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TOURIST DESTINATION
Ayodhya
MOHAN SHENOY 2005 PHOTO
As of 1st June 2012
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Ayodhya is the name of a town in the state of Uttar
Pradesh in India. Uttar Pradesh is a vast area along
the banks of the river Ganges and its tributaries
forming the vast fertile northern plain of India. The
people of Uttar Pradesh know Ayodhya very well. The
people of rest of India too know Ayodhya better now
than in the past. Ayodhya has woken up the religious
sentiments in the Hindus as well as the Muslims.
Ayodhya has brought forward the history of India much
more than any other single subject.

Uttar Pradesh is surrounded by other Indian states all
around except in the north where Nepal becomes the
immediate neighbour. The state of Himachal Pradesh
is in the Northwest, Uttarakhand next to Himachal
Pradesh towards East, Nepal (Soureign State not
belonging to India) still Eastwards, and Bihar below
Nepal; Jarkhand below Bihar; Chattisghar on the West
side of Jarkhad; Madhya Pradesh still Westwards;
Delhi and Haryana directly in the West side of Uttar
Pradesh.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the bread baskets of India.
Indian civilization has been rooted in Uttar Pradesh
which along with Bihar, Bengal and Odisha form the
bedrock of Hinduism.
Where is Ayodhya?
How to reach Ayodhya?
One can reach the best by train. One could fly from
Delhi to Lucknow and then travel by either train or road
to Ayodhya. We went first to Allahabad and took a taxi
to go by road to Ayodhya. The distance is about 215
kilometers and the road is fairly good. If one starts from
Allahabad early in the morning then one can reach
Ayodhya before the temples close for lunch from 12
noon to 2 p.m. everyday. Bus transport is not
well-developed here.
Within the town there are autorickshaws which charge
reasonable fare.

MERA BHAARATH MAHAAN  There are 5,68,000
villages in India. There are 619 districts. India has 31
states and Union Territories, There are at least 1618
languages spoken in India of which Sanskrit is the
solid base. The people are professing castes among
the Hindus and there are 6400 different castes
recognised. Hindus have at least six ethnic origins.
At least 29 festivals are celebrated all over India but
many more are celebrated exclusively in towns,
districts and states. (source: Janardhan Bhat).
ALL MAPS DRAWN BY MOHAN SHENOY
ADYAR GOPAL PARIVAR
Video: Ayodhya
(click map)
Video: Mapping India
(click map)
RAMA JANMABHOOMI IN AYODHYA
Hindus regard the place as the a sacred piece of land.
Hindus believe that Lord Raam, one of the ten
incarnations of God Vishnu was born here and there
was a temple for Raam here. In the sixteenth century,
the Raam temple was demolished and a mosque was
built by the Mughal King Babar infuriating the Hindus
in those days. The structure came to be known as the
Babri Masjid or Mosque. However, the mosque was
not used by the Muslims for daily prayer since a
century or more and thus lost its sanctity. It became a
mere archeological structure (requires
autherntification). This building was not considered to
be a mosque by the local muslims for unknown
reasons (requires authentification). It was a massive
structure of mud and stone with three lofty domes on
its roof.
BRIEF HISTORY OF FORMATION OF PAKISTAN
   When Pakisthan was carved out of British
India in 1947, many Muslims of the area
migrated to Pakisthan. The local Hindus began
to think of the structure as a place to be
revived and restored as a temple. They
imagined that when the Somnath temple in the
state of Gujarath on the western coast of India
could be restored, and Somnath temple was
also a subject of destruction by the Muslim
invaders until it was restored after India got
Independence, the Raam temple in Ayodhya
also ought to be rebuilt. This intention of a few
Hindu zealots developed leaders. It became a
movement of mass appeal. There was a Raam
Lalla idol placed within the hall of the Mosque
in 1949 and the local Muslims did not raise their
voice in protest.
The local Muslims knew that a new nation
exclusively meant for them had been formed and
they ought to have quickly moved over to enjoy
living as sole masters of a vast country of their
own. After all their leaders had coaxed the
Congress leaders into accepting the two-nation
theory for the sake of peace. They also felt like
uninvited guests now that their home was
Pakisthan and not India. It is true that in India they
lived for centuries often as the ruling class of
citizens, such as during the Mughal period. But
now they were expected to leave this land for the
Hindus after demanding and getting a separate
nation for themselves over in Pakisthan.
However, they were allowed to live in secular
India after 1947 even though the formation of a
separate state of Pakisthan for Muslims invited
them to migrate out.
HINDUS WANT AYODHYA BACK
The Muslims who continued to live in India willingly or
unwillingly were surprised to find that India which was
meant to be the land of Hindus treated them as equal
citizens although India was created on similar lines as
Pakisthan which was exclusively for Muslims. The
Muslims in India were treated well and many of them
held high offices in the Governments of both the
Centre and the states. The Muslims in India thrived
and enjoyed the freedom of religion and other rights
bestowed upon them on equal terms as Hindus,
Christians, or those belonging to other religions. The
Muslim population has increased from mere 9% in
1947 to over 13% in 2010.

     The Muslims initially felt timid to stage any
protests against the aspirations of Hindus with regard
to the Babri structure proposed to be used for Hindu
worship. They lost their voice to protest the
aspirations of their neighbours in Ayodhya who
wished to use the structure as a Hindu place of
worship. Initially they felt that they had no right to
demand anything from Hindus, since they belonged to
Pakisthan. Pakisthan had become a hostile country
within months after it was formed. And Muslims in
India felt threatened with similar treatment which
Pakisthan meted out to Hindus in their country. But,
no, the Hindus did not treat Indian Muslims as aliens.
Instead they were treated like valued vote banks.
Every Indian Muslim was given a right to vote in every
election. Unlike in Pakisthan where the Hindus voted
only for a Hindu candidate, and had no power to
influence the election of Muslim candidates, and
therefore a Hindu in Pakisthan had a weak, restricted
and degraded electoral power in the Islamic Republic,
the Indian Muslim was on equal footing with his Hindu
counterpart as voter. Election after election the
Muslim voters realized that they had a voice in the
governance of India. The Congress party constantly
tried to make Muslims feel safe in India and assured
them of all benefits on a priority basis.        
POLITICIANS TREAT MUSLIMS AS A VOTE-BANK
                      The Shah Bano case and its aftermath i.e.,
the Muslim Women’s Act of 1986 lead to retaining the
Sharia law which favoured the Muslim personal laws
over the secular laws inscribed in the Indian
Constitution. The Constitution itself was amended
easily to incorporate the views of Muslim scholars on
alimony to divorcees and widows, by the Congress
party government since this party had an absolute
majority in the Indian Parliament, and against the
rulings of the Supreme Court which upheld the
secular laws of the Constitution for Muslim widows to
be at par with other widows. This act of the
Congress party resulted in appeasement of the
Muslims to join it in large numbers.

                   To appease the Hindus and as a
gesture of impartiality, after the Shah Bano overture,
the then Congress party government at the Centre
decided to provide facilities to Hindus to worship
Lord Raam within the premises of the Babri structure.
And after Shah Bano case and the Muslim Women’s
Act  Rajiv Gandhi’s government opened the gates of
the building to allow Hindus to worship the Raam
Lalla idol. The Raam Lalla idol was being
worshipped from far and outside the gates of the
structure till then. The gates were locked soon after  
Hindus began to worship Lord Raam there and
several claims for ownership of the land on which the
Babri structure stood were filed in the local courts.
There were Hindu claims and Muslim claims and
these were to be settled in the local courts.  Lal
Krishna Advani of the Jan Sangh and later of
Bharatiya Janata Party set out on a Raam Rath
Yathra from Somnath temple in Gujarath to Ayodhya
in Uttar Pradesh in 1989 and the Hindus began to
chant ‘Temple for Raam will be built at Ayodhya no
matter what’.

            So we find that the Ayodhya dispute has
strengthened the Muslims and weakened the Hindus.
The Muslims have united themselves against Hindus
both after the demolition of Babri structure and after
the Godhra carnage followed by Gujarath riots.
Pakisthan and many Middle East Muslim countries
have backed the Indian Muslims in their efforts to
form a formidable force in the Indian democratic
outfit. Democracy has been the yardstick to measure
the power of voter-citizens.

            Many Hindus call themselves secularists and
do not favour the agitational path of the BJP and
other Hindu groups regarding the Raam Temple in
Ayodhya. Many Indians do not consider the Raam
Temple as an important thing for India. Those Hindus
who are inclined to be Socialists and Communists
oppose the campaign of the BJP and its Hindu allies
for building Raam Temple at Ayodhya. Since the
Muslims have the Congress party and the Left under
their armpit the goal of building a Raam temple in
Ayodhya might not be realized ever.
THE STORY OF LORD RAAM
    Lord Raama was born in Ayodhya to King Dasharatha and Queen
Kausalya, on the ninth day (Navami) of Shukla Paksha of the Chaithra
month, as per the Chaandramaana Calendar (Calendar based on the
movements of the Moon).
     Navami is the ninth day of the fortnight (fifteen days of the half
month). There are two fifteen day periods in every month. The first one
is known as 'Shukla Paksha' and the second one is known as the
'Krishna Paksha'. Shukla (white) is when the moon ends as a Full Moon
and Krishna (black) is when the moon ends as a New Moon. The Full
Moon Day is also known as Poornima and the New Moon day is known
as Amavasya.
      Raama had three younger brothers. They were Lakshmana,
Bharatha, and Shatrughna. Prince Raama had to go to the forest and
stay there for 14 years because of a promise his father had made to
his second wife Kaikeyi to fulfill any of her wish she demands of him at
any time in the future, following an event in which Kaikeyi had saved the
life of King Dasharatha during a battle. This, Kaikeyi took advantage
of, when the time came for crowning a prince as the future King of the
Ayodhya Kingdom. She invoked the King's promise and asked for
Raama's banishment, so that her son Bharatha could be coronated as
the King of Ayodhya.
               Raama had three younger brothers. They were Lakshmana,
Bharatha, and Shatrughna. Prince Raama had to go to the forest and
stay there for 14 years because of a promise his father had made to
his second wife Kaikeyi to fulfill any of her wish she demands of him at
any time in the future, following an event in which Kaikeyi had saved the
life of King Dasharatha during a battle. This, Kaikeyi took advantage
of, when the time came for crowning a prince as the future King of the
Ayodhya Kingdom. She invoked the King's promise and asked for
Raama's banishment, so that her son Bharatha could be coronated as
the King of Ayodhya.
     In Hinduism Lord Vishnu takes birth in this world from time to time
to help the people in most difficult times. This event of incarnation of
God is called the Avathaara. Lord Raama is considered one of the ten
Avathaara(s) Hinduism has known. Therefore Lord Raama is
worshipped as God since many centuries.
     There are many temples dedicated to Lord Raama in India and
abroad. Lord Raama's portrait in which he stands with his younger
brother on his right and his wife Seetha on his left and Hanuman sitting
at the feet of the three, next to Seetha on the left is very popular and
found in almost every house of Hindus. This portrait or a similar
sculpture is garlanded on the Raama Navami Day. A special worship
called Puja is performed to Raama, Lakshmana, Seetha and Hanuman
together by decorating the portrait with flowers, raising Aarathi to the
accompaniment of Jaagate-beating and blowing Shankha , Naivedya,
and Sastanga namaskara at an appointed hour on this day in every
Raama Temple or in every home where there is a portrait or sculpture
of Lord Raama.
     Lord Raama is considered to be the ideal person or Purushottama
because of the fact that he had only one wife and he followed the
Dharma or Rules of Life strictly according to the Scriptures of
Hinduism. Even though most of the kings of his time practiced
polygamy and kept many women in their harems, Lord Raama
remained a monogamist, with only Seetha as his wife. He was so much
aware of his role or Dharma as the King that he took care that no one
in his kingdom would find fault in his character or behaviour as a king.
Therefore when he learned from a spy that a washerman among his
subjects raised the question whether Raama's wife is a tainted woman
because she was in captivity in the palace premises of Lankan King
Raavana, he decided to put her to test. Seetha had to walk on the
burning embers and come out unscathed if she was pure and she did.
Once Seetha passed the test of her purity Raama took her back as his
queen and wife.
     Lord Raama is also considered to be an ideal person because he
as an ideal son abandoned the throne to fulfil the promise of his father
to his stepmother. The conditions put forth by the stepmother were
harsh and included a 14-year Vanavaasa for Raama. Although
Lakshmana was not asked to go on a Vanavaasa he opted to
accompany Raama because Lakshmana loved his elder brother very
dearly. Although Raama wished his wife Seetha to stay home, to avoid
the great hardships of Vanavaasa, Seetha as a good wife joined her
husband in the Vanavaasa.
     During the Vanavaasa, Lankan King Raavana kidnapped Seetha
and took her to his palace in Lanka. Seetha was imprisoned in the
Ashoka Vana in the palace premises and she was persuaded by
multiple means by Raavana to marry him. She rejected the evil King's
demands and waited for her husband to come and free her from
captivity. Lord Raama fought a prolonged war with the Lankan King
Raavana to free Seetha from captivity.
     Hanuman became deified because he took part with Raama in his
war to free Seetha. Hanumantha (alias Hanumantha) is worshipped as
a God by Hindus and his birthday known as Hanuman Jayanthi is
observed as a festival. Hanuman, Lakshman, the king of monkeys
Sugriva and many others helped Raama in his war with Raavana and
therefore they are also worshipped. However, Sugriva is not clubbed
with Raama because his efforts in the war was limited and localised.
Hanuman accompanied Raama when the latter returned to the capital
Ayodhya after his triumph in the war. Hanuman was given a
respectable position in the court of Raama after he occupied the throne
in Ayodhya.
     Bharatha the son of Kaikeyi refused to be crowned as the king
when Raama left for Vanavaasa although it was precisely the desire of
Kaikeyi and the reason why Kaikeyi demanded Raama undertake the
Vanavaasa. Bharatha loved his brother Raama so much that he did not
wish to become a king which position was rightly Raama's. The noble
conduct of Raama, Lakshmana, Seetha, Hanuman and Bharatha is for
all Hindus to emulate in their lives.
     The story of Raama in the epic Raamayana is recited during the
festival by chosen men and women for all to hear.

     A festival is held to celebrate completion of a harvest, or
celebration of the anniversary of inauguration of community halls,
temples, etc., or anniversary of birth or death of great personalities
belonging to the community.
     Festivals bring joy to practically every one in the society.  Many of
the
festivals and functions are necessary for the healthy
psychological development of the person, whether the festival is
scientifically meaningful or not.
 
     Usually it is a task for a person to fulfill the rituals of a festival or a
function and the occasion tries his patience and abilities in
performance. The man in the family has to provide the supplies and
other members have a role to play in implementing the various
processes.  The task is a trial for all who take part in the festival.  It is a
totally independent matter, however, and how one celebrates the
festival in his confines of the home is a personal matter.  There are no
compulsions except the deity or the sacred structures meant for the
festival are given proper respect in handling the different programs laid
down in the rules of the ritual.  A certain menu for the feast is
recommended under the tradition and a list of decorations for the
festival is carried out but there is ample leeway available so that no one
is put to hardship.  We usually repeat what our parents and other elders
did in the past festivals.  It is a small challenge to do at least as good or
better than our parents.  We can also polish the procedures to fit in the
modern times and innovate the look and shape of the event.
     The festival can be grand with involvement of relatives and friends
or it can be converted into a family-only matter.
      Relatives and friends watch and observe how well one does the
festivals in the current year compared to what one did in the previous
years.  It is a measure of one’s current abilities and enthusiasm.  It is a
measure of one’s prosperity and health to know how well a particular
festival is carried out in the current year by the descendant.  If you have
time and money you may turn it into a large-scale extravaganza or if
you don’t, then you can moan and groan and give excuses to downsize
the whole thing.  It requires skills of management and liberal religious
or social attitude.
     In any case how superficial or how deep one participates in the
festival is a mood- related subject.  But it is a revelation of one’s
position and exposes him to the open.  Many consider that the money
spent on a festival is worth more than its value but there are some who
cling to excuses in order to celebrate it in a subdued fashion.  They
might save money, time and toil.  They may not save their face well,
though.
Concluded.
The Ayodhya Verdict
                     What would be the consequences of the verdict of
the civil suite for ownership of the site where Hindus wish to
build a Raam temple?

                The site is declared as belonging to the three
litigants and has to be divided into three portions.

                The Hindu Mahasabha can build the temple in
the portion of which the Mahasabha is declared as the
owner.

                The other two beneficiaries have been ordered to
allow use of the Hindu portion including construction of a
Raam Temple.

                There is no need to wait any longer. After the
expiration of the 90 days of status quo ordered by the court
verdict, construction of the temple can be started.
                A smaller temple than the Hindus have planned
will not be insignificant.
                Let the Muslims build a mosque in their portion of
the land.
                It does no harm to have a Hindu temple and a
Muslim mosque side-by-side. It will help the local people to
come together and treat each other as brothers.
                India will be highly commended for its inclusive
policy in religious affairs and secular approach if a temple
and a mosque are built side-by-side. I am sure the two
communities will facilitate each other in prayer and worship
as well as holding their festivals together in peace and
friendship.
                Since the Indian Constitution recommends
freedom of religion the Ayodhya verdict has offered many
opportunities for the citizens to behave like brothers. It is a
test for both the Hindu swamis and the Muslim clerics to see
for themselves the mannerisms and philosophy of each
other. There is a chance for each other to hold some of the
festivals together by inventing the common features among
them.
                There could be feasts serving vegetarian food on
the days of the Muslim festivals so that Hindus can also take
part in the feasts. There is a necessity for one community to
accommodate the other without compromising the principles
and procedures of the festivals of each other.
                If Muslims do not wish to take part in idol worship
then they can join in those parts of the festival in which idol
worship does not exist.
                By joining in the festival of the other community,
one need not give up their own beliefs and rituals. A
committee of experts chosen from both the Hindus and
Muslims can lay down rules and procedures to conduct
prayers and worship. The committee should find ways and
means to organise the day to day activities of the temple
and mosque in a friendly and peaceful manner.
                After all the Hindus accept the fact that God is
one and called as Allah by the Muslims. Although Muslims
do not accept any god other than Allah the Hindus are not
compelling them to do otherwise. By joining the Hindus in all
sacred activities other than worshiping the Hindu gods,
Muslims would not have given up their concepts about the
Almighty. They can follow the Quran word to word and still
maintain a friendly relationship with the Hindus. Hindus also
can endeavour to maintain friendly attitude towards various
beliefs which Muslims hold.
                India is destined to remain a secular country and
Muslim citizens are also destined to remain equal citizens in
India. Therefore it is necessary for each other to understand
the compulsions imposed by their religious scriptures. The
goal of life for Hindus and Muslims is the same viz. to go to
heaven. Muslims believe that by following what is dictated in
Quran they can go to heaven. Hindus also believe that if
they follow the religious path and spiritual path mentioned in
the Vedas and Puraanas then they will certainly go to
heaven. The heavens described by each religion may be
different from the other.

                It is not a difficult task at all for Hindus to allow
the Muslims to live as they like with their religion. Muslims
by any measure do not wish to interfere in the way the
Hindus live. It is only the willingness that is required to live
together since we are citizens of the same country i.e. India.
                The opportunity to live in peace is knocking at the
doors of the two communities following the Ayodhya verdict.
A small mosque and a small temple could be built in the
plots allotted to each community. If the Nirmohi Akhara can
join its plot with that of the Raam Lalla Virajman then a
bigger temple could be built on the combined plot.
                Both the Hindu and Muslim leaders may come
together and appoint an Architect to draw suitable plans and
build the places of worship speedily.
                        By solving the dispute peacefully in the
manner stated above India can show to the world that she is
the most accommodative nation when it comes to the
question of religions in the world.
AYODHYA AND THE FUTURE OF INDIA
              It has not been appreciated enough by
many Indians that Muslims will never consider
any sympathy for Hindus or for Hinduism.
Muslims will never let Hindus influence changes
in the deeds and thoughts of Muslims towards
Hindus. The time has not come for a
self-reorganisation in Islam so that religions
other than Islam would be regarded
sympathetically by Muslims.
              Events after the partition have not
weakened the Indian Muslims but rather
strengthened them. A time will come when the
Muslims will overbear the politics in India and
dictate their terms in every aspect of Indian life.
But this time the Muslims are not going to ask for
another partition of India. They are going to turn
India into an Islamic Republic.
From L to R: Lakshmana, Raama, Seetha and Hanumantha
Sri Ayodhya
Adyar Gopal and Radha Bai
Ayodhya is the word of the day.
Hampi Karnaataka
Kashi Math Varanasi
London U K
Mysore Dasara
Sarnath
Shivaganga
Tanjavur
Triveni Sangam
Tirupathi
Prayag
Kalahasti
Srisaila
Adyar Village
Ayodhya
Gaya and Bodhgaya
Golden Temple Vellore
Gujarath
Birmingham U K
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