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Ayodhya

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Ayodhya

Ayodhya
अयोध्या
Saket
City
The Holy City of Ayodhya
Ayodhya is located in Uttar Pradesh
Ayodhya
Ayodhya
Coordinates:
Country India
State Uttar Pradesh
District Faizabad
Area
 • Total 10.24 km2 (3.95 sq mi)
Elevation 93 m (305 ft)
Population (2001)
 • Total 49,650
 • Density 4,800/km2 (13,000/sq mi)
Languages
 • Official Hindi, Urdu
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 224123
Telephone code 05278
Vehicle registration UP-42

Ayodhya (   ; Sanskrit: अयोध्या, IAST Ayodhyā), also known as Saket (Sanskrit: साकेत), is an ancient city of India, believed to be the birthplace of Rama[1] and 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).

Origins

Ayodhya is on the right bank of the river Sarayu, 6 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 in the Vedas, and law-giver of the Hindus. Other sources hold that it was founded by its namesake, King Ayudh. For centuries, it was the capital for the Surya dynasty, of which Lord Rama was the most celebrated king. At the time it was known as Kaushaldesa.

Ram Paidi ghat on Sarayu river, Ayodhya.

Skanda 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 clan Suryavansa 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 Dasaratha, of the Kausala dynasty, and father of Rama.

Ayodhya is a city of worship. Several religions have prospered 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 Adinath, first Tirthankar,[2] Ajitnath, second Tirthankar,[3]Abhinandanath (fourth Tirthankar),[4] Sumatinath, fifth Tirthankar,[5] and Anantnath, fourteenth Tirthankar.[6] Ayodhya demonstrates Ganga-Jamuni culture in the Hanumangarhi temple, built by Nawab of Awadh. Sundar Bhavan, a temple of Rama, had a devoted caretaker, Munne Mian, who looked after it for fifty years until his death in 2004.[7] According to Jain Agams, it is the second eternal city after Shikharji, and will never vanish or disappear during the changing epochs.

Etymology

King Ayudh is mentioned in Hindu scriptures as a forefather of Lord Rama. His name comes from the Sanskrit root yudh, meaning "fight" or "wage war," and it translates to either "not to be fought" or, less literally, "unconquerable." During the time of Gautama Buddha, the city was called Ayojjhā in Pali, and Ayodhyā in Sanskrit, although this city in scripture has been said to be on the River Ganges.[8]

In the first centuries of the common era, it 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. It is not clear when the name changed, but by the time of the visit of the Chinese pilgrim monk, Xuanzang, c. 636 CE, it was known as Ayodhya.

Under Mughal rule, it was the seat of the governor of Awadh. 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.[11][12]

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

Geography and climate

Lucknow
Climate chart ()
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: IMD

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.

Legacy

History

Ancient Indian (Bharata) cities and places.
Ayodhya is one of the most ancient Hindu cities. In the Ramayana, it is described covering an area of 250 km2 (97 sq mi), and was capital of the Hindu kingdom Kaushal. It is on the banks of the Ganges, a river whose waters cleanse all sin, and on the right bank of Ghagra. The Ikshvaku of the solar clan (suryavansha) was its ruling dynasty. The city was the in court of the great Dasharatha, 63rd monarch of the Solar line, whose son was the avatar Rama. In the Atharvaveda, Ayodhya was described as 'made by Gods and prosperous as Heaven itself'.

Valmiki began 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. Kamban or 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. Ayodhya reached its peak of trade during the Gupta dynasty.

It was a center of trade in 600 BCE. Historians correlate the city to Saketa, a center of Buddhism from the 5th century BCE till the 5th century CE. 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.

Rama being welcomed back to Ayodhya, flying in the Pushpaka Vimana

Swaminarayan, founder of the Swaminarayan sect of Hinduism, lived in Ayodhya as a child and began his seven-year journey across India as a 'Neelkanth' from the city.

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.

Among seven holy cities of India

Sapta Puri

Sita & Lakshmana leave Ayodhya
Ujjain: Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga
Dwarka: Dwarakadheesh temple
Varanasi Temples
Kanchipuram: Kamakshi Amman Temple
Haridwar
Mathura Krishna Temple

Ayodhya is one of seven holy places for Hindus in India, with Varanasi the most sacrosanct:

Ayodhyā Mathurā Māyā Kāsi Kāñchī Avantikā I
Purī Dvārāvatī chaiva saptaitā moksadāyikāh II
Garuḍa Purāṇa I XVI .14

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).[13]

Kim clan and Princess Heo Hwang-ok

The Atharva Veda called Ayodhya "a city built by gods and being as prosperous as paradise itself".

According to the 11th-century Korean chronicle the Samguk Yusa, the wife of King Suro of the ancient Korean kingdom of Geumgwan Gaya was a princess who traveled by boat from a faraway land called Ayuta to Korea in 48 AD. It is commonly thought that Ayodhya is the foreign land referred to in the Korean chronicles, but some scholars believe that the foreign land may have been Ayutthaya of Thailand.

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. Two millennia prior, a princess of Ayodhya had been shipped off as a bride to Suro. They had ten children, of whom nine became Buddhist monks. His descendants now form the 10 million-strong Kim Kimhae clan and Heo Gimhae clan.[7][14][15][16]

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.[7]

United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, showing 'Ajodhia', 1903 map

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.[17]

Demographics

As of the 2001 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.[18]

Ayodhya debate

Ayodhya dispute
Archaeology of Ayodhya
Babri Masjid
Demolition of the Babri Masjid
Ram Janmabhoomi
2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack
Organizations
Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha
Bharatiya Janata Party
Liberhan Commission
Nirmohi Akhara
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
Sunni Waqf Board
Vishva Hindu Parishad
People
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Babur
L. K. Advani
Kalyan Singh
Murli Manohar Joshi
Uma Bharti

There has been debate in Ayodhya regarding the Babri Mosque, believed by some to be built on the foundations of a Ram Janmabhoomi temple. Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, was the namesake for the mosque. The site of this temple was believed to be the birthplace of Rama. The land that is under dispute has had different functions.

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[19]

The 1986 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica reported that "Rama's birthplace is marked by a mosque, erected by the Mughal emperor Babar in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple".[20]

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 [21] 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 150,000 people. 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.[22] 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.[23] 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 Archeological 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.[24][25][26][27]

Buddhist ruins were ultimately found underlying both Hindu and Muslim layers of architecture. Jonathan Walters remarked, "The impact of the 2003 discovery of Buddhist ruins underlying both Hindu and Muslim layers at Ayodhya remains to be seen."[28]

Attack

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.[29][30]

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 gifted to Sita by her mother with her marriage to Rama, 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.

Nageshwarnath Temple

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 Pardesh. 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 Dasarath 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)

Accessibility

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).

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