Ayodhya, also known as Saket, is an ancient city of India, the birthplace of Lord Rama and setting of the epic Ramayana. It is adjacent to Faizabad city at the south end in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and also one of the seven cities (Sapta Puri) believed holy by Hindus. Ayodhya used to be the capital of the ancient Kosala Kingdom. It has an average elevation of 93 meters (305 feet).
In the Atharvaveda, Ayodhya was described as 'made by Gods and prosperous as Heaven itself'. Ayodhya is one of seven holy places for Hindus in India, with Varanasi the most sacrosanct. A Kṣetra is a sacred ground where Moksha can be obtained. The Garuda Purana enumerates seven cities as sources of Moksha: Ayodhya, Mathura, Māyā (Haridwar), Kāsi (Varanasi), Kāñchī, Avantikā (Ujjain), and Dvārāvatī (Dvārakā). Kshetra is a sacred ground, a field of active power, a place where 'Moksha', final release can be obtained. The Garuda Purana enumerates seven cities as giver of Moksha, They are Ayodhya, Mathura, Māyā, Kāsi, Kāñchī, Avantikā and Dvārāvatī.
Owing to the belief as the birthplace of Rama, Ayodhya (Awadh) 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.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Etymology
- 3 Geography and climate
- 4 Legacy
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Ayodhya debate
- 7 Places of interest
- 8 Accessibility
- 9 Quotes
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
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.
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. 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.
Geography and climate
|Climate chart (explanation)|
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.
The Ayodhya of Ramayana was the capital of the Hindu kingdom Kosala and described as covering an area of 250 km2 (97 sq mi). It is on the banks of the Ganges, a river whose waters cleanse all sin, and on the right bank of Ghagra. The Ikshvaku dynasty of the solar clan (suryavansha) was its ruling dynasty. The city was the in court of the great Dasharatha, 39th monarch of the Solar line, whose son was the avatar Rama.
In the Atharvaveda, Ayodhya was said to be "a city built by gods and being as prosperous as paradise itself". In Garuda Purana, Ayodhya is said to be one of seven holiest places for Hindus in India, with Varanasi being the most sacrosanct.
Valmiki is said to have begun writing the Ramayana in Ayodhya. Its opening chapters recount the magnificence of the city, the glories of its monarch and the virtues, wealth and loyalty of its people. Tulsidas retold a common version of the Ramayana called the Ramacharitamanasa, in which he also praised the city. Several Tamil Alvars mention the city. It is the birthplace of Jadabharata, the first Chakravartin, Bahubali, Brahmi, Sundari, Padaliptasurisvarji, Harishchandra and Achalbharata.
Ayodhya has historical significance for the Jain community as well. It is the birthplace of two important tirthankaras two-thousand years ago. The Jain agamas also record the visit of Mahavira, the last tirthankara of Jainism. The city is also the birthplace of five Tirthankaras, including the first, Rishabha, and the ninth Ganadhara of Mahavira.
The city is important in the heritage of Buddhism, with several Buddhist temples, monuments and centers of learning established here during the Mauryan Empire and Gupta Dynasty. Buddha is believed to have visited the city more than once, although there is no record of this in his writing. Faxian, the Chinese monk, wrote of several Buddhist monasteries here. Ayodhya reached its peak of trade during the Gupta dynasty.
Ayodhya is a 'Mokshdayani Puris,' or 'land of spiritual bliss and liberation from karma bandhan,' along with Varanasi, and Dwarka. Hindu scripture such as the Ramcharitmanas, Vishnu Purana and Shrimad Bhagvat Mahapuran recommend pilgrimage to the city, writing that it increases the Punya, or virtue, and decreases Paap, or wrongdoing.
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 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.
As of the 2001[update] India census, Ayodhya had a population of 49,593. Males constitute 59% of the population and females 41%. Ayodhya has an average literacy rate of 65%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with 72% of the males and 62% of females literate. 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.
There has been debate in India regarding the Babri Mosque, built on the foundations of a Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya, believed by Hindus to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. The mosque was named after Babar the founder of the Mughal dynasty in India.
Claims have been made that worship took place on a platform called the "Ram Chabutara" before Independence. According to British sources, Hindus and Muslims used to worship together in the Disputed Structure in the 19th century until about 1855. As written in 1870:
It is said that up to that time, the Hindus and Mohamedans alike used to worship in the mosque-temple. Since the British rule a railing has been put up to prevent dispute, within which, in the mosque the Mohamedans pray, while outside the fence the Hindus have raised a platform on which they make their offerings.— P. Carnegy, A Sketch of Lucknow in 1870
In 1989, the Allahabad High Court opened the locks of the main gate and restored the site to use. However, when Hindus wanted modifications of the dilapidated Islamic style structure built by General Mir Banki, and did a Shilanyas, or inauguration, of a proposed new temple, there was civil unrest in many parts of India. Since, then the matter has been sub-judiced.
A movement was launched in 1984 by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad party to reclaim the site for a temple of the infant Rama, Ramlala. Many Muslim organizations expressed outrage at the destruction of the mosque. This platform was outside the disputed structure but within its precincts. Hindus say that they have been demanding the return of the site for centuries, and cite accounts of western travellers during the Mughal rule in India.
The mosque was destroyed in 1992 when a right wing Hindu nationalist rally progressed into a riot, involving a mob of over thousands. There were several later mosques constructed in the Faizabad district of Ayodhya. Due its relative isolation, Ayodhya has a small Muslim population, though there are more Muslims at the nearby District Headquarters in Faizabad. The Babri Mosque at Ayodhya became famous through the dispute, with Hindus having offered Pujas to Lord Ramlala for years.
There is a makeshift mandir at Ram Janmabhoomi with a Ram Lalla, representing Rama as a child, smiling over a blooming lotus. The 27-inch-high (690 mm) deity is carved in white marble from the mines of Makrana in Rajasthan and laced with gold. The palanquin is made of seasoned rosewood brought from forest in Karnataka. The statue was donated by Chandresh Pandey of Jaipur Pandey Idol Museum. Under Indian government no one was permitted near the site for 200 yards, and the gate was locked to the outside. Hindu pilgrims, however, began entering through a side door to offer puja.
2003 archaeological findings
The latest archaeological evidence comes from examination of the site after destruction of the Babri Mosque. The excavation, carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India between 12 March and 7 August 2003, uncovered a variety of objects, including a 12-foot (3.7 m) statue of Lord Hanuman and coins dating to early historic times and other historic objects. They concluded that an ancient temple had been demolished or modified to create the Babri Mosque under Babur.
On 5 July 2005, five terrorists attacked the site of the makeshift Ramlalla temple in Ayodhya. All five were killed in the ensuing gunfight with security forces, and one civilian died in the bomb blast triggered as they attempted to breach the cordon wall.
Allahabad High Court verdict, September 2010
Before 2003, it was not proven that the original Hindu temple was demolished or dramatically modified on the orders of the Mughal Emperor Babur and a mosque was built in its place. A title suit on the disputed site was heard in 2010 in which it was established that, on the basis of popular belief, the disputed land was the birthplace of Lord Rama.
On 30 September 2010, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court pronounced its verdict on the Ayodhya title suit. The three-judge bench ruled in a majority judgement (2 to 1) that one-third of the disputed land should be given to the Sunni Muslim Central Board of Waqfs, one-third to the Nirmohi Akhara and one-third to the Hindu party for 'Ram Lalla'. The court further ruled that the area where the idols of Ram are present be given to Hindus in the final decree, while the rest of the land shall be divided equally by metes and bounds among the three parties.
Places of interest
Hanuman Garhi, a massive four-sided fort with circular bastions at each corner and a temple of Hanuman inside, is the most popular shrine in Ayodhya. Situated in the center of town, it is approachable by a flight of 76 steps. Its legend is that Hanuman lived here in a cave and guarded the Janambhoomi, or Ramkot. The main temple contains the statue of Maa Anjani with Bal Hanuman seated on her lap. The faithful believe wishes are granted with a visit to the shrine. Kanak Bhawan is a temple said to have been given to Sita and Rama by Rama's stepmother Kaikeyi as a wedding gift, and only contains statues of Sita with her husband.
Ramkot is the main place of worship in Ayodhya, and the site of the ancient citadel of its namesake, standing on elevated ground in the western city. Although visited by pilgrims throughout the year, it attracts devotees from all over the world on "Ram Navami", the day of the birth of Rama. Ram Navami is celebrated with great pomp in the Hindu month of Chaitra, which falls between March and April. Swarg Dwar is believed to be the site of cremation of Rama. Mani Parbat and Sugriv Parbat are ancient earth mounds, the first identified by a stupa built by the emperor Ashoka, and the second is an ancient monastery. Treta ke Thaku is a temple standing at the site of the Ashvamedha Yajnya of Rama. Three centuries prior, the Raja of Kulu built a new temple here, which was improved by Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in 1784, the same time the adjacent Ghats were built. The initial idols in black sandstone were recovered from Sarayu and placed in the new temple, which was known as Kaleram-ka-Mandir. Chhoti Devkali Mandir is the temple of goddess Ishani, or Durga, Kuldevi of Sita.
The temple of Nageshwarnath was established by Kush, son of Rama. Legend has it that Kush lost his armlet while bathing in the Sarayu, and it was retrieved by a Nag-Kanya who fell in love with him. As she was a devotee of Shiva, Kush built her this temple. It was the only temple to survive when Ayodhya was abandoned until the time of Vikramaditya. While the rest of city was in ruin and covered by dense forest, this temple allowed Vikramaditya to recognize the city. The festival of Shivratri is celebrated here with great splendor.
Chakravarti Mahraj Dashrath Mahal
Chakravarti Mahraj Dashrath Mahal, known as Bada Asthan and Badi Jagah, is at Ramkot Ayodhya Faizabad Uttar Pradesh. It open for public from 8 am to 12 noon and 4 pm to 10 pm. every day. Ram Vivah, Deepawali, Shravan Mela, Chaitra Ramnavami and Kartik Mela are special occasions when number of devotees increases manifold. Dotted with so many religious places and shrines, in Ayodhya is a venerated place that has been revered by all, fraction of Hindu religious. This holy place is associated with Lord Ram, the hero of the great epic Ramayana. All the places in Ayodhya is some how related to this legendary ruler who is regarded as an icon of virtue, truth and devotion.
Chakravarti Maharaja Dasrath Mahal is not an exception to this common phenomenon. It where Maharaja Dasharatha is believed to reside with his kith and kin. Now the place houses a temple, which depicts Ram, Sita and Lakshmana Bharat Shatrughan as the chief deities. Though the shrine is not much bigger in size, its environment provide such serene and tranquil feeling that the devotee would be able to sense the presence of the Lord Ram.
- Angad Tila
- Shri Rama Janaki Birla Temple
- Tulsi Smarak Bhawan
- Ram ki Paidi
- Kaleramji ka Mandir
- Datuvan Kund
- Janki Mahal
- Gurudwara Brahma Kund
- Rishabhadeo Jain Temple
- Brahma Kund
- Amawan Temple
- Tulsi Chaura
- Laxman Quila
- Ram Katha Museum
- Valmiki Ramayan Bhawan
- Mandir Sunder Sadan (in front of controversial site)
To reach Ayodhya, the nearest airports are Faizabad, 5 km away, Amausi in Lucknow, 134 km away, Allahabad, 166 km away. The city is on the broad gauge Northern Railway line on Mughal Sarai on the Lucknow main route with Ayodhya and Faizabad Railway Stations. Ayodhya is connected by road to several major cities and towns, including Lucknow (134 km), Gorakhpur (132 km), Jhansi (441 km), Allahabad (166 km), Sravasti (109 km), Varanasi (209 km) and Gonda (51 km).
Ayodhyā Mathurā Māyā Kāsi Kāñchī Avantikā I
Purī Dvārāvatī chaiva saptaitā moksadāyikāh II— Garuḍa Purāṇa I XVI .14
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