Shri Ramachandra (Rama) is known as the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu. Rama was born in Ayodhya, in Treta Yuga, as the eldest son of Devi Kaushalya and King Dasharatha, on the ninth day of a Shukla Paksha, in a month of Chaitra as per Hindu Calendar. This day is celebrated as Rama Navami, in the Gregorian month of March or April every year. This celebration of Rama Navami also coincides with the 9th Day of the festival of Chaitra Navaratri.
Lord Rama is also known as ‘Maryada Purushottama’ – an upholder of dharma, the ideal son, the ideal husband, and the ideal King. It is believed that Lord Rama and Devi Sita were married on the fifth day of a Shukla paksha in a month of Margashirsha as per Hindu Calendar, and this day is celebrated as ‘Vivah Panchami’. The siblings of Shri Rama include Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna. The life and activities of Shri Rama are explained in detail by the great sage Maharishi Valmiki, in the ancient epic of Ramayana (as per some scholars this epic was composed in the 7th century BCE).
History of Ayodhya
Ayodhya, also known as Awadh, is a city in Uttar Pradesh. It was one of the largest ancient cities of the Indian subcontinent, and carries a great ancient historical pride. The origin of the word ‘Ayodhya’ is from the Sanskrit word ‘Yodhya’ which literally means warrior, and truly it is a land of great warriors.
Ayodhya, has sentimental and emotional importance in the heart of every Indian. It got its popularity and sanity as birthplace of Lord Rama, and as the plot of famous historical epics Ramayana. Ayodhya is deeply attached to the gravity of Lord Rama and his father, King Dasharatha. The serenity of the river Sarayu enhances the beauty of this place. The Atharva Veda has defined it as the city built by Gods and has also compared it to Paradise. It is a one of the seven holy pilgrimage centers of India. A sloka from Garuda Purana describes these seven Pilgrimage centers as:
अयोध्या मथुरा माया काशी कांची अवंतिका ।
पुरी द्वारावती चैव सप्तैते मोक्षदायकाः ॥
Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Haridwar), Kashi (Varanasi), Kanchi (Kanchipuram), Avantika (Ujjain) and Dwaravati (Dwaraka); Visiting these seven places will provide Moksha (liberation from the cycle of life and death).
Ayodhya is like the canvas of Hinduism and the deep-rooted Indian Culture. Lord Rama is known to have born here, and to magnify that area people built a temple over this place. Even in the Ramayana, we get a clue of this same story. Ayodhya was earlier known as the capital of the Ikshvaku Dynasty. Anyone familiar with ancient Indian history and epics knows the connection between Ikshvaku and Lord Rama. Ikshvaku was the progenitor of the famous Raghuvanshi Dynasty. Later when Dasharatha, a descendant of this dynasty, became ruler and the King, he and his wife Kausalya gave birth to Lord Rama. As a token of jealousy Dasharatha’s other wife Kaikayi sent Rama into exile. During his 14 years of exile Lord Rama defeated many evil daemons, along with Lankeshwar Ravana, secured his beloved wife Sita, and returned to Ayodhya to rule as a King.
After Lord Rama, his descendants managed this empire, but as time passed the kingdom lost power and importance, and was gradually deserted. As per some archaeologists and researchers, Ayodhya is the same city that was popular as Saketa, situated in Kosala. During the decline of the Maurya empire, the Indo-Greek king Demetrius occupied Saketa. After the post-Mauryan period, Saketa was ruled by the Gupta Dynasty. It was believed that the Guptas were the divine rulers of all time as the Gupta Dynasty was filled with heavenly kings. It was Skandha Gupta, a Gupta emperor who later renamed his capital Saketa as Ayodhya.
Ayodhya is famous for its acceptance of the amalgamation of various cultures and beliefs. It also portrays the rich heritage and culture of Buddhism. It is believed that Gautam Buddha had visited this place multiple times as he belonged to the same solar dynasty. This belief became more prominent when the Chinese Buddhist monk Faxian claimed that there were more than 100 stupas in Saketa, and this was confirmed by another Chinese Buddhist Monk Xuanzang, who travelled to India in the seventh century. Ayodhya became a spot of trading while Mauryas were the rulers. Archaeologists have also found many Buddhist constructions which belongs to the era when Ashoka was the emperor. On the other hand, the Jains say that two Jain devotees gospelized Saketa. It is also believed that five of the 24 Jain pilgrims had their roots in Ayodhya. This bel
Decline and Resurgence of Ayodhya
Ayodhya witnessed several rulers and several eras. But the decline started after the end of the medieval period when the rulership of the Gupta Dynasty ended. At that time Ayodhya declined both politically and economically. During the 11th century, Ayodhya got its new ruler as Chandradeva, the King of Kannauj. But Ayodhya went through a tough period when the Mughals came to Ayodhya. It was defined as the age of demolition and insularity.
Ram Janmabhoomi Ayodhya, beheld the greatest debate of all time which has its roots during the rulership of Mughal emperors. The first Mughal emperor Babur built a mosque in the year 1528–29 CE, known as Babri Masjid. But according to the archaeologists, the mosque was built after demolishing the temple dedicated to Lord Rama, built over the birthplace of Lord Rama.
In the year 1992 the Babri Masjid was partially demolished by a mob, and this case of dispute went to the Court of Law. The case continued for many years, and after numerous hearings, in November 2020, the Supreme Court of India gave its verdict in favour of the parties who contested for building the Temple of Lord Rama. The Bhoomi Puja at Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya was held on 5th August 2020, and was attended by eminent personalities along with the Prime Minister of India.
Places to Visit while in Ayodhya
In Ayodhya, we can feel the proper essence of Hindu culture because of the various temples and marks over there. At the centre of the town of Ayodhya, there is the famous Hanuman Garhi Fort. This fort has the shape of a four-wheeler and has a Hanuman temple inside it. In that, we can see both Maa Anjani and little Hanuman on her lap. Hindus believe that Lord Hanuman stays there as the protector of Ram Mandir. However, Ramkot Mandir is the main attraction of Ayodhya.
Ram Navami is celebrated over here with great glory and pomp. People across the world come to visit Ramkot during Ram Navami, which is held every year in April. Also, nobody misses visiting the Nageshwarnath Temple, which was built by Kush, the son of Lord Rama. This temple has its significance. It is believed that Kush lost his armlet in the river Sarayu and while searching for that, Nag Kanya fell for him. He later built her that time as she was a devotee of Lord Shiva. On the other hand, Ram Ki Paidi enhances the serenity of this place. It is a series of ghats on the bank of the river Sarayu. Pilgrims while taking a bath in the river always visit this place. Another significant place of Ayodhya is the Kanak Bhawan Temple, which is believed to be a wedding gift for Rama and Sita by Rama’s stepmother Kaikayi. Some other popular places nearby are Sita-ki-Rasoi, Swarg Dwar, Tulsi Smarak Bhawan Museum, and Raja Mandir.
In the twenty-first century, Ayodhya exists as a rustic flavour of multi-cultural aspects. Its heritage and significance are popular not only across India but also across the Globe.