Situated on the banks of river Gomti, which is a tributary of holy river Ganga, Naimisharanya is located in district Sitapur at a distance of 90 km from Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. According to the Bhagvat Purana, this place is called Naimishe Animisha Kshetra or the abode of Animisha, a name of Lord Vishnu. It is also popularly known as Naimisar.
According to mythology, after the battle of Mahabharata, Saints and sages went to Lord Brahma and asked for his help to find them a place to meditate, where they are safe from the effects of the dark ages, Kalayuga. Brahma took out a sacred wheel and rolled it towards earth. The wheel or chakra after revolving the whole universe stooped in the Naimisha forest and that place is known as Chakra teerth. Also, It is said that Lord Vishnu killed demons at this place in an instant (nimish) and hence this place is called Naimisharanya.
Chakra teerth is a water pond and it is believed that the source of this pond has no bottom. Here, people visit the Lalitha Devi temple and take bath in the pond’s holy water. People believe that visiting here on Somvati Amavasya and worshipping Goddess Sri Lalitha Devi purify one of all the sins and brings good fortune. People come here to give charities which have great significance in Hindu religion. Various forms of charities are Godaan (cow), Vriksha Dana (Tree), Sayya Dana (Bedding), and Vastra Dana (clothes). It is believed that charities given here in the name of forefathers bear great fruits to them and bring divinity and salvation to them.
It is considered to be one of the most sacred places in Hindu religion. Naimisharanya is mentioned in all major Hindu religious scriptures including the Ram Charit Manas and the Bhagavath Puran. It is believed that thirty-three crore gods reside here always. This place is also associated to Maharshi Dadhichi who is believed to have donated his bones to gods to make a weapon that can defeat the demons. It is also believed that Lord Rama performed the ‘Ashwamedh Yajna’ here and here only Sitaji vanished into mother earth after reuniting Luv and Kush with their father, Lord Rama.
Hanuman Garhi in Naimisharanya is a statue of Lord Hanuman carved in a rock. It is believed that after rescuing Ram and Lakshmana from Pataal, Lord Hanuman emerged at this place in Naimisharanya. Pandav Kila (fort) is situated on the west side of Chakrateerth. According to the epic Mahabharata, Pandavas lived here during the thirteenth year of their exile. It was rebuilt in 1305 during the reign of ruler Alauddin Khilji.
Also located in Naimisharanya is Vyas Gaddi where Maharishi Vyas wrote Ved Puran, a holy scripture in Hindu religion. There is a Banyan tree or Vat vriksha here, under which it is believed Manu and Shatrupala performed ‘tapasya’ to get Lord Narayan in the form of their child as a boon. Sita Kund is another religious place as it is said that Lord Rama and Sitaji and Lakshman visited this place while leaving for the fourteen years exile. Other places worth visiting are Ma Anandmayi Ashram, Swami Nardanand Temple, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Paramhans Math, also known as Gariya Math.
One can reach this place by Road, Rail or by air. Lucknow is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh; hence one can easily reach Lucknow from all over India. Naimisharanya is situated at a distance of 100 km via Hardoi Road through Venigunj to Naimisharanya. One can also use an alternate route through Sitapur. One can take bus from Lucknow, Sitapur and Hardoi. U.P tourism has been running a special tourist bus on this route.
Several train routes are also available. One can take the train from Delhi to Moradabad which is nearby to Hardoi. One can take a train from Balaanaur in Hardoi District to Sitapur on the Lucknow-Delhi Route. Also, one can board train from Balaanaur to Sitapur and Naimisharanya is on the way. The nearest airport is in Lucknow at a distance of about 100 kms from Sitapur.
Facilities for food and stay are available in Naimisharanya and even a traveler’s bungalow is available here. Normally people come here for a day trip from either Lucknow or Sitapur. Pilgrim Shelters and dormitories are also available.