Beyond assumptions, a kingdom's riveting account

Beyond assumptions, a kingdom's riveting account

Travel tales

Ayodhya, a holy city in Uttar Pradesh is quite famous among people for many reasons. The city of Ayodhya is an important pilgrimage centre in Hindu belief known for its Hindu temples, as well as for the disputed site of Babri Mosque. Ayodhya, the capital of ancient Kosala Kingdom, was on my list since long until I got a chance to attend my cousin sister’s engagement ceremony in February, this year. I had assumed that the city has only temples but when I went there, those assumptions were quashed.

A guest room was booked at Shaan-e-Awadh hotel near Faizabad railway station. The first morning, I attended the ceremony at the hotel but in the evening, I decided to visit the Hanuman Garhi temple, right in the centre of the city. An acclaimed temple of Lord Hanuman, it has a massive fort like structure at a specified height around 20 feet above the ground and is a major tourist destination.

The next morning, I managed to get a motorcycle to aid my travel around the city. Ayodhya is well known for its ghats as it is situated on the bank of the Ghaghra river locally known as Saryu river. As I enquired from people around, I got to know that the best time to visit Guptar Ghat, a local attraction, to spend some leisure time with friends and family is evenings. So, I decided to visit it accordingly.

I made a move towards the Chowk Market which is the main market area of Faizabad. The architecture of the place simply depicts the historic richness and eternity. The chowk is typically like the Chandni Chowk of Delhi or an older version of it. There, I got to taste the famous khurchan peda which is the most famous sweet of Faizabad.

“Camerawale bhaiya, mandiro ke ilava, yahan aur bhi jagahe hain ghoomne ke liye! (There are more places to see except the temples),” said a chaiwala as I took a break with a cup of tea. 

The next place to visit was Gulab Bari. Earlier when I heard the name Gulab Bari, I assumed it to be a garden of sorts because of the word gulab which means rose. But actually Gulab Bari is Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula’s (the third Nawab of Awadh) mausoleum surrounded by a rose garden. Gulab Bari marked the beginning of my visits to the famous Mughal architectures followed by a visit to Moti Mahal which was the residence of Unmatuzzohra Bano Begum alias Bahu Begum.

Then came Bahu Begum ka Maqbara, the tomb of Unmatuzzhora. Bahu Begum ka Maqbara is a beautiful example of a non-Mughal Muslim architecture created by Shuja-ud-Daula in memory of his wife.

By that time, it was five in the evening and that is when I decided to take my bike towards Guptar Ghat. A hangout spot, the place is a perfect destination for boating, munching on corn cobs and the famous chokha baati that one can indulge in for hours.

The last and final day was booked for the famous and controversial Ram Mandir. It isn’t an easy task to visit the Ram Mandir as one has to get through around four to five serious check points and no camera or even phone is allowed. Visiting and exploring the Ram Mandir is a time-taking task for which one needs to have atleast three hours of time in hand.

As I had refueled the rented bike in the afternoon, I decided to utilise all of it. I rode all the way to the outskirts of the city. Around 10 to 12 kilometers from the city towards Gorakhpur are two villages named ‘Lolpur’ and ‘Ismailpur’ which caught my attention on the way.

After riding for around 40 kilometres on the highway, I returned back to Ayodhya and visited my last destination which was Saryu Ghat and Ram Paidi Ghat on Saryu river. I clicked some pictures as memories and went back to the hotel and returned the motorcycle to its owner and took the train back to Delhi.

As told to Jayashree Narayanan by Hari  Mahendara Pratap Singh

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