In a significant milestone, the construction Committee Chairman Nripendra Misra, the former principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has announced the completion of the first phase of Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir construction. The ground floor, housing the sanctum sanctorum, is set to be finished by the December 15 deadline. The second phase, encompassing the first and second floors, murals, iconography work, lower plinth, and engraving on approximately 360 massive pillars, is scheduled for completion by December 2024.
Designed by architect Chandrakant Bhai Sompura, the Nagara-style Mandir primarily features pink sandstone and carved marble from Mirzapur and Bansi-Paharpur in Rajasthan. The construction stands out for its use of 17,000 granite stones, each weighing 2 tonnes.
According to the trustees, the Mandir’s durability is unparalleled, estimating no need for repairs for at least 1,000 years, and asserting that even a 6.5 magnitude earthquake won’t shake its foundation. Remarkably, steel and ordinary cement were eschewed in favour of a foundation 12 metres deep. The soil used can transform into stone in just 28 days, and a meticulous 47 layers were laid in the foundation.
Champat Rai, the general secretary of Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, revealed that a staggering 21 lakh cubic feet of granite, sandstone, and marble have been utilised in the construction. Notably, all the bricks donated during and after the 1992 ‘Shila Daan’ have found a place in the Mandir’s construction.
Two more phases are left in the ambitious project. The first floor is set to host the Ram Darbar, with each pillar adorned with 25-30 intricately carved figures. Additionally, seven Mandirs, including those of Maharishi Valmiki, Nishad, Vishwamitra, and Shabri, will be erected outside the parkota (outer wall) next year. The third and final phase, covering the 71-acre site, auditoriums, and the parkota featuring bronze murals and Mandirs of Saptarishis, is projected for completion by December 2025.
The highly anticipated consecration ceremony is scheduled for January 22, and it will witness the installation of one of the three idols of Ram Lala (the 5-year-old deity) in the sanctum sanctorum in the presence of PM Modi. All three idols, standing at 51 inches tall and holding a bow and arrow, will be available for public viewing starting the morning of January 27.
In an interview, Construction Committee Chairman Nripendra Misra shared insights into the meticulous idol selection process. Three sculptors were invited to Ayodhya, each bringing their choice of stone – a white Makrana marble and a greyish stone from Karnataka, known as Krishna Shila. These stones underwent rigorous testing at the government’s National Institute of Rock Mechanics before sculptors commenced their work. The height of each idol, around 7 feet, is strategically designed for optimal darshan from a distance of 25 feet.
A noteworthy feature of the Mandir is a system designed by the Central Building Research Institute in Roorkee and the astrophysics institute in Pune. This system will divert and reflect sunlight onto the idol’s forehead at 12 noon every Ram Navami, enhancing the spiritual experience for devotees.
As the nation eagerly awaits the completion of this iconic structure, the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya stands as a testament to architectural brilliance, cultural significance, and meticulous planning.