Rama Rajya: A Tale Of Four Countries
Rama Rajya: A Tale Of Four Countries
Lord Rama is the protagonist of the Hindu epic Ramayana. The revered deity, Lord Rama is worshipped all over India and is considered as the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu.
Most people are familiar with the legend of this mythological figure being banished in exile for 14 years, the kidnapping of his wife Sita by Ravana, the war in which he kills Ravana, and ultimately his return (which has since been celebrated as Diwali, the festival of lights). After being crowned the emperor, Lord Rama ruled over his kingdom for a period referred to as Rama Rajya. When it comes to the Ramayana and things related Lord Rama, legends abound far and wide. Therefore it is said that the popular King’s visits were not limited to places in India alone. Here is a look at four countries where Lord Rama’s stories emerge from:
India is the very place where Ramayana is set. India has several places that were visited by Lord Rama. Here are a few important ones:
This is where Lord Rama was born to King Dasharath and Queen Kaushalya. Located in present-day Uttar Pradesh, it is now a major tourist destination and a sacred site to the devotees of Lord Rama.
Located in Allahabad, Prayag played host to Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana when they visited the ashram of Rishi Bharadwaja after crossing the River Ganga. After this, they left for Chitrakoot.
A part of the Nasik district today, Panchavati was an important place during Lord Rama’s exile as this is where Sita was kidnapped by Ravana. This place is also home to Tapovan, where Ravana’s sister Shurpanakha attempted to kill Sita, leading to the cutting of her nose by Lakshmana.
Rameshwaram is a major place in the trail of Lord Rama’s exile as this place in Tamil Nadu is where he, along with Hanuman and his monkey army, began constructing the Rama Setu—the bridge with floating stones to reach Lanka, where Ravana had held Sita captive.
Location: India is located in South Asia, bordered by Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar.
How to Reach: Several international airports in Indian cities; massive rail network which connects all its cities as well as countries like Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh; well-connected by road with buses from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Nepal.
Official Language: Hindi and English
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Food & Drink: Try a thali (meal platter) to experience the local cuisine of different places. Chai (tea), samosa, and jalebi are snacks to try when in India.
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The country plays an important role in the epic of Ramayana, and there are several sites that are mentioned in the narrative.
This beautiful garden was where Sita was moved to from her initial captivity in Sita Kotuwa. It is said that she was moved here as she refused to stay in Ravana’s palace, and the chariot path they had taken is still visible atop the mountains. The Sita Tear Pond is also located close to this route.
Located at the other end of the Ram Setu, Talaimannar is where Lord Rama first stopped in Lanka and began his lengthy battle with Ravana. Dunuwila is said to be the place where Lord Rama fired the Brahmastra at Ravana, thus killing him and ending the war.
Location: An island country in the Indian Ocean, close to India’s south-eastern region.
How to Reach: Bandaranaike International Airportis the only international one; being an island nation, there are no rail or road services to Sri Lanka, but one can travel via sea with ferry services from India.
Official Language: Sinhaleseand Tamil
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Food & Drink: Rice and curry is the staple food, with sea food and coconut milk being prominent ingredients. Try appam (hoppers) and Maldive fish-laced dishes. Fresh coconut water and toddy are popular beverages.
Interested to holiday Sri Lanka?
There was a controversy about the actual place where Lord Rama was born, as a new book claimed Pakistan, and not Ayodha, to be the Hindu deity’s birthplace. Stories like these will perhaps keep cropping up from time to time, but there are certain places in Pakistan believed to be related to Lord Rama:
Hinglaj Mata Mandir, Balochistan
This well-known temple is known as one of the Shakti Peeths of Goddess Sati, but this place has also found mention in ancient Hindu scriptures as being one of the places visited by Lord Rama. It is said that Lord Rama visited this place during his exile, accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana. There are several legends associated with this Hindu temple in Pakistan. One such story goes that after Lord Rama killed Ravana, he got affected by ‘Brahmhatya’ dosha (since Ravana was a Brahmin and an ardent Lord Shiva devotee). To atone for his act, Rama meditated at Hinglaj.
Shri Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir
This temple in Karachi is a much revered one, where devotees come to worship Lord Hanuman. It is said that the statue of Lord Hanuman appeared naturally on a stone surface in 1882. Many people believe that this is another holy place in Pakistan visited by Lord Rama.
Location: Pakistan is located in south-west Asia, bordered by India, China, Afghanistan,Iran, and the Arabian Sea.
How to Reach: Quaid-e-Azan Airport in Karachi, Islamabad International Airport, and Lahore Airportare the major ones; buses connect Pakistan to India and Iran; the Samjhauta Express connects India and Pakistan via rail.
Official Language: Urdu and English
Currency: Pakistani Rupee
Time Zone: UTC+05:00
Climate: Diverse climatic conditions, ranging from tropical to temperate.
Food & Drink: Pakistani cuisine is usually spicy and contains meat-based dishes with vegetables. Try Biryani, Chappali (beef kebabs), and Halwa (a sweet dish). Sweet or savoury Lassis are the most popular beverages.
This Hindu nation is home to a significant number of Lord Rama’s devotees, and there are some important places of the Ramayana here as well.
It’s located about 135 kilometres away from the Nepali capital, Kathmandu. Janakpur is regarded as the birthplace of Goddess Sita, the wife of Lord Rama. It is also believed that this is the place where she met Lord Rama, the then Prince of Ayodha, and the two got married. Janaki Mandir is an important landmark where devotees visit to pray to the revered couple, with festivals like Ram Navami and Vivah Panchami drawing thousands of devotees.
Now a municipality district, Dhanushadham is another important site in Nepal for Hindus. The story goes that this place is home to part of the Shiva Bhana, the bow that Lord Rama broke to win the hand of Sita in marriage during her swayamvara.
Location: Nepal is a landlocked central Himalayan nationbordered by India on three sides and China to the north.
How to Reach: The Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu is the only one; a narrow-gauge railway line connects Nepal to India, while buses and cab services are available to Nepal from various cities in India.
Official Language: Nepali
Currency: Nepalese Rupee
Time Zone: UTC+05:45
Climate: Varied climatic zones that range from tropical to Arctic.
Food & Drink: Himalayan cuisine, marked by dishes like steamed momos. Dal-bhat-tarkari is the staple food, which consists of rice with lentils and vegetables. Sweet lovers should try the Juju Dhau, a sweetened yogurt preparation.