Inside the Story of Ayodhya’s Rama Mandir

GopalJi Nagarakatte, national joint-secretary of VHP, paints a breathtaking picture of the Ayodhya Rama Mandir in his interview – its progress, design, and profound historical significance. With the ground floor complete, the stage is set for the installation of Bala Rama or Rama Lalla murtis. When the construction commenced after the supreme court verdict, a sankalpa was made to perform the prana-pratishtana of Rama Lalla as soon as the construction of the bottom floor was complete. While the prakaara and rest of the 7.5acre temple surroundings may take another two years, the unwavering dedication to this grand mission shines through.

Financing this magnificent feat is a story of unity. With a total cost of 3200 crores, contributions have poured in from 12 crore families across India. Even the poorest of the poor have contributed Rs.10  and several donors have given in  crores  of  rupees as well. Soon, the trust plans to reach beyond borders, welcoming donations from abroad through FCRA after three years of establishment. Each layer of the temple, GopalJi explains, will be dedicated to a revered aspect of  Bhagwan Rama’s life, a testament to the depth of devotion fueling this project. The ground floor would house the murti of Rama Lalla of which the prana-pratishtana would happen on the Jan 22nd, the middle floor would house the Rama Darbar along with Sita, Lakshamana and Hanuman with the top floor being dedicated to life of Shri Rama and instances of Ramayana.

But the story goes deeper than construction. Ayodhya, GopalJi reminds us, is not just about Rama – it’s the land of Harishchandra, Dasharatha, and many other revered figures from Raghu lineage. He mentions the grand Rama temple built by Kusha and other historic landmarks, highlighting the cyclical nature of renewal and rebuilding. However, the shadow of the Babri Masjid looms large, a stark reminder of the 75-year struggle, since independence, to reclaim this sacred space.

GopalJi walks us through the pivotal moments for the organization (VHP, Sangh Parivar) of this decades-long movement post independence. It starts with the placement of Rama murti inside the Babri Masjid in 1949, marking the rekindling of the fight. Ashok Singal’s leadership comes alive in the Ratha Yatras and Ekatmata Yatra, mobilizing public support. The Tala-kholo in 1985 and the opening of the temple locks in December 1989 symbolized the unwavering determination of the devotees.

Citizens across the country collected and worshiped bricks to be sent to Ayodhya which culminated with the Bhumi Puja in 1989, the laying of the first brick by a Bihar Dalit karsevak, and the subsequent call for Karseva in 1990. The symbolic bhumi-puja by a Dalit in spite of the presence of several saints and sages across Bharat showcased that the Rama Lalla belonged to all.

GopalJi describes the clash with Mulayam Singh’s government, he explains an instance where the miracle of the truck driver who drove several Karsevaks all the way till the masjid amidst the firing police, and the shootout that martyred several sages and saints. Yet, the spirit of the karsevaks remained unyielding, culminating in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, a time when Kalyan Singh was the chief minister of the state (UP).

Following the demolition, Pejavara Swamiji’s (a Madhva matha pontiff in Karnataka) initiative ensured the installation of murtis and puja at the site. Legally, a resolution came in 2010 from Allahabad High Court, dividing the land into 3 parts. The matters eventually reached the Supreme Court, Yogi Adityanath’s government expedited the process, GopalJi mentions how around 10,000 pages of court documents in Hindi were translated to English to be submitted in the Supreme Court and finally, on November 9th, 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the trust. Judges have come out to claim that historically with non-BJP governments they’ve faced pressure to maintain suo-moto and not come to a judgment regarding Rama Mandir.

Now, GopalJi delves into the intricate construction details of the temple, emphasizing the pile foundation since the soil in Ayodhya was found to be loose through RADAR scanning, around 40 ft of ground was dug up for across 7.5acres of temple land and another 10 ft was dug up in and around where the garba-griha is going to constructed. Iron and cement, he mentions only last for a 100 years, and hence the extensive use of granite stones from Sadahalli in Karnataka, around 17,500 such stones are used in traditional stone-locking technique. The Rajasthan government (Congress) reopened a shut-down quarry to source the popular Bharatpur Pink sandstone for the temple on which various traditional Hindu carvings and sculpting has been done. An instance showcasing that Rama belongs to all and not just a political party.

GopalJi also speaks about the involvement of renowned architects from TATA and L&T, the project is being led by around 107 engineers, including 17 swayamsevaks whose families have shifted to Ayodhya since the commencement of construction. The engineer swayamsevaks do not receive any remuneration except for housing and food.

The vision extends beyond the temple to the city itself. Currently the temple is in a place called the Ayodhya-dham and the city of Ayodhya doesn’t have that many amenities. Ayodhya-dham is coming up with several hotels, ashrams, and dharma-chatras planned by various sampradaya mathas. Highways are being planned from the city of Ayodhya to Ayodhya-dham. This holistic approach promises to transform Ayodhya into a spiritual haven, the vision is for Ayodhya to be a shraddha-sthana and not a pravasi-sthana (a pilgrimage center as opposed to a vacationing attraction).

GopalJi’s interview offers a profound understanding of the Rama Mandira project, weaving together history, faith, and technical details. It is a testament to the unwavering devotion of countless individuals who have contributed to this monumental endeavor, a dream rising into reality.

The 2 part interview in Kannada is at,