Just 90 kms from Nagpur is the divine town of Ramtek, a temple located atop the hills of the Sahyadri Ghats. The Ramtek town derives its importance from the famous epic Ramayana, the journey of Lord Rama, and his quest to cross the Indian Ocean to rescue the love of his life- Sita, from the demon Ravana. Thus, comes the lesson of good triumphing over evil.
The Ram Temple is located on a stone hill, made of red soil, reflecting the colour generated due to mica, a characteristic of Central India.
The local belief however is that the red color of soil resembles the blood of the demon Hiranya Kashyapu who was slayed by Narasimha, the avatar of Lord Vishnu. He then threw the demon’s cudgel with such force that it formed a crater at the foot of the temple, that eventually formed a lake, also known today as the Ambala Lake. There are several temples around the lake, the main being the Narsimha temple and the Jain Temple.
Located 60 km, from Zero Mile, Nagpur which is the exact geographical centre of India, the Ramtek temple forms the North-Eastern region of the city. The town is well-connected by both road and rail from Nagpur District. Ramtek town is accessible by road via NH-7 in 1 hour 30 mins and by rail via the train no-58810- Ramtek Local running at 05:40 IST from Nagpur Railway Station in 1 hour 40 mins.
Visiting the Temple
For us, it was a road trip that we took on Monday morning. The winter has started to set in now. We could feel the subtle chill in the air and the fog settled on the leaves as I got ready to kick-start my bike to head towards Ramtek. We started our trip at 06:30 in the morning and the idea was to hit the road as early as possible, to meet lesser traffic during the trip.
If you are a road tripper, the good news is that the tolls here are not functional and you can drive down straight without any payments across the gate. I kept a deliberate speed of 50 km/hr as I wanted to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes along with the morning sunshine. We wanted to take a break along the way and try out the restaurants and hotels for a good breakfast. We came across the MHKS Hotel, immediately after the toll crossing, and decided to try the morning breakfast here.
I must admit that it was not a wrong decision to try South Indian here. After a delightful break, it was time to move ahead for the destination. It was still 08:00 am and we had all the time to ride to the place. After another 15 km, we entered through a gateway into the small town of Ramtek. A simple village life away from the chaos and confusion of the urban life, the villages still wake up with the sunrise, and Ramtek is no exception to it. As we drove through the historic town, we saw several temples along the road, indicating the importance of this heritage town.
The drive to the temple is along an uphill road of 6 kms which gives one a glimpse of the scenic landscapes of the town. We could not help but take a pit-stop here for some time, to see the beauty around. From far off, we could spot this under-construction dome of a temple which added to the beauty of the landscape. From far off, we could spot the serene view of the Ambala Lake, which is also a spot for boating and day tours.
We moved ahead for the temple and reached at the parking area of the temple. People from across the country come here, especially in groups, to witness the glory of the temple. From the parking lot, we could spot the temple on the hill-top, which always throws an intriguing question about how much effort the artisans of the old times took to create such magnificent structures at these heights. The characteristic red color of the stone is clearly visible on the structures here.
The temple has gentle sloped staircases which makes the climb easier for most of the visitors. A twin-fortified structure surrounded with two massive entrance gates that finally end at the temple entrance, these gates are guarded by the langoors (the black-faced monkeys) and are customary near any Rama Temple. These monkeys are considered as the descendants of Hanuman, who helped Lord Rama in his journey to rescue his wife from Lanka (present day Sri-Lanka).
The monkeys are smart enough to spot the travelers with poly bags, so it is advised not to carry them. Instead, if you buy the offerings from anyone, carry a backpack, which the monkeys do not snatch from you. The moment the monkeys spot any person with a plastic bag here, they come running after them in search of their food from the offerings. In one good way, this controls the environmental pollution nuisance caused by the irresponsible visitors, in a more natural way.
As we entered inside the temple, an inner funnel gate led us inside the temple, where the complete temple structure has been intricately carved out in stone. The temple has two main structures at the centre with the Lakshman temple coming first and then the Rama temple behind. The red stones have been intricately chiseled and carved which speaks volumes about the patience, will and precision of the artisans who spent years working to build the temple.
The temple has a view point at the rear end and gives a spectacular view of the entire town. Climb up here and you can experience the cool breeze that hits your face to soothe your mind as you immerse yourself in the beauty of the landscape.
As I reached the rear end to climb the tower, I noticed the other visitors in a skeptical mode as if they were trying to avoid something. I climbed up the stairs only to realize that the entire tower was occupied by the langoors. But they did not attack as I was poly-bags free. I could safely walk inside and they left me to myself for the photography. Instead, few of them posed up for a photography session there.
Finally, after spending few tranquil moments at the spot, it was time to head for the other places around. As we walked out of the temple, we came across this small and colorful marketplace adjoining the temple. By the time we decided to move out of there, it was 10:30 am. The next spot we were heading for was the Ambala Tank.