TOURIST DESTINATION
Ayodhya
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.
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.
ALL MAPS DRAWN BY MOHAN SHENOY
ADYAR GOPAL PARIVAR
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 into an
aspiration for the majority of local Hindu religious 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
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 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
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.
The Ayodhya Verdict
            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
                 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 Raamnavami 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, 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.
SCINDHYA GHAT
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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).
MOHAN SHENOY 2005 PHOTO
Ayodhya
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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.
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MERA BHAARATH MAHAAN  
RAAMANAVAMI FESTIVAL
What would be the consequences of the verdict 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.
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