Chitrakoot, also known as the ‘Hill of many wonders’, is a picturesque town in Satna district in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The town is famous for its historical and archaeological importance and houses a number of temples and sites mentioned in Hindu scriptures. The town is situated in Baghelkhand region and is divided between the present-day Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. People gather here in large numbers on each Amavasya, Deepawali, Sharad Poornima, Makar Sankranti and Ram Navami to celebrate the occasions with great enthusiasm.
The historical journey of this town dates back to the period when this town was a dense forest inhabited by sages and was full of animals and beautiful flowers. It was in these dense forests of Chitrakoot that great sages like – Atri, Sati Anusuya, Dattatreya, Maharishi Markandeya, Sarbhanga, Sutikshna and many other devotees and thinkers have meditated.
These dense forests of Chitrakoot were also used as an abode by Lord Rama, as advised by Sage Bharadwaj and Rishi Valmiki, to spend eleven and a half years of his fourteen years of exile along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman. The presence of Lord Rama in Chitrakoot for eleven and a half years has added a spiritual aspect and cosmic consciousness to this place which makes it spiritually alive even to this day. It is also believed that all Gods and Goddesses, who visited the place when Lord Rama performed Shradda Ceremony of his father, have made this place their permanent adobe and are always present there.
The place is also famous for the Bharat Milap Mandir. Bharat, who is the second brother of Lord Rama and son of Dasharatha and Kaikeyi, is said to have visited Chitrkoot to meet Lord Rama to convince him to return to the throne of Ayodhya. Lord Rama however gracefully decline his request on the ground that he had to fulfil his father’s wish, which demanded 14 years of exile and promised Bharat that he would return to Ayodhya and ascend the throne only after his 14 years of exile.
Deeply disappointed, Bharat returned to Ayodhya with Lord Rama’s sandals, which he placed at the foot of the royal throne, and governed Ayodhya as Lord Rama’s representative. It is said that the meeting of Lord Rama and Bharat was so intense that even the rocks and the hills of Chitrakoot melted and the footprints of Lord Rama and his brothers imprinted on these rocks are still present today in the Bharat Milap Mandir.
The sanctity of Chitrakoot, which was being used by Lord Rama as his abode to spend his exile, got tainted because of being discovered by Bharata and his men who located this place in search of Lord Rama. The place was no longer sacred and Lord Rama was forced to leave Chitrakoot, therefore, he along with wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, left for a distant place in Dandaka forest.
Post completion of his 14 year exile and after defeating Ravana – the King of Lanka, Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya as promised to Bharat. Upon his return to Ayodhya, Bharat himself led the procession to greet Lord Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, whom Rama intended to crown as Yuvaraja but he convinced Rama to instead make Bharat the Yuvaraja, on the basis of his great virtues and years of experience as Ayodhya’s administrator. Thus, on Lakshmana’s advice, Bharat was made the Yuvaraja of Ayodhya.
The spirituality and natural beauty of this place has been described well in ‘Adhyatma Ramayana’ and ‘Brihat Ramayana’. Mahakavi Kalidas and Sage Valmiki too have spoken very reverently about this place in ‘Raghuvansha’ and ‘Valmiki Ramayana’ respectively.
Tulsidas, the saint-poet of Hindi too had spent some part of his life in Chitrakoot worshipping his beloved deity Lord Rama and anticipating his Darshan which he got with the help of Lord Hanuman Ji. He has spoken about his deep bond and Darshan with Lord Rama in his work Vinay Patrika and has solemnly written about the beauty of this place in his entire major works-Ramcharit Manas, Kavitawali, Dohawali and Vinaya Patrika.