projects and address a public gathering at the GIC ground later in the day.

Adityanath’s visit to the Taj city comes after BJP MLA Sangeet Som had stirred controversy last week when he called the 17th-century marble wonder a blot on Indian culture, while some other right-wing politicians have said the Unesco World Heritage Site visited by millions was not representative of the Indian socio-cultural ethos.

His last visit to Agra was on May 7.(IANS)