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    PM Narendra Modi likely to travel to Ayodhya on August 5 for Ram Mandir ‘Bhumi Pujan’

    Synopsis

    RSS and VHP are planning a series of meetings to publicise the ‘shubharambh’ (auspicious beginning) under the leadership of RSS joint general Secretary Krishna Gopal.

    Ram Mandir construction: PM Modi likely to visit Ayodhya on August 5 for foundation laying ceremony
    NEW DELHI: In his first visit to Ayodhya as the PM, Narendra Modi is likely to travel to the temple town for ‘bhumi pujan’ (foundation stone-laying ceremony) of Ram Mandir on August 5. The ceremony, which is likely to have 100-150 guests, will mark the beginning of temple construction which could take about three years to complete. Union home minister Amit Shah, defence minister Rajnath Singh and UP CM Yogi Adityanath are likely to be among the invitees.

    A final confirmation from the Prime Minister’s Office is awaited. “We are expecting the PM on August 5. A maximum of 100-150 people will be in attendance. All government directions in view of the coronavirus situation will be followed,” Kameshwar Chaupal, one of the trustees of the Ram Temple Trust told ET.

    The RSS and VHP are planning a series of meetings under the leadership of RSS joint general Secretary Krishna Gopal to publicise the “shubharambh” (auspicious beginning)" and showcase it as "rashtra mandir," a structure that according to a senior RSS functionary will reflect "the Hindu consciousness and national spirit." The Ram Temple would be the biggest site for Hindus, like Mecca is for Muslims and Vatican City is for the Christians, Chaupal told ET.

    August 5 also happens to be the anniversary of the Modi government’s other landmark decision of abrogating Article 370 in J&K. Chaupal said it was an auspicious date. “The temple could take 32-36 months to build once the work starts,” he said.

    The foundation work will take three to five months, after which the stone-laying work would take six to eight months. This could mean the temple would be ready to be inaugurated by Modi before the 2024 general elections, another trustee, not willing to be identified, told ET.

    The ongoing work could help BJP in the 2022 UP elections and a crowd-funded campaign for the temple involving 10 crore families will help build the momentum, BJP leaders in UP say. This mass campaign, VHP working president Alok Kumar, told ET will begin after Diwali, when the organisation plans to reach out to 10 crore families in four lakh villages. Modi has never been to Ayodhya as the PM. “All the seers and saints want him to come this time,” Chaupal said.

    Bigger Temple

    The proposed temple premises would now be spread to 108 acres than the 68 acres presently and temple’s height will be 161 feet instead of 128 feet as proposed earlier. The deity would be seen by visitors from a distance of ten feet. Chaupal said the temple premises and the temple itself will be bigger as a huge number of devotees are expected to come here from across the world and all parts of India and space is needed to accommodate 5000-10000 devotees at a given time.

    “The grandeur and divinity of the temple have been kept in mind while increasing the size,” he said. This, officials said, was in line with the Modi Government's desire to have a grand temple and Home Minister Amit Shah earlier saying a “gagan-chumbi bhavya mandir (tall and grand temple)” would come up in Ayodhya.

    The new temple "will be much bigger than the originally planned one, more spacious than Somnath Temple and any of vast Swaminarayan temples," and will have a unique Vaishnava shikhar with all avatars of lord Vishnu, and will be made largely of Bansi Paharpur Stone, architect CB Sompura told ET.

    “We have added a dome each on both sides. We have increased the height and length of the temple. Somnath has only two mandaps (gateway to the temple). The Ram temple will have five. The corridor will have five to seven smaller temples,” he said. The stones carved by volunteers at VHP Ramsewakpuram will also be used, Sompura added.

    A Sita temple is planned along with a museum for the artefacts recently excavated from the site. Sompura’s company along with Larsen & Toubro (L&T) will build the temple, Trust’s general secretary Champat Rai has said. “The former is the only company with experience of building such large temples. L&T will provide all help,” a trustee said.

    According to trustees, the bhumi pujan will be a "grand, symbolic" affair and will be broadcast through TV all over the country. In the internal meetings of the Sangh in the last one year, it was emphasised multiple times by RSS leaders that the organisation has to make the reality of the Ram Temple, told to people "as a story of the Hindu community's win over years of humiliation by Muslim aggressors," and ensure it becomes etched in public memory.

    The changes to the Ram Temple model first designed three decades ago and widely advertised to mobilise the Hindu community, are also being finalized.

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