Ayodhya is situated in Uttar Pradesh, in the northern region of India. It is a part of the great northern plains and is situated on the south bank of river Saryu. The climate of Ayodhya is tropical. Ayodhya is 130 km east of Lucknow and 6 km from Faizabad. Though a thinly-populated town now, Ayodhya ranked amongst the six most important Indian cities in the 6th century b.c. Sacred to the Hindus because it was Ramaís birthplace, it continues to hog the limelightfor the same reason. Also known as Saketa in ancient times, Ayodhya is really centuries old. It was the capital of the kingdom of Kosala, of which Rama. Kosala was one of the sixteen great Janpadas (great nations) that ruled the area from the Kabul valley to the banks of the Godavari on the eve of the rise of Buddhism in the 6 th century b.c. Prasenajit was the ruler of the kingdom at that time.
Over 100 temples exist in Ayodhya of which Hanuman Gadhi is very famous. It is dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey-god. Treta Ka Mandir is another important temple where Rama is believed to have performed a yajna (sacrifice). Kshireswara Nath Temple is a very old temple and is supposed to have been built by Kaushalya, mother of Rama. She is said to have constructed this temple for her daughter-in-law, Sita (consort of Rama). Other temples you could visit include Kanak Bhavan and Kala Rama Temple which house idols of Rama and Sita.
Ayodhya is situated on the banks of the Gogra (Ghaghara or Saryu) River. There are many holy ghats along its banks. Bathing in these ghats, it is believed, absolves people of their sins. Ram Ghat, which is also known as Swarga Dwara, is the most famous one amongst these. Lakshman Ghat is another important bathing ghat which is considered to be sacred, as Lakshman, Ramaís brother, is said to have bathed at this ghat. Apart from these ghats, there are some wells (kund) which serve as bathing places. The most famous one is Vasistha Kund.
Skand and some other Puranas rank Ayodhya as one of the seven most sacred cities of India. It was the venue of many an event in Hindu mythology, today preeminently a temple town, The illustrious ruling dynasty of this region were the Ikshvakus of the solar clan (Suryavansa). According to tradition, Ikshvakus was the eldest son of Vaivasvata Manu, who established himself at Ayodhya. The earth is said to have derived its name `Prithivií from Prithu, the 6th king of the line. A few generations later came Mandhatri, in whose line the 31st king was Harischandra, known widely for his love of truth. Raja Sagar of the same clan performed the Asvamedha Yajna and his great grandson Bhagiratha is reputed to have brought Ganga on earth by virtue of his penance. Later in the time came the great Raghu, after whom the family came to be called as Raghuvamsa. His grandson was Raja Dasaratha, the illustrious father of Rama, with whom the glory of the Kausala dynasty reached its highest point. The story of this epic has been immortalized by Valmiki and immensely popularized by the great masses through centuries.
The Hanuman Garhi: Situated in the center of the town, this temple is approachable by a flight of 76 steps. Legend has it that Hanuman lived here in a cave and guarded the Janambhoomi or Ramkot. The main temple contains the statue of Maa Anjani, with Bal Hanuman seated on her lap. The faithful believe that all their wishes are granted with a visit to this holy shrine. A massive structure in the shape of a four sided fort with circular bastions at each corner houses a temple of Hanuman and is the most popular shrine in Ayodhya.
Kanak Bhawan: This has images of Sri Rama and Sita wearing gold crowns. It is also known as Sone-ke-Ghar.
Ramkot: The chief place of worship in Ayodhya is the site of the ancient citadel of Ramkot which stands on an elevated ground in the western part of the city. Although visited by pilgrims throughout the year, this sacred place attracts devotees from all over India and abroad, on `Ram Navamií, the day of Lordís birth, which is celebrated with great pomp and show, in the Hindu month of Chaitra (March-April).
Swarg Dwar: According to mythology, Lord Rama is said to have been cremated here.
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: This temple stands at the place where Rama is said to have performed the Ashvamedha Yajnya. About 300 years ago the Raja of kulu built a new temple here, which was improved by Ahalyabai Hokar of Indore during 1784, at the same time the adjoining Ghats were also built. The initial idols in black sandstone were recovered from Saryu and placed in the new temple, famous as Kaleram-ka-Mandir.
Nageshwarnath Temple: The temple of Nageshwarnath is said to have been established by Kush the son of Rama. Legend has it that Kush lost his armlet, while bathing in the Saryu, which was picked up by a Nag-Kanya, who fell in love with him. As she was a devotee of Shiva, Kush erected this temple for her. It is said that this has been the only temple to have survived till the time of Vikramaditya, the rest of city had fallen into ruins and was covered by dense forests. It was by means of this temple that Vikramaditya was able to locate Ayodhya and the sites of different shrines here. The festival of Shivratri is celebrated here with great pomp and splendor.
Other places of interest: Rishabhadeo Jain Temple, Brahma Kund, Amawan Temple, Tulsi Chaura, Laxman Quila, Angad Tila, Shri Rama Janaki Birla Temple, Tulsi Smarak Bhawan, Ram ki Paidi, Kaleramji ka Mandir, Datuvan Kund, Janki Mahal, Gurudwara Brahma Kund Ji, Ram Katha Museum, Valmiki Ramayan Bhawan, are among other places of interest in Ayodhya.