Pilgrimage places in INDIA
Ayodhya - Lord Rama Birth Place
With little over 10 sq Km in area, lying on the banks of the river Ghagra or Saryu, this ancient city is believed to be the birth place of Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The holy book of Hindus- the Ramayana- says, the city was founded by Manu. Later, it became the capital of the descendants of the Surya dynasty. Lord Rama was the most celebrated King of this dynasty. Known as 'Kosaldesa' in ancient times, the place has been described as "a city built by gods and being as prosperous as paradise itself", in the Atharvaveda. From the time immemorial, this place has been noted for the performance of various rituals and Yajnas, including 'Asvamedha Yajna'. From the epic and puranic ages, Ayodhya rose to prominence again in the 6th century B.C,the times of Buddha. Situated just about 10 Km from the district headquarters of Faizabad, Ayodhya is a city of temples of several religions. Various faiths have grown and prospered simultaneously and that also in different periods of time in the history. Jain traditions, for example, consider that five Tirthankaras were born at Ayodhya including Rishabhadeva, the first Tirthankar. Don't miss the remnants of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Jainism, that can still be found in Ayodhya.
Skand and some other Puranas rank Ayodhya as one of the seven most sacred cities of India. It was the venue of many an event in Hindu mythology, today preeminently a temple town, 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 6th 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 preeminently a city of temples yet, all places of worship here, are not only of Hindu religion. At Ayodhya several religions have grown and prospered simultaneously and also at different periods of time in the past.
Places of Interest
Rama Janma Bhoomi is where Lord Rama was said to have taken birth. There is a small Lord Rama temple here. At this location there used to be the Babri Moseque, which was constructed in the 15th century by the Moghuls. The mosque was destroyed in 1992, and at the present time there are plans to built a grand Rama Temple here.
At Guptar Ghat there are some nice temples, and nearby there is a nice park. Gupta means disappearance. It is said that Rama left His body at this place. There are a few nice temples here, one called Chakra Harji Vishnu and Gupta Harji, and other called Raja Mandir. There are many Deities in the Chakra Harji Vishnu Temple, including what appears to be a very old carved Chakra Harji Vishnu Deity. There is also an imprint of Sri Rama's feet here.
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 through out the year, this sacred place attracts devotees from all over India and abroad, on 'Ramnavami', the day of the lord's birth, which is celebrated with great pomp and show, in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April).
Situated in the centre of the town, this temple is approachable by a flight of 76 steps. Legend has it that Hanuman lived here, in a cave and guarded the Janmabhoomi or Ramkot. The main temple contains the statue of Anjani, with child Hanuman, seated on her lap. The devotees believe that all their wishes will be granted with a visit to this holy shrine. A massive structure in the shape of a four-sided fort with circular bastions at each corner , houses a temple of Hanuman and is the most popular shrine in Ayodhya.
This temple stands at the place, where Rama is said to have performed the Ashvamedha Yagya. About 300 years ago, the Raja of Kullu built a new temple here, which was improved by Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore, during 1784. At the same time, the adjoining ghats were also built. The initial idols in black sandstone were recovered from Saryu and placed in the new temple, famous as Kaleram-ka-Mandir.
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 river 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 is 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 & show.
Getting there and Around
Ayodhya can access both the airports of Lucknow (135 km) and Varanasi (190 km) with equal ease. Lucknow is well connected to the rest of the country with Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Air Sahara flights. The Varanasi airport connects Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow and Khajuraho on a regular basis.
Faizabad is at a distance of 6km from Ayodhya and is three hours from both Varanasi and Lucknow by train on a broad gauge railway line. From Ayodhya to Varanasi two trains are available - Farakka Express & Saryu Yamuna Express. There is also a local train service from Ayodhya to Faizabad.
The nearest bus hub to Ayodhya is at Faizabad (6 km) and it is connected to Lucknow, Allahabad and Gorakhpur in regular bus service. An early morning bus service to Sunauli, for Nepal from Faizabad bus stand is also available. The distance from some major cities are : Lucknow - 141 km, Varanasi - 190 km, Allahabad - 167 km, Gorakhpur - 140 km.
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