Valmiki sang that in days of yore there were two powerful kingdoms in sun-bright Hindustan, and these were Koshala, whose king was Dasharatha, father of Rama, and Mithila, which was ruled over by Janaka, the father of beauteous Sita.
Now the capital of Koshala was Ayodhya, which shone in splendor like to Indra’s celestial city; it had full streets with large dwellings, richly decorated temples, towering like mountains, and grand and noble palaces. In the palace gardens, there were numerous birds and flowers, shady groves of fruit trees, and lakes gemmed with bee-loved lotuses; the soft winds were wont to beat back the white water-blooms from the honey bees as coy maidens are withheld by the impulses of modesty from their eager lovers. Birds disported on the gleaming lakes, kingfishers were angered to behold themselves mirrored in the depths, thinking they gazed upon rivals, and ruffled the waters with their flapping wings.
The city of Ayodhya was full of prosperous and happy people.
Maharajah Dasharatha, who was of the Solar Race, dwelt in a stately palace; it was surrounded by strong walls and guarded by a thousand warriors fierce as flames of consuming fire and ever watchful like to mountain lions which protect their dens. Eight sage counselors served the monarch with devotion, and he had two family priests, Vashishtha and Vamadeva.
But although Dasharatha was mighty and powerful, and prospered greatly, his heart was full of sorrow because that no son had been born to him by either of his three queens, Kaushalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra.