Descriptions of places in Hindu epics are generally real.
Except of the Poetic License where the writer indulges in hyperbole.
However the basic information about the Topography is correct and verifiable.
Many of the sites mentioned in the Ramayana, Mahabharata,The Vedas have been found now.
Ayodhya, Mathura,Pandyaa Kingdoms, not to speak of the Holy places, Rivers, Mountains and even the Species that thrive in these locations.
At the same time one gets the impression that the areas mentioned are not in The Earth and are located in some other location ,Planet, under the Ocean.
And we have the Lokas, the abode of Beings confusing.
We have , for example, the Surya Loka, Chandra Loka.
While the description of these places make one belive that these are In Heavens, one is floored by the reference to these places in Treatises relating to Astronomy that they are Stars, Planets and their movements are measured, without mentioning the Inhabitants.
These are taken as reference points in studying Astronomy.
Then we have the Philosophical treatises mention these places as indicative of spiritual development.
Chandra is associated(Moon) withe Mind.
In Spiritual development, Chandra loka means an awakening of the mind on its path towards Self realization.
Surya Loka is a heightened state of spiritual development.
While taking about these , the treatises do not talk of these as place of Dwelling, but as a state of Spiritual Development.
The distance of these places from the earth are shown and it is stated that they , Sun and Moon are destroyed during the Dissolution by Brahma(Pralaya), but Pole Satr remains!
Here it becomes tougher to know whether these places are locations or indicative of spiritual development.
Lets us keep this point in mind before proceed further.
Descriptions of Svarga or Heaven remain unchanged in all the Puranas and Ithihasas.
When one reads the original texts and finds that some characters have visited these places form the earth, right from Mandhata to Arjuna, Narada keeps commuting from Heaven to earth, one gets an inkling that these places could be on the earth.
Read the following study.
I am inclined to have an open mind on this as this seems to be on course with the tenets of Hinduism, where Svarga or Naraka ,Heaven or Hell is more of the Mind and its manifestations, not withstanding the Garuda Purana where details of Travel to Heaven is described.
These are mostly allegorical.
One may refer to the ascendency to Heaven by the Pandavas, where the descriptions are of the Himalayas and proceeding further North.
And we have the Meru Mountain , whose description bewilders one.
Please read my post on this.
Now the Heavens are Arctic….
“Despite the prevalent opinion that all gods were inhabitants of heaven, their larger part lived on land, in water or underground. According to Indian and Slavonic legends, gods-incomers (Adityas/Devas and Svarozhichi – Svarozhichs) lived in the land (kingdom) of Indra/Svarog -Svarga/Blue Svarga, the capital of which the majestic city of godsAmaravati was. In spite of the fact that Old Indian written information sources point (indicate) to a different location of Svarga and Amaravati -from the superior planets (Satjaloka, Maharloka, Svargaloka) to some area between Earth and the Sun, of heaven or of the earth surface, in the Second and Third books of the “Mahabharata” (Sabhaparva and Aranyakaparva) more than convincing arguments are given in favour of that Svarga, including Meru mount (Amaravati was on the top of it), Mandara and adjacent mounts with forests,
gardens, parks and orchards, was on the Earth (on land).
Here is how the land of Indra is described in the “Aranyakaparva” in B.L. Smirnov’s translation from Sanscrit and author’s translation from Russian:
«At last the abode (dwelling place) of Shakra, Amaravati, I have seen.
… the Sun there does not bake, neither heat, nor chill do not exhaust,
… There on trees always flowers and fruits, (always)
Leaves turn green;
[There] various ponds, grown with the blue
Lotuses and lilies white, fragrant;
…There winnows a fragrant breeze – vivifying, cool, pure;
… There is possible to see many air chariots,
Flying by in heaven…»…
The “Rigveda”, “Mahabharata”, “Bhagavata purana”, «Laws of Manu»  and other Old Indian texts, and also the Old Iranian “(Zend-)Avesta” place Meru mount  and accordingly Svarga in the far North:
«On the North side, shining, there is mighty Meru… Great Meru, the chaste (pure), good abode (dwelling place). Here set and again [over the Meru] rise Seven divine rishis led by Vasishtha » (the “Mahabharata”);
«On Meru gods see the sun after its one-time rising over a period its path, equal to a half of its circulation round land». «For gods and day and night – a year [human], again divided in two: day – the period of movement of the sun northward, night – the period of movement to the south» («Laws of Manu»).
The “Avesta” also give characteristic features of the polar disposition of Hara mount (Meru): «That they consider by day, that is a year. … there stars, moon, the sun can be seen once a year only rising and setting, and year seems only one day».
Judging by the fragments cited above, Svarga, “Paradise of Indra” or “Paradise of Svarog” was located near to the North pole and, perhaps,were by a part of the disappeared polar continent – Hyperborea. According to the descriptions given in the “Mahabharata”, it was a mountainous country with mounts to the sky, the main of which was Mandara:
«On the North side, shining, stands mighty Meru. The paradise of great god Indra placed on its top. From these mounts the great rivers … fall. At the bottom of Meru – « adobe of gods », Milk ocean is, and before the great mounts Meru sandy sea is stretched out».
Svarga can be compared with Jambudvipa described by Shukadeva Gosvami  in the “Bhagavata purana” . If we clean it from poetic embellishments (such, as trees up to heaven, lakes of honey and milk) it come to the following.
In Jambudvipa there is Sumeru mount. Sumeru is environed by four other mounts: Mandara, Merumandara, Suparshva and Kumuda. On these four mounts mango trees, pink apples trees, kadamba trees and banyan trees grow. Besides, there are a lot of lakes with pure water. There are also gardens, the names of which are Nandana, Chitraratha, Vaibhradzhaka and Sarvatobhadra. Sumeru is surrounded by twenty mountain chains, including Kuranga, Kurara, Kusumbha, Vaikanka and Trikuta. To the East from Sumeru Dzhathara and Devakuta mounts, to the West from Sumeru – Pavana and Pariyatra, to the South – Kailasa and Karavira, and to the North – Trishringa and Makara. On the top of Sumeru there is Brahmapuri, residence of Lord Brahma. Round Brahmapuri are cities of tsar Indra and seven other demigods. Each of these cities is in four times less than Brahmapuri…
Comparing different descriptions of continent of Svarga (Jambudvipa, Hyperborea) among themselves, somebody pays attention at once to their obvious differences. On the one hand, this country was situated near to the North pole «in the area of gloom and snow», «where stars rotate, the Moon and the Sun». On the other hand, there was never cold on it, evergreen trees and flowers grew, larger part of which could grow only in warm tropical climate.
It can be related as with different time of compiling of legends, so with repeated application in the “Mahabharata”, “Ramayana”, “Bhagavata purana” and other Old Indian texts of additions and adjustments (improvements). And, most likely, that and other together.
In my opinion, the fragments given above describe different time – when Svarga represented the country with warm tropical climat and gods-incomers (Adityas, Svarozhichi -Svarozhichs, etc.) lived in it, and when the country, fertile before, had turned out in the area near the North pole (or to the contrary, the North pole moved to it) and had been locked by ice (has been icebound). Judging by the having data, it had happened rather recently (about 12 thousand years ago), and the most possible reason of it was a global catastrophe accompanied by a shift of Earth’s axis. I will tell to you about it in my work “Last days of the Great Northern civilization -the descendants of white gods. What has happened in the Northeastern Asia, Alaska and the shelf of Arctic ocean 12 thousand years ago? The reconstructions on a joint of geology and history“
Attention! This point of view reflects my opinion 3 years ago (relative to 2012). In fact, all was much more intricate. The glaciation of Svarga (Jambudvipa, Hyperborea) began at least 16 million years ago (according to K.Moran, Ya.Bekman, H.Brinkhus, 34 million years ago). Over the past 16 million years, the north pole position repeatedly changed, but all this time it remained in the Arctic region. At the same time the area of the northern continent reduces. The warm climate of Svarga (Jambudvipa, Hyperborea) was in the Paleocene and Eocene epoch (65,5-34 million years ago), called by me the “golden age”, and partly in the Oligocene and Early Miocene epoch (34-16 million years ago ). At this time, Earth was covered by a water-steam envelope, and in the north it was as hot as at the equator. Read about it in the works, annotated with “Hyperborea – the northern native land of mankind,” and on the website.’
This might explain the seeming discrepancy in some geographical descriptions in the Ramayana, especially the location of Lanka.
I shall be writing on this.