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Ramayana Trail in Bihar

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Bihar has some interesting sites connected with the epic Ramayana, here are two of them.

Ramchaura

Located in the city of Hajipur in Bihar, Ramchaura is known for a temple that is dedicated to Lord Rama that it is located at Rambhadra near Helabazar. The name Ramchaura comes from Ram named after the Lord and Chaura which means orchid in Bhojpuri. Legend has it that this place dates back to the days of the Ramayana and locals believe that this is the place actually visited by Lord Rama. As a testimony to this fact there are his footprints (at the altitude of 45 metres from the ground) that are revered and worshiped here. It is said that these footprints are etched on a stone when Lord Rama halted at Ramchura to have a bath on his way to Janakpur. As per Valmiki’s Ramayana, Rama, Lakshmana and Vishwamitra spent the night here, at this spot, when they were on their way to attend Sita’s swayamvara. Some legends also say that Lord Rama had his first mundan or tonsuring ceremony here. Another story goes that Tulsidas was the person who installed the statues of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman here and also performed prayers for several days outside the temple. This is a major Ramayana site in Bihar and the temple here celebrates the birth of Lord Rama on Ram Navami with a lot of religious fervour. Incidentally, it is said that this day marks the arrival of Lord Vishnu on the earth and is celebrated as a day when happiness and justice is restores and there is destruction of all things evil. Naturally the small town is abuzz with activity of this day and the devout in fact observe a fast on this day while soaking in the festivities. The nine day long celebrations happens with much fanfare and a small fair is also organised on the eve of Rama Navami here each year. Being a place of historical significance, several archeological objects like an ancient yagna shala, pots, unburnt wood, incense sticks, havan offerings have been excavated in a ditch, southwest of the temple. These are on display at the Patna Museum today indicating that this temple has always been a place of religious significance.

Ramchaura
Ramchaura

Other sights

While you are here visit Kaun Haara Ghat one of the main ghats of Ganga-Gandak, Nepali Chhawani Mandir that has a Shaivite shrine, Pataleshwar Mandir where Lord Shiva is believed to be in the form of Lingam and Bateshwar Nath Temple also dedicated to Lord Shiva that goes back to the days of the Mughal Empire. The Lord Krishna temple at Baithakji Hajipur is also an ancient temple in the vicinity.  The 5.75 km Mahatma Gandhi Setu is among the longest river bridges in Asia here. If you are here in October-November period, the Sonepur Cattle Fair said to be the biggest animal fair in Asia is a must visit. With a circus, folk plays and folk dances the fair has an array of items on sale. Incidentally Vaishali is also known for its Buddhist and Jainism trails.

Fact File

By air: Patna Airport is 21 km away

By train: Hajipur Junction Railway Station connects Ramchaura

By road: Regular bus services connect Hajipur to Patna (10 km), Kumar Bajitpur (40 km), Muzaffarpur (52 km), Chhapra (60 km) and Samastipur (65 km)

Punaura Dham
Punaura Dham

Punaura Dham

Punaura Dham is believed to be the birth place of Sita, Lord Rama’s wife and is home to the Punaura Dham Mandir, one of the most revered religious sites at Sitamarhi in Bihar. Per mythology, at the time of Sita’s birth, Mithila was reeling under drought and King Janak began ploughing a field to remedy the situation. Continuing to plough, he reached Punaura where the plough struck a vessel – an earthen pot which broke and Sita came out of it. King Janak took the baby child to his palace in Janakpur and names her Sita. Punaura Dham, is about 5 km west of Sitamarhi and is also the place where Saint Pundrik’s Ashram existed. Flocked by millions of annually this is one of most visited religious shrines in North India. It is no wonder then that the Government now has plans to reconstruct a grand temple complex at the site that now has a small temple. This temple complex will be developed on the lines of the Nalanda and Vaishali universities and the Government also plans to push for a Sita circuit to promote religious tourism. The annual Janaki festival usually held in April is when the temple becomes a hub of activity.

Other sights

When you are here pay obeisance at Janaki temple built at the birthplace of Goddess Sita. While the temple is dedicated to Sita, Rama and Lakshmana are also worshipped here. The spring, Sita Kund, adjacent to the temple is believed to be exact spot where Sita was found. The other important site here is the Haleshwarnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva about 3 km north-west of Sitamarhi which is said to have been built by King Janak on the occasion of Putra Yeshti Yajna. There are many places here that are associated with Sita here. After Sita got married she was carried in a palanquin to Ayodhya by this route and rested at the present-day Sitamarhi earlier called as Sitamahi that translates to Land of Sita. Today it is home to a magnificent temple that is abuzz with activity during the annual Ramnavami celebrations held in April every year. Also stop by at Panth Pakar 8 km North-East of Sitamarhi which is home to an age old banyan tree under which Sita is said to have rested for a while. Deokuli, Baghi Math, Goraul Sharif, Shukeshwar Sthan, Bodhayan-Sar and Sabhagachhi Sasaula are some of the popular places here. Lac bangles and Madhubani paintings are famous here and folk dances like Jat-Jatni and Jhinjhari are popular in this region.

Fact File

By air: Patna Airport is about 130 km away.

By train: The nearest rail head is at Sitamarhi about 5 km away.

By road: National Highway 77 and National Highway 104 connect Sitamarhi to Muzaffarpur district and Patna.

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