Written by Valay Singh and published by Aleph (2018), Ayodhya: City of Faith, City of Discord is a biography of the city Ayodhya. Over thousands of years, Ayodhya has been a place of reverence for many faiths; but it has also been a place of violence, bloodshed and ill-will. Going back almost 3,300 years to the time Ayodhya is first mentioned, Valay Singh traces Ayodhya’s history, showing its transformation from an insignificant outpost to a place sought out by kings, fakirs, renouncers and reformers and, later, becoming the centre-stage in Indian politics and the political imagination.
But what is the history of Ram and is the Ayodhya that we know today, the same as the Ayodhya described in Balmiki’s Ramayana?
A panel of speakers that included Romila Thapar, Kunal Chakrabarti, Zoya Hasan, and Valay Singh, discussed this and other questions at the book launch of Ayodhya: City of Faith, City of Discord in New Delhi. Kunal Chakrabarti, professor of History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, talked about how there is no conclusive archaeological evidence of a temple at the Ramjanmabhumi; the evolution of Ram in the many versions of Ramayana that have been introduced over the centuries and more.