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Freeindia > Holy Places > Ayodhya
Ayodhya

Ayodhya is an ancient city situated on the right bank of the Sarayu river in the old area of Kosala Janapada ( at present in Faizabad district ) in Uttar Pradesh province of Bharat ( INDIA ), famous as the place of birth of Maryada Purusottama Bhagavan Sri Rama. It had been the capital city of kingdom of the kings belonging to Iksvaku dynasty. After the all-time-unmatchable Ramarajya ( Rule of Rama ) Shri Rama's elder son Kusa established his capital elsewhere and got a temple constructed on the place where Sri Rama have had his birth. During the course of time king Vikramaditya got the renovation of that temple. Once again the temple was got renewed by another king about one thousand years ago from now. In the year 1528 A.D. the Mughal invader Babar got a barbarous attempt made to pull-down the temple and construct a mosque in its place. But because of the resistance of the people, the hermits and the rulers of nearby kingdoms, he could only succeed in getting a mosque-like structure without any tower ( minaret ) but with three domes overlapping many symbols of the demolished temple. Sadhus and saints continued performing worship under those domes themselves. So it remained as a temple in practice till his descendant Mughal ruler Aurangzeb prohibited that worship using his brute military power. The local people went on trying to get the temple freed from the alien rulers and their performance of worship under the domes was regained soon and continued despite the continual attempts on the part of the rulers to stop the same.

Goswami Tulasidas had composed his Ramacharita manasa while staying in Ayodhya . He came to Ayodhya from Kashi ( Varanasi ) with that purpose only and selected the Rama Navami ( the birth day of Sri Rama ) in 1631 of Vikrama era to start that sacred task. It is very natural that he must have done that work at Rama-birth-place while staying there under the domes i.e. in the mosque-like structure abandoned as such by the invaders. This we know from a line from the writing of the Goswami as " I eat by begging and sleep in the mosque, I have neither the one to take nor to give two."

In accordance with the decision taken in a conference, Dharma Sansad ( the Parliament of Dharma ), the foundation of a grand new Sri Rama-Birth Place Temple was laid on ' Devotthana Ekadasi ' ( the yearly 11th day of the brigther fortnight of Kartika month, known as the day of the Awakening or Progress of gods ) of the year 2046 of the Vikram era ( A.D. 1989 ). On the day of Devotthana Ekadasi 2047, a large number of devotees of Bhagavan Rama reached and gathered in Ayodhya with a view to carry forward the task of building the temple defying all the obstructions set up on their way by the cruel alien-partisan holders of power. Those gathered there were sought to be dispersed with the hail of gunfire on them that day and even after 4 days at the spot near Hanumanagadhi and in the lanes and temples of Ayodhya, as a result of which many of the Rama devotees were brought to martyrdom and hundreds of them got fire injuries. But all this could not break the resolve of those who had decided to sacrifice. Their very being being for the task undertaken, their struggle continued. Despite all the deceitful and obstinate political and brute ways used for preventing the Ramabhaktas to fulfil their task, on the part of rulers, the Rama bhaktas were successful in removing the symbol of Bharat's dishonour at the hands of the brute Babar by removing the Babari-structure and thereby paving the way for a grand Rama-Birthplace temple on December 6, 1992. The small temple of Rama laid at its proper place does stand at present in Ayodhya.

Ayodhya is also the city where the first Jain Tirthankara Adinath or Rishabhadeva had been born. It is known in the Buddhist literature as Saketa. In Rishi Valmiki's Ramayana, Sri Rama describes the birthplace as being greater than Heaven. Having his victory over Ravana' s Lanka, Sri Rama rushed back to Ayodhya because of this deep sentimental attachment. Ayodhya is a city of temples old and new, like Sita Rasoi, Kanak Mandir, Hanuman-gadhi etc., numerous Jain temples, Buddhist, SIkh and many others of various Sanatani denominations. Freeindia > Holy Places > Mathura
Mathura

Mathura is an ancient city on the bank of river Yamuna in western Uttar Pradesh which has been the birthplace of Bhagavan Krishna. Its old name was Madhura which itself has become Mathura during the course of time. It is in this city, Madhuvana where child Dhruva, following sage Narada's instruction, did penance and received Bhagavaddarsana ( God's graceful view ). In Tretayuga, on being ordered by Sri Rama, Shatrughna beheaded Lavanasura, the tyrant ( despot ) and assumed the governing of the kingdom of Mathura. In Dvaparayuga Bhagavan Krishna was not only born in the prison-cell of Mathura but also he started the work of his incarnation ( avatara ) from here by killing the tyrant Kansa ( his own maternal uncle ). In Kaliyuga, king Vikramaditya defeated the Shaka invaders who had conquered Mathura and Avantika. Again, during the rule of the Muslim invaders, the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb destroyed ( devastated ) the Krishna-Birthplace-Temple and got a mosque built over it. The area of MathuraVrindavana has always been great place of attraction and faith to the devotees of Sri Krishna. To get Krishna-Birth-place free is an ambition ( longing ) with millions of Bharatiyas and there are efforts being made for the same. Freeindia > Holy Places > Maya Puri (Haridwara)
Maya Puri (Haridwara)

This is the famous place of pilgrimage on the banks of river Ganga in western Uttar Pradesh. Ganga, coming down from the hills, enters plains at this place. The famous Kumbha festival is celebrated in Mayapuri every twelfth year. Astrologically the period of Kumbha-festival is determined by the consideration when sun and moon are in the Mesa rasi and Guru ( Brihaspati ) is in the Kumbha rasi at the same time. Under the area of pilgrimage are covered five princpal sacred places :

(1) Gangadwara (which includes Hari ki Paudi as the place where taking a dip into Ganga is regarded most auspicious)

(2)Kusavarta

(3)Vilvakesvara

(4)Nila-parvata ( Nilakantha Mahadeva )

(5)Kanakhala

In Kankhal was performed that yajna ( sacrifice ) by Daksha Prajapati in the fire of which Sati ( the daughter Daksa and consort of Shiva ) jumped and died and the escorts of Shiva destroyed the yajna. Freeindia > Holy Places > Kashi
Kashi

Situated on the bank of Ganga in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Kashi is one of the world's ancientmost cities, unrivalled in having the stamp of Shiva's majesty impressed upon it. Being situated in between of rivers Varuna and Asi, Kashi is also well known as Varanasi. As evidenced by the Bauddha Jataka this capital city of the Kasi Mahajanapada had been the biggest of India's six big cities. It has been famous, from ages, for being a centre of studies of many sciences and disciplines; a place of pilgrimage of very many religious orders ( cults ) and sects and for being a most proper place for God-realization. It is the principal pilgrimage area for the religious denominations such as Shaivism, Shaktism, Buddhism and Jainism. The Sivalinga in the Vishvanath Temple of this city is counted as one of the twelve Jyotirlinga(s). Kashi does have its own prominent Saktipitha ( the seat of the Goddess ). The seventh and twentythird Tirthankaras of Jain sect were born in Kashi. Bhagavan Buddha delivered his first sermon ( Dharma Chakra Pravartana - setting the wheel of dharma into motion ) in Sarnaath near Kashi. Jagadguru Adi Sankaracarya, the propounder of Advaita Vedanta school of Indian Philosophy started his Digvijaya Yatra ( the tour of all-directional victory ) from here. To begin a new sect or any reform from Kashi was considered essential for its success. The saints and poets of the Bhakti ( devotional ) school like Kabir, Ramananda, Tulsidas etc. made Kashi their place of work ( KarmabhUmi ). The study of Sastra ( great works on various sciences and disciplines and of literature ) and debates on them ( Sastrartha ) has been a cherished tradition of a long standing here.

The Mughal ruler Aurangzeb barbarously devastated the Visvanatha temple of this holy city and on the remains got constructed a mosque. During the course of time Queen Ahalyabai Holkar got constructed a new temple of Visvanatha here nearby. The pinnacle of this temple had been got covered with gold leaf by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab. Endeavours are on to get the original place of Vishvanath temple freed.

In modern times Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya by establishing the great Kasi Hindu Visvavidyalaya ( Banaras Hindu University ) here carried forward the tradition of Kashi as place of education. The various ghats on the Ganga's bank include among them the Dasasvamedha ghata which is so named because at that place the Bharashiva kings performed ten Asvamedha Yajnas after defeating the Kusana invaders. Freeindia > Holy Places > Kanchi
Kanchi

Kanchi is one of the seven cities known as Moksa-Puri ( cities which are providers of salvation ). Kanchi is the famous Dharmika ( related with Dharma ) city of southern Bharat which is a centre of learning.

It is known as the Kashi of southern India. From ancient times this city has continued to be the place of pilgrimage of Saiva, Vaisnava, Jaina and Bauddha sects. This city has two parts : Siva Kanchi and Visnu Kanchi. The temples of Kamakshi and Ekambara Natha are famous temples of Kanchi. It is so considered that this city has 108 sanctified spots dedicated to Bhagavan Shiva. In Vishnu Kanchi is a grand gigantic temple of Bhagavan Varadaraja. Kanchipuram has been the source of the philosophy propounded by Ramanujacharya. From among the great men of learning of Buddhism, Nagarjuna, Buddhaghosh, Dharmapala, Dimnag and the like have been the residents of Kanchipuram. In Brahmanda Purana, Kashi and Kanchi have been said to be the two eyes of Shiva. Freeindia > Holy Places > Avantika
Avantika

Situated on the bank of river Kshipra in Madhya Pradesh, this famous city is known by the name of Ujjayini or Ujjain, now. This too is counted among the seven cities which are known to be cities that are givers of salvation. Out of the 12 Jyotirlinga(s) of Bhagavan Shiva this is a seat ( Pitha ) of one of them called Mahakala and it is also a Shakti pitha as well because of the fall of a portion of the arm of Sati here. It is here itself that Bhagavan Shiva obtained victory over Tripurasara. The hermitage ( Aasrama ) of Aacharya ( guru ) Sandipani was in Ujjayini itself where under his tutelage Bhagavan Krishna had his education along with Balarama ( Baladeva ), his elder brother, and Sudama, his friend. As a centre of learning the importance of Avantika continued for a long period. In accordance with the Indian astrological considerations, the point of equator and the zero-mark point make their common centre here. Here too, the Kumbha festival is celebrated after every 12 years when Jupiter enters Scorpio sign. During the period of Mauryan rule Ujjayini had been the capital city of the Malava Pradesh. Emperor Ashoka's son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra were initiated into Bauddha sect ( they got pravrajya ) here. Later, the Shakas established their rule here whom Vikramaditya defeated. Kalidasa, Amarsimha, Vararuci, Bhartrhari, Bharavi etc. ancient India's great litterateurs and linguists as also the well known Master of the Science of Astrology, Jyotisacarya Varaharnihira had been connected with Avantika. Here on the bank of Kshipra there has been in existence, from a very long time, a consecrated, perfect Banyan tree. As on the imperishable Banyan tree ( Aksaya Vata ) at Prayag so also on it many attempts were made to destroy it by the Muslim invaders including the Mughal ruler Jahangir but none of them could be successful in the misdeed. Freeindia > Holy Places > Vaisali
Vaisali

An ancient city of Bihar, capital city of the Licchavi republic that had the honour of being the capital of the entire Vajji Sangha, this city was, at one time, well known in the entire country for its grandeur and its prosperity. The twenty-fourth Jain Tirthankar, Vardhaman Mahavira was born in Vaisali itself. It is because of this that it is the famous place of pilgrimage and a centre of Jain faith. During the times of Gautama, the Buddha, Vaishali had been one of the six great cities of India. The Buddha too provided this city his nearness. Vaisali is said to be so named on the name of the king Visala, belonging to the Iksavaku Dynasty. Bhagavan Rama witnessed its grandeur while passing through it as he was proceeding to Mithila. Freeindia > Holy Places > Puri ( Jagannatha Puri )
Puri (Jagannatha Puri)

Situated on the bank of Gangasagara ocean in Orissa, Jagannath Puri is a centre of veneration, faith or reverence for the devotees of all the three Shaiva, Vaishnava and the Bauddha ( religious ) cults where all the year round thousands of persons reach everyday for having a darsana. It is the one of the four sacred abodes ( Dhama ) of God, the highest ( Paramesvara ). The Monastery of Sankaracharya named Govardhana Matha and that of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are there in Puri. The famous Jagannatha temple is the centre of veneration for millions upon millions of people; it has been described as the place of pilgrimage of the most ideal person ( Purusottama tirtha ). The present Jagannath temple was constructed by Ananta Chol Gang, a king of the Gang dyansty, in the 12th century A.D. But according to Brahma-Purana and Skanda-Purana, prior to it, the temple was constructed by king Indradyumna of Ujjayini. In this temple are the wooden statues of Krishna, Balabhadra and Subhadra. The big Chariot Journey ( Rathayatra ) of Jagannatha Puri is known to be the principal Yatra of India. Millions of people move the chariot by pulling it with hand. The speciality of this place of pilgrimage is that here there is no discrimination between individuals on the basis of caste, birth or creed and community nor the touchable and untouchable. A famous proverb in this context is : " For the boiled rice of Jagannath, the whole world puts out hand ( asks for ), no one asks what is one's status by birth or by caste ( 'Jagannatha ka bhata, Jagat pasare hatha, Puche jata na pata '). The idol of 'Siddhi-Vinayaka' ( of the consort and Ganesh ) in Jagannath Puri is worth seeing even from the sculptural point of view. Freeindia > Holy Places > Taksasila
Taksasila

In the north-western frontier province of India, situated between the rivers Sindhu and Vitasta ( Jehlam ) and serving as the second capital of the Gandhara Janapada, Taksasila had been an ancient historical city, the remains ( ruins ) of which can even today be seen at a distance of 30 kilometres on western side of the present day Rawalpindi. Bharata, the brother of Sri Rama, had established the city in the name of his son, Taksa. This had been a well-known centre of higher learning of ancient India. In known history, world's longest lasting university that remained constantly in operation for 1200 years was the Taksasila University. In that university such great persons as Panini ( the great grammarian of Sanskrit language ), Jivaka ( the great physician finding a great deal of mention in the Buddhist tradition ) and Kautilya ( the well known author of ArthaSastra, a great work on state-craft, and a great practical statesman who helped establish the kingdom of Chandragupta Maurya ) studied and taught at that university. Taksasila did serve as the great centre of ancient India's political and business affairs. Greek historians Ariyan, Straton etc and the Chinese pilgrim Fashian have described the prosperity of Takshashila. Being in the frontier area there was a great deal of political importance to it. It had also to bear the brunt of invaders' attacks from the North-West again and again. Since 1947 A.D. because of the partition of India, this place is now in Pakistan. Freeindia > Holy Places > Gaya
Gaya

Gaya, situated on the bank of Phalgu river, in Bihar, is an ancient city which has been mentioned in the Puranas, Mahabharata and in Buddhist leterature. In the Purana it is said that this place of pilgrimage has been named Gaya on the consideration that a good and great asura devotee of Bhagavan Vishnu, by name Gaya, once lived there. It is accepted that one whose sraaddha ( after-death rites ) is performed in Gaya he, after being freed of all blemish, goes to the Brahmaloka. Bhagavan Rama and Dharmaraj Yudhishthira performed the sraaddha of their fathers at Gaya. It is a place of pilgrimage especially for the paternal rites. The Visnu Pada Temple is the principal place worth seeing. At a place not very far from the city sat Siddhartha in meditation under a banyan tree and got enlightenment ( bodhi ) and became the Buddha more than 2500 years ago. That place is known as Bodhagaya. Thousands of Buddhists from within India and from countries outside visit this place of pilgrimage to see the continuation of that tree and the big temple enclosing it, every year. Freeindia > Holy Places > Prayaga
Prayaga

In Uttar Pradesh, situated near the Sangama ( confluence ) of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna ( and Sarasvati ) is Prayaga, a famous place of pilgrimage. Since it is believed that the sangama includes the visible Ganga and Yamuna and the invisible Sarasvati therefore this is called Triveni ( the meeting of the three flows ). Prayaga receives millions of pilgrims including saints and sages at its Kumbha festival, Ardha Kumbha festival, after every 12 year and 6 years respectively and every year a month long fair ( in Magh month - from mid-January to mid-February ). It is held that in the Prayaga area a big Yajna ( sacrifice ) had been performed by Prajapati. That is why it is known as Prayaga, as Prayaga literally means meant for performing a yajna. The famous Gurukul ( a residential academy ) of Muni Bharadvaja had been in Prayaga itself. While going to jungle ( Vana ) on being exiled, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana stayed in that ashram for some time. In accordance with Sri Ramacharitamanasa, the famous work of Saint Tulasidas, it was at that ashram that sage Yajnavalkya had told the Rama Story to Muni Bharadvaja. In Prayaga is found an excellent rock-cut pillar giving an account of emperor Samudragupta. Here is found an imperishable Banyan tree ( Aksaya Vata ) about which it is famous that this does not come to destruction even during catastrophe i.e. at the time of universal annihilation. In order to break this trust and faith many Muslim invaders, including Jahangir, made attempts to destroy it but the tree still stays put. Freeindia > Holy Places > Pataliputra
Pataliputra

This famous, ancient and historical city of Bihar which remained the capital city of many empires and kingdoms held by various dynasties is known today by the name Patna. In ancient times this was known by the names such as Kusumapura, Puspapura or Kusuma dhvaja in addition to Pataliputra. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Sonabhadra. More than hundreds of years before Christ this city was constructed by king Ajatasatru, a follower of lord Buddha. The Buddha himself had predicted the rise to eminence of this city. It remained for a long time the capital city of the Magadha empire and it saw the rise and fall of the great empires of the Nanda, Maurya, Sunga and Gupta dynasties of kings. The tenth Guru of the Sikh Panth, Guru Govind Singh was born in Patna. It has also remained the place of work ( Karmabhumi ) of the first President of the Republic of ( Independent ) India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Freeindia > Holy Places > Vijyanagara
Vijyanagara

The establishment of the great Vijayanagar Empire was accomplished by two valorous ( heroic ) brothers Harihara and Bukka Raya under the guidance of Vidyaranya Swami ( Madhavacarya ) of which Vijayanagara was inhabited by them as the capital city in the year 4437 Yugabda ( in accordance with the Indian calculation ) i.e. in 1336 A.D. On the name of their Guru they had given it the name as Vidyanagaram but, later on, it became well know by the name Vijayanagaram itself. This historical city is located at the bank of Tungabhadra river, in southern India. To defend and develop the Veda-rooted Dharma and culture was the object of the Vijayanagar Empire. After the empire-establisher Sangama dynasty, there remained in Vijayanagaram the supremacy of the glorious kings of the Saluva and Tuluva dynasties as well. The brave man of the Tuluva dynasty, king Krishna Deva Raya brought to Vijayanagaram considerable eminence and prosperity and got the temples, destroyed by the Muslims, resuscitated. Vijayanagar's empire remained in ascendency from Yugabda 4437 to 4666 ( from 1336 to 1565 A.D ). The empire had diplomatic relations with the kingdoms outside India as well. Freeindia > Holy Places > Indraprastha
Indraprastha

Mentioned in the Mahabharata, this city, inhabited by the Pandava brothers, had been situated near the present day Delhi. It is said that the area where the city of Indraprastha was built was earlier a rugged jungle named Khandava vana, without any habitation. It was after cutting and levelling that jungle that the city of Indraprastha was set up. To keep with himself the kingdom of Hastinapur stubbornly and by deception and scheming on the part of Duryodhan, the kingdom of Kurus was partitioned and this uninhabited area was given to the Pandavas. But the marvellous architectural art of the Maya Danava ( an ancient engineer of the Danava family employed by the Pandavas for construction work ) bestowed on Indraprastha a grandeur beyond imagination. Yudhishthira perfomed Rajasuya Yajna here. The city saw many a rise and fall. Freeindia > Holy Places > Somanatha
Somanatha

On Gujarat's southern sea-coast in the place of pilgrimage named Prabhasa, from the ancient times, there had been a highly prosperous city. The Somanatha ( Siva ) temple of the place was famous throughout the world for its grandeur and richness. In due course of time Prabhasa city itself became well-known as Somanath. The plunderer Mehmud Gaznabi attacked Somnath, devastated it and looted it. From Gaznabi to Aurangzeb many times the Muslim invaders made attacks on this temple. Again and again there continued to be the process of its destruction as well as reconstruction. Immediately after the gaining of the independence by India, this temple was ( finally ) reconstructed with the special efforts of the then home-minister of India, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. Freeindia > Holy Places > Amritasara
Amritasara

Arnritsar is Punjab's religio-historical city which is Sikh Panth's principal place of pilgrimage. The foundation of it was laid by the Sikh Panth's fourth Master, Shri Guru Ramadas in Yugabda 4678 ( 1577 A.D ). Before starting the construction work of the temple he planned enlargement of the ageold sacred pond Sudhasara and started getting the digging up of the tank of water on all the four sides of the temple. The completion of the construction of temple was done by his son and the fifth Guru, Shri Arjun Dev, by getting constructed the ' Hari-mandira '. On all the four sides of the temple and the Amrta sarovara ( the tank ) four entry gates were kept so that the faithfuls might come to the temple from all the four sides. Maharaja Ranjit Singh spent a lot for the increased grandeur of the temple. He got the upper dome of the temple covered with gold. From that time onward the temple was called as the Suvarna-mandira ( Golden Temple ).









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Published on: 2003-01-30 (42904 reads)

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Ayodhya
Mathura
Maya Puri (Haridwara)
Kashi
Kanchi
Avantika
Vaisali
Puri (Jagannatha Puri)
Taksasila
Gaya
Prayaga
Pataliputra
Vijyanagara
Indraprastha
Somanatha
Amritasara
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