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 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 West. The search-party is given a route-map by Sugreeva the vanara chief, which leads them right up to what was known as the Asta Mountain. 'Asta' (अस्त) is Sanskrit for 'Sunset', and for the 'vanara' commando brigade Mt. Asta was the limit of the western most point that they were to scour for Sita. Sage Valmiki traces the route of the 'vanaras' going in the western direction. An easily identifiable location that he mentions in the Ramayana is the geographical point where the Sindhu, that is the Indus falls into the Arabian Sea. That would be close to present day Karachi. Since 'sindhu' (सिंधु) is also a noun which means river, in this case Valmiki was most likely making a reference to the Narmada River which also falls into the Arabian Sea from the west coast of India.
Valmiki then states that at the junction of River Sindhu with the ocean, Mouth of Indus, there is a huge mountain named Hemagiri, or the 'golden-mountain', which has hundreds of summits and gigantic trees. That indicates that Valmiki is indeed referring to the Narmada and the coastal mountains of the Satpura Range and the weatsern ghats, as the description does not fit the topography of where the Indus falls into the Arabian Sea. In either case, the 'vanaras' are now on the sea coast and moving ahead.
The 'vanaras' are directed to move forward in the sea towards a waterlogged mountain by the name 'Paariyatra' inhabited by the ferocious 'Gandharvas', its peak glittering like gold. The 'vanaras' are instructed to search quickly for Sita and not engage with the 'Gandharvas', nor pluck any fruit from their date-palm trees.
In the sea beyond Mt. Pariyatra, the 'vanaras' are told that they will come across Mt. Vajra, which shines like a diamond. And further ahead in the fourth quarter of the sea from the land that they left behind they will find Mt. Chakravaan on which is located the Sudarshana weapon, the 'thousand-spoke wheel' that was constructed by Vishwakarma, the celestial architect.
The names Chakravan and Sudharshana Chakra suggest the existence of a megalithic circular wheel like structure atop a mountain. This site has not yet been identified though circular megalithic structures exist in Arkaim in Russia and Goebekli Tepe in Turkey. For more on this click here.
Then, moving ahead the 'vanaras' are told that they will in succession come across, many mountain peaks which are named as Varaha, Meghavanta and finally Meru. These appear to be a mountain peaks of the Zagros Mountains, located across the Arabian Sea in Iran and Iraq. He also mentions a city by the name of Pragjyotisha.
Mt. Varaaha is described in the Ramayana as an entirely golden mountain with many waterfalls. The IranianZagros Mountains too are known to have many waterfalls even today. One of the most magnificent ones is called 'GanjnaMeh'. Once again the name can be decoded with Sanskrit. 'Ganjana-Meh' (गञ्जन-मिह्) means 'Excellent Mist'. 'Kanchan-Meh' would mean 'golden-mist'.
The closest cognate to the name 'Varaaha' in Iran is the Kuh-e-Vararu or Mt. Vararu. This is located, not in the Zagros but in Elburz mountain range in the northern part of Iran close to the city of Tehran. If indeed Valmiki was referring to what is today called Kuh-e-Vararu, then the close by 'golden city of Prag-jyotisha' that Valmiki writes about must be in the vicinity of ancient Tehran.
The ancient Avestan name of Tehran was 'Raghes' and may be derived from the name of Sri Rama who was also known as 'Raghu' (रघु). The Ramayana says that Pragjyotish was the abode of the demon 'Naraka' (नरक) and there indeed is a town by the name of 'Naraku' in Bhushehr province of Iran. Close by is the volcanic peak of Damavand, its most ancient known name dating to the Sassanid era is is 'Donbavand'. In Sanskrit 'danav' (दानव) means 'demon' but the name stated in the Ramayana is 'Meghavant'. Once again it is difficult to trace whether the names 'Damavand' and 'Meghavant' have any ancient links but the popular traditions of the villages around Damavand mountain are filled with legends and superstitions of which traces can be found in place names, as in the upper valley of the Lar, where a small ravine sprinkled with marshes, warm springs, and geysers is named Div Asiab or the 'the devil’s mill'.
The Zagros Mountains in Iran were named after an ancient nomadic tribe, referred to by the name 'Sagar-tians'. Stephanus Byzantinus (6th century AD), who was the author of a geographical dictionary entitled 'Ethnica', wrote that there was a peninsula in the Caspian Sea called 'Sagartia' and that the Sagartians moved south from Sagrtia to what were later known as Zagros mountains. In Sanskrit 'Sagara' (सागर)means 'Sea and its other form 'Sagartia' means 'of the sea'. The Zagros mountains were named after the Sagar-tian tribe who were also referred to as Zagar-thians. The 'vanaras' are told to then move along this range of many radiant peaks till they reach the magnificent 'Savarni Meru' Peak. Moving west of Savarni Meru is the 'Asta-Giri' which translates as 'Setting Sun Mountain'. The 'vanaras' are told not to go beyond Mt. Asta in search for Sita. The 'vanaras' are also told that they will see a 'gigantic ten-leaved date-palm-tree, which is completely golden and shines forth with a marvellous podium' as they travel from 'Sarvaani Meru' to Mt. 'Asta'.
This gigantic date palm tree seems to have some sacred significance in the ancient civilizations of the region and Assyrian artifacts seem to support this view. Incidentally, the 'vanaras' travelling east are told to keep going forth, cross many oceans, till they see the three leafed palm tree etched on a mountain near Mt. Udaya, which has been identified as the ancient 'Paracas' Trident of Peru. *'Vanara' is commonly translated as 'monkey' but refers to the 'commando brigade' of Sri Ram's troops. 'Vanara' here refers to 'those who live in the forest'. ------ ...