‘Ayodhya – The History and the Myth’

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21st Jan 2024

For most of its life, Ayodhya has lived in the shadows of its more glamorous cousin Banaras, the go-to destination for Moksha seeking spiritual travelers from all over the world.

But the city that Valmiki immortalized in his epic poem Ramayana is getting a grand makeover with the consecration of the Ram Temple.

With the Ram temple at its centre and the credentials as the birthplace of Rama to seal its divine status, it is being reimagined as the Mecca of the Hindus.

While this sets it up as a worthy challenger to Banaras´s superstar status on the pilgrim trail, the layered history and multicultural ethos of Ayodhya is getting buried under the spectacle.

As one of the oldest settlements in the region, the story of Ayodhya is a mix of history, spirituality, and imagination.

Some local legends locate the first human settlements, according to Hindu traditions, in the region.

As per the story of the Matsya Avatar (one of the 10 avatars of Vishnu), Manu, the progenitor of the human race, is believed to have landed up in Ayodhya after the great flood. A lake called Manu Mani Kund marks the spot where his boat was anchored.

One story traces the holiness of Ayodhya to the celestial river Sarayu that runs through it. Sarayu was born out of the tears of Vishnu and was gifted to Iksvaku, son of the first man Manu, and Rama´s ancestor, as a reward for being a just and compassionate ruler.

According to Hindu mythology, Ayodhya was the capital of the ancient Kosala Kingdom and the birthplace of Lord Rama. Ruled by King Dasharatha, the city was described as a prosperous and harmonious kingdom.

Ikshvaku, Prithu, Mandhata, Harishchandra, Sagar, Bhagirath, Raghu, Dileep, Dashrath, and Ram were among the illustrious rulers who ruled over Kosaldesh’s capital city.

Networked into an intricate weave of myths and legends, Ayodhya as a city is also believed to have been rediscovered by the legendary king Vikramaditya.

The king, as per a legend,  had been separated from his companions during a deer hunt and found himself on the banks of the Sarayu where he saw a dark figure astride a black horse across the river, plunging into the water.

When horse and rider emerged out on his side of the river, both had turned white.

The rider was Prayagraj, the God of Prayag, who said that he turned black with the sins of all those who came to wash themselves in the river. A dip in Sarayu restored his pristine form.

Prayagraj instructed Vikramaditya to follow the holy cow, Kapila, into the dense and overgrown forest around the river; he was to rebuild Ayodhya where the cow stopped to dispel her milk.

And thus, Ayodhya was reborn.

During Buddhist times, around the 6th-5th centuries BCE, Shravasti became the kingdom’s capital. Some scholars believe Ayodhya is the same as Saketa, where Buddha is said to have lived for a while.

Over the centuries, Ayodhya also became a prominent center for Buddhism during the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, witnessing the construction of Buddhist monasteries and stupas.

Let’s uncover the hidden gems that make Ayodhya incredible which is fast emerging not only as a religious hub but as a fascinating blend of history & culture.

Let’s explore the ancient charms, the rich heritage, the tranquil landscapes and

As Ayodhya gets set to welcome the divine abode of Lord Ram, may it inspire us to lead righteous lives and stay blessed forever.