When everyone is talking about Rama's bund (Sethu Bhandanam),
let me tell about Bharatha's bridge!
A massive Highway with bridges on 4 rivers was constructed by Bharatha
soon after he came into control of the situation in the wake of Dasharatha's death,
to facilitate passage to himself, the army and the people of Ayodhya
to reach the Ganga flowing at the border of his kingdom, Koshala,
so that from there they could reach Rama after crossing the Ganga.
It seems building a highway with 4 bridges on the way
is a quicker solution to reach the Ganga
than by traveling by foot, or on horse-back or chariots
as per convenience of conveyance by different sections of the society!
The Highway was built from Sarayu to Ganga,
Covering on the way 4 rivers, namely,
Tamasa, Vedasruti, Gomati and Syandhika.
Any idea of the length of this Highway?
Let me make an attempt.
This distance (from Ayodhya near Sarayu to the Ganga )
was covered by Rama in less than 24 hours by chariot.
Rama seemed to have left Ayodhya just at sunset in a Chithra maasam.
It must have been the time of PourNami just coming up then or after a few hours.
The next day being fixed for coronation also indicates that the next day could have been the day of Full Moon.
The sun was embracing darkness.
And the moon was accompanied with mercury, Thrishanku, Lohintanka and Brihapathi –
all of them standing still
on seeing the departure of Rama.
The star Vishaka had risen then,
again indicating that the moon had entered or
about to enter Chithra nakshthra heralding PourNAmi.
So at sunset Rama left and traveled in the chariot till he reached Tamasa river,
where he decided to stay for the night.
It must have been 8 PM or 8-30 PM when he stopped his journey.
The custom as per Sanatana dharmins is to begin the day at 4 AM and end it at 8 PM
This is as per the division of the day into 3 parts of 8 each which is controlled by the Trinities.
From 4 AM to 8 AM, the activity of the body is of generation and is controlled by Brahma.
From 8 AM to 4 PM, Vishnu takes control and the body activities are directed at sustenance.
From 4 PM to 8 PM, it is again Brahma who controls the body by means of relaxation leading to regeneration.
And from 8 PM to 4 AM next morning, Shiva takes control by bringing in death-like sleep.
So it can assumed that Rama stuck to this schedule and retired to bed by 8 or 8-30 PM,
Which means he traveled for 1 ½ to 2 hours after sunset (which could have been at 6-30 PM)
The next morning he started after doing Sandhaya worship.
This means he started after 6 AM.
He proceeded non-stop and crossed 3 rivers on the way on horses
and reached by evening fall, the border of Koshala where Ganges was flowing.
This is made out from the verses which say that
received by Guha,
Rama partook the food offered by him after sandhya worship.
If we calculate the time,
Rama traveled for one and a half hours the previous night
and 12 hours the next day.
Assuming that he took 1 hour each for crossing each of the 3 rivers,
we are left with 9 hours which he covered by Chariot.
By a humble estimation, if he travelled at 20 Km speed in the tough terrain of the forest,
the total 10 and a half hour duration of travel would have seen him cover atleast 200 KM.
Added to this the distance covered while crossing the rivers.
Even if we want to make a very conservative estimation,
we can say that 150 KM was the total distance covered between Sarayu and Ganga.
This distance was covered by a Highway by the order of Bharatha.
The description of this work is given in Ramayana in one full chapter,
which tells about the skills of people in those times.
And considering the time constraint in having to reach Rama at the earliest,
one can guess the amazing talent in civil engineering, the people of that era possessed.
2 more issues need mention in this context.
(1) Rama was offered athithi bhojanam by Guha –
something I missed in my write-ups on Athithi bhojanam (which can be read by clicking the link http://jayasreesaranathan.blog.com).
Even Hanuman was offered athithi pooja by Mynaka mountain while he was crossing the seas.
(2) Rama, the animal lover was seen in the chapter on his meeting with Guha.
Rama was offered food by Guha.
The initial response of Rama was that his horses were in need of care.
Immediately Guha ordered his men to feed the horses with water and food.
It was only after seeing that the horses were taken care of,
did Rama proceed to do Sandhya worship and then accepted the bhojanam as athithi.