Puranas mention seven most sacred Teertha Kshetras or places for pilgrimage, as a means of attaining Moksha. They are said to be: Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya, Kashi, Avanitka, Puri and Dvaravati. Names of some of these places have undergone change. The sacred places are also the equivalents of seven Chakras (Nadis) in one’s body. In order to attain Moksha, one has to realize these Chakras in body, beginning at the Muladhar. The Chakras in the body are: Muladhar, Swadhishthan, Manipura, Anahata,Vishuddha, Ajna and Sahasrar.
Ayodhya, is the ancient Teertha Kshetra, representing the Manipura Chakra (also known as “City of jewels”). This Chakra can be realized behind the navel (Solar plexus) and associated with warmth. Ayodhya means, that which cannot be destroyed.
The ancient city of Ayodhya on the banks of sacred River Sarayu is in Uttar Pradesh state. Ayodhya is at about 135 km from Lucknow (Former name was Lakshmanpuri). Ayodhya was founded by Manu. Ikshvaku was the son of Manu and the predecessor of Ikshvaku dynasty to which Lord Rama belonged.
Rama Janma Bhumi, as it is recognized in the modern times, Ayodhya was host to a number of temples and only a handful have survived the test of time. One such temple is Nageshwarnath temple believed to have been built by Kush, son of Rama. Many interesting places dot the city that contain traces of elements from the times of Ramayana. With Sri Rama Navami around the corner, let’s take a SpiRitual Journey (Sanskrit: Yatra) to the ancient city of Ayodhya.
What to see in Ayodhya?
Ram Janma Bhumi Temple
Ram Janma Bhumi Temple in Ayodhya as the name indicates is the birth place of Lord Rama, one of the ten Avatars of Lord Vishnu on this earth. A grand temple is being planned at this temple with images of Rama, Sita, Lakshman, Bharat, Shatrughna and Hanuman being readied for consecration.
Kanak Bhavan was a palace gifted to Sita after her marriage to Lord Rama. King Vikramaditya is said to have constructed a temple in its place. It was rebuilt in the year 1891. You can see three pairs of images of Rama and Sita installed here. The architecture of the temple is sure to captivate you.
Hanumangarhi in Ayodhya is a very popular destination for devotees of Lord Rama. It is a custom here to visit this Hanuman temple before having a Darshan of Lord Ram. A huge temple complex dedicated to Lord Hanuman has been erected here. This temple is believed to be from 10th Century CE. Another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva belonging to a royal family is close by. This temple is opened only once a year in Shravanmaas (Occuring in July or August). An image of Anjanadevi holding Bal Hanuman in her lap has been installed and is beautiful.
The temple complex is a huge structure like a fort and each of its corners has circular bastions housing a temple of Hanuman. You can visit Hanumangarhi throughout the year. During Sri Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti in Chaitramaas (Occurs in Mar or April), the place lights up and comes truly alive.
Another temple of Hanuman by the same name is in Nainitaal. Hanuman is depicted tearing open his chest to reveal Ram and Sita.
Maniparvat is believed to be a small portion of the Sanjiviniparvat (Meaning: Life-Saving Medicine mountain) that fell off in the Ayodhya when Lord Hanuman was carrying it to Swarnalanka to treat Lakshman. It is a small hillock of about 65ft and the panoramic view from here is a good point for photographers. Shukla Truteeya of Shravanmaas (Locally called ‘Teej’) is celebrated with great pomp and glory here welcoming the Monsoons. There are other legends associated with this place.
Treta Ka Thakur:
Treta Ka Thakur is on the banks of River Sarayu. Lord Ram performed Ashvamedha Yaga with the golden image of Sita here. An ancient temple exists here commemorating this event. This is believed to have been built by king of Kulu during 18th Century CE. Renovation was carried out by Ahilyabai Holkar in the later part of the century. The sacred horse was stopped by Lava and Kusha, an incident that led to the reunion of Lord Rama and Sita. We can find this mentioned in Uttara Ramayana. Chakravarti Mahraj Dashrath Mahal, known as Bada Asthan and Badi Jagah, is at Ramkot.
Guptar Gaht on the banks of River Sarayu is a very important and must see spot for devotees on the SpiRitual Journey. Lord Ram went back on his journey to Vaikunth here. Aarti performed here every-day is a cynosure.
Sita ki Rasoi:
This was the place of Royal Kitchen for Ram and Sita. You can recall the incident of Sita serving food to Hanuman from Ramayan, where she provided Hanuman with abundant food. Images of all the four couples Ram-Sita, Lakshman-Urmila, Bharat-Mandovi and Shatrughna-Srutakeerti have been installed.
Valmeeki Ramayan Bhavan:
Valmeeki Ramayan Bhavan is an initiative by State Government of Uttar Pradesh. The walls of Ramayan Bhavan have been adorned marble slabs displaying engraved verses from Valmeeki Ramayan.
If you want to celebrate Sri Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti in great style, this is the ultimate destination. This is the main place of worship in Ayodhya.
Vijaya Dashami in Ayodhya:
Vijaya Dashami is celebrated on the tenth day during Navaratri (Dusshera is the word commonly used in North India). This is a great occasion to celebrate in Ayodhya. Lord Rama killed the demon king Ravan on this day in Swarnalanka. Another reason for celebration during Vijayadashamee is due to the king Raghu of Ikshvaku dynasty. When Kautsa, a disciple of Sage Varatantu requested king Raghu to pay 140 million golden coins as Guru Dakshina to his teacher, he sought help from Lord Indra. Indra in turn ordered Kuber the guardian of treasure to rain gold coins on the city of Ayodhya. Kautsa repaid his debt of knowledge to his teacher and distribute the rest among the dwellers of Ayodhya.
What is the best time to visit Ayodhya?
You can visit Ayodhya throughout the year. Care must be taken in the months of May and June as the temperature soars to a very high level. Months of Monsoon from July to September can provide a different experience. Navaratri of Chaitramaas occurring in the months of March or April, Navaratri of Ashvayujamaas occurring in the months of September or October and Deepavali in Karthikmaas in October or November can be an unforgettable and divine experience for the devotees visiting Ayodhya.
“Rama Leela” is the epic based play performed by artists. This is organised around Dusshera and the best season for experiencing drama mixed with devotion, colors, light and sound.