Ayodhya

About Ayodhya  

Ayodhya  also known as Saket, is an ancient city of India, believed to be the birthplace of Ramaand setting of the epic Ramayana. It is adjacent to Faizabad city at the south end in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya used to be the capital of the ancient Kosala Kingdom. It has an average elevation of 93 meters (305 feet).

Owing to the belief as the birthplace of Rama, Ayodhya has been regarded as one of the seven most important pilgrimage sites (Saptapuri) for Hindus. It is believed that the birth spot of Rama was marked by a temple, which was demolished by the orders of the Mughal emperor Babur and a mosque erected in its place. The Ayodhya dispute concerns the activism by the Hindu groups to rebuild a Rama’s temple at the site.

Origins

Ayodhya is on the right bank of the river Sarayu, 8;km from Faizabad. This town is closely associated with Rama, seventh incarnation of Vishnu. According to the Ramayana, the city is 9,000 years old and was founded by Manu, the first man (first woman was Shatarupa) in the universe according to the Vedas. Other sources hold that it was founded by its namesake, King Ayudh. It was said to be the capital of the Solar dynasty, of which Rama was the most celebrated king. At the time it was known as Kaushaldesa.

Skanda Purana and other puranas list Ayodhya as one of the seven most sacred cities of India, as it has been the backdrop for much of Hindu scripture. Today it is predominantly a religious destination with its historical significance and sacred temples. The Atharvaveda described Ayodhya as “a city built by God and being prosperous as paradise itself.”

Its first ruling king was Ikshvaku, of the Solar dynasty and eldest son of Vaivasvata Manu. The sixth king of this line, Prithu, is linguistically the etymology of earth, or “Prithivi”. Mandhatri was a later king of the region, and the 31st king of his descent was Harischandra, known for his truthfulness, or Sathya-sandhata. His lineeage was Surya Vamsa and, in turn known for their honesty as rulers. Raja Sagar of the same clan performed the Asvamedha Yajna, and legend holds that his great-grandson Bhagiratha brought the river Ganges to the earth through penance. Later came the great King Raghu, after whom the dynasty was called Raghuvamsa. His grandson was Raja Dasharatha, of the Kausala dynasty, and father of Rama.

Several religions have prospered in Ayodhya simultaneously as well as at different periods. Elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam can be found in the city. In Jainism, for example, five Tirthankaras were born here, including Rishabhanatha, first Tirthankara, Ajitanatha, second Tirthankara,Abhinandananatha (fourth Tirthankara), Sumatinatha, fifth Tirthankara, and Anantanatha, fourteenth Tirthankara.Ayodhya demonstrates Ganga-Jamuni culture in the Hanumangarhi temple, built by Nawab of Awadh. According to Jain Agams, it is the second eternal city after Shikharji, and will never vanish or disappear during the changing epochs.

Etymology

According to one derivation, “Ayodhya” is said to derive from the name of King “Ayudh,” mentioned in Hindu scriptures as a forefather of Lord Rama.

In the more accepted etymology, In word “Ayodhya”, ‘A’ is feminine negation of the word Yodhya which comes from the root Yudh (to fight). A (negation) + Yodhya (winnable) + ā (feminine suffix). So, literally, the name translates as “A city that cannot be fought and won over in a war” or “unconquerable citadel”. During the time of Gautama Buddha, there was a city called Ayojjhā in Pali, and Ayodhyā in Sanskrit, close to the banks of the River Ganges. It bears no relation to the present-day Ayodhya

At the time of Buddha, the present-day Ayodhya was called Saketa. Śāketa or 沙奇 (Pinyin: Shāqí) was conquered by the Kushan/Yuezhi Emperor Kanishka c. 127 CE, who made it administrative center of his eastern territories.[9][10] The name occurs again in Faxian as 沙祗 (Pinyin: Shāzhī) in the early 5th century. By the time of the visit of the Chinese pilgrim monk, Xuanzang, c. 636 CE, the city was known as Ayodhya.

Under Mughal rule, the city was the capital of the province of Awadh, which is also believed to be a variant of the name “Ayodhya.” During the British Raj the city was known as Ajodhya or Ajodhia and was part of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. It was also the seat of a small ‘talukdari‘ state.

The cities of Ayutthaya, Thailand, and Yogyakarta, Indonesia, are named after Ayodhya.

History

Historically, Saketa is known to have been an important city of Ancient India by the 6th century B.C.E. During the Buddha’s time it was ruled by Pasenadi (Sanskrit: Prasenajit), whose capital was at Sravasti. Saketa continued its prominence during the Maurya rule and suffered an attack around 190 B.C. by a Bactrian Greek expedition allied to Panchala and Mathura. After the fall of the Maurya and Shunga dynasties, the city came under the rule of Deva and Datta kings. An inscription found at Ayodhya refers to a king Dhanadeva, who claimed to be the sixth descendant of Pushyamitra Shunga.

Under the Gupta rulers, Ayodhya reached its highest political importance. The Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hsien visited the city in the 5th century A.D., referring to it as “Sha-chi”. During the reign of Kumaragupta or Skandagupta, the capital of the empire was moved from Pataliputra to Ayodhya. The old name “Saketa” is now replaced by “Ayodhya,” and firmly identified as Rama’s capital city. Under Narasimhagupta, the empire was ravaged by the Huns. Subsequently in the 6th century, the political centre of North India shifted to Kanauj and Ayodhya fell into relative oblivion.

According to Indologist Hans T. Bakker, the only religious significance of Ayodhya in the first millennium A. D. related to the Gopratara tirtha, which is believed to be the place where Rama entered the waters of the Saryu river in order to ascend to heaven. The city of Ayodhya itself was not regarded as a pilgrimage centre. Gahadavalas that came to power in Kanauj in early second millennium, in the wake of the Ghaznavid raids on North India, promoted Vaishnavism. They built several Vishnu temples in Ayodhya, five of which survived till the end of Aurangzeb‘s reign. Hans Bakker concludes that there might have been a temple at the supposed birth spot of Rama built by the Gahadavalas. In subsequent years, the cult of Rama developed within Vaishnavism, with Rama being regarded as the foremost avatar of Vishnu. Consequently, Ayodhya’s importance as a pilgrimage centre grew.

In 1226 A.D., Ayodhya became the capital of the province of Awadh (or “Oudh”) within the Delhi sultanate. Muslim historians state that the area was little more than wilderness prior to this. Pilgrimage was tolerated, but the tax on pilgrims ensured that the temples did not receive much income. The temple that might have been at the supposed birth spot of Rama was replaced by a mosque in 1528 A.D., the so-called “Babri Masjid.” After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 A.D., the central Muslim rule weakened, and Awadh became virtually independent, with Ayodhya as its capital. However, the rulers became increasingly dependent on the local Hindu nobles, and control over the temples and pilgrimage centres was relaxed. The rulers of Ayodhya were Shia. The Sunni groups began to protest against the permissive attitude of the government. The British intervened and crushed the Sunni resistance. In 1857, the British annexed Oudh (Awadh) and subsequently reorganised it into the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh.

The local government of Ayodhya and South Korea acknowledged the connection and held a ceremony to raise a statue of the princess on the banks of the Sarayu River. The adopted Korean name of the princess is Heo Hwang-ok, the first queen of Geumgwan Gaya Dynasty and the ancestor of the Korean Kim family of Kimhae and Heo.

In the 7th century CE, Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang), the Chinese monk, recorded many Hindu temples in Ayodhya. In the epic Ramayana, the city of Ayodhya is cited as the birthplace of Lord Sri Rama, a Hindu deity who was worshipped as Lord Vishnu‘s seventh incarnation. Ayodhya became a famous pilgrimage destination in the 15th century when Ramananda, the Hindu mystic, established a devotional sect of Sri Rama.

The Thai kingdom and city of Ayutthaya, and the Indonesian sultanate of Yogyakarta, are thought to be named after Ayodhya.

Ayodhya, like other Indian cities, came under Mughal rule. With Muslim rulers established around the city under Mohammed of Ghor, it lost its strategic and economic importance to Lucknow and Kanpur.

The 16th century witnessed a shift in power with Ayodhya coming under the rule of the Mughal Empire.

Saadat Ali Khan, Nawab of Awadh, bestowed the riyasat of Ayodhya on his loyal Brahmin soldier Dwijdeo Mishra of the Kasyapa gotra, for quelling revenue rebels in Mehendauna in Eastern UP. The Hanumangarhi temple was built by the Nawab of Awadh.

Ayodhya was annexed in 1856 by the British rulers. Between 1857 and 1859, this place was one of the main centres where the first sparks of the fight for independence began, later leading to a nationwide revolt against the British East India Company of Calcutta.

Map

How to Get There

By air

Faizabad has an Airport at Naka, near Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia University, but no regular airlines services are available. Nearest airport is Lucknow (about 130 km).
By train

Trains are available from Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi and Allahabad.

Ayodhya is 6 km from Faizabad on banks of Saryu River, birth place of Lord Rama
By Car
The city is about 130 km from Lucknow, 200 km from Varanasi, 160 km from Allahabad, 140 km from Gorakhpur and about 636 km from Delhi. Buses are frequently available from Lucknow, Delhi and Gorakhpur. Buses are also available from Varanasi, Allahabad and other places.

Sightseeing

Choti Chawni. A very big temple made by 100% white marble.

1 Hanuman Garhi (Hanumangarhi), Sai Nagar (Right in the center of the town), ☎ +91 97926 02105. Visitors to Ayodhya must make a move towards Hanuman garhi. It is a massive structure in the shape of a four sided fort with circular bastions at each corner. The temple is highly revered for its imposing architecture and its religious value.

2 Kanak Bhawan (Palace of Gold) (Near Hanuman Garhi). The Bhawan is frequented by scores of visitors every year. The temple is widely known for the images of Sri Rama and Sita wearing gold crowns and because of this the Bhawan is also referred to as Sone-ka-Ghar.

Lakshmana Ghat (On the banks of the Sarayu river). This is where Rama’s brother Lakshman is said to have voluntarily given up his life-an act called samadhi. Another version says that he gave up living after he broke a vow.

3 Mani Parbat, Kami Ganj. A former Buddhist vihara (cave with cells) that became a Hindu temple. It is dotted with little shrines and if you stand on the topmost terrace you get a splendid view of Ayodhya, one that includes a cluster of small white buildings at the base of the hill that turns out to be a Muslim graveyard.

Mani Parbat and Sugriv Parbat. The first of these ancient earth mounds is identified with a stupa built by the Emperor Ashoka, while the second is believed to be an ancient monastery.

4 Nageshwarnath Temple (On the bank of the river, on the east side of town). 5AM-11AM, noon-8PM. It is said to be built by Khush, Lord Rama’s son. Legend has it that he almost destroyed the water-living Nagas (semi-divine snake people) because he suspected them of stealing his amulet. Only Lord Shiva’s intervention saved the semi-divine snakes. Khush then established this temple showing the Nagas worshipping Lord Shiva, his father’s favourite deity. Another version of this legend states that the lost amulet was found by a Nag-kanya (young girl from the Naga tribe), who fell in love with him, and as she was Lord Shiva’s devotee he constructed this temple for her.

Swarg Dwar. According to mythology, Lord Rama is said to have transformed himself into Lord Mahavishnu and left for Vaikunth.

5 Ramkot (Ram Janmabhoomi) (In the western part of the city). The chief place of worship in Ayodhya is the site of the ancient citadel of Ramkot which stands on an elevated ground. Although visited by pilgrims throughout the year, this sacred place attracts devotees from all over India and abroad on Ram Navami, the day of Lord’s birth, which is celebrated with great pomp and show, in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April).

Treta ke Thakur. It is a temple that stands at the place where Rama is said to have performed the Ashwamedha Yagna. The Raja of Kulu is said to have built a new temple here about 300 years ago called Kaleram ka Mandir, where the idols of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Bharat have reportedly been carved out of a single block of black sandstone. These idols are supposed to be from the original Rama temple, which once stood on the banks of the River Sarayu.

Vijayraghaw temple (Shri Vishwa Virat Vijay Raghav Mandir), Nayaghat (In front of Punjab National Bank). It is one of the best temple in Ayodhya, build in 2008. In this temple god Ram presented in 12 faces called Viswa-virat(world’s big). This temple made by red marbles and stainless steel.

Best Time to Visit

Ayodhya has a humid subtropical climate, typical of central India. Summers are long, dry and hot, lasting from late March to mid-June, with average daily temperatures near 32 °C (90 °F). They are followed by the monsoon season which lasts till October, with annual precipitation of approximately 1,067 mm (42.0 in) and average temperatures around 28 °C (82 °F). Winter starts in early November and lasts till the end of January, followed by a short spring in February and early March. Average temperatures are mild, near 16 °C (61 °F), but nights can be colder.

Do

Ayodhya being a sacred religious place, has lots to offer to a spiritual mind. Some of the fairs and festivals Ayodhya is famous for are

Chaturdashkoshi Parikrama. Constitutes a circular journey of 28 miles made once a year on the occasion of Akshainaumi, which is completed within 24 hours.

Ram Lila. The enactment of the story of Lord Rama is believed to have been started by great Saint Tulsidas. The Ramcharitmanas, written by him till today forms the basis of Ram Lila performances. In some places, Rama Lila is associated with Vijayadashmi celebrations in late September and early October and also with Rama Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama. Ram lila, basically an enactment of a myth, is presented as a cycle-play with the story varying from 7 to 31 days. The Rama Lila performance evokes a festive atmosphere and enables observance of religious rites. It is also rich in performance of crafts such as costume jewellery, masks, headgear, make-up and decoration. The four main Ram Lila styles are the pantomimic style with a predominance of jhankis based style with multi-local staging; the operative style which draws its musical elements from the folk operas of the region and the stage, Ram Lila of the professional troupes called mandalis. Ayodhya is popular for mandali Ram Lila. The performance is dialogue – based and presented on a platform stage. High standard of performance is complemented by songs and kathak dances and eye-catching décor.

Ram Navmi Mela. Ayodhya, the holy city of the sacred pilgrim centre of Hindus plays host to the Ram Navmi Festival in the month of April. Thousands of worshippers gather to venerate the Lord at Kanak Bhawan.

Sravan Jhula Mela. This mela celebrates the playful spirit of the deities. On the third day of the second half of Shravan, images of the deities (specially of Rama, Lakshman and Sita) are placed in swings in the temples. They are also taken to Mani Parvat, where the idols are made to swing from the branches of the trees. Later the deities are brought back to temples. The mela lasts till the end of the month of Shravan.

Parikramas. Ayodhya is perhaps the most noted place in the northern India where parikramas are undertaken by Hindu Pilgrims. These are circumambulations of important religious places and are of varying duration, shortest being the `Antargrahi Parikrama’ which has to be completed within a day. After taking a dip in the Saryu, the devotee commences the parikarma from the Nageshwarnath temple and passes through Rama Ghat, Sita Kund, Manipuravata and Brahma Kund, finally terminating at Kanak Bhawan. Then there is the `Panchkoshi Parikrama’ circuit of 10 miles, which touches Chakratirtha, Nayaghat, Ramghat, Saryubagh, Holkar-ka-pura, Dashrathkund, Jogiana, Ranopali, Jalpa Nala and Mahtabagh. On the way the people pay homage to deities in the shrines which are situated on the route.

Buy

You can buy Ramnama towel, chundri, kurta and handicraft bags, tulsi mala, ramdana, Ramayana, books, sweet ball (laddoo).

Eat

Options are limited to local eateries/restaurants which offer largely vegetarian food.

You can get wines, water, fruit juice, cold drinks, etc.

Sleep

Ayodhya

1 Birla Dharamshala, Chok Ayodhya Rd, New Colony (Bus Station), ☎ +91 5278-232252.

Gujrat Bhawan Dharamshala (near Bus Station), ☎ +91 5278-232075.

Hanubagh Trust……shankar.

2 Hotel Ramprastha, Naya Ghat, ☎ +91 5278-212204, +91 5278 232 111, e-mail: info@hotelramprastha.in.

Jain Dharamshala (Rai Ganj), ☎ +91 5278-232308.

3 Kanak Bhawan Dharamshala, ☎ +91 5278-232024.

Niskaam Sewa Aasram. Adjacent to Hanuman Bag trust, janki mahal road (Parikrama Marg). Ayodhya, all types of room available ac/non-ac with breakfast, lunch and dinner.contact-(+91)9415717214,05278-232558(+91)9795966108.email pkmfzd@rediffmail.com ,manishaydg27@gmail.com Excellent Ashram like environment. In-charge – Ramchandra Das

Pandit Banshidhar Dharamshala (Naya Ghat).

4 Pathik Niwas Saket, Professor’s Colony (Near Railway Station), ☎ +91 5278-232435, +91 95598 70573. Only one room available

Ram Anugsah Vishram Sadan, Chhoti Chhawani Marg, ☎ +91 5278-223142, +91 5278-223146.

Ram Charit Manas Trust Dharamshala.

5 Ram Dham Guest House (near Railway Station Road), ☎ +91 5278-232791.

6 Shri Ram Hotel, Chowk Ayodhya Rd, New Colony, (near Dant Dhawan Kund), ☎ +91 5278-232512, +91 5278-232474, +91 94151 40674, toll-free: +91 94151 40674.

UPSTDC Yatri Niwas, Naya Ghat, e-mail: rahisaket@up-toursim.com