Friday, 24 May 2013

WHERE IS THE 'CHAKRAVAN' CITY OF RAMAYANA?

The ancient Indian scripture 'Ramayana' describes a mountain called Chakravan, atop which was located a massive weapon, circular in shape, built by a 'celestial architect'; and geographically located west of India, reachable from India after crossing a sea, and a couple of mountain ranges. Names of many peaks such as Hemgiri, Vajra, Varaha etc. are mentioned. The entire course of the route from India can be traced in the 'Kishkinda Kand' Section 40-43 of the Valmiki Ramayana.

Chakravan, this machine weaponry  is 'shaped like a wheel with a thousand spokes', it was a celestial weapon, its name was 'Sudarshana' and it was constructed/developed by the celestial architect Vishwakarma. 
Another interpretation is that the mountain got its name Chakravan from the chakra-like, ie. 'circular' shape of a city built atop the mountain.

In the Ramayana, four 'vanara'* brigades are readied to be sent out in four different directions for the search of 'Goddess' Sita, the wife of God-King Sri Rama who ruled India from the city of Ayodhya, after she is abducted by Ravana, the king of the mighty Lanka (now Sri Lanka) empire. At a point when it was not yet established where Sita was being held in captivity, the search party headed from Jambudvipa (India) towards the West is given a route-map which leads to what was known as the Asta Mountain. 'Asta' (अस्त) is Sanskrit for 'Sunset', and for the 'vanara' commando brigade Mt. Asta was the culmination point of their search for Sita in the western direction.

Where exactly did this route map take the 'vanara' commando brigade. Did their sojourn take them to the circular city of 'Yerevan' in Armenia, or the ancient city on the ruins of which 'Baghdad' in Iraq came up later, or to the circular Vedic city of 'Arkaim' in Russia.

Here is the route described in the Ramayana in short. Sugreeva, (the 'vanara' commander) directs the 'vanaras' to go west from the Vindya mountains of India, right up to the fourth quarter of the (Arabian) sea, via a point described as 'where the Sindhu falls into the sea' - which may point to either where the Indus falls into the Arabian Sea across the west border of India or to where the Narmada falls into the Arabian Sea. Sindhu is the Sanskrit name of Indus, but sindhu also means 'river'. Going along this route, the fourth quarter of the sea would bring the Vanaras to the 'Persian Gulf'.

Valmiki description of a coastal mountain by the name 'Hemgiri' - high with its peak touching the sky, and also a waterlogged mountain by the name 'Paariyatra' indicates that the 'vanaras' were probably taking a sea-side route along the Persian Gulf. Valmiki also describes a Mount 'Vajra', which he says shines like a diamond - possibly a reference to the peaks of what is today known as the Zagros Range.

After crossing the fourth quarter of the Ocean, the 'vanaras' are told that they will see a structure on Mt. Chakravan, which looks like a 'wheel with a thousand spokes'. The Ramayana says that the city or structure was built on this mountain by the 'celestial architect' 'Vishwakarma. This suggest a megalithic circular wheel like structure atop a mountain. Where could this city have been located?


One possibility is that Chakravan was located where the town of Firuzabad in Iran exists today. It was known as 'Gor' about 2000 years back and was the capital city of the Sassanid King by the name Ardashir.


The ancient city of 'Gor' in Iran. Interestingly 'Gor' (घोर) is the
name of a mythical Hindu weapon. 'Gor' 
was the capital of the
Sassanid King Ardashir in ancient Iran. Could Gor have been built over
the ruins of Chakravan city mentioned in the Ramayana!

Another option is the city of Yerevan in Armenia. Yerevan is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities of the world. Yerevan has been built and rebuilt over the ruins of older cities over the centuries - but its basic plan even today remains circular as it was in the ancient times. The city is spread out now but historically the city was located at the heart of the Armenian Highland in Kotayk canton of Ayrarat province.



Yerevan, Armenia
One of the oldest continually inhabited cities of the world.
It retains its ancient 'circular' design.
The Ramayana say that a at distance of 64 'yojanas' (a yojana has been taken to mean a distance of anywhere between 6 to 15 km) from this city, the Vanaras will encounter a peak by the name 'Varaaha'. This may well be Mt. Ararat of today. Mt. Ararat is visible from Yerevan. Also, over the millennia the name 'Chakravan' may have distorted to 'Yerevan' and 'Varaaha' to 'Ararat'. 

The Ramayana then mentions a city by the name 'Pragjyotish' which was the abode of the demon 'Naraka'. Though there are no cities with a name close to 'Pragjyotish' in the Armenian region, but there sure is a town by the name 'Narek' located close to Mt. Ararat.

Another possibility is that Valmiki may have been referring to a pre-historic city, on the ruins of which Baghdad was built later. Present day Baghdad was built on the ruins of ancient Baghdad which was first built in 700 AD. But is it possible that there was a city already existing thousands of years before 700 AD and was mentioned in the Ramayana. Sketches of ancient Baghdad comes uncannily close to Valmiki's description.


Ancient Baghdad
Some scholars have suggested that there is also a possibility that when the 'vanaras' head west and then continue their journey along a mountain range, they could be moving northwards along the Zagros and further to the Ural range. In that case, could the ancient city that the 'vanaras' saw be 'Arkaim' in the Urals. It has even been debated that ancient Arkaim was not a city at all, and that it was a weapon-storage facility!



The ancient city of Arkaim
The only other known ancient structure on a mountain or hill in Central Asia and west of central Asia is 'Goebeki Tepe'. In fact Valmiki also mentions yet another multi-storied structure built by 'celestial architects' that the 'vanaras' would encounter once they had passed 'Chakravan'. Is it possible that Valmiki was referring to Goebeki Tepe or Nevali Cori in Turkey. 


An ancient  sculpture head from the Nevali Cori site
represents the hair tuft styled like that of a Vedic Priest


It is difficult to determine the exact culture represented by Goebekli Tepe since only 5-10% of the site has been excavated until now. Part of Nevali Cori is already lost due to the construction of dams in that region. 

What is certain is that civilizations have been flourishing in all parts of the word much earlier than mainstream historians have allowed us to think but a deeper look at ancient artifacts and scriptures may unlock some of the hidden truths about these cities.

*'Vanara' translates as 'monkey' but refers to the 'commando brigade' of Sri Ram's troops.
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