Category Archives: Ramtek

Ramgiri And its Holy Sites

Ramgiri Temple

After an hour of country riding from Nagpur railway station by vehicle, one arrives at the foothills of Ramtek or Ramgiri.

Riding through the narrow lanes of merchants and farm animals, one can drive on the twisting road up the hill to the peak of Rama Giri. One can also walk through the steps on the mountain.

As the last curve of the road widened to the top, one can find standing before the steep rock wall of Rama Giri fort. This fort was built several centuries ago by kings of the Bhonsle clan. Rama Giri was chosen as the fort’s site for two reasons: (1) strategically, the hill offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding area, which it was the kings’ duty to protect, and (2) Vedic kings, even as late as the eighteenth century, were impelled by their burning religious convictions to guard holy areas.

In 1827, however, after the Bhonsle warriors suffered defeat at the hands of British invaders at the Battle of Sitalbuldi, their reign over the area rapidly deteriorated. Today the fort with its old tanks and temples is a protected monument, a historical oddity frozen in time.

1) The huge, rare deity of Lord Visnu-Varaha:

Deity of Lord Visnu Varaha

Overlooking the valley and the fort, this is one of rarest giant Varaha deities weighing several tons. There are two Varaha temples in Mathura, ancient ones visited by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as documented by “the king of poets” Krishnadasa Kaviraja in his most inspiring Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. There is also a beautiful white marble deity of Lord Varaha worshiped in a fine temple along the shores of Pushkar Lake in Rajasthan. But the only other deity of Lord Varaha of this immense size is the svayam-bhu (“self-manifested”) Sri Visnu-Varahaji of Majholi, Madhya Pradesh.

2) The ashram of Agastya Muni.:

Ashram of Agastya Muni

Lavishly preserved in marble and carefully maintained by a group of devoted sadhus, the hermitage has been developed as a pilgrims’ destination of much importance. Even the yajna-sala, the holy place of fire sacrifice where the rsi received Lord Rama, has been continuously maintained since Treta-yuga. An iron door has been installed over Agastya’s deep cave of meditation; only select yogis are allowed entrance into the chamber, called Hatiphor. The ashram’s astute crew of ascetics display extreme care in the upkeep and worship of Saint Agastya’s shrine. Their devotion reveals that they have correctly understood the place’s Puranic significance.

Beyond Agastya Muni’s peaceful cave is a large group of temples, the first of which is dedicated to Laksmana, who led the way to Rama Giri, announcing to the sages the arrival of his brother and sister-in-law. This explains why the Laksmana Mandir is first. The other temples are separately dedicated to Lord Rama, Goddess Sita, and Bhakta Hanuman.

3) The Deities in the Main Temple:

The Deities in The Main Temple

The local history of the Deities is noteworthy. In 1736 King Raghu Bhonsle visited Rama Giri only to discover that just the padukas or wooden sandals of Lord Rama were being worshiped. The deities were no longer present. The king vowed to commission Jaipur deities for the temple. But once the sacred murtis were prepared for temple installation prana-pratistha the king had a dream in which Lord Rama told him to search under the waters of the River Sur a few miles north. Finally, in 1753, the original deities were discovered and re-installed atop Rama Giri amidst much festivity and celebration. The Jaipur deities are privately cared for in a reserved area.

4) Ambala Kund:


This lake below the hill is said to have been named for King Amba, who was cured of a terrible disease after his bath in these waters, which originate from an underground river called Patala Ganga.In the eighteenth century, King Raghu Bhonsle had the lake and many of the shore temples renovated with fine stone work. These temples include those of Jagannatha, Pancamukhi Mahadeva (“five-faced Siva”), and Surya Narayana (the Sun incarnation of Visnu).

NOTE: Devotee-pilgrims who would like to visit Ramtek and Rama Giri may make arrangements with the devotees at ISKCON Nagpur’s SriSriRadha-Madhava Temple.

Location :


The temple is located on the Ramgiri Hill situated in Ramtek, which is 42 km northeast of Nagpur city, Maharashtra. One can travel by car up to the entrance of the temple on the hill.


Ramgiri or Ramtek Nagpur

Millions of years ago in the age called Treta-yuga, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord SriKrsna descended as a king, Lord Ramacandra. Lord Ramacandra’s adventures, His lilas were written down by the adikavi (first poet) Valmiki Muni. Valmiki literally means “he who comes from an anthill.” By meditating on Lord Rama’s transcendental lila, Valmiki became so steadfastly absorbed in the yoga of spiritual trance that huge jungle ants were able to build a hill all about him. After many years, he emerged from the anthill to scribe the 24,000-verse Sanskrit scripture Ramayana, the world’s oldest book.

The purpose of Lord Rama’s advent is to attract the conditioned souls to the timeless, transcendental path of bhakti-yoga, devotional service.

According to Valmiki’s Ramayana, Sri Rama, on the order of His father, King Dasaratha, left His hometown of Ayodhya (in present-day Uttar Pradesh State) and embraced forest life. As the full moon enters a cloud bank, Rama, Sita, and Laksmana wandered south through the woods to the mountain Chitrakuta. From there they entered into Madhya Bharata (central India), hiking through the valleys of the holy Vindhya hills and crossing the sacred Narmada River. Then they came to the vast Dandaka forest, the abode of hermits. As Lord Sri Rama passed through Dandaka forest, Srila Prabhupada recalls in the book, The Nectar of Devotion, many sages achieved perfection in yoga just by seeing Him. With their dormant love of Godhead awakened, these fortunate rsis were later (in Dvapara-yuga) reborn as gopis (cowherd girls) in the lila of Lord      Sri Krsna, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Srila Prabhupada and Srila Rupa Gosvami have drawn this information from the Padma Purana).

The divine threesome camped here and there, bearing bravely the hardships of jungle life and finally arriving at the ashram of Agastya Muni, atop what is now called Rama Giri. As a king, a member of the ksatriya class, Lord Rama offered His respects to a brahmana, Agastya Muni with sweet words. The Lord feels so grateful to His devotees that He bows before them, just as Lord Sri Krsna once bowed down to wash the feet of the poor brahmana Sudama.

The incomparable Agastya Muni was tri-kala-jna: He could see the three features of time i.e., past, present, and future. Hence he was well aware that Sri Rama was none other than the almighty Visnu Himself and that in the very near future He would fight a great war with the enemies of dharma, the demons (asuras).

Many sages of the Dandaka forest had already suffered grievous harassment in the hands of atheistic asuras, and many had fallen victim to their evil schemes. Yet try as they might, none of these asuras could trap Agastya Muni. Through his unbreakable penance and high intelligence, the sage had even outwitted the evil duo Ilvala and Vatapi. Ilvala, taking the form of a Sanskrit-speaking brahmana, would invite different sages to share a meal. Then Vatapi would assume form of the meal. After dinner Ilvala would smile and say, “Come out, Vatapi,” and Vatapi would suddenly burst forth, splitting the poor rsi’s belly.

Once Agastya, requested by the devas (demigods), accepted Ilvala’s invitation to dine with him. After the meal, the grinning Ilvala called for his wicked brother to exit the sage’s body.

But Agastya smiled and declared, “Your brother cannot come out now because he has already been sent to the abode of Yamaraja [the Lord of death] by the fire of my digestion.”

The infuriated Ilvala sprang forward, rushing at Agastya, but one stern and fiery look from the powerful sage reduced him to ashes in an instant.

Agastya once requested the Vindhya Mountains to bow low, because their towering peaks were blocking the sun. Agastya promised the lord of the Vindhyas that his rolling hills could rise up and become mountains again after Agastya returned from the south. To keep the Vindhyas humble, Agastya never went north again. Instead he made his hermitage at Rama Giri, in the Deccan, south of the Vindhyas. That is how the Vindhya Mountains became the Vindhya Hills, India’s traditional line of North-South division.

Saint Agastya received Sita, Rama, and Laksmana with customary offerings of fruit and flowers. Then he presented Lord Rama with the Brahma-datta bow, which Lord Indra had earlier entrusted to his care. The bow had been inset with diamonds by its creator, Visvakarma, the engineer of the universe. Along with the bow, Agastya handed over to Sri Rama a quiver of arrows that included the undefeatable brahmastra weapon. Lord Ramacandra was also given a sword in a bejewelled scabbard.

In His talks with the sages of Dandaka forest near and about Agastya’s hilltop hermitage, Rama took a vow to vanquish the trouble-making demons. When the Lord took His vow, Rama Giri shook.

By accepting the weapons from Agastya, the Lord displayed His intention of protecting His devotees. Today the village at the foot of Rama Giri is called Rama Tek, literally “Rama’s vow.” In Bhagavad-gita (4.7–8) Lord Krsna explains His vow to shelter His devotees: “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to re-establish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.”

Much later at Sri Lanka, during the battle with Ravana and his demonic hoard, Sri Rama’s charioteer, Matali, was to remind Rama of the weapons presented by Agastya Muni. True to Agastya’s vision and Rama’s promise, Rama fired the arrow imbued with brahmastra mantras into the heart of Ravana, where the demon had stored amrta, nectar of deathlessness. Whether protecting Prahlada as Nrsimha, the sages of Dandaka forest as Rama, Arjuna as Krsna, or the Hare Krishna sankirtana party as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Lord defends His devotee in every age. That is His promise.