Ayodhya

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Ayodhya

Ayodhya (əyōd´yə) or Ajodhya (əjōd´yə), former town, Uttar Pradesh state, N India, on the Ghaghara River. It is a joint municipality with Faizabad. Ayodhya was the capital of the kingdom of Kosala (7th cent. BC). Long associated with Hindu legend of Rama and his father Dasharatha (see Ramayana), the town is a center of pilgrimage and is one of the seven sites sacred to Hindus. In the late 1980s it became the center of Muslim-Hindu tensions, and in 1992 fundamentalist Hindus pulled down the 16th-century Babri mosque that they alleged stood on the site of Rama's birthplace. In 2003 the Archaeological Survey of India reported that remains of a structure with features like those of Hindu temple were underneath the mosque. A 2009 report on the razing by former Indian Supreme Court Justice M. S. Liberhan accused many prominent Hindu nationalists of planning, supporting, or failing to prevent the attack, and named A. B. Vajpayee and other Bharatiya Janata party leaders as being among those who were in some way culpable. The site of the razed mosque has long been a source of contention; a lawsuit over ownership of the site that dated to 1950 was decided only in 2010. The decision divided the land between Hindus and Muslims, but parties on both sides announced plans for appeals, and in 2011 the supreme court suspended the ruling. Ayodhya was formerly called Oudh.

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