Ayodhya also known as Saket, is an ancient city of India, believed to be the birthplace of Rama and setting of the epic Ramayana. It is adjacent to Faizabad city at the south end in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya used to be the capital of the ancient Kosala Kingdom. It has an average elevation of 93 meters (305 feet).
Owing to the belief as the birthplace of Rama, Ayodhya has been regarded as one of the seven most important pilgrimage sites (Saptapuri) for Hindus. It is believed that the birth spot of Rama was marked by a temple, which was demolished by the orders of the Mughal emperor Babur and a mosque erected in its place. The Ayodhya dispute concerns the activism by the Hindu groups to rebuild a Rama's temple at the site.
Ayodhya is on the right bank of the river Sarayu, 8;km from Faizabad. This town is closely associated with Rama, seventh incarnation of Vishnu. According to the Ramayana, the city is 9,000 years old and was founded by Manu, the first man in the Vedas, and law-giver of the Hindus.Other sources hold that it was founded by its namesake, King Ayudh. It was said to be the capital of the Solar dynasty, of which Lord Rama was the most celebrated king. At the time it was known as Kaushaldesa.
Ram Paidi ghat on Sarayu river, Ayodhya.
Skanda Purana and other puranas list Ayodhya as one of the seven most sacred cities of India, as it has been the backdrop for much of Hindu scripture. Today it is predominantly a religious destination with its historical significance and sacred temples. The Atharvaveda described Ayodhya as "a city built by God and being prosperous as paradise itself."
Its first ruling king was Ikshvaku, of the Solar dynasty and eldest son of Vaivasvata Manu. The sixth king of this line, Prithu, is linguistically the etymology of earth, or "Prithivi". Mandhatri was a later king of the region, and the 31st king of his descent was Harischandra, known for his truthfulness, or Sathya-sandhata. His lineeage was Surya Vamsa and, in turn known for their honesty as rulers. Raja Sagar of the same clan performed the Asvamedha Yajna, and legend holds that his great-grandson Bhagiratha brought the river Ganges to the earth through penance. Later came the great King Raghu, after whom the dynasty was called Raghuvamsa. His grandson was Raja Dasaratha, of the Kausala dynasty, and father of Rama.
Several religions have prospered in Ayodhya simultaneously as well as at different periods. Elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam can be found in the city. In Jainism, for example, five Tirthankaras were born here, including Adinath, first Tirthankar, Ajitnath, second Tirthankar,Abhinandanath (fourth Tirthankar), Sumatinath, fifth Tirthankar, and Anantnath, fourteenth Tirthankar. Ayodhya demonstrates Ganga-Jamuni culture in the Hanumangarhi temple, built by Nawab of Awadh. According to Jain Agams, it is the second eternal city after Shikharji, and will never vanish or disappear during the changing epochs.
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