Heritage · Photography

Finding Peace In Ayodhya

I first visited Ayodhya, land of Rama, in December 2021.

It was a city doused in the colour yellow. The golden haze of the winter sun enveloped the walls and the building by the side of the road which lead to the city center. Coincidentally all of them seemed to be painted in a cheery yellow.

A yellow mansion with jharokha and statues of two lions perched on the roof, in the heartland of India, Ayodhya.
Lions on the roof.

It was like driving along my very own yellow brick road to Oz.

Elegant mansions with ornate doorways, screamed grandeur, the kinds that one doesn’t see in an urban landscape these days.

A man cycles past an old building with a richly decorated doorway that has carving and statues placed in niches around the entrance. Nearby an elderly man with a child sits with a new motorcycle parked in front of them.
Mellow yellow.

The colours-ochre, lemon, sepia.

Was sepia triggering my nostalgia?

The pace of life felt languid, almost peaceful.

Blazing saffron and red flags fluttered by the roadside that proclaimed, ‘Jai Shri Ram’.

Rows of saffron and red flags with pictures of Ram, Hanuman and Jai Shri Ram printed on them, line alongside the road, for sale in Ayodhya.
Waving Flags

Behind them, ramshackle shops, some in better condition, stood in a row.

My eyes scrambled to take in all.

Painted and plain statues of gods and goddesses, Hanuman, Durga are lined in a row against a brick wall in Ayodhya, India
Divine Procession

Confections, statues of gods and goddesses, gleaming brass curios, all available for sale. Food carts and restaurants that catered to desi tastebuds. Aloo-puri, chole-bhature, thali, jalebi, lassi, chai.

It was a familiar India, the one I remember from my childhood. Of simpler times when smartphones and flashy shopping malls did not exist. Neither did McDonald’s nor Burger King.

A colourful motorboat with a saffron Hanuman flag on its roof fluttering in the wind, sails across the grey waters of river Saryu whose grey sandbanks loom in the background.
Colour pop

I for one was charmed to be in Ayodhya. I was able to see the places I had only heard of in the stories of Rama.

A sadhu walks across the black and white checkered floor of Kanak Mahal in Ayodhya whose richly decorated walls, numerous doorways and a wooden balcony is visible in the background.

Dashrath Mahal, Kanak Mahal, Sankatmochan, Ram Mandir, Saryu.

Names that I repeated like a mantra as we wandered to check them off our list.

Luckily, they were all famous landmarks and close by.

Then a few more which have become famous thanks to the religious tourism, Sita ki rasoi and the Karyashala.

A bench is placed under an enormous tree with cows peacefully walking, people gathered around Bharat Kund’s water body that reflects this idyllic scene.
Idyllic dream

Then there was Bharat Kund.

Peaceful. Serene.

This sleepy hamlet had a dozen temples where chants of Sita-Ram played in a loop. The locals went about their day, unbothered by our curiosity.

A crowded scene at the river bank, a temporary shelter made of bamboo and straw under which a pandit sits to conduct gau puja with calves covered in bright yellow stoles while they eat their grains from a small dish placed on the floor.
Slice of life

There was a calmness I felt just sitting still and watching the world go by.

Last December, a magic makeover of the city was in progress. Old facades were being pulled, the quaint shops no longer where I saw them. Even the yellow brick road to the city centre had lost its sunny look.

A mural of Rama in Ayodhya as he lies on his back, serenely gazing at you. His golden crown with the sun prominently placed, contrasts sharply with his blue skin and background.
Blue gaze

I wonder whether the India of my childhood be still there when I visit it next.

Lens- artists challenge : Finding peace


21 thoughts on “Finding Peace In Ayodhya

    1. Thank you, Tatiana. Ayodhya is a religious town, setting for India’s best known epic, Ramayana. The unhurried pace of life caught me by surprise. It was such a refreshing change from the frantic frenzy of an urban city. It definitely made it so much more interesting.


  1. Beautifully painted with words and equally beautifully captured pictures. Love it! Thanks for the darshan.

    And the places which correspond with the stories… I wonder whether they were built to fit in the story or the story was tweaked to characterise the places…Ram Jane! 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The darshan is not complete till I don’t narrate the trip to Ram Mandir, Manjari. That’s coming up next.😊

      As for the places corresponding to the stories, honestly the same thoughts floated in my head. A place with so much history, mythology, faith and the lines are blurred. I just went with the flow.


    1. Happy to show you Ayodhya like this, Sarah. It is primarily a religious town and now with the grandest of all temple coming up (Ram Mandir), it has captured the imagination of all Indians. Hence the makeover I mentioned. We wait and watch.😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Always stunning to see a different pace of life vs the one we’re most used to Sheetal. For me it’s just the opposite – I live in a quiet place surrounded by nature and when I visit family in places like NYC or Phoenix it’s quite jarring for me! I love the excitement of the chaos but am always happy to return home. I suspect it’s the same for you. While you may love exploring places like Ayodhya I suspect your are more comfortable with the sounds and sights of your busier home. Loved the journey you took us on this week and although I’ve never heard of Ayodhya I found it mesmerizing to see it through your images and thoughts. Thank you for the beautiful introduction!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tina, your words resonated with me. True, I’m a city girl and I love the lights, the sounds, the chaotic energy of my life. So I suppose the laid back charms of Ayodhya got me. Happy you enjoyed the trip to the Indian heartland.


  3. This was interesting, and I loved that you took us though the cities as you remembered them, and had a checklist to do so. Love that you took photos of people in their life, just living it. And I smiled at the cows near the water, just doing their thing too. A great trip down memory lane with you. I loved the boat photo and something tells me when you go back again, even it it is different, your memories are intact and can be shared. Very nice Sheetal. Thank you for sharing your peace. .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, you couldn’t have said it better. 😊
      I never felt more touristy than this one time in my own country, enraptured by every sight, sound and smell while the locals went about their day as usual. For all this and more, Ayodhya will always be special.
      Happy you enjoyed this trip with me.

      Liked by 1 person

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