Tracking the journey of Ayodhya’s beloved prince.
Diwali celebrates the return of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana to Ayodhya. During the 14 years that he was banished from his kingdom, the exiled prince traveled the length of the country, even crossing the ocean and traveling to present-day Sri Lanka to rescue his wife, Sita.
Indeed, even as Ramayana narrates the story of the triumph of good over evil, India’s beloved epic also narrates the story of a journey… of an exiled prince seeking to rescue his abducted wife.
These are 11 of the several places mentioned in the Ramayana. Have you visited them all?
Ayodhya was the capital of the Ikshvaku dynasty that Rama belonged to. Home to the royal family, the place from where Rama left with his wife, Sita and brother Lakshmana in exile for 14 years. Ramkot is one of the famous tourist destinations, believed to be the place where Rama was born. Hanuman Garhi from where Rama’s follower, Hanumana kept an eye on Rama Janmabhoomi, the place where Rama was born. Ayodhya is in present-day Uttar Pradesh.
Prayag is the present day Allahabad. Rama, Lakshmana and Sita crossed the river Ganges (Triveni Sangam or Confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Sarasvati) and reached Prayag, making it the first place they stayed at, after they left the kingdom. It is the place where Rama, along with his wife and brother stayed for a brief period, before they took off to Chitrakoota. Allahabad has grown to be be known as the city of Prime Ministers for being associated with seven og the 15 prime ministers of India, including Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri since Independence. It is also one of the four venues of the Kumbh Mela (besides Ujjain, Haridwar and Nashik). Allahabad is also a part of Uttrar Pradesh.
Chitrakoota is the next pit stop for the trio. This is where Bharata met Rama and urged him to return to Ayodhya. Bharata had by now discovered the reason why Rama wasn’t king. However, Rama could not disobey his father and refused to go back with him. Bharata carried Rama’s footwear to Ayodhya, placed them on the throne and declared that he would rule as a regent. There is a temple in Chhitakoot called Bharat Milap which is said to be the exact spot where Bharata was reunited with Rama 14 years later. Ramghat in Chitrakoot is the place where Rama and Sita bathed at. Chitrakoot is a part of the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh.
This is the place where Rama, Lakshmana and Sita moved to after they left Chitrakoot. Panchavati literally means a garden of five banyan trees. This where Lakshmana drew a Lakshmana Rekha and left to chase the golden deer when Ravana abducted Sita. The nearby Ramkund is where Rama used to bathe while staying at Panchavati. Today, Panchavati is a part of the Nashik district. It is home to a temple complex on the banks of river Godavari. The most important temple here is the Kalaram Temple that houses black idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. Panchavati is located in Maharashtra.
This where Ravana’s sister Surpanaka triedto entice Lakshmana when he was away from the house. As soon as Lakshmana turned her down, she asked her brothers to attack Rama, who defeated both of them. This made Surpanakha lose her temper. before she could react, Lakshama is believed to have cut her nose off at this very spot. It located in the present-day Chhattisgarh.
Jatayu, a demigod tries to stop Ravana after he abducts Sita. Ravana cuts off his wings and Jatayu falls at the place which is now called Lepakshi. The place is named after the words uttered by Rama. Le Pakshi loosely translates to ‘rise, bird’, which helped jatayu attain moksha. Lepakshi was where Jatayu’s last rites were performed at this place. It is located in Andhra Pradesh.
After Sita was abducted, Lakshmana and Rama wandered around the forests and reached Kishkindha, the kingdom of Bali and Sugreeva. After a heated spat between the two brothers, Sugriva was fending for himself when he sent Hanumana to find out who Rama and Lakshmana were. As Rama helped Sugriva get his kingdom back with honor and Sugriva promised to help find Sita. On their way through the forests, they met a woman called Sabari who had waited for over 12 years for Rama’s visit. He relieved her from the materialistic life and the forest came to be called Sabari Mala, the forest of Sabari. The kingdom is said to be a part of present-day Hampi, Karnataka.
Rama is considered to be the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. He was a devotee of Shiva and prayed to Shiva before he took off to Lanka with his army of monkeys. The Rama Setu, a bridge built to cross over to Lanka was built from Rameswaram. It was believed to have been constructed using stones that floated. Rama stopped by at Rameswaram on his way back too where he prayed to Shiva and sought forgiveness for killing a brahmin (Ravana). Rameswaram is a part of the south Indian states, Tamil Nadu.
8. Ashok Vatika
Now known as Ashokavanam, this is the place where Sita was held captive by Ravana. She stayed here because she refused to live at Ravana’s palace. There is a temple named after Sita, Sita Amman Temple located in the village called Sita Eliya. The place gets its name because of Sita’s stay here right till Rama rescued her. Ashok Vatika is the place where Hanuman found Sita. It is situated in Sri Lanka.
Ussangoda is believed to be one of the places that was affected after Hanumana decided to set Lanka on fire. It is believed that Yssangoda was used by Ravana to land his pushpaka vimana, a flying chariot. Ussangoda has very unusual soil. Though some believe that the soil is natural back because the place was hit by a meteor, some believe that the soil is black as a result of ashes that stayed back when Lanka was set on fire.
This is the place that was connected to the Ram Setu from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. It was the first place Rama set his foot at. This is also the place where Rama fought Ravana and won against him with the help of the Bramhastra. Taklaimnnar is now a beach town in Sri Lanka
After the war and Rama’s triumph, he was reunited with Sita here. Before they headed back to Ayodhya, Rama asked Sita to prove her purity by giving the Agni Pareeksha. Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanumana rested here for a brief while before traveling back to Ayodhya.