Rama, Sita and Lakshmana spent 13 adventurous years in the forest. During their travel, they met Sage Atri, Sage Sarbhang and Sage Agatsya before reaching Panchavati, where they stayed for most part of exile.
In their 14th year of exile, a demoness Surpanakha, widowed sister of Ravana, came to Panchavati. She spotted Ram and got infatuated by his handsome appearance. When she asked him to marry her, Ram refused saying that he was bound to Sita in wedlock, and asked her to approach Laxman instead. When Lakshmana also refused her, Surpanaka flew into a rage and rushed to kill Sita. Lakshama intervened and cut her nose off. Bleeding and having lost her nose and ears, Surpanaka ran to her brother, Khar-Dushan and narrated the whole incident. Khar-Dushan marched towards Panchavati and attacked Ram. The result was no surprise: Khar-Dushan were killed in the battle.
Shurpanakha then fled to Ravana, and told him of her insult and persuaded him to take revenge. Ravana decided to teach Ram a lesson by abducting his beautiful wife Sita.
Ravana asked Mareecha, a demon to transform himself into a golden deer and lure Sita with its beauty. Sita was lured by the deer and asked Ram to catch it for her. During the chase, deer took Ram far away from his hut. Finally, Ram realized that the deer was a demon in disguise, he killed the deer with his arrow. Before dying, Marich, who assumed the form of golden deer, cried out for help in Ram's voice, prompting Sita to send Laxman to help Ram.
Laxman secured Sita by drawing a line around the hut and instructed her not to cross it under any circumstances. When Ravan saw Sita alone, he disguised himself as a hermit (sadhu) and asked for alms. He made Sita cross the line and kidnapped her when Rama and Lakshmana were away. Sita realized her folly but it was too late. She wept and lamented on her way.
Jatayu listened to her cries and at once followed Ravana. He tried to challenge Ravana but could not offer much resistance. Ravana severed his wings and Jatayu fell down on earth. He couldn't stop Ravana with his might but took solace from the fact that he fought for a right cause with all his might.
In deep grief and despair, Sita dropped her ornaments all the way. Ravana took Sita to Lanka and kept her at Ashoka Vatika (garden).
When Ram saw Laxman coming, he became worried that in spite of his instruction Laxman left Sita alone. Laxman told Ram that it was Sita who forcibly send him to help Ram. They returned to their hut only to find Sita missing. Thus began their long and arduous search for Sita. Looking for clue who abducted Sita, they saw a dying eagle, Jatayu. He informed them that Ravana abducted Sita to Lanka. Jatayu's both wings were severed by Ravana in the battle. Jatayu left his mortal body in presence of Ram.
Search for Sita brought Ram and Laxman to the hermitage of Shabari, a devotee with nine types of devotion (navadha-bhakti). She welcomed both brothers with sweet berries and told them to go to Pampa Lake where they would meet Sugriva. She also told them that Sugriva would prove helpful in finding Sita.