Ayodhya is located on the banks of river Sarayu in Uttar Pradesh. It plays a critical role in the Hindu epic of Ramayana as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. This religious town is also the birthplace of four of Jainism’s 24 Tirthankaras (religious teachers).
Ayodhya is best known for being the city of the Hindu mythological epic Ramayana. As per legends, Saint Manu, the initiator of mankind founded the city and gave it to the Ikshvaku clan to rule. Being the capital city of Kosala, Ayodhya was then ruled by King Dasaratha, a descendant of Ikshvaku. It is, however, interesting to note that historians have interpreted Ayodhya’s existence, as per Ramayana, as an urban centre consisting of buildings and palaces.
A local tradition states that Ayodhya became desolate after Lord Rama’s ascent to heaven and was later revived by King Vikramaditya of Ujjain, in 50 BCE. The great Kalidasa, however, mentions in Raghuvamsa that Lord Rama’s son Kusa was the one who led Ayodhya’s revival.
Several legends like Brahmanda Purana and Garuda Purana mention Ayodhya as one of the “most sacred and foremost cities” and “one of the holiest places for Hindus in India”, respectively. The Jain tradition states that 5 Tirthankaras- Rishabhanatha (first), Ajitanatha (second), Abhinandananatha (fourth), Sumatinatha (fifth), and Anantanatha (fourteenth) were born in Ayodhya.
Ayodhya is pre-eminently a city of temples. At Ayodhya, several religions have grown and prospered simultaneously and also at different periods of time in the past. Remnants of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism can still be found in Ayodhya.
Places to Visit in Ayodhya
Hanuman Garhi is one of the most important temples of Ayodhya. Situated in the center of the town, the temple is approachable by a flight of 76 steps. Legend has it that lord hanuman lived here in a cave and guarded the Ramkot. The present temple was built in the middle of the 10th century, in the shape of a four-sided ford with circular bastions at each corner. The temple houses an image of lord hanuman.
Kanak Bhawan is one of the finest temples in Ayodhya. It is located towards the northeastern corner of the Ram Janmabhoomi in Tulsi Nagar. This temple is also known as Sone-ka-Ghar. It is a holy site dedicated to the Hindu deity Lord Rama and his wife, Goddess Sita.
Kanak Bhawan, also meaning Golden Palace, cites three golden-crowned idols of the two gods under a silver roof in the sanctum sanctorum (Garbagriha). It is believed that this shrine was gifted to Rama and Sita by the former’s stepmother, Kaikeyi.
Upon designed renovation during Vikramaditya’s reign, the present site was further entirely revamped by VrishBhanu Kunwari in 1891. This Bundela-styled temple is currently managed by the Sri Vrishbhan Dharma Setu Trust Private Limited.
Treta Ke Thakur
Treta Ke Thakur temple stands at the place where Lord Rama is said to have performed the Ashvamedah yajna. About 300 years ago the Raja of Kullu built a new temple here, which was improved by Ahalyabai Holkar of Indore. At the same time, the adjoining Ghats were also built. The initial idols in black sandstone were recovered from the river Saryu and placed in the new temple, famous as kale-RAM -ka -mandir.
Shri Ramjanma Bhoomi
Shri Ramjanma Bhoomi is believed to be discovered by king Vikramaditya. Opens for devotees between 6.30 to 10.30 A.M. and 3.00 to 6.00 during summer & between 7.30 to 10.30 A.M. and 2.00 to 5.00 P.M. during winter. On the auspicious day of Ramnavami during Chaitra month (March-April) devotees come here in large numbers.
The strip of land from Sahasradhara to Nageshwarnath temple is commonly denoted as Swargdwar. The buildings on the Ghat facing the river were mainly built during the reign of Nawab Safdar Jung and his Hindu minister Naval Rai, who is credited in particular for their construction. The buildings and the Ghats offer a fine view. In recent years the river bed has shifted northwards, leaving the Ghats, therefore the new Ghats were built around 1960 along with the new bridge. The ‘pairi’ as it is popularly known offers an excellent view from the bridge.
Nageshwarnath is considered to be the presiding deity of Ayodhya. The temple of Nageshwarnath is said to have been established by Kush, the son of Lord Rama. Legend has it that kush lost his armlet while bathing in the river Saryu, which was picked up by a Nag-Kanya, who fell in love with him. As she was a devotee of Lord Shiva, Kush erected this temple for her. It is said that this has been the only temple to have survived till the time of king Vikramaditya, the rest of the city had fallen into ruins and was covered by dense forests. It was by means of this temple that king Vikramaditya was able to locate Ayodhya and the sites and different shrines here. The festival of Shivratri is celebrated here with great pomp and splendor. The present temple was built during the reign of Safdarjung by Hindu minister Naval Rai around 1750.
It stands about 65 feet high and some scholars think it to be of Buddhist origin. According to legends, it was while Lord Hanuman was carrying the hill bearing the Sanjeevani Booti (herb) for Lakshman’s wounds from the Himalayas on the way to Lanka a portion broke off and fell at Ayodhya and this is that very mound.
Guptar Ghats contains a series of well-maintained ghats that were built by Raja Darshan Singh in the 1st half of the 19th century. On top of the ghats, a palace was built which comprises a Sita -RAM temple in the centre of the courtyard. The shrines of Chakrahari and Gupta Hari exist here with a small Narasimha temple.
Suraj Kund is a large tank with ghats that was built to pay homage to the sun god. The spot is ideal for a calm and quiet holiday.
There are also several Jain temples at Ayodhya, as it is said to be the birthplace of five Tirthankaras. Kesari Singh, the treasurer of nawab Faizabad, built five shrines to mark the birthplace of these Tirthankaras, which bear the date of Vikramsamvat 1781, the temple Adinath is near the Swargdwar, while the Anantanath temple stands on the Gola ghat, Sumantanath shrine is near the Swargdwar, while the Anantanath temple stands on the Gola ghat, Sumantnath shrine is at Ramkote, Ajitnath temple near Saptsagar while Abhinandannath temple is near the Sarai. A new Jain temple stands in Raiganj locality which houses a unique 21ft. high image of Lord Adinath (Rishabhadeva) the first Tirthankara.