Harischandra, in Hindu religious texts is the 28th king of the Solar Dynasty. His legend is very popular and often told as a benchmark for an ideal life. He was renowned for his piety and justice. His name is Sanskrit for "having golden splendour". Harischandra had two unique qualities. The first being, he kept his word and never went back on what he uttered as a promise. The other being, he never uttered a lie in his life. These twin qualities were tested heavily in his life by various circumstances that led him to penury and separation from his family. But he stood to his principles in the face of all ordeals and persevered to become a symbol of courage. He ruled over Ayodhya long before Dasaratha the father of Lord Rama.
The story as it has come down to us has many variations from the original narration in the Markandeya Purana (Books VII and VIII) (download original text).