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As the saying goes, the Ram was gone and so was his Ayodhya; I knew this only too well. Sita was underground; Lakshman, ostracized; Ramchandra’s youthful frame had long been borne away by the Sarayu. And the irresistible steamroller of time had pulverized the magnificent capital of the Koshals to dust.


The modern town, 90 miles long and 36 miles wide, was nothing like the one described in The Ramayana. Maybe the ruins of the kingdom of Ayodhya were still buried somewhere under millions of tons of soil. Then where had this Ayodhya turned up from—this janmabhumi, Kaushalya Bhavan, Kaikeyi’s chambers? Or Raja Dasharath’s Durbar or Kanak Bhavan, for that matter? Were all of these only for show? Made to order?


Archaeologists had still not been able to find the original Ayodhya, but that made no difference—there were realistic reasons for which it was necessary to prop up another Ayodhya. A legend was required, and whenever there is a need for one, it is King Vikramaditya with his scent of mythology who is summoned from the shadows of history.

Exiled from Ayodhya by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay

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