Situated on the banks of the Sarayu in Uttar Pradesh, this ancient city, also known as Saket, is revered by Hindus as the birthplace of Lord Ram, the seventh Vishnu.
Ayodhya was the capital of Kosala in ancient times, ruled by the Surya Vanshis or ‘descendants of the Sun’, and King Ikshvaku was the first ruler. Ancient Hindu texts including the Atharvaveda extolled Ayodhya, describing it as ‘a city built by Gods and as prosperous as paradise’. In 127 CE, Emperor Kanishka ruled over the city. During the Mughal rule, it was the Awadh Governor’s seat. It was annexed by the British in 1857 and became one of the main hubs of revolt against them in 1857.
Ayodhya- The Famous Spiritual, Religious And Heritage Destination
Ayodhya is mentioned as one of the seven holy cities of India according to the Garuda Purana. Therefore devout Hindus hold the city in great regard. The Ram Lalla temple, marking the birthplace of India’s most illustrious king, Ram, the Hanuman Garhi, a shrine to the Lord’s most devoted disciple Hanuman, and SitakiRasoi attract believers in droves. There are several other temples to be found here, like the Nageshwarnath (Shiva) temple built by Kush, Ram’s son, for a Naga Kanya (serpent girl). Devout Hindus consider a visit to this city a pilgrimage that will earn them ‘punya’ or merit.
Tretake Thakur is considered the place where Lord Ram conducted the AshwamedhaYagna or horse sacrifice, to establish his supremacy as the ruler of India.
When it came under Muslim rule, several mosques were built, many of which are still standing and attract tourists.
One can also see several Buddhist temples, monuments and learning centres dating back to the Maurya and Gupta eras.
Being the birthplace of two Jain Tirthankaras, Ayodhya holds significance for Jains as well.
In earlier times, both Hindus and Muslims lived together in harmony, even worshipping together in the disputed structure RamJanmabhoomi/Babari Masjid. Later of course it was in the eye of a storm but peace was restored. Ayodhya itself has a predominant Hindu population though the district headquarters, Faizabad has a sizeable Muslim population. Awadhi is a dialect of Hindi spoken here in addition to the regular form.
Ramnavami and Dussehra are celebrated with utmost fervour in Ayodhya, and the burning of an effigy of Ravan to mark the victory of good over evil is a much awaited event. Thousands also take a dip in the holy Sarayu to wash their sins.
The ShravanJhoolamela, held in the rainy season, the ParikramaMela, Rathyatra in June/July, and Ram Vivah in November are the other festivals that are celebrated in the city of Lord Ram.
Following the verdict of the Allahabad High Court, peace was re-established in Ayodhya over the Ram Janmabhoomi issue, with permission for a temple for Ram Lalla, or the baby Ram, and a portion of the land being handed to the Muslims. The economy of the city is fuelled mainly by visiting pilgrims: nearly 3000 per day. Ayodhya still maintains the rustic and old world charm, so if you want to catch a movie or do some shopping you would need to head to Faizabad, 5 km away.
Climate and Best Time to Visit
Typical of a North Indian city, Ayodhya has extreme Summers and Winters; October to March is a good time to visit Ayodhya.
AIR – The closest air terminal to Ayodhya is Faizabad Airport, a good 8 km off from the city. However, the nearest significant air terminal from Ayodhya is Lucknow (Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport), which is around 130 km. Lucknow air terminal is connected with the most essential urban areas in India.
RAIL – Ayodhya is well connected through Indian railways. Ayodhya Junction (AY) is the railway station in the city, and there are a couple of trains available to reach Ayodhya from Delhi on an average travel time of 12 hours. Also, trains are available from nearby cities like Varanasi, Prayagraj, Lucknow and Gorakhpur.
State-run buses are available 24 hours a day to reach the holy city of Ayodhya. There are frequent buses available from Delhi, Lucknow and Gorakhpur, whereas buses from Varanasi and Prayagraj are available as per their schedule.
ROAD – Inside the state, Ayodhya is well connected with all significant urban cities in Uttar Pradesh by the excellent roadways. Tourists can book a taxi from any major city like Faizabad (7 km), Allahabad (166 km), Lucknow (134 km), and Varanasi (209 km).