It’s only in India that, a historical figure and Vishnu’s 7th avatar, Bhagwan Ram’s birthplace can be in a district named Faizabad and there can be a dispute over the location where he was born. The Ram Janma Bhoomi case is truly surprising and shows the dirty ugly side of secular politics in our country. It’s also in some ways a concerted effort to demean, discredit and devalue Hinduism and our Gods and Goddesses. This effort has been on since the 1200s as the Muslim invaders started their invasions and then the colonial powers lay siege for 200 years !
Nothing against Islam and Christianity but politics and religious fanatics always create trouble. Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world and has a rich knowledge base in its scriptures. It’s egalitarian and non-dogmatic and hopefully it continues to survive as a way of life for millions.
That said, the reason we visited Ayodhya this time is because on Jan 21st we attended a lecture at Srijan Foundation by Nilesh Oak on 17000 years of unbroken Indian Civilization. Nilesh has dated the Ramayana to 12209 BCE and the Mahabharata to 5561 BCE. He has used astronomy, oceanography, geology, history of rivers etc to arrive at his conclusions in a scientific manner. He has written a book called “The Historic Rama” that’s available on Kindle. An interesting excerpt from the book –
“….. Rama was 17 years old at the time of his departure to the forest and since he lived away from Ayodhya for 14 years, he was 31 years old when he returned to Ayodhya. Lava and Kusha were born within a year’s time after Rama and Sita returned to Ayodhya and thus we can estimate the year of their birth to be that of 12208 BCE. Lava and Kush were approximately 12 years old when they arrived at the court of Rama to recite Valmiki’s Ramayana and thus Valmiki composed Ramayana sometime between 12208 BCE and 12196 BCE. We can define, albeit tentatively, 13th Millennium BCE as the Ramayana Millennium….”
I wish there is more research done on Ramayana and Mahabharata so that they are moved from the category of myth to history ! So we were excited to visit Ayodhya and we were close by in Lucknow.
We visited Ayodhya on the 9th of May. It was a 2.5 hour drive. We first reached the workshop where they are manufacturing the pillars and doors of the proposed Ram Mandir at the disputed Ram Janma Bhoomi site should they win the case. As we neared Ayodhya two young boys chased us to be our tour guides. We gave in and told them clearly not to take us to any “pandit” who will ask for money :).
For anyone visiting the Ram Janma Bhoomi site – please remember to reach before 11 am or after 2 pm as the site is closed between 11 to 2 due to a Supreme Court order.
From the workshop we went to the supposed “palace” when Lord Rama grew up. Obviously the palace is built in recent times, but the temple is quaint.
At the palace we saw Devi Sita’s kitchen where she supposedly cooked her first meal after being married to Bhagwan Ram. It’s just a big hall where currently people cook meals for the pilgrims. When Sita arrived in Ayodhya as a bride, Queen Kaikeyi was the first to see her and she gifted her a palace called “Kanak Bhavan” which is now a temple. We went there next and managed to get a peek at the murti of Maa Sita before they closed the temple.
Don’t miss the carving of the “dashavatars” of Lord Vishnu on the door.
From Kanak Bhavan the two boys took us to the car park where we had to wait for the Ram Janmabhoomi site to open. We used the time to go and see the Sarayu river.
The steps that lead to the river were decked up during Diwali last year so we wanted to see it. The place was relatively clean as was Ayodhya. We sat around this place for a few minutes, went and sprinkled the river water on our heads and then drove back to the car park near Ram Janma Bhoomi. Just before reaching that spot, we visited the Hanuman temple at “Hanuman garhi”.
There are 70 steps leading to this beautiful temple, so Amma waited at a shop instead of coming with us. The Hanuman murti here is super cute. There were several people taking selfies with him. As is the tradition we visited the Hanuman temple first before going to the Ram Janma Bhoomi site. Interestingly the Nawab of Awadh built this Hanuman temple, so all the religious divide is of recent origin and politically fuelled.
From the Hanuman temple we went to the Ram Janma Bhoomi site using a rickshaw as it was blistering and the heat was unbearable. We didn’t wait for the site to open. We certainly hope to come back when the weather is milder to see the site and hopefully the temple is built soon.
Jai Shri Ram.