Ayodhyā

(‘invincible’)

Ayodhyā is the first of the seven holy cities of ancient India considered to be capable of giving mukti or liberation. It is also famous because of its association with Rāma, the son of Daśaratha, considered to be an incarnation of God.

Manu, the first traditional king of India, is said to have founded the city of Ayodhyā as his capital. It was 12 yojanās long and 3 yojanās broad. (1 yojanā = 15 kilometres.) The galaxy of great rulers who ruled from here includes Ikṣvāku, Māndhātā, Hariścandra, Bhagīratha, Dilīpa and Raghu. The great ṛṣi Vasiṣṭha and his family were the hereditary priests of the royal families of Ayodhyā.

King Vikramāditya of Vikram Śaka fame is said to have raised a temple at the birth-place of Rāma and also rebuilt the city.

The city of Sāketas, well-known during the time of Buddha, has been identified with Ayodhyā.

Both Fa-Hien (A. D. 400) and Hiuen Tsang (A. D. 596)—the famous Chinese travellers—visited Ayodhyā and have left interesting accounts of the same. During their visits they found it to be a flourishing city with several Buddhist monasteries.

Ayodhyā has been considered as a sacred place by the Jains also. Several Tīrthaṅkaras had lived here.

The modern town of Ayodhyā, on the bank of the river Sarayū (also called Ghogrā), is about 130 kms. from Lucknow and 190 kms. from Vārāṇasī. It is in the Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. Apart from the spot said to be the birth-place of Rāma, the other places of interest for the tourists and the pilgrims are: Lakṣman Ghāṭ, Svarga Dvār, Hanumān Garhī, Kanak Bhavan and Tulasī Cowrā.