The Ramayana depicts Dasrath as the father of the hero, Ram. He fell in love with his second wife Kaikeyi when she tended his wounds after a battle. Kaikeyi was a daughter of the Kaikay king or Caucasus, like the Mahabharat’s Gandhari was from Gandhar, modern day Kandahar.
The word Dasrath would mean a small ruler with just ten chariots. As such, he could not afford a large bride price, but had offered to make their son his successor. Thus Dasrath’s agonising dilemma could have been his devotion to his eldest Ram vs. his promise, rather than the demands of a scheming wife.
Many historians find timing contradictions. The Aryans came south around 800 BC. That places the Ramayan much later or locates it in outside peninsular India? Perhaps the reason for no archeological evidence of the Ramayan locales, as happened in the Mahabharat’s case?
Names of people and places were often common in different places, as people and their stories shift base. Spellings and pronunciations evolve, so different sounds can be etymologically similar. Today of course, the names remain the same like the new cities that sprang up in America, named after older English or European ones.
Is it possible for some of the events of the Ramayan to have occurred elsewhere than Ayodhya on the banks of River Sarayu? Remember: Ayodhya was Oudh in Buddha’s days.
Where to look for Ayodhya and Sarayu? Around Kaikeyi’s home lands?
In present Turkmenistan and Kirghizstan, there is a River Syr Darya, north of the Pamirs (old time Meru?). Close by is the capital city, Andijan, phonetically close to Ayodhya. To its east is Kashi (Kashgar); west is Samarkand known as Markanda in the Puranas, so named by the Macedonian Alexander. Samarkand is one of the oldest inhabited cities in Central Asia, on the Silk Route between China and Rome.
Other researchers point to Heray Rud i.e. Herat river. It flows 1,100 kilometers from the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan to Turkmentistan, where it disappears in the Kara-Kum desert. Rud means "river" in Persian. The Ancient Greeks called it Arius and Romans the Tarius.
200 kilometres (120 mi) upstream from Heart, at the confluence of Herayrud and river Jam stands the Minaret of Jam, the second tallest ancient minaret in the world at 65 metres (213 ft). The river serves as the border between Afghanistan and Iran, and between Iran and Turkmenistan, at different places.
The Rigveda records the Hereyrud as the River Sarayu. It is mentioned as the Horayu in the Avesta. In 2008, archeologists unearthed a Buddhist monastery dasting back to the 1st century, hand-carved into a bluff of the Hereyrud, offering glimpses of the monks’ daily lives.
Until the USSR dissolved, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan supplied water of Amu Darya and Syr Daryu to Kazakhstan, Turkmentan and Uzbekistan in summers. The swap was for coal, gas and electricity in winter for the two givers in summer. Would our quarreling river states could work out such a deal for the benefit of all.