Ayodhya is one of the major holy cities of Hinduism - the world's 3rd largest religion. It has a central role in the ancient Indian epic, the Ramayana, whose protagonist Lord Rama is God incarnated on Earth as the prince of Ayodhya. The epic describes Lord Rama's 14 year exile, his victory over evil and his grand return with his wife Sita to Ayodhya to become king. This return to Ayodhya is celebrated as Diwali, the leading festival of hundreds of millions of Hindus world-wide. Consequently Lord Rama's reign over Ayodhya and its surroundings, called Ram Rajya, is the epitome of good governance and moral society in the Hindu tradition.
The story of Rama has transcended into a great inspirational story and parable for children and adults around the world. Ayodhya has come to symbolise inner peace, joy and spiritual upliftment.
However, there are less savory aspects to Ayodhya's history. In 1527, the Mughal Emperor Babur had a mosque constructed at the site in Ayodhya traditionally associated with the birth of Rama. The resulting Babri Mosque, which became a focal point of grievances against actions taken by Muslims to deprecate Hinduism, was ultimately destroyed by demonstrators in 1992. Following the destruction, thousands of people were killed in acts of terrorism and intercommunal violence, especially in Gujarat.
- Regional Tourist Office, House No. 1-3/152/4, near Pusparaj Guest House, Civil Lines, Faizabad, UP. Phone: (05278) 223214.
- Government of UP Assistant Tourist Office, Pathik Niwas Saket, Near Railway Station, Ayodhya. Phone: (05278) 232435.
Faizabad has an Airport at Naka, near Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia University, but no regular airlines services are available. Nearest airport is Lucknow (about 130 km).
Trains are available from Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi and Allahabad.
Ayodhya is 6 km from Faizabad on banks of Saryu River, birth place of Lord Rama
The city is about 130 km from Lucknow, 200 km from Varanasi, 160 km from Allahabad, 140 km from Gorakhpur and about 636 km from Delhi. Buses are frequently available from Lucknow, Delhi and Gorakhpur. Buses are also available from Varanasi, Allahabad and other places.
- Ramkot (In the western part of the city). The chief place of worship in Ayodhya is the site of the ancient citadel of Ramkot which stands on an elevated ground. 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).
- Nageshwarnath Temple (On the bank of the river, on the east side of town). 5AM-11AM, noon-8PM. It is said to be built by Khush, Lord Rama's son. Legend has it that he almost destroyed the water-living Nagas (semi-divine snake people) because he suspected them of stealing his amulet. Only Lord Shiva's intervention saved the semi-divine snakes. Khush then established this temple showing the Nagas worshipping Lord Shiva, his father's favourite deity. Another version of this legend states that the lost amulet was found by a Nag-kanya (young girl from the Naga tribe), who fell in love with him, and as she was Lord Shiva's devotee he constructed this temple for her.
- Lakshmana Ghat (On the banks of the Sarayu river). This is where Rama's brother Lakshman is said to have voluntarily given up his life-an act called samadhi. Another version says that he gave up living after he broke a vow.
- Mani Parbat. A former Buddhist vihara (cave with cells) that became a Hindu temple. It is dotted with little shrines and if you stand on the topmost terrace you get a splendid view of Ayodhya, one that includes a cluster of small white buildings at the base of the hill that turns out to be a Muslim graveyard.
- Swarg Dwar. According to mythology, Lord Rama is said to have transformed himself into Lord Mahavishnu and left for Vaikunth.
- Mani Parbat and Sugriv Parbat. The first of these ancient earth mounds is identified with a stupa built by the Emperor Ashoka, while the second is believed to be an ancient monastery.
- Treta ke Thakur. It is a temple that stands at the place where Rama is said to have performed the Ashwamedha Yagna. The Raja of Kulu is said to have built a new temple here about 300 years ago called Kaleram ka Mandir, where the idols of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Bharat have reportedly been carved out of a single block of black sandstone. These idols are supposed to be from the original Rama temple, which once stood on the banks of the River Sarayu.
- Hanuman Garhi (Right in the center of the town). Visitors to Ayodhya must make a move towards Hanuman garhi. It is a massive structure in the shape of a four sided fort with circular bastions at each corner. The temple is highly revered for its imposing architecture and its religious value.
- Kanak Bhawan (Near Hanuman Garhi). The Bhawan is frequented by scores of visitors every year. The temple is widely known for the images of Sri Rama and Sita wearing gold crowns and because of this the Bhawan is also referred to as Sone-ka-Ghar.
- Vijayraghaw temple. It is one of the best temple in Ayodhya, build in 2008. In this temple god Ram presented in 12 faces called Viswa-virat(world's big). This temple made by red marbles and stainless steel.
- Choti chawni. A very big temple made by 100% white marble.
Ayodhya being a sacred religious place, has lots to offer to a spiritual mind. Some of the fairs and festivals Ayodhya is famous for are
- Ram Lila. The enactment of the story of Lord Rama is believed to have been started by great Saint Tulsidas. The Ramcharitmanas, written by him till today forms the basis of Ram Lila performances. In some places, Rama Lila is associated with Vijayadashmi celebrations in late September and early October and also with Rama Navami, the birthday of Lord Rama. Ram lila, basically an enactment of a myth, is presented as a cycle-play with the story varying from 7 to 31 days. The Rama Lila performance evokes a festive atmosphere and enables observance of religious rites. It is also rich in performance of crafts such as costume jewellery, masks, headgear, make-up and decoration. The four main Ram Lila styles are the pantomimic style with a predominance of jhankis based style with multi-local staging; the operative style which draws its musical elements from the folk operas of the region and the stage, Ram Lila of the professional troupes called mandalis. Ayodhya is popular for mandali Ram Lila. The performance is dialogue – based and presented on a platform stage. High standard of performance is complemented by songs and kathak dances and eye-catching décor.
- Ram Navmi Mela. Ayodhya, the holy city of the sacred pilgrim centre of Hindus plays host to the Ram Navmi Festival in the month of April. Thousands of worshippers gather to venerate the Lord at Kanak Bhawan.
- Sravan Jhula Mela. This mela celebrates the playful spirit of the deities. On the third day of the second half of Shravan, images of the deities (specially of Rama, Lakshman and Sita) are placed in swings in the temples. They are also taken to Mani Parvat, where the idols are made to swing from the branches of the trees. Later the deities are brought back to temples. The mela lasts till the end of the month of Shravan.
- Parikramas. Ayodhya is perhaps the most noted place in the northern India where parikramas are undertaken by Hindu Pilgrims. These are circumambulations of important religious places and are of varying duration, shortest being the `Antargrahi Parikrama’ which has to be completed within a day. After taking a dip in the Saryu, the devotee commences the parikarma from the Nageshwarnath temple and passes through Rama Ghat, Sita Kund, Manipuravata and Brahma Kund, finally terminating at Kanak Bhawan. Then there is the `Panchkoshi Parikrama’ circuit of 10 miles, which touches Chakratirtha, Nayaghat, Ramghat, Saryubagh, Holkar-ka-pura, Dashrathkund, Jogiana, Ranopali, Jalpa Nala and Mahtabagh. On the way the people pay homage to deities in the shrines which are situated on the route.
- Chaturdashkoshi Parikrama. Constitutes a circular journey of 28 miles made once a year on the occasion of Akshainaumi, which is completed within 24 hours.
You can buy Ramnama towel, chundri, kurta and handicraft bags, tulsi mala, ramdana, Ramayana, books, sweet ball (laddoo).
Options are limited to local eateries/restaurants which offer largely vegetarian food.
You can get wines, water, fruit juice, cold drinks, etc.
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