The 84 Kosi Parikrama of Ayodhya is full of the ancient sities which are deeply connected to our cultural and spiritual heritage. Since, some of these places are at the verge of extinction, concrete steps are needed to preserve them and also to identify the places which find mentions in our scriptures but are missing on the ground today
Ayodhya is deeply connected to our cultural and national ethos. Not only the main Ayodhya city, but the Puranic Ayodhya also has so many places which are equally venerable and have their own significance. That is why the tradition of conducting 84 Kosi Parikrama of the Puranic city began. Joining this Parikrama has been the dream of every Rambhakta but many do not get this opportunity in their lifetime due to various reasons.
A view of the Exhibition on Ayodhya organised at IGNCA in New Delhi
According to Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya was 84 kos long from East to West and 12 kos wide from North to South. This entire area houses many significant places of historical, religious and cultural importance but many of these places have gradually vanished due to lack of maintenance or negligence by the people. Disturbed at this some people in 1902 decided to preserve the places which are already identified and made sincere efforts to ensure that they do not disappear. At that time they identified 151 places on the route of 84 Kosi Parikrama and installed stone pillars there because many of the places then were on the verge of extinction. Although, the list of 151 places was not final, there were many places of ancient significance which were to be identified. However, not much work was done since then to identify the remaining places which find mention in Ramayana or Shri Ramcharitamanas.
Today when Ayodhya is gradually becoming the symbol of cultural awakening in Bharat, it is direly needed that we know and understand the complete Ayodhya. In order to help the countrymen know and understand Ayodhya in entirety, Pragya Sansthan, Sankh Dhwni and some other organisations, in association with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, organised a three-day exhibition in New Delhi from January 4 to 6.
The Exhibition displayed only the primary information about 33 places situated within the cultural boundary of Ayodhya i.e. in present-day Ayodhya, Ambedkar Nagar, Basti, Barabanki and Gonda districts. The prime objective of the endeavour is to rediscover all the heritage sites of complete Ayodhya, awakening people about the pilgrimage places related to 84 Kosi Parikrama, renovation of the identified pilgrimage places as per their dignity and providing facilities to the pilgrims on the Parikrama route. Let us have a glimpse of some of the places which are visited by the devotees during the 84 Kosi Parikrama.
Makhaura Dham is the place in Basti District where King Dashrath had performed ‘Putreshti Yajna’. Apart from Guru Vashishtha, sage Vamdev, Suyagya, Jabali, Kashyap, Gautam, Deerghayu Markandeya and Vipravar Katyayan, sage Shringi was also present during the yajna. The 84 Koshi Parikrama begins from this place during Baishakh Krishna Paksha. Makhaura Dham is about 21 km North of Ayodhya.
Equally, ‘Ramrekha’ is a famous pilgrimage place located at present Amodha Village of Basti District. River Ramrekha flows near the temple here. It is believed that while returning from Janakpur after the wedding of Shri Ram and Sita, the people who joined the wedding had taken rest at this place and to quench their thirst Shri Ram had drawn a line by his arrow, which created a divine water body. Since then, it is known as ‘Ramrekha Teertha’. It is the first halt during 84 Kosi Parikrama.
Another halt of the Parikrama is Ashtavakra Ashram which is situated at Amdahi Village in Gonda District, about one km from sage Yamdagni Ashram. Ashtavakra was the same sage who had impressed everyone by his scholarship at the court of King Janak.
Situated in Ambedkar Nagar District Shri Shravanashram is known for the samadhi of legendary Shravan Kumar. It is situated at the confluence of Bisuhi and Madaha rivers. It is believed that it is the place where Shravan Kumar had come for fetching water for his blind parents. Earlier, it was a dense forest, but now the inhabitation has started growing around it. A saint Nag Baba lighted a lamp at this place for 50 years and now his disciple Bachci Das performs this sewa.
Situated in Ayodhya District, Shringi Rishi Ashram is the siddha place for posterity science, where sage Shringi lived. His temple is about 40 East from Ayodhya. On request of King Dashrath, Guru Vashishtha had invited sage Shringi to perform Putreshti yajna. It is believed that sage Shringi along with his wife Shanta Devi live here in Pindi form.
Jambu Dwip is on the banks of Sarayu River in present Gonda District, about 25 km from Paraspur Bazar. It is known as the Western Gate of the epical border of Ayodhya. It has been the sadhana bhoomi of sages Agastya and Tundil. However, how the place was named as ‘Jambu Dwip’ needs further studies.
Mahadev Ghat is situated on the banks of Tamasa River in Gosaiganj Bazar of Ayodhya district. The pilgrims performing 84 Kosi Parikrama stay here at night and resume the Parikrama after having a bath at Tamasa River.
Dashrath Samadhi is about 13 km from Ayodhya. It is now under Jalaluddin Nagar Village Panchayat. It is the place where the last rites of King Dashrath were performed. Equally, Bharat Tapa Sthali Nandi Gram is the place from where Bharat, after the exile of Shri Ram, ruled Ayodhya. He performed tapasya at this place for 14 years. The cave where Bharat performed tapasya can be seen even today. The Bharatkoop situated here believed to have the water for 27 pilgrimage places.
Tulsi Birthplace is in Gonda District and is the birthplace of Goswami Tulsidas who authored Shri Ramcharitamanas. The revenue record of the village still has 50 bigha land in the name of Shri Atmaram Dube, the father of Tulsidasji. The same record shows 100 bigha land in the name of Tulsidasji. Tulsidasji composed ‘Shri Hanuman Chalisa’ at Shri Hanuman Temple, which is on the banks of Sarayu River near Rajapur.
Varah Temple is the place where Lord Vishnu is believed to have killed Hiranyakash. The place where the temple of Lord Varah is situated is the confluence of two rivers—Sarayu and Ghaghra. The golden idol of Lord Varah was stolen from here some time back. However, the idol has been recovered but it is still in the custody of the Gonda Court.
Uttari Bhavani Varahi Devi Temple is about 11 km from Sookar. A large number of devotees visit this place every Monday and Friday and also during the Navratras. Similarly, sage Shaunak Ashram is in Gonda, East of Bangaon. Puranas mention about Sookt Shaunak dialogue. The sage performed tapasya at this place. Any discussion on dharma mostly remains incomplete without the mention of Shaunak Muni. Sage Parashar Ashram under Tarabganj tehsil of Gonda is at Paras village, about 50 km from Ayodhya. Parashar Muni was the grandson of Maharshi Vashishtha.
Gaura Ghat is in Ayodhya District. It is believed that while leaving for exile Shri Ram had taken rest at Gaura Ghat near Tamasa River. Near Gaura Ghat, there is Chakiyava Para village. It is the place from where Shri Ram proceeded to exile at night leaving the people of Ayodhya sleeping. Surya Kund exists at Netwari Chaturpur village near Rampur Bhagan Bazar in Ayodhya. It is the birthplace of famous personality of Bhagan Ramji. It is also one of the halts of 84 Kosi Parikrama.
Janmejaya Kund is in Amaniganj area of Ayodhya. Sage Aastik had performed tapasya at this place. According to scriptures, King Parikshit had performed Nag Yajna. Sage Aastik saved the snakes that were being sacrificed in the yajna. Those who fear snakes still visit this place. Near the temple, there is a lake. There is a temple of sage Aastik and Lord Shiva. There is Gahnag Ashram near Saurahi Mill on Faizabad-Raibarelly Road. It has been the tapasya sthali of Baba Gahnag. Many people bitten by snakes visit this place every day. Similarly, Aastik Muni Ashram near Kuchera is a famous place where people perform puja on Nagpanchami. There is also tapasthali of sage Yamdagni about one km distance.
Narhari Das Ashram is about 20 km from Paraspur Bazar in Gonda District. The family members of Narharidas say that Tulsidasji had composed some part of ‘Shri Ramcharitamanas’ here. Situated at Mahangupur village in Gonda district, Kapil Muni Ashram is believed to be the Sadhna Kendra of Kapil Muni. Ramkund Punhapi is in Ayodhya. It is the place where the people first spotted the Pushpak Viman carrying Shri Ram, Sita and Lakshman when they returned from Lanka after killing Ravana. It is presently at Shahganj Road, which connects to Jalalpur crossing at Faizabad-Prayagraj National Highway.
Chyavan Rishi Ashram is situated at Purva village in Ayodhya. Another Ashram of sage Chyavan is at Soharpur village of Gonda District. It is near Chamdai (Chamni) River. Chyavan Rishi is known for his tapasya for the betterment of the people. Sage Parashar Ashram is at Devrakot village, about two km from Kanta Crossing on Faizabad-Lucknow Highway. It is believed to be the birthplace of sage Parashar. Shri Ramnak Ashram is near Panditpur Village, about three km from Sohaval Bazar. However, not much information is available about sage Ramnak, but the sage is said to be responsible for originating Tilodki Ganga (Trilochana) River.
Shri Mandavya Ashram is situated at Lakhanipur Village of Ayodhya. It is believed that Tamasa River originated due to the efforts of sage Mandavya. Gautam Rishi Ashram is situated near Rudaili Bazar. It said that sage Gautam performed tapasya at Tamasa River bank here. Maa Kamakhya Bhavani Temple is situated near Gomi River at Saidpur under Rudaili tehsil. The Ashram of Medha Rishi is situated near this temple. Medha Rishi had composed ‘Shri Durga Saptshati’. Vandi Devi (Jalapa Devi) temple is situated near Gurukul Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya on Faizabad-Ayodhya Marg. It is believed that during the killing of Ahiravana, Hanumanji had prayed for the Bhagwati here. After returning from exile, Shri Ram had first installed Pataali Devi as Shri Bandi Devi here.
Pishach Mochan Kund is in Bibiyapur Village Panchayat of Ayodhya. It is in the eastern side of Bharatkund. It is believed that one gets rid of evil spirits by having a bath here. Near this Kund is Hatyaharan Teertha, where it is said that one is liberated from the sin of killing a person. There is one more Kund known as Patdhavan Teertha. All these Kunds are now known as Pishach Mochan Kund. Manas Teerth is also situated about 500 metres from Pishach Mochan Kund. It is the pilgrimage place where one’s wish is fulfilled.
Sage Yamdagni had very close relation with Ayodhya and the Ikshvaku dynasty. He is among the seven Saptrishis and composed many Vedic Mantras. His Ashram is in Jamatha Village under Gonda District. Girija Kund is the famous place in the 84 Koshi Parikrama. It is mentioned in the Skand Puran as Mantreshwar Teerth. It also finds mention in Rudraymal Ayodhya Mahatmya.
Badi Dev Kali and Chhoti Dev Kali Temples were once outside Faizabad city, but they are within the city. The Goddess is worshipped as Kuldevi of Shri Ram. The present idol was installed by King Sudarshan during the Dwapur Era. Presently, there are idols of Mahalakshmi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati. Badi Devkali is famous as Sheetala Devi and Chhoti Devkali is known as Ishani Devi in Ayodhya. Ishani Devi was worshipped by Sita during the Tretayuga.
These are only a tip of the iceberg. The 84 Kosi Parikrama is full of the ancient places which are connected to our cultural and spiritual life. Pragya Sansthan in association with some other organisation has taken up the responsibility to apprise the countrymen of these places and also take steps for their preservation.