Ayodhya is one among the seven sacred cities in India, which lead one to the gateway of liberation. These seven cities are known as moksha-puris other cities being Mathura, Kashi, Ujjain, Kanchipuram, Dwarka and Haridwar. Ayodhya is more celebrated due to its fame as the birthplace of Sri Ramachandra, the Supreme Lord. It is also glorified one among the 108 Divya Desham Kshetras glorified by the Alwars.
Introduction to Ayodhya
Ayodhya is situated on the banks of River Sarayu, in Faizabad district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh at a distance of approximately 645 kilometers from Delhi. This sacred city is well connected by railways and state transport from all over India. The city was first called as Saket and was named Ayodhya after the King Ayudh of the Solar Dynasty. Ayodhya also means one which cannot be defeated in a war (a yudh).
As per the Valmiki Ramayana, this great city was established by Vaivasvata Manu the first King of Solar Dynasty. The city was twelve yojanas (144 kilometers) long and three yojanas (36 kilometers) wide. The city was again established by King Dasharatha, father of Sri Ramachandra. It has been the capital of great kings of the Solar Dynasty since the time of Vaivasvata Manu. After Sri Ramachandra departed to His abode, the city got deserted and was re-established by King Kush. After Kush, the city was again lost and re-discovered by the King Vikramaditya of Ujjain, around 2500 years before. King Vikramaditya excavated Ayodhya and constructed temples commemorating the pastimes of the Supreme Lord Rama, the epitome of maryada.
Description of Ayodhya from Valmiki Ramayana
The Bala-kanda of Valmiki’s Ramayana describes Ayodhya as follows:
Within the Koshala province, Vaivasvata Manu had built his capital city, Ayodhya, on the banks of the river Sarayu. Later on, under the rule of Ikshvaku’s descendent, Maharaja Dasharatha, Ayodhya flourished wonderfully. The city was well laid out with broad and straight avenues that were washed by perfumed water sprayed from the trunks of elephants. The arched gateways to the city were made of marble, and the gates were made of gold and silver, inlaid with valuable jewels. Ayodhya’s walls were strongly fortified, and thousands of warriors were posted to protect the city from invaders. Throughout the city there were seven-story palaces, surrounded by beautiful parks and gardens, within which were ponds filled with lotus flowers. The sounds of parrots and peacocks could be heard everywhere, along with the vibrations of musical instruments. Gentle breezes carried droplets of water from the numerous fountains, cooling the passers-by in the heat of summer. In this way, Ayodhya appeared to rival Amaravati, the abode of Indra, the king of heaven.
The streets of Ayodhya were always filled with travelers. Kings and princes from all parts of the world came to pay their annual tribute, as well as respects, to the emperor. In Ayodhya, all the four social orders – the brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras – participated cooperatively for the peace and prosperity of the kingdom. No one was cheated and no one was miserly. Arrogance, atheism, as well as harsh behavior and speech were conspicuous by their absence. (Excerpt Taken from the book Ramayana told by Purnaprajna Dasa)
Rediscovery of Ayodhya by King Vikramadiya
After the rule of King Kush, Ayodhya was lost. Lord Ramachandra appeared in the dreams of King Vikramaditya of Ujjain and blessed him with the vision of the grand and opulent kingdom of Ayodhya. Lord Rama instructed the devoted king to re-establish the city of Ayodhya. King Vikramaditya carried out the order of the Lord and discovered Ayodhya. He first approached the banks of River Sarayu and came across the temple of Sri Nageshwar Nath Mahadev. Through this temple, the King identified the other places of pastimes of Lord Ramachandra in Ayodhya.
The History of Ayodhya’s Struggle
The history records that many religions like Buddhism, Jainism have thrived in Ayodhya and the city has lost its original charm of being the capital city of Lord Rama. As per the recent history, Ayodhya has witnessed seventy six battles thus claiming more than the lives of three lakh soldiers or devotees.
In the year 1528, Mir Banki, the commander-in-chief of Babur’s army broke the temple of Sri Rama and took over its control and constructed a Babur Gumbaz on it. Queen Jayaraja Kumari of Hasvar attacked the Muslim’s army along with thirthy thousand female soldiers and re-claimed the entire city. However on the third day Humayun attacked and won the city thus re-establishing the control of Muslims. During the reign of Akbar, twenty times Hindus tried taking back the city but were unsuccessful nineteen times. However on the twentieth attempt, Hindus took control over the place and constructed the temple over it. The situation was peaceful during the era of Jehangir and Shahjahan. During the time of Aurangzeb, he sent a large army under the leadership of Janbanz who was defeated by the ten thousand saints led by Swami Vaishnav Dasa. Then Aurangzeb sent fifty thousand soldiers under the leadership of Ali Khan. This time also Swami Vaishnava Dasa and Sikh soldiers of Guru Gobind Sikh defeated the Mughal Army. Further for four years Aurangzeb did not look back at Ayodhya. After four years, Mughal army suddenly raided Ayodhya and took its control. During the reign of Nawab Shahdutt Ali, King Gurudutt Singh of Ameti fought with the Mughal Army and took back the control of Ayodhya. Like this from time immemorial there has been fight over the control of Ayodhya. In the year 1857, Mir Ali and Ramsharan Das tried giving back the birthplace of Lord Rama peacefully to the devotees of Lord Rama, but British did not allow. In 1912-13 during the colonization of British, devotees tried taking back the birthplace of Lord Rama twice but were unsuccessful in their attempts. Finally in the year 1992, the Babri structure was demolished and since then worship is continuing in the birthplace of Lord Ramachandra. The construction of Lord Rama’s temple on the birthplace of Lord Rama is before the Supreme Court of India and waiting for its glorious day.
Description of Rama Rajya
Nowadays everyone talks about the establishment of Rama Rajya. But Rama Rajya is not just the political conditions and the improvement in the economic status of the society. It is more to do with the God consciousness of the citizens following the principles of righteousness. The Yuddha-kanda of Valmiki’s Ramayana describes the Rama Rajya as follows: Lord Rama ruled the Earth from His capital, Ayodhya, for eleven thousand years. During that period, Rama performed numerous sacrifices, including one hundred ashvamedha-yajnas. During the reign of Lord Rama, there were no widows to lament the loss of their husbands, there were no diseases, and there were no thieves. In fact, even wild animals gave up their natural enmity and did not kill one another. All the citizens were fully righteous. They considered Rama their Lord and master and indeed, their very life and soul. Everyone lived for thousands of years and had many sons. All talk was centered around Rama alone. Thus, the entire earth appeared as if it had been transformed into the kingdom of God, Vaikunthaloka.
How to reach: The nearest airports to Ayodhya are the Lucknow Airport, Allahabad Airport and Varanasi Airport. There are scheduled flights from Delhi Airport to these Airports. State transport buses ply from Lucknow, Allahabad and Varanasi regularly on daily basis. One can also reach Ayodhya by rail. Although Ayodhya has its own railway station, the nearest big railway station with better connectivity is Faizabad. From Faizabad one can reach Ayodhya by local transportation like autos.
Where to stay and eat: There are quite a decent places in Ayodhya to stay. The famous being the Madhava Bhavan, The Birla Guest House, etc. If you are looking for a luxury accommodation, you could plan to stay in Faizabad which is quite nearby. There are many hotels in Ayodhya for devotees to dine. However finding food without onion / garlic is little difficult for which devotees should depend on the mutts and the temples only. Kanak Bhavan has a good hotel attached to it where you get decent food without onion / garlic.
Ayodhya as per Archeology
Read more about the Archeology findings at Ayodhya at Veda – Vedic Knowledge Online0