Amongst all the Indian scriptures, Ramayana and Mahabharata are known as “Itihasa” meaning Iti- This ha – like this sah – happened. Amongst all the versions of Ramayana, Valmiki Ramayana is the oldest and the authentic version. Mahabharata is composed by Vyasa Maharshi and fortunately, there are no other versions. These two works are called epics – Itihasas and they are more like journals. They contain a record of events as described and nothing else. The beauty and greatness of the authors lies in using poetic language and exemplary descriptions in whatever small portions they could get their hands on. But just for the use of poetic language, these scriptures are mistaken as nothing but poetic works instead of historic journals.
So yes, Ramayana and Mahabharata did happen really and as described.
If you consider the timeline of these two events, Ramayana happened at least 8,80,000 years ago (5,000 odd years of Kaliyuga + 8,64,000 years for Dwapara Yuga + 11,000 years of rule by Lord Rama in Treta Yuga). Just because of the duration, it is very difficult to obtain a large amount of evidences as very few can survive the onslaught of nature and many of the places will be and have been modified, relocated, renamed and/or destroyed by the later generation Kings.
Coming to Mahabharata, the same happened and very few places and artifacts survived for 5,000 years, most of them were damaged or disfigured. But Mahabharata is closer to the present time and hence compared to Ramayana, we can find many evidences of Mahabharata although many aspects suffered the same fate as those of Ramayana.
Just because Ramayana and Mahabharata are real and are associated with Lord Rama and Krishna respectively, many people have later tried to relate some places and incidents with them falsely. We need to study the actual scriptures to verify their authenticity and preserve our culture and the tradition instead of blindly believing everything or rejecting everything.