1. Rama, Lakshman, and Sita Temple on the Banks of River Sita in Sita Eliya Village
Sri Lanka, known for its central mountainous region, is divided into provinces instead of states. The central province, with its breathtaking mountains, is home to the city of Nuwara Eliya. Just 5km from Nuwara Eliya lies the village of Sita Eliya, situated on the banks of the River Sita. It is in this village that you will find ancient idols of Rama, Lakshman, and Sita that date back 3000 years. The temple itself was constructed at a later date.
2. Ashok Vatika – A Place Blessed by Sitamata’s Presence
Behind the Rama, Lakshman, and Sita temple lies a dense forest, locally known as Ashok Vatika or Ashok Vanam. Interestingly, this forest is strictly off-limits to both locals and visitors due to its challenging terrain. Within the forest, you will find various trees, but the most remarkable one is the Ashok tree. This forest holds a special place in our hearts as it was sanctified by the presence of Sitamata.
3. The Black Soil of Ashok Vatika – A Remnant of Hanumant’s Fire
As per the ancient script of Valmiki Ramayana, Hanumant set Ashok Vatika ablaze after the end of the Ramayana war. What sets Ashok Vatika apart is its distinct black soil that resembles ash. On the opposite side of the River Sita, the soil is red, unlike the rest of Sri Lanka.
4. Ashok Tree – Symbolizing Motherly Love and Solace
Upon visiting Ashok Vatika, your attention will be drawn to the Ashok trees. The leaves of these trees have prominent veins, and holding them in your hand can evoke a sense of divine energy. With red blossoms appearing twice a year, these trees are affectionately called “Sita phool” (Sita flowers). The Ashok tree consoled Sita in her time of grief, showering her with love like a mother.
5. Hanumant’s Footprint and the Stone
At the back of the Rama, Lakshman, and Sita temple, there is a stone bearing Hanumant’s footprint. Legend has it that during his search for Sitamata, Hanumant jumped on an Ashok tree under which Sitamata was seated. Even today, devotees can witness the marks left by Hanumant’s foot. These unique Ashok trees can only be found in this particular part of Sri Lanka.
6. Journey to Ashok Vatika – A Challenging Path
Reaching Ashok Vatika, situated on a mountainside by the banks of River Sita in Sita Eliya village, is no easy task. The path is filled with dense forest, and one must navigate through the river basin before ascending the dry and rocky terrain. Although it is a challenging journey, we had the privilege of visiting Ashok Vatika with the assistance of Shri. Jeevaraj, the temple’s manager. Notably, even the locals hesitate to venture into the forest, and many important Indian figures have refrained from taking the risk in the past.
7. Beware of the Leeches
As we explored the jungle surrounding Ashok Vatika, leeches became an inevitable part of our experience. To our surprise, everyone except Sadguru Kaku was bitten by these creatures.
8. Expressing Gratitude at Gurumauli’s Feet
With the divine grace of our beloved Paratpar Guru, Dr. Athavale, who embodies Shriram’s energy, we were blessed with the opportunity to witness Ashok Vatika. It was only through His grace that we were able to embark upon this arduous journey. We offer our heartfelt gratitude to Gurudev.
Source: Dainik Sanatan Prabhat