Countdown to Ram Mandir's grand opening: Exclusive journey into construction progress, milestones and more
In an exclusive interview with Asianet News Network's Rajesh Kalra, Nripendra Misra delves into the current status of the construction of the grand Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the milestones achieved so far, and what awaits devotees when the temple's doors open in January 2024.
As the calendar inches closer to January 2024, excitement builds for a monumental event in Ayodhya. Devotees of Lord Ram eagerly await the opportunity to offer their prayers at the majestic new Ram Mandir. This extraordinary temple, a testament to unparalleled craftsmanship and engineering, is on the verge of opening its doors to millions of worshippers from across India and the world.
Currently, construction is in full swing, covering an impressive expanse of 54,700 square feet across 2.7 acres of land. Spearheading this monumental endeavour is Nripendra Misra, the chairman of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust's temple construction committee and Former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India.
In an exclusive interview with Asianet News Network's Rajesh Kalra, this seasoned bureaucrat sheds light on the unwavering commitment to ensuring that the glory of Lord Ram and the sacred city of Ayodhya is meticulously and faithfully restored to its pristine magnificence.
Back in April 2022, when Rajesh Kalra traveled nearly 700 kilometers to meet Nripendra Misra, the enormity of the challenges ahead became apparent. Misra also shared intriguing insights into the hectic construction activity at the Ram Mandir.
Fast forward to September 2023, just months before the grand opening, Nripendra Misra delves into the current status of the construction, the achieved milestones, and what awaits devotees in the grand Ram Mandir.
"This is where the entrance would be for everybody," Misra points out, standing at the welcome entrance. "The devotees will arrive from this side, passing through a tunnel and a visible boundary wall in the construction. They will ascend the stairs to reach this level and then continue upward. At the welcome entrance, we have three platforms on each side. The first platform features the statue of Singh Dwar, the lion. The second platform hosts Gaj Dwar, the elephant. And on either side, there will be Lord Hanuman and Garuda. This is the grand welcome for all visitors to the temple."
"As you enter, there are five mandapas. The ground floor of the mandapas are complete. By December 31, 2023, we will complete the ground floor, which means that the devotees will enter, go to the mandapas and go right up to the sanctum sanctorum, have the darshan and exit from the left side. This is a construction that is a challenge to us. In the next three months, by December 31 we have to complete this construction. It is better to clarify that ground floor will be complete in December 2023 and the entire temple will be completed in December 2024. That is phase 2," he added.
Nripendra Misra also spoke at length about the milestones achieved and challenges they have encountered so far in the construction of the grand Ram Mandir. In his interview with Asianet New Network, the former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of India noted that some of the milestones achieve include:
- Laying the raft foundation and the plinth area
- Ensuring the construction can withstand any calamity, including earthquake tremors
- Skillfully putting the stones in place
- Iconography on about 350 pillars, of which 170 pillars are on the ground floor. Each pillar has about 25 to 30 figures.
- Work on depiction of Ram Katha in the lower plinth via over 100 murals is underway
Shedding light on the challenges they encountered during the construction of the Ram Mandir, Nripendra Misra highlighted that the most challenging part was dealing with differences of opinion. From the decision of whether to opt for a pile foundation or raft foundation to the power load and more, he enlists some of the key challenges faced in the interview.
When asked if the artworks found by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) during the excavation of the Ram Janmabhoomi have been an inspiration in the construction of the Ram Mandir, Nripendra Misra noted, "Frankly, those artworks in some manner is not getting adopted in the format of this temple. What they were proving was there existed a temple here. They are proving that it is ancient and there is a history behind that. There is definite basis for the age calculation. So, all that is going to be displayed in the museum which is going to be built."
During the interview, Nripendra Misra spoke at length about the Ram Mandir's sanctum sanctorum, where PM Narendra Modi had conducted a puja on August 5, 2020. He noted that three sculptors have been assigned the task of sculpting Lord Ram's statue and one will finally be selected by a group of trustees, which will be installed eventually.
"The prayer and installation ceremony would start from January 14 2024 and then on the date we have invited honourable PM, we are yet to hear from him. Going up to 24th, any day that he decided we will do the final Prana Pratishtha when the Lord will show up here and from the next date the devotees will start coming and have darshan," he added.
"Our expectation is about 1,25,000 people will come. If 1,25,000 people will come and have the darshan open for 12 hours, he gets about 25 seconds. On a Ram Navami Day the devotee could get about 17 seconds because the number could be 3-5 lakhs," Misra further noted.
In his interview with Asianet News Network's Rajesh Kalra, Nripendra Misra also commended the Commissioner of Ayodhya for addressing crucial civic facilities required to accommodate the influx of visitors. "He has gone to the detail of what kind of amenities are required, what kind of food is required, what are the language challenges because people will be coming from different states. He is trying best, state government is totally committed," he added.
He further stated, "The roads which have been dug out, under widening and construction is around 13 kms. According to this estimate, about 6.5 km will be ready by December. The main roads leading to the temple, main railway over bridges that connect to the road leading to the temple that will be complete. There is an issue of civic amenities, water, sewage, drainage, they are all working and they are very conscious of the results to be shown by December."
When asked if there are any interesting anecdotes to share, Misra reflected upon the faith and contributions of the people. "The anecdotes are in the nature of how divine intervention has helped the construction of the temple. What will be the final outcome only Lord knows. The trust collected Rs 3500 crores for this. That shows the level of faith that people have. It also shows that people believe that what they are contributing will be put to the right use in the construction," he stated.
In conclusion, Nripendra Misra lauded PM Narendra Modi's 'invisible inspiration' on this monumental project. He said, "The most inspiring thing is that in this whole process of decision making, construction and progress there is somewhere an invisible inspiration of honourable PM Narendra Modi. He doesn't monitor, but I am very sure he knows about each and every step about what is happening here. That is something which is for us also a matter of satisfaction that one day he will do the Prana Pratishtha and people in millions believe that in some manner he has been instrumental in this construction of Ram Mandir."