Ayodhya 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 Hindu god Shri Ram. This Hindu holy city is described as early as in the Hindu Epics. During the time of Gautama Buddha the city was called Ayojjha (Pali). Under the British Raj the city and the administrative area around it was called Oudh. It is on the right bank of the river Sarayu, 555 km east of New Delhi. The word ayodhya is Sanskrit for "not to be warred against". Some Puranas like the Brahmanda Purana (4/40/91) consider Ayodhya as one of the six holiest cities in Hinduism.
In the first few centuries of the Common Era it was caled Saketa. Saketa, or ?? (Pinyin: Shaqí) was conquered by the great Kushan / Yuezhi Emperor Kanishka c. 127 CE, who made it the administrative centre of his eastern territories. The name occurs again in Faxian as ?? (Pinyin: Shazhi) in the early fifth century. It is not clear when the name changed, but by the time of the visit of the Chinese pilgrim monk, Xuanzang, c. 636 CE, it was known as Ayodhya.
Legacy and Importance
Ancient Indian (Bharata) cities and Places(Title and location names are in English.)Ayodhya was one of the most ancient, largest and most magnificent of Indian cities. According to the Hindu mythology, it is said to have covered an area of 250 km² (96 square miles), and was the capital of the Hindu kingdom of Kosala (Kaushal), the court of the great king Dasaratha, the 63rd monarch of the Solar line.
The opening chapters of the Ramayana recount the magnificence of the city, the glories of the monarch and the virtues, wealth and loyalty of his people. Dasaratha was the father of Rama, the Seventh Avatar of the Vishnu. Many Hindus believe the birthplace of Rama to be in Ayodhya at the place called Ram Janmabhoomi, the site of the demolished Babri Mosque.
Ayodhya is also the birth place of five Tirthankars, including the first Tirthankar of Jainism, Shri Rishabh Dev. He is known as the father of Jain religion. 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.
Bhagwan Swaminarayan, founder of the Swaminarayan Sect of Hinduism lived here during his childhood years. It was from Ayodhya that Bhagwan Swaminarayan started his seven year journey across India as Neelkanth.
Tulsidas is said to have begun the writing of his famous Ramayana poem Shri Ramacharitamanas in Ayodhya in 1574 CE. Several Tamil Alwar mention the city of Ayodhya. Ayodhya is also said to be the birthplace of Bhahubali, Brahmi, Sundari, King Dasaratha, Acharya Padaliptasurisvarji, King Harishchandra, Shri Rama, Achalbhrata, and the ninth Gandhara of Mahavir Swami.
The Atharva Veda called Ayodhya "a city built by gods and being as prosperous as paradise itself".
Ayodhya was the victim of pillage and sacking during the Ghaznavid raids and Ghorid invasions. Some Hindu temples were allegedly looted or destroyed. Some believe that the Babri Mosque was constructed on the remains of a temple, but this claim remains very controversial. With Muslim rulers established around the city under Mohammed of Ghor, it lost its strategic and economic importance to Lucknow and Kanpur.
Ayodhya today is a small, rustic city with ancient Hindu architecture predominating, and with some Mughal influence. Its population is mostly Hindu with a minority of Muslims, Jains and Buddhists. However, its history and heritage hold an unequivocal importance for Hindus.
The Thai kingdom and city of Ayutthaya were named for Ayodhya, reflecting the common Southeast Asian practice of adopting place names from Hindu kingdoms.
According to an 11th century Korean chronicle the Samguk Yusa, the wife of King Suro of the ancient Korean kingdom of Geumgwan Gaya was a princess who travelled by boat from a faraway land called Ayuta to Korea in 48 CE. It is commonly thought that Ayodha is the foreign land referred to in the Korean chronicles, but some scholars believe that the foreign land may have been Ayutthaya of Thailand. The Koreans know the princess as Heo Hwang-ok, who was the first queen of Geumgwan Gaya and is considered an ancestor by several Korean lineages.
Ayodhya is located at 26.8° N 82.2° E. It has an average elevation of 93 metres (305 feet).Ayodhya is situated on the bank of the river Sarayu in Uttar Pradesh(northern India).
The Ayodhya debate
Archaeology of Ayodhya
2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack in Ayodhya
People and organizations
L. K. Advani
All India Babri Masjid Action Committee
Bharatiya Janata Party
Indian National Congress
Ayodhya is also the centre of the Ayodhya Debate concerning the Ram Janmabhoomi temple and the Babri Mosque. Babar, the Muslim invader from Afghanistan converted the birth place of lord Rama to a mosque called Babri Mosque. With an efforts to revive self-respect for Hindus, the zealots destroyed the disputed structure in 1992. Birth place of Lord Rama existed prior to the mosque's construction. The title suit on the disputed site is currently pending in the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court and its judgment is expected shortly.
On 5 July 2005, five terrorists attacked the site of the makeshift Ramlalla temple, in Ayodhya. All five were shot down in the ensuing gunfight with the security forces guarding the area, and one civilian died in the bomb blast triggered by the terrorists to breach the cordon wall. The claim of police that the militants came from Pakistan has been contested by human rights activists.