Let us, now see, what vAlmiki rAmAyaNa says:
Vol. 1 bAlakAnda (Vol. of childhood of rAma.
Chapter or sarga 22.
Verse or SlOka 10.
adhyardha yOjanam gatvA
sarayvaa dakShiNE taTE
rAmA iti madhuraam vANIm
Rama and LakshmaNa were accompanying the Sage viSvAmitra, at his behest, to protect his sacrifice which was being disturbed by demons.
After walking 1.5 yOjanas (12 miles or 18 km.), on the right (or southern) bank of sarayu river, visvAmitra spoke to rAma in a sweet voice.
(He was going to impart the powers of 'bala' and 'atibala' to rAma and lakshmaNa, which will protect them from hunger and thirst).
There is no indication of Sage viSvAmitra, rAma and lakshmaNa crossing the sarayu river. That means, they were walking on the Northern bank of the river if we have to take into account the factual present location of Ayodhya.
If we have to accept the vAlmiki rAmAyana's verse 1-22-10 that viSvAmtra was speaking on the southern-right bank of sarayu, ayOdhya should be on the southern bank.
After the bestowal of bala and atibala is complete, the Sage and rAma Bros. sleep on the banks of sarayu. The Sage, woke up rAma and lakshmaNa next morning, by singing the famous verse:
kausalyA suprajA rAmA
pUrvaa sandhyaa pravartate
uttiShTha nara SArdUlA
kartavyam daivam Ahnikam.
tau prayAntau mahaavIryau
divyam tripathagaam nadIm
dadrushaa tE tataH tatra
sarayvAH sangamE shubhE.
After travelling (some distance) the great warriors saw the Confluence of the River Ganges and the River sarayu.
Where is the confluence of ganga and sarayu rivers?
1.Ballia, Ballia District in Bihar. This town is on the left bank of ganga. Distance from ayOdhya is 243 km. About 5 hrs. journey by bus.
2. ChApra, in bIhar.
The air distance between ChAprA and ayOdhya is 270 km. Road distance is 309 km. Even if a person goes by a good car, it takes nearly 5/6 hours. viSvAmitra, rAma and lakshmaNa walked.
In both of the above case, assuming that they could walk 30 km. in the morning and 30 km. in the evening, the journey takes 6 days. The first day they slept on the banks of sarayu 18 km. from ayOdhya.
The remaining five days they might have slept on the banks of the same river. Since the poet has not described any further sleeping and waking before reaching the confluence, we have to presume that ayOdhya is about 40 km. West of ChApra, which is the confluence of sarayu and ganga, hence the surroundings of the town Ballia.
This ballia is said to be the place where God Shiva reduced the Cupid to ashes and made him ananga (body-less). Sage viSvAmitra narrated this story to rAma and LakshmaNa, before putting them to sleep. The next day, they had to cross the River Ganga.
In post #121 I discussed the location of the five mounts and kishkindha (city of vAnarAs who helped rAma).
In post #122 I discussed the location of danDakAraNya (forest named 'danDaka').
A compulsion, has now arisen, to discuss the location of birth-place ayOdhya, because of long distances involved.
A trigger has pressed me because I noticed a predominance of bIhar-related places in rAmAyaNa main events i.e. 1) wedding of rAma and Sita 2) abduction of Sita 3) hanumAn crossing lanka 4) Lanka's probable location in bIhar.
I have to re-write some of the posts made here - dealing with locations. This is because we cannot blindly accept the stories in circulation at tourist places, or mentioned in the vAlmiki rAmAyaNa itself. We cannot, at the same time make wild guesses without strong reasons.
I have written at another blog-post that Ayodhya could be the 'ayOdhyAganj' in samElI tahsil, katihAr District of bIhar.
One problem in recognising 'ayOdhyaganj' as the 'birth-ayOdhya' is, it doesn't have the river Sarayu. A resident of the 'ayOdhyaganj bajar' said that the name 'ayodhya' was added to their place after independence, in honor of one Shri 'ayOdhya Singh' a local ruler of the place of those days. Hence, I am closing this item.
If we must have river sarayu beside ayOdhya, and yet the place to be in bIhar or in UP-bIhar border, the best place which suits the need is the 'chApra', the District Headquarters of 'SaraN' in bIhAr. It borders Eastern U.P. It is on the banks of river ghAghra (another name for river sarayu). The confluence of the River sarayu and ganga is also nearby. Real ayOdhya will have to be about 60 km. North west of chAprA.
One important problem which crops up while accepting chApra as birth place of rAma is, we miss the yamunA river. Sita, rAma and lakshmaNa, in their journey of exile to forest, were helped by the tribal king Guha to cross the river Ganga. Thereafter they go to the hermitage of Sage bhAradvAja.
They cross river Yamuna, later, making a basket-boat with bamboos and creepers. If faizAbad-allahAbad-citrakUT first journey-path is taken as sacrosanct, we have to totally ignore the chapra-allahabad-citrakUT route totally.
DISTANCE BETWEEN AYODHYA AND GANGA RIVER (Allahabad).
The minister sumantra, carried Sita, rAma and lakshmaNa in chariot to the banks of River Ganga for crossing the river and proceeding into the forest exile. Now, we have seen the factual physical location of ayOdhya today is on the North of River sarayu.
Question: Without crossing the River sarayu, how could sumantra transport Sita-rAma-lakshmaNa to River Ganga? Crossing that sacred river Sarayu, how could poet vAlmiki omit? Here, the implication is ayOdhya is on the southern side of sarayu, and for reaching ganga from the town, it was not necessary to cross sarayu.
Question 2: The nearest Ganga North bank to Ayodhya is Allahabad (prayAg)(Shringvarpur 20km. North of Allahabad). The road distance between ayOdhya and allahabad is 134 km. at least 3 hours journey even if we use a car. rAma, after his marriage with SIta was assisting his father daSaratha in ruling Ayodhya, for 17 years. It is not clear whether he laid any track between AyOdhya and prayAga. On a rough forest terrain, it should have at least taken 2 days for sumantra.
If sumantra could easily transport Sita, Rama and Lakshmana to Ganga River in his chariot, on the same day by evening, so that they can sleep on the Ganga's bank for that night, as Tribal King guha's guest, the place can neither be ChApra nor AllahAbad.
Added on May 19, 2012:
The renowned historian, late H.T.Sankalia, opined that rAmAyaNa's locale ought to be in chOTA nAgpur region.
As has already been discussed by me in my post on mandhara parvat, I felt that bhagalpur or deoghar with its trikUT hills should be the Lanka. I have tried to estimate that hanumAn swam/leaped along/across the River Ganga and its islands which were as frightening as a sea, when in floods. HanumAn also belonged to pAlkot - Anjan village with risyamOOka mountain in gumla District of Jharkhand.
In the circumstances, rAma's ayOdhya cannot be far away from the Northern bank of ganga River. The begusarai District, katihar District, munger District, vaishAli District of bIhar have all the potential to be the original motherland of ayOdhya. Besides, ikshvAkus ruled the vaishAli District. The ikshvAku king viShAla, according to valmiki rAmAyaN , Vol.1, bAlakAnda, met Sage visvAmitra, rAmA and lakshmaNa, near his hermitage which was around chApra.
I earlier thought that ayOdhya ganj, kursEla, katIhar Dt. could be the ancient ayOdhya. But, fortunately, a netizen from kursEla corrected me that ayOdhyaganj was named after a local ayOdhya Singh, in 1947. They may be right. But the chronicle of battle of Buxar of the 18th Century, made a reference to two places 'ayOdhya ganj' and 'british ganj' on the path of advancement of the British forces from Calcutta towards Buxar. Anyway, I have lost hope on ayodhya ganj.
But I did not lose hope on an Eastern Ayodhya being in vaishAli Area of Bihar, ruled by ikshvAkus who have the same ancestors as dasaratha ikshvAkus of western ayOdhya. I am tempted to temporarily make a wild guess here, for the time being, and leave the readers to bang me.
dasaratha and his sons ruled the Eastern Ayodhya kingdom, apart from vishAla who might have ruled the northern vaishAli. dasaratha's domain might have been the northern bank of ganga, adjoining bhagalpur ie. begusarAi and munger Districts. A village by name 'ajodhya' exists in pusA tehsil of munger Distict. rAvaNa was a neighbrhood king on the other side of ganga. He abducted rAma's wife and took her southwards to bhagalpur/deoghar/trikUT. If we have to bring in risyamook of palkoT, anjan village of hanuman, into picture as locations of kishkindha, we have to shift lanka from bhagalpur to deoghar,trikUT or further downward by another 30 km.
rAma after killing rAvaNa near trikUT travelled back to ajOdhya of munger, and coronated himself. This becomes our rAma paTTAbhishEkam or coronation of rAma story. valmiki, sitAmarhi, janakpur, all to the North of ajodhya, munger, match the storyline. Only thing we miss yamuna river, Sarayu river (Sone river).
rAma after becoming a full-pledged king of Eastern ajOdhya, might have expanded his kingdom upto phaizabad-ayOdhya and Lucknow. He might have built another fort there and shifted his capital to the new ayOdhya. When a washerman spoke derogatively about Sita's chastity, he might have abandoned her in the vindhyAchal forests of mirzApur. During his rule at Western ayOdhya, rama and Sita might have visited chitrakUT of South UP and madhya Pradesh.
These are only some speculations. I do not claim this as history. I am placing these for open discussion and brain-storming so that something more dependable emerges from the citizens of Eastern UP, bIhar, jhArkhand, chattisgadh, and madhya pradesh.
Readers of South India can also contribute, but I am afraid that we cannot associate rAmAyaNa with bhadracalam, nAsik, bellAri, Sabarimalai, rAmeSwaram and other places, including rAmasEtu and Adam's bridge. This is because we have to be practical and realistic. We cannot make blind guesses. Yet, I welcome ideas.
(Will be re-edited and re-posted after obtaining fresh evidence).