Lord Rama was born in Ayodhya. It is a 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 all sins.
At Ramjanmabhoomi Lord Rama took birth. There was a huge Lord Rama temple here, which was destroyed by Babur in the 15th century and a mosque was built in its place which led to the famous Ramjanmabhoomi Liberation Movement.
At Guptar Ghat there are some nice temples and nearby there is a park. ?Guptar? means disappearance. It is said that Lord Rama disappeared at this spot. There are three temples in this area called, Gupta Harji, Chakra Harji Vishnu and the Raja Mandir. In the Chakra Harji Vishnu temple there are imprints of Lord Rama'sfeet.
There is a popular temple dedicated to Hanuman called Hanuman Garhi. It is located very close to 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 got the idols of Sita and Rama.
There is a nice area by the river surrounding Lakshmana Ghat. Lakshmana, the younger brother of Rama, is said to have bathed at Lakshmana 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 and Rama idols in this temple.
Kaushalya, the mother of Rama, is said to have built the Ksiresvara Natha Temple for Sita.
Bharat Kund, at Nandigram, 20 km from Ayodhya, is a place where Bharat ruled while Rama was in exile for 14 years.
One and a half km North of Ramjanmabhoomi is Svarga Dvara or Rama Ghat, which is an important bathing ghat.
There are four dhamas? Badrinath, Jagannath Puri, Rameshvaram and Dwaraka.
Rameshvaram is located at the south-eastern end of the Indian Peninsula. Rameshvaram 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 Shiva temple here, called the Ramanathasvami Temple. Lord Shiva'sworshipable deity is Lord Rama.
It is said that the Shivalinga in the Ramanathasvami Temple was installed by Shri Rama on His return to the mainland from the island of Lanka, after killing Ravana. Rama wanted to install a Shivalinga at Rameshvaram 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 Shivalinga out of sand. This linga was then installed by Rama and is known as the Ramalinga, because it was installed by Lord Rama.
When Hanuman came with the Shivalinga 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. This linga has the marks of Hanuman'stail on it. To pacify Hanuman, Rama had the linga, Hanuman had brought, the Vishvalinga, installed alongside the Ramalinga. Rama ordered that pooja (worship) be performed first of the Vishvalinga, which is still being done today.
This two-storey temple is on a small hilltop, about 2.5 km north-west of the Ramanathasvami Temple. There is a set of Lord Rama'sfootprints on a cakra here and the small Ramjharoka Temple. One can have 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.
There are idols of Shri Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman and Vibhishana here. It is said that Vibhishana, Ravana'sbrother, 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 eight km from the southern-most tip of the island going toward 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 prayer to the ancestors. It is considered auspicious to bathe here during the month of May.
Dhanushkodi is about 20 km south-east of Rameshvaram. It is said that Lord Rama destroyed a small bridge with His bow here due to the request made by Vibhishana.
Darbha Sayanam and Adi Jagannatha Temple
At Darbha Sayanam (Tirupallani, Pullanranyam) Shri 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.
About five km south of Darbha Sayanam at Adi Setu is the Adi Jagannatha Temple. The idol of Shri Vishnu here is in a reclining posture on Shesha Naga. It is said that King Dasharatha, 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.
There are many pastime places connected with the Ramayana in this area. There is a temple near the bridge that one has to cross to enter Rameshvaram. The temple has got 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 Lakshmana 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, Shri Rama washed His hair to get rid of any sins that He might have incurred in the battle at Lanka.
(To be concluded…..)