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How India Is Transforming the Small Pilgrim Town of Ayodhya Into a World-Class City

The northern Indian town of Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram, is being transformed into a “Hindu Vatican”.
How India Is Transforming the Small Pilgrim Town of Ayodhya Into a World-Class City

$3.85B construction work begins in the northern Indian city of Ayodhya. Many construction workers are bulldozing much of the small town in light of the makeover. Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram, an important figure in Hinduism, which is why many Hindus want a shrine there.

An image of the Babri Masjid mosque being destroyed by Hindu nationalists in 1992.

Hindus worldwide are exhilarated by the new temple, which will replace a mosque built in the 16th century. This mosque, named Babri Masjid, was torn down by Hindu mobs in 1992, which led to nationwide riots that shook the country and killed thousands. Though the riots affected many Hindus and Muslims nationwide, today they share warm relations. A local college professor, Raghuvansh Mani, states that “The sectarian strife originated from outside; the local people have minimal involvement in that”.

The ownership of the plot of land where the former Babri Masjid stood was debated between Hindus and Muslims until 2019 when it was given to Hindus by the Supreme Court despite them saying that the destruction of the mosque was a violation of the law. However, the Supreme Court did give Muslims a separate plot of land in Ayodhya to construct a mosque.

Many months before the general elections, PM Modi had already opened the shrine, believing that the temple would “unify India”. Rajnath Singh, a senior minister, claims it would be the “beginning of India’s cultural revival and restoration of national pride”. Critics say that this opening is more of a political strategy than a religious movement, as it will build Hindu nationalism and overall improve the BJP’s influence on the country (The BJP, or Bharatiya Janata Party, is the largest political party in the world, which Modi is a member of).

When fully complete, though Modi had just released the first floor on 22 January, the site will expect to meet over 150,000 tourists and pilgrims by the end of the year. This is seven times the current rate.

The temple itself costs around $217M and is made up of several sandstone arches. An airport, a railway station, and a multi-level parking lot will be built near the site as well. Over 3,000 structures in the city including homes, shops, and religious structures have been partially or completely destroyed to incorporate 4 new major roads running through the city.

Anand Kumar Gupta, who leads an organization of local storeowners, states that over 1,600 of them were displaced. However, they have each been paid around 100,000 rupees ($1,200) to run a shop somewhere else.

Though some are fine with their ancestral houses being partially demolished in compensation for the new temple, others show more anger. Everyone who has had their homes or shops destroyed has been compensated with around 700,000 rupees each in total ($8,500).

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About the Contributor
Mikael Ronaque, Head of Department (World News)/Editor in Chief
Hello. I am Mikael, Head of Department of World News. I am a 7th grader at the time of writing and I edit/publish articles on this website. I am an Indian. I aim to write about various things around the world with as little bias as possible.

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