Maihar is 135 km. from ChitrakOOT, the first forest area rAma entered after taking guidance from the Sage bharadwAja.
It may, nowadays, take only 2 hrs. to travel from ChitrakOOT to maihAr in car. We should not forget that rAmA, Sita and LakshmaNa travelled by foot.
Strengths of maihAr as rAvaNa's lanka:
maihAr has the Mount trikUT. rAma camped with his Army, on the Mount trikUT, after crossing the ocean.
Note: deoghar, jhArkhand too has mOunt trikUT. But the distance between ChitrakOOt, Madhya Pradesh-Uttar Pradesh border and deOghar is 749 km. rAma and his vAnarA Army (I shall not call them monkeys. They are forest dwellers), according to vAlmiki rAmAyaNa, took only two days to travel from kishkindha to Lanka. It was highly impossible that they would have covered 749 km. in two or three days and then built a bridge of 1500 km. on the Ocean.
Hence, if vAlmiki rAmAyaNa were to actually happen, distances will have to be coverable by foot. After visiting Sage sutIkshna's hermitage, Rama-Sita-lakshmaNas stayed at one place nearly for 12 years. One year was spent by sItA in rAvaNa's lanka after her abduction. Thus, only one year was spent on walks.
Sita had gold ornaments on her body. rAma had to look out to all the four sides to checkup whether there were any demons like viradha, kabandha (or some other robbers) nearby. He might have liked to make some inquiries from more hermitages about demons/robbers ahead.
Besides, rAmA has to carry SItA on his shoulders, whenever she was unable to walk fast in forest terrain, amidst thick bushes, unpaved paths, ravines, hillocks etc.
Apart from that, rAma was very particular in choosing places for his camps, which should have enough deer to hunt. lakshmaNa had to go on his errands in search of deer, hunt and roast them, and offer to his brother and sister-in-law. Then rAma had to feed the pieces of steak into Sita's mouth. As all these things took time and were tiresome, scope for their touring across the length of India was limited.
With this reasoning, 135 km. distance from citrakOOT may be sufficient enough to place rAvaNa's lanka. The trikUTa hill is 600 ft. high. Quite picturesque.
Question: Where was/is the ocean at maihAr?
Ans: rAma and the kings of ikshvAku dynasty claimed that they dug (excavated) the Sea. sagara was ancestor of rAma. sagara was said to have dug the sea and hence, we have the SAnskrit word 'sAgara' to mean the sea. What human kings can excavate? Tanks, probably bigger than the normal village tanks. For example vijayanagara kings of hampi, dug several tanks in their kingdom, for providing drinking water and irrigation. Some of them have the suffix 'sAgaram', indicating that they are like the Sea. E.g. bukka sAgaram in the name of king bukka rAyalu.
On the basis of reasoning, we can probably say, that rAma might have built a bridge across a tank/mote/canal/rivulet to reach lanka. The sheet of water which rAma and his Army crossed might have been the sAgar dug by his ancestors.
Many forts, mounts, villages and towns in madhya pradesh and chattis garh have some good lakes, rivers, water-falls, any of which could have the suffix 'sAgar' and meant the Sea.
If we take all these factors into account, maihAr town too deserves an opportunity to be considered as the location of rAvaNa's lanka. Unfortunately, except the name 'trikUT', nothing else of vAlmiki rAmAyana, we can associate with maihAr.
We have two or three places in jhArkhand State, which have the name 'sAgarbhanga'. We have one sAgarbhanga in West Bengal and another in banglAdEsh. But there was no Sea nearby. 'Bhanga' means breaching, conquering, defeating etc. Unfortunately, the two sAgarbhangas in jhArkhand (one in deoghar Dt., South of trikUT there and another in sAhebganj District), do not have any archaeological or mythological or at least a folklore background, so that we can appreciate the true meaning of breaching the Sea. jhArkhand has two ajOdhyas and two lankas.
Thus, it appears to me after much burning of midnight oil, that chitrakOOT itself may not be in uttarpradEsh and madhyapradEsh. This is because, vAlmiki was from North bIhar. He might have then initially shifted to chApra/baliyA area on U.P., bIhar border.
chitrakoot.nic.in, the Government official website of the chitrakoot district, UP, has a hermitage of vAlmiki, at 18 km. distance from Allahabad. It has vAlmiki river also. They claim that sita-rama-lakshmaNa passed through this place, while proceeding to chitrakOOT. They also say that Sita gave birth to her sons lava and kuSa at this place only.
But vAlmiki rAmAyaNa is silent about this vAlmiki hermitage which rama-sita-lakshmana visited while proceeding to ChitrakOOT from Allahabad. Of course, many tourist places of rAmAyaNa, do not have a stamp of mention in vAlmIki rAmAyaNa.
At one of these blog posts, I noted that vAlmiki's hermitage (second, apart from that of nEpAl/North bIhar) could have been in mIrzApur vindhya mountains.
(To continue with more evidence or information or discussion.).
We have to do more research work.
Hence, I am not concluding that maihAr was the lanka of rAvaNa.