The holy city of Ayodhya is located in Uttar Pradesh and is also one of the Sapta Puris of India. Rich in heritage, this ancient city is also the birthplace of lord Ram, the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself. Pilgrims and tourists from all over the world make it a point to visit this holy place and offer their prayers. Gracing the banks of Saryu River Ayodhya is known for its religious significance and historical richness dating back to 5th or 6th century. Ever since the construction of the iconic Ram Mandir the footfall has increased tenfold to Ayodhya. This erstwhile capital of the Kosala Kingdom and Ram Janmabhoomi has gained a lot of prominence as the centre for Hinduism.
Ancient and Mediaeval History of Ram Mandir
Ramayan is one of the most important written epic that is highly regarded and worshipped by the Hindus. The main character of the epic is centred around Lord Ram, an incarnation of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu. As per Ramayan, Lord Ram was born in Ayodhya which has earned it the name of Ram Janmabhoomi. In order to honour the birthplace, a temple dedicated to the lord was constructed. However, during the 16th century Mughal invasion the temple was brutally attacked by Babur’s forces. They carried out temple raids on massive rates all across the North Indian Temples. The Mughal forces also continued to build mosques on top of the destroyed temples as a mark of their dominance and a way of defying their territory.
Babri Masjid was the mosque constructed on top of the destroyed temple of Lord Ram. The earliest record of the mosque can be traced back to 1767 that was authored by the Jesuit Missionary. He had mentioned that the mosque was built by destroying the Ramkot Temple that was the fortress of Ram in Ayodhya, where the birthplace of ram is situated. The very first instance of religious violence related to Ram Mandir and Babri Masjid issue was documented in 1853. In 1858, British occupied India, the British administration prohibited all forms of puja rituals to take place inside the premises of the contested site. In order to accommodate the still unhappy Hindus, a platform was constructed outside the mosque.
Modern History of Ram Mandir
During 1949, after the end of British rule in India, Murtis of lord ram and Sita Mata were installed inside the Babri Masjid premises. As a way of showing solidarity, Hindus and devotees had started gathering to offer prayer from the very next day itself. By the 1950s, the state took complete control of the mosque under the curfew section of CrPC 145. They even allowed just the Hindus from entering the premises to offer their prayer and barred the Muslim population from entering the site.
In 1980, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or the VHP, a Hindu nationalist family or the Sangh Parivar launched a brand new movement that called for a reclamation of the site for Hindus. Their primary aim was to get a temple constructed dedicated to the infant Ram or Ram Lalla on the spot. The VHP began to collect funds and bricks with Jai Shri Ram engraved on them. The government under Rajiv Gandhi had given permission for the Shilanyas or the foundation laying ceremony for the temple construction to begin. Initially it was mutually agreed by the government of India and the government of Uttar Pradesh, that the Shilanyas will take place just outside the disputed site. Later on in November 1989, a group of VHP leaders and sadhus dug up a 200 litre pit and laid the foundation stone just adjacent to the disputed land. This was followed by the construction of the Singhdwar or the main entrance to the sanctum sanctorum. In 1992 a major rally was conducted by the VHP, BJP and a group of 150,000 volunteers known as Karsevaks. Gradually the rally turned extremely violent and the crowd overwhelmed the security forces. They barged into the mosque premises and tore down the masjid.
Expectedly, this led to a lengthy inter-communal violence between the Indian Hindus and Indian Muslims that went on for months at a stretch. This resulted in the death of 2,000 innocents in Mumbai. This was the direct consequence of the tearing down of the mosque that triggered riots all across the Indian subcontinent. Just a day after the mosque demolition it was reported that 30 Hindu temples across Pakistan and a few other Hindu temples in Bangladesh were attacked. The violence seemed never ending. In July of 2005, five terrorists had attacked a makeshift Ram temple on the site of the destroyed Babri Masjid. A shooting war with the CRPF ensued that resulted in the encounter death of all the five terrorists.
Legal Dispute behind Ram Mandir
In the excavations conducted by the archaeological survey of India during 1978 and 2003, evidence of Hindu temple remains were found indicating the existence of Ram Mandir on the site. However, the left leaning archaeologists undermined these findings. Over the course of several years, various legal disputes took place that included the acquisition of certain areas at Ayodhya act in 1993. It was only after the iconic Supreme Court’s verdict in 2019 that this Ayodhya dispute was resolved. The disputed land was handed over to a trust formed by the government of India for the construction of Ram Mandir. This trust was eventually formed under the name of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra. Finally in 2020, it was announced in the parliament of India that the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepted the plan to get the temple constructed. Just two days after the landmark judgement, 5 acres of land was allocated for a new mosque to be built 22 kms away from Ayodhya in Dhannipur Village.
About The Presiding Deity
Ram Lalla Virajman is the infant form of lord ram, the 7th avatar of Lord Vishnu. He is the presiding deity of the temple. The dress Ram Lalla is wearing inside the sanctum sanctorum was stitched by the iconic tailors, Bhagwat Prasad and Shankar Lal, who is a 4th generation tailor to lord ram’s idol. Ram Lalla was also a litigant in the court case over the disputed site in 1989. He was considered as a juristic person by the law. He was represented by Trilokinath Pandey, a senior VHP leader and the closest human friend of lord ram. As per the temple trust, the final blueprint of the temple includes dedication to Surya, Ganesh, Shiv, Durga, Vishnu and Brahma. The sanctum sanctorum or the Garbha Griha to the temple holds two idols of the deity with one of them being 5 years old and a new one was made by a Karnataka based sculptor Arun Yogiraj whose idol was selected via a nation-wide voting process.
Ayodhya is also home to the famous Hanuman Garhi, a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman along with the famous Sita Ki Rasoi, the exact site that is believed to be the place where Sita Mata had cooked meals during her stay in Ayodhya. The annual Deepotsav held during the time of Diwali is a sight to behold wherein thousands and lakhs of record breaking earthen Diyas are lit showcasing the spiritual and cultural vibrancy of this place.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. Who Built The Ram Mandir In Ayodhya?
Ans. The Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra built the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.
Q2. What Is So Special About Ram Mandir?
Ans. Ram Mandir is built on lord ram’s birthplace or also known as Ram Janmabhoomi.
Q3. Who Were The Two Children Of Ram And Sita?
Ans. Lav and Kush were the two children of Ram Sita.
Q4. How Much Money Was Spent On Ram Mandir Construction?
Ans. 18,000 crore rupees was used for the completion and construction of the Ram Mandir.
Q5. What Is The Old Name Of Ayodhya?
Ans. Saketa is the old name of Ayodhya.