Ayodhya is a religious and historical city situated on the banks of river Saryu. It is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The ancient name of Ayodhya is Saket, and it is the center of faith of Hindu religious people as the holy birthplace of Lord Shri Ram. Ayodhya was the capital of the Kosala Kingdom in ancient times and the center of the backdrop of the famous epic Ramayana. Ayodhya is considered as the Mokshadayini and the major pilgrimage center for Hindus due to the birthplace of Lord Shri Ram.
History of Ayodhya
This religious city situated on the banks of the Saryu river. According to the Ramayana composed by Valmiki, This city was founded by Maharaja Vaivasvata Manu, son of Surya. According to the history of Mathuras, Vaivasvata Manu was born around 6673 BC.
Brahma Ji's son was Rishi Marichi or Mareechi and the son of Mareechi was Kashyap. Kashyap's son was Vivaswan and Manu was the son of Vivaswan. Ayodhya is mentioned in the Veda as a city of God and the prosperity of this city has been compared to heaven. This Puri was situated on the banks of Saryu about 144 km in length and about 36 km in width.
For many centuries, this city was the capital of Suryavanshi kings. Ayodhya is basically a city of temples and ghats.
Ayodhya has many great warriors, sages, and avatars. Lord Rama also took birth here. According to Jainism, 5 Tirthankara including Adinath were born here. Ayodhya has been counted first in the ancient Saptapuris of India. According to Jain tradition, 22 of the 24 Tirthankaras were of the Ikshvaku dynasty.
Among these 24 Tirthankaras, Ayodhya is also the birthplace of four other Tirthankaras, along with the first Tirthankara Adinath (Rishabhdev Ji). According to Buddhist beliefs, Buddha had resided in Ayodhya or Saket for 16 years.
How was it established?
According to mythology, when Manu asked Brahma to build a city for himself, he took him to Vishnu. Vishnu Ji told him a suitable place in Saket Dham. Vishnuji sent Devashilpi Vishwakarma along with Brahma and Manu to build this city. Apart from this, Maharishi Vasistha was also sent with him to find a suitable place for his Ramavatar. It is believed that the Lila Bhoomi was selected by Vasishta on the banks of the river Saryu, Where Vishwakarma built the city. According to Skanda Purana, Ayodhya is seated on the wheel of Lord Vishnu.
Why is this called Awadh?
According to Skanda Purana, The term Ayodhya means unconquerable and consists of three root letters: A - Symbolizing Brahma, Y - Symbolizing Vishnu, and dh - Symbolizing Rudra. It literally means where there is no war. It is part of Awadh. Awadh means where no one is killed. The meaning of Ayodhya - that no one can win by war. At the time of Rama, this city was known from the capital named Awadh. In Buddhist texts, these cities were first called Ayodhya and later Saket. Kalidas has mentioned both Saket and Ayodhya, the capital of Kaushal or Kosal.
Ayodhya - Sapta Puri - One of the Seven Holy Pilgrimage Cites in Hinduism
In the mythological texts of Hinduism, Ayodhya is said to be one of the seven Holy Pilgrimage Sites of salvation. It is believed that if a creature dies even in any one of these seven Sapta Puri, then they will be freed from the cycle of life and death(Moksha)
अयोध्या मथुरा माया काशी काञ्ची अवन्तिका।
पुरी द्वारावती चैव सप्तैता मोक्षदायिकाः ॥
That is Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi, Kanchipuram, Ujjain, and Dwarka - these are the seven salvation places.
Places to Visit in Ayodhya
At present, Ram Janmabhoomi Temple, Hanumangarhi, and Kanak Bhavan are the main temples of Ayodhya. Some temples were built in the 18th and 19th centuries, among which Kanak Bhawan, Nageshwarnath, and Darshan Singh Temple are worth visiting.
There are also some Jain temples and 14 major ghats along the banks of the river Saryu. Among them, Gupt Dwar Ghat, Kaikeyi Ghat, Kaushalya Ghat, Papamochan Ghat, Laxman Ghat, etc. have special importance. There are three fairs in the year - March-April, July-August, and October-November. Lakhs of devotees visit here on these occasions.
This place is the birthplace of Lord Shree Ram, the worshiper of Pavanputra Hanuman and the center of faith of Hindus. Lord Shri Ram is also known as Maryada Purushottam. Legendary belief is that Lord Shri Ram was born on the Navami of Chaitra month. Since then, this day is celebrated with great fanfare as Ram Navami.
The Hanumangarhi temple located in the center of Ayodhya city is the Siddha Peetha. The temple can be reached by walking only 76 steps from the main gate. It is believed that Hanuman used to live in a cave here and protect Ramjanmabhoomi and Ramkot. The statue of Mata Anjani with Bal Hanuman is in the main temple.
Kanak Bhawan, located a few steps from Hanuman Garhi, is one of the important temples of Ayodhya. The temple is popular for its gold crowned statues of Mata Sita and Prabhu Shriram. For this reason, this temple is also called Kanak Bhavan i.e. the house of gold.
The chief place of worship in Ayodhya is the site of the ancient citadel of Ramkot which stands on an elevated ground in the western part of the city. Although visited by pilgrims throughout the year, this sacred place attracts devotees from all over India and abroad, on ‘Ram Navami’, the day of Lord’s birth, which is celebrated with great pomp and show, in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April).
Guptar Ghat: the Ghat (Jetty) where Lord Rama is believed to have taken 'Jal samadhi' (leaving the earth for 'Baikuntha', the divine abode of Lord Vishnu, by drowning himself). It has a picturesque view of the saryu river and its green banks and has several ancient temples. There is a belief among devotees that by taking a dip in the Saryu river on this ghat, their sins are washed away. It comprises a series of fine well-maintained Ghats built by Raja Darshan Singh in the first half of the 19th century. On the top of the Ghats, there are the Sita-Ram Temple, the Chakrahari, and the Guptahari shrines and Narasingh Temple.
The temple of Nageshwarnath is said to have been established by Kush, the son of Rama. Legend has it that Kush lost his armlet, while bathing in the Saryu, which was picked up by a Nag-Kanya, who fell in love with him. As she was a devotee of Shiva, Kush erected this temple for her. It is said that this has been the only temple to have survived till the time of Vikramaditya, the rest of city had fallen into ruins and was covered by dense forests. It was by means of this temple that Vikramaditya was able to locate Ayodhya and the sites of different shrines here. The festival of Shivratri is celebrated here with great pomp.
Apart from Hindu temples, Ayodhya is also popular for Jain temples. Many followers of Jainism come to Ayodhya regularly. Ayodhya is also known as the birthplace of five Jain Tirthankaras. Where the Tirthankara was born in Ayodhya, there is a temple of that Tirthankara. Based on the facts recorded in history, these temples were built by Kesari Singh, the treasurer of the Nawab of Faizabad.