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Ayodhya
 
Ayodhya
 

Ayodhya is an ancient city of India, the old capital of Awadh, in the Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya is described as the birth place of Hindu god Sri Rama, and the capital of the ancient Kosala Kingdom. This Hindu holy city is described as early as in the Hindu Epics. Ayodhya has an average elevation of 93 metres (305 feet).

Ayodhya is said to be one of the most ancient, magnificent and holy of Hindu cities. According to the ancient Hindu Scriptures, it is said to have covered an area of 250 km² (96 square miles), and was the capital of the powerful Hindu kingdom of Kosala (Kaushal). It is on the banks of the Gogra (Ghaghara or Saryu) River, bathing in which is supposed to destroy even the deadliest of sins. It stands on the right bank of the river Ghagra (or Saryu, as it is called within sacred precincts). The illustrious Ikshvaku of the solar clan (suryavansha) was the ruling dynasty of this region.

This city was ruled by 'Surya Vanshi' kings and it was the court of the great king Dasaratha, the 63rd monarch of the Solar line. King Dasaratha's son 'Shri Rama' was believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord 'Shri Rama' was born here. In the Atharvaveda, this place was described as a city that was made by gods and was as prosperous as heaven itself.

Saint Valmiki is said to have begun the writing of his famous devotional poem Valmiki Ramayana, also called the Ramayana. Other sages like Kamban and Tulsidas also wrote their verses of Ramayana in the praise and glory of the Lord SriRama and the magnificent city of Ayodhya. Saint Tulsidas' Ramayana popularly known as Ramacharitamanasa sings the praise & glory of Lord 'Shri Rama'. It is one of the most revered scriptures of 'Sanātana Dharma' which speaks of idealism, selfless devotion, & piousness. This divine religious text is a source of inspiration, enlightenment & bhakti for billions across the world. Several Tamil Alwar mention the city of Ayodhya. The opening chapters of the Ramayana recount the magnificence of the city, the glories of the monarch and the virtues, wealth and loyalty of his people. Ayodhya is also said to be the birthplace of King Bharata (The First Chakravarti King), Bhahubali, Brahmi, Sundari, King Dasaratha, Acharya Padaliptasurisvarji, King Harishchandra, Shri SriRama Achalbhrata, and the ninth Gandhara of Mahavir Swami.

The city is also important in the history and heritage of Buddhism in India, with several Buddhist temples, monuments and centers of learning having been established here during the age of the Mauryan Empire and the Gupta Dynasty. Ayodhya reached its glorious peak as known to history during the reign of the Guptas over India.

This city was also a significant trade centre in 600 BCE. Historians have identified this place as Saketa, a key Buddhist centre during the 5th century BCE (it is a widely held belief that Buddha visited Ayodhya on several occasions) which it remained till the 5th century CE. In fact, Faxian, the Chinese monk, recorded several Buddhist monasteries that he saw here.
Rama being welcomed back to Ayodhya, also shown him flying in the Pushpaka Vimana

Ayodhya has a historical significance for the Jain community too. This is the birth place of two important Jain tirthankaras who were born in the early centuries CE. Jain texts also stand testimony to the visit of Mahavira, Jainism's last tirthankar to this city. Ayodhya is also the birth place of five Tirthankars, including the first Tirthankar of Jainism, Shri Rishabh Dev. He is known as the father of the Jain religion.

Bhagwan Swaminarayan, founder of the Swaminarayan Sect of Hinduism lived here during his childhood years. It was from Ayodhya that Bhagwan Swaminarayan started his seven year journey across India as a 'Neelkanth'.

Amongst the 'Mokshdayani Puris' of the world meaning "the lands of spiritual bliss and liberation from the karma-bandhan," Ayodhya city holds a leading place, along with cities such as Varanasi, Dwarka and others. Ramcharitmanas and other respected Hindu scriptures like the Vishnu Puran, Shrimad Bhagvat Mahapuran and others emphasize the importance of living and visiting such religious places. According to them, these spiritually charged cities increase the Punya (or 'fruits of virtuous and righteous actions') and Paap ('fruits of a person's wrong doings') of an individual many times over. Therefore people visiting and living in such holy cities are found doing noble and virtuous deeds.

Today people from various religious faiths of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Jainism live together united, making it a place of enormous sacred importance.

 
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    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayodhya
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