Ayodhya pronunciation (help·info) (Sanskrit: अयोध्या, Urdu: ایودھیا, IAST Ayodhyā) is an ancient city of India, the old capital of Awadh, in the Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya is described as the birth place of the Hindu Bhagwan (God) Rama and Bhagwan Swaminarayan. It used to be the capital of the ancient Kosala Kingdom.
This Hindu holy city is described as early as in the Hindu Epics. Ayodhya has an average elevation of 93 metres (305 feet).
Ayodhya is on the right bank of the river Saryu, as it is called within sacred precincts. Just 6 km from Faizabad, Ayodhya is a popular pilgrim centre. This town is closely associated with Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The ancient city of Ayodhya, according to the Ramayana, was founded by Manu, the law-giver of the Hindu. For centuries, it was the capital of the descendants of the Surya dynasty of which Lord Rama was the most celebrated king. Ayodhya during ancient times was known as Kaushaldesa.
Skanda and some other Puranas rank Ayodhya as one of the seven most sacred cities of India. It was the venue of many events in Hindu mythology. Today pre-eminently a temple town, Ayodhya is famous for its close association with the epic Ramayana. It is a city of immense antiquity full of historical significance and sacred temples. The Atharvaveda described Ayodhya as “a city built by Gods and being prosperous as paradise itself.”
The illustrious ruling dynasty of this region were the Ikshvakus of the solar clan (Suryavansa). According to tradition, Ikshvakus was the eldest son of Vaivasvata Manu, who established himself at Ayodhya. The Earth is said to have derived its name `Prithivi’ from Prithu, the sixth king of the line. A few generations later came Mandhatri, in whose line the 31st king was Harischandra, known widely for his love of truth. Raja Sagar of the same clan performed the Asvamedha Yajna and his great grandson Bhagiratha is reputed to have brought Ganga on Earth by virtue of his penance. Later in the time came the great Raghu, after whom the family came to be called as Raghuvamsa. His grandson was Raja Dasaratha, the illustrious father of Rama, with whom the glory of the Kausala dynasty reached its highest point. The story of this epic has been immortalized by Valmiki and immensely popularized by the great masses through centuries.
Ayodhya is a city of temples yet all places of worship here are not only Hindu. At Ayodhya several religions have grown and prospered simultaneously and at different periods. Remnants of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam can still be found in Ayodhya. According to Jain tradition, five Tirthankaras were born at Ayodhya, including Adinath (Rishabhadeva) the first Tirthankar.
Festivals observed in Ayodhya include Shravan Jhoola Mela (July–August), Parikrama Mela (October–November), Ram Navmi (March–April), Rathyatra (June–July), Saryu Snan (October–November), Ram Vivah (November), and Ramayan Mela.
Geography and Climate
Ayodhya has a warm humid subtropical climate, typical of the Indian heartland. Summers are long, dry and extremely hot, lasting from late March to mid June, with average daily temperatures near 32oC (90oF) . They are followed by the monsoon season which lasts till early October, with a total precipitation of about 1067 mm (42 inches) and average temperatures around 28oC (84oF). 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 16oC (60oF), but nights can be chilly to cold.
History of Ayodhya
Ayodhya is said to be one of the most ancient, magnificent and holy of Hindu cities. According to the ancient Hindu Scriptures, it is said to have covered an area of 250 km² (96 square miles), and was the capital of the powerful Hindu kingdom of Kosala (Kaushal). It is on the banks of the Ghaghara River, bathing in which is supposed to destroy even the deadliest of sins. It stands on the right bank of the river Ghagra (or Saryu, as it is called within sacred precincts). The illustrious Ikshvaku of the solar clan (suryavansha) was the ruling dynasty of this region. This city was the court of the great Dasharatha, the 63rd monarch of the Solar line. King Dasaratha’s son Rama, born in Ayodhya, was believed to be the incarnation of Vishnu. In the Atharvaveda, this place was described as a city made by gods and as prosperous as Heaven itself.
Valmiki is said to have begun the writing of his famous devotional poem Valmiki Ramayana, also called the Ramayana in Ayodhya. The opening chapters recount the magnificence of the city, the glories of the monarch and the virtues, wealth and loyalty of his people. Other sages like Kamban and Tulsidas also wrote versions of the Ramayana praising of Rama and the magnificent city of Ayodhya. Tulsidas’ Ramayana is popularly known as Ramacharitamanasa and is one of the most revered scriptures of Hinduism. Several Tamil Alvars mention the city of Ayodhya. Ayodhya is also said to be the birthplace of Jadabharata (the first Chakravartin), Bahubali, Brahmi, Sundari, Padaliptasurisvarji, Harishchandra and Achalbharata.
Ayodhya has a historical significance for the Jain community too. This is the birth place of two important tirthankaras who were born in the early centuries CE. The Jain agamas also stand testimony to the visit of Mahavira, Jainism’s last tirthankara, to this city. Ayodhya is also the birth place of five Tirthankaras, including the first, Rishabha as well as that of Mahavira’s ninth Ganadhara.
The city is also important in the history and heritage of Buddhism in India, with several Buddhist temples, monuments and centers of learning having been established here during the age of the Mauryan Empire and the Gupta Dynasty. Ayodhya reached its glorious peak as known to history during the reign of the Guptas over India.
This city was also a significant trade centre in 600 BCE.Historians have identified this place as Saketa, a key Buddhist centre during the 5th century BCE (it is a widely held beliefthat Buddha visited Ayodhya on several occasions) which it remained till the 5th century CE. In fact, Faxian, the Chinese monk, recorded several Buddhist monasteries that he saw here.
Rama being welcomed back to Ayodhya, also shown him flying in the Pushpaka Vimana
Swaminarayan, founder of the Swaminarayan sect of Hinduism lived here during his childhood years. It was from Ayodhya that Swaminarayan started his seven year journey across India as a ‘Neelkanth’.
Amongst the ‘Mokshdayani Puris’ of the world meaning “the lands of spiritual bliss and liberation from the karma-bandhan,” Ayodhya city holds a leading place, along with cities such as Varanasi, Dwarka and others. Ramcharitmanas and other respected Hindu scriptures like the Vishnu Purana, Shrimad Bhagvat Mahapuran and others emphasize the importance of living and visiting such religious places. According to them, these spiritually charged cities increase the Punya (or ‘fruits of virtuous and righteous actions’) and Paap (‘fruits of a person’s wrong doings’) of an individual many times over. Therefore people visiting and living in such holy cities are found doing noble and virtuous deeds.
Today people from various religious faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Jainism live together united, making it a place of enormous sacred importance.