The names of Rivers, Forests and Temples available in the story of Ramayana randomly exist all over India. Sometimes there are two places claiming the same common name. Some of the remains like granite architecture, temples’ flag posts or remainders of wells are mementos, as tokens for memorizing the names of the particular Ramayana incidents. In olden days, the names were assigned in Sanskrit, in Ramayana. After the changing of rulers of some of the localities of the country, the names of the Rivers or forests also changed, due to vested interests of the rulers. The names of Places and Mountains has been listed separately and already posted in the previous article. Some of the interesting names of Rivers, forests and Temples are presented here, mainly mythological, as found in original and related incidents of Ramayana:

Om Beach, Gokarna

Gokarna Mahabaleshwara and Ganapathi Temples

Ravana was very obedient to his mother and always helped her in the worshiping of God Shiva. She used to get up early in the morning and conduct Puja of Shivalinga, by forming it, utilizing the sand of the beach. One day, due to waves of the sea, the Shivalinga formed was washed away and she felt sad. Then Ravana assured her, that he would bring the Atmalinga of the God Shiva from Kailasa Mountain.  Ravana went to Kailasa Mountain and performed penance for many years to obtain the Atmalinga. One day, God Shiva appeared before him and agreed to carry away the Atmalinga himself as per his request.

The vehicle of God Shiva is Nandi. He was closely watching Ravana and thought Ravana does not deserve to carry it away as he is not pious enough. God Shiva had kept the Shivalinga on the backside of the body of Nandi and slept being night. In the darkness of night, Ravana tried to carry away the Atmalinga of God Shiva like a thief and due to the hurry, he put his foot over his tail stamping it hardly and causing him enormous pain. Nandi thought of a monkey which loves its tail too much and cursed let death happen to Ravana by reason of a monkey.

Ravana carried the Atmalinga towards south to reach Lanka but preferred the route along the west coast of India, since eastern coast was scorching due to hot sun. It was about sunset time when he reached Gokarna. Then he wished to offer the evening prayer to God Shiva.  But he was carrying the Atmalinga and desired to deposit it on a holy place.

On the Gokarna beach, he could not find a holy place and there were no servants also but a boy appeared before him. He placed the Atmalinga upon his head and assured him, he would soon return, after his evening prayer. The boy agreed with a condition.  The Atmalinga was very heavy. Hence he demanded to return Ravana at the earliest. The boy called him two times to come back. As per their agreed condition, he may keep it on the ground if Ravana had not reached there against his third call. The weight became unbearable for the little boy and there was no sign of returning of Ravana in the immediate future. Hence he loudly called him and kept the Atmalinga on the ground of the beach.

Ravana hurried then and found the great mistake that happened. The Atmalinga had firmly absorbed in the ground with its precious power of holiness. Ravana was angry with the boy and hit him on his head with his own fist. The boy cried and ran away. The boy was none other than the son of God Shiva, Ganapathi. Ravana pulled the Atmalinga from the earth. He tried with great power but it had firmly rooted into the deep earth and Ravana twisted it and tried reciting Rudra mantras to satisfy God Shiva. Finally, he got a very small Shivalinga and satisfied with it, took it to Lanka. Now there is a Shiva temple at Tiru Koneshwaram (Trincomalee) dedicated to God Shiva built by Ravana to satisfy his mother.

Later, the priests of Gokarna with the help of local king consecrated the Atmalinga which is about six feet tall, after building a temple there. In Gokarna, Shiva is called as Mahabaleshwara, people are worshipping him regularly. Also a Ganapathi temple is there. Since Ravana had hit the head of Ganapathi, a ditch could be observed on his head. Ganapathi gets pleased when milk is poured upon his head. There is a big natural water tank also, by the side of the temple, where people could be seen reciting Vedic verses daily, in the morning.

Somanatheshwara of Sourastra, Gujarat

Ravana was very obedient to his father also and always helped him in the worshiping of God Shiva. His father advised him to marry a suitable bride. Then his country was under developed and he wanted to develop his country and later only he may think of his marriage and thus requested his father to guide him. His father Vishrava, advised him to visit the dwadasha jyothirlingas of God shiva at twelve places and get the blessings of God Shiva for his better future. Vishrava instructed him to follow the correct almanac which would be calculated, based on astronomy observing sky, and daily schedule his programs to succeed in life.  

Ravana visited Somanatheshwara of Sourastra (present Gujarat) being the first of the twelve Jyothirlingas.  He prayed before God Shiva. Previously, he had taken a vow that he would offer sufficient silver for the consecration of God Shiva, and renovation of that temple, after being an able king. He preceded to other eleven Shiva temples one by one, prayed to God in all these Jyothirlinga temples: Mallikarjuna at Shrisaila, Mahakala at Ujjaini, Omkareshwara at Amarkantak, Vaidyanatheshwara, Bhimashankara, Ishwara nearest to Lanka (later it was called Rameshwara), Nageshwara, Vishwanatha at Kashi, Tryambakeshwara at Janasthan(Nasik), Kedaranatheshwara, and Grishneshwara. He found many forests in the middle of India and, invaded the Dandakaranya area. Later he ruled it remaining at Lanka. He became rich and married Mandodari. Then he reported to his father his desire of offering silver to Somanatheshwara, of Sourastra (Gujarat).

Vishrava, his father, felt happy and accompanying Ravana visited Somanatheshwara temple. Ravana arranged to rebuild the old remaining of the temple and arranged for the consecration rituals. With shining silver plates, God Somanatheshwara had been reseated, and it had ben consecrated by Ravana, the rituals being performed by his father Vishrava. After receiving the blessings, while returning to Lanka, Ravana asked his father Vishrava, the reason for the damages of that temple. Vishrava told the past events.

Vishrava in his previous life, in Satya yuga, had been born as Prajapati Daksha as son to Brahma. Then he had twenty seven daughters and his wife was Rohini. His fourth daughter was more beautiful and her name was also kept as Rohini resemble her mother. The fourteenth was Chitra (Spica star). When they had grown up, the Moon God, Chandra had married all the twenty seven girls. Prajapati advised Chandra to treat them all equally in all times. The nick name of his son in law Chandra, was Soma.

After sometime, Soma had nominated the name of Rohini to Vishnu to have his later incarnation as Krishna on earth, without considering, say omitting Chitra. When other daughters with Chitra complained Prajapati, he had kidnapped Soma and kept him hidden under dense clouds for some time. Then the mother, Rohini came compromising. Anyhow, he released him later, getting a promise of treating all his wives equally and to start worshipping God Shiva.

Accordingly, Soma had built a temple for the first time, for God Shiva and kept his name as Somanatheshwara. In order to satisfy Chitra, he selected the Chaitra full Moon day as the auspicious time for the initial consecration of the Somanatheshwara linga. He covered the God Shivalinga fully with gold and offered many gold ornaments, for the decorations of God Shiva, and threw open the temple for public worship.

Then, it was Satyayuga, and thereafter the lunar system of calendar commenced with Chaitra as the first month of the year. Later when the sea water had been churned by Asuras and Devas, the sea water had washed the Somanatheshwara linga, and the gold covering plates had been washed away, into the sea. However a few pieces of ornaments of gold had been procured by Lakshmi and used them during her wedding with Narayana. Thereafter it was by Ravana then in Treta yuga that Somanatheshwara got fully covered with silver.

Vishrava explained the necessity of an almanac for the king. When Ravana started his schedule of works according to the almanac provided by Vishrava, he could save time and money. Thus, the silver saved, was then utilized for the consecration purpose. Soma means Moon God. The stars on the sky around the earth have been classified into twenty seven groups, called daily stars. Vishrava detailed the story of Moon and stars being only symbolic and narrated by the people in order to keep the memory of the God Shiva always alive.

Ravana asked Vishrava about the easy method of identifying the twenty seven stars and preparation of almanac. Vishrava explained. The Polaris star (Ursa Minor or Dhruva star) always remains fixed over the North Pole direction of the earth. The center of the Chitra star is taken as the starting point for measuring the sky angles, which is divided into twelve equal parts of thirty degrees each. Vishrava explained him that only those stars nearer to the Moon are counted within the twenty seven groups of stars. But the other stars, which are more than six degrees far away, on directions, north or south to the Moon, do not count in this group. Thus, the Trishanku stars (Crux), or the Saptharshi Mandala stars (Ursa Major) do not fall under these twenty seven stars. Arundhati (Alcor) is the wife of Vasishta and hence do not fall under the group of wives of Moon.

He then studied astronomy, and related sciences, so that he could schedule his royal administrations complementary to the nature. Ravana mastered the ten Vedic branches also, along with the related six sciences like astrology, and got a name as Dashakanta in Ramayana. Vishrava blessed him and then travelled to Shonithapura(Guwahati), continued his penance worshipping Shiva at the  Umananda Temple, an Island within Brahmaputra River.

Later, during the period of exile of Pandavas, Duryodhana had not arranged for the proper arrangements of Puja in the temple and the silver with other valuable items had been robbed by miscreants on Shivaratri holidays. Later, in the same Dwapara yuga, God Krishna had visited the temple and undertaken reconstruction with sandal wood roofing. Then Kripacharya had consecrated the Somanatheshwara Shivalinga. The temple again flourished till God Krishna remained there. The swargarohana of God Krishna had happened there. Harina has double meaning in Sanskrit, deer and Harin River. Many monuments are available on the banks of that river, built by various kings and dedicatedly worshipped people.  

During the initial days of king Pareekshit in Kaliyuga, due to his sudden demise, again the worshipping arrangements in this temple had not been properly monitored. However, during the period of Emperor Vikramaditya, again the temple had been reconstructed, with stones and for a long time, people attended worshipping God Shiva.

The stories of invaders of Somanatheshwara temple of Gujarat, within the recent periods of about one thousand years are known to us.

During the year 1949, the deputy Chief Minister Vallabha Bhai Patel had encouraged the reconstruction of this temple again. Shri K M Munhi as the head of a Trust, the works of renovation had been started and progressed. Shri Somanatheshwara Shivalinga has been consecrated on 11th May, 1951. Dr.Rajendrapasad, the first President of India, had presided over that function.   

In the surroundings of this temple, there are many holy places. Throughout the day and night, the temple is kept open, for the public, for Darshan.

God Somanatheshwara is always fulfilling the desires of his devotes, time had proved. Hence people visit this temple again and again, with their firm devotion. 

Other holy Temples, Forests and Rivers in Ramayana   

Anjaneya hills of Rishya Muk in Karnataka: Palace of Sugriva.
Ayodhya: the temple city of Rama
Brahma Putra in Assam: a river visited by Lakshmana with Pulastya
Chitrakoota Bharat Milap: a temple for Rama and Bharata.
Chitrakoota is a forest camp of Rama
Confluence of Prayag and Bharadwaj Ashram, Rama visited here.
Dandakaranya: a forest Rama stayed here killed demon Surpanakhi.
Dandakaranya is also the kingdom of Makaraksha demon.
Dhanushkodi: ex-President of India, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Museum
Divurumpola: Sita agnipariksha place, return journey of Rama started.
Ganga: Rama, and his devotees used to bath on visiting.
Godauvary, south to Chitrakoota: a river visited by Rama
Gomathy, river at Koshala visited by Rama
Hampi Rama Temple: Hanuman used to live here to worship Rama.
Hanuman Temple of Prayag is the oldest renovated temple.
Janakpuri sitamarhi: a temple city of Sita
Kishkinda forest: kingdom of Vali and Sugriva.
Koushiki river from Himalaya: a river visited by Rama
Kumbhakonam: Kubera and Ravana’s family worshipped God here.
Lepakshi: Temple for Rama, and a stone in the name of Jatayu.
Malyavati at Chitrakoota: a river visited by Rama
Mandakini south truibute to Narmada at Dandakaranya: visited Rama
Mandakini, north tribute to Narmada at Chitrakoota: visited by Rama.
Nuwara Eliya or Ashoka Vana: Sita accommodated here.
Panchavati is a forest camp of Rama.
Panchavati (present Nashik): Sita was abducted from here.
Rameshwaram is a Shiva Temple, Sita and Rama worhipped God.
Sarayu at Kosala near Ayodhya: a river visited by Rama
Shabarii’s hermit :Bharata Muni cursed, separate story available
Shanthika at the border of Kosala: a river visited by Rama
Sona of Mithila: a river visited by Kausalya
Talaimannar: where Rama beheaded Ravana, in Lanka.
Tamasa, a tributary of Ganga and Valmiki Ashram: visited by Rama
Thungabhadra in Kishkinda: a river visited by Rama
Tirukoneshwara Temple: Built by Ravana for his mother Keikashi.
Umananda Temple: Pulastya worshipped his father, in Shonithapura.
Ussangod airport: For Ravana’s  Pushpaka Vimana parking
Vedashruthi of Kosala: a river visited by sages.
Vibhishana Temple or Kodanda ramaswamy Dhanushkodi temple.
Yamuna at Prayag confluence: a river visited by Rama

It may be better to mention the name of our ex-President of India, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, as he had dedicated his house as a museum of Ramayana books for children, available to the public, built near the Dhanushkodi Bridge. He has lived following simple principles in his life and let his house as museum. He has served our nation as the President of India and contributed many valuable systems to the national space technology and improved Children’s education.

It is humbly prayed for the blessings of God Rama upon us.

Next post, being of Atri, Anusuya and Ahalya of Ramayana, may not be missed. Tara and Mandodari of Ramayana would be presented separately in another article. Readers may provide feedback and share this story with friends and family.