A group of devotees dressed as characters from the Ramayana, the epic that narrates the life of Lord Ram, flew to Ayodhya on January 11, 2024, to witness the grand opening of the Ram temple. The passengers, who boarded the first direct flight from Ahmedabad to Ayodhya, were among the thousands of pilgrims who are flocking to the holy city for the historic event.
The flight was operated by IndiGo, which has launched new routes to connect Ayodhya with other major cities in India. The airline had inaugurated its first flight to Ayodhya from Delhi on January 6, the same day that Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the Maharishi Valmiki International Airport. The airport, which aims to promote tourism and pilgrimage in the region, will soon have flights from Mumbai as well.
The devotees, who wore costumes of Lord Ram, Lakshman, Sita, and Hanuman, said they were thrilled to visit the Ram temple, which stands on the spot where Lord Ram is believed to have been born. They also said they hoped to see the temple, which has been the subject of a long-running legal and religious dispute, which was resolved by the Supreme Court in 2019. The temple’s construction began on August 5, 2020, after PM Modi laid the foundation stone amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The temple, which follows the Nagara style of architecture, will have a height of 161 feet and a width of 270 feet. It will have five domes, 360 pillars, and 106 spires. It will also house a museum, a library, a research center, and a food court. The temple complex will span 67 acres, which will also feature a garden, a water body, and a meditation center.
The temple’s consecration ceremony, which is expected to draw lakhs of devotees from across the country and abroad, will take place on January 22, which coincides with the Basant Panchami festival. The ceremony will be conducted by the temple’s chief priest, Satyendra Das, along with other priests and dignitaries. The ceremony will include various rituals, such as the installation of the idol of Lord Ram, the invocation of the deities, and the offering of prayers. The ceremony will also be live-streamed on various platforms, such as TV, radio, and social media.