In the wake of the inauguration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, the ancient city is experiencing a culinary transformation, welcoming a surge of food outlets catering to the evolving preferences of millions of pilgrims. Despite the prohibition on serving meat and liquor within the sacred Panch Kosi Marg, renowned chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut have set up shop, offering exclusively vegetarian fare to meet the demands of the devout visitors.
Dinesh Yadav, owner of the newly opened Domino’s outlet near the Ram Mandir site, expressed optimism about the burgeoning business, citing a remarkable first-day turnover of Rs 5,000. With millions of pilgrims flocking to Ayodhya each week, the potential for growth in the food and hospitality sector is substantial.
While some establishments, like Pizza Hut in the Mall of Awadh, express regret at not having a closer proximity to the mandir, they remain committed to serving only vegetarian options, in accordance with the religious sentiments of the area. Vishal Singh, a government official in Ayodhya, emphasised the city’s stance on prohibiting non-vegetarian offerings within the Panch Kosi Marg, while extending a warm welcome to food chains willing to abide by this restriction.
KFC, recognizing the significance of Ayodhya as a religious destination, has set up its unit outside the city limits on the Ayodhya-Lucknow highway. Officials affirm that space would be provided even to international brands like KFC if they opt to offer exclusively vegetarian items.
The anticipated influx of pilgrims, estimated to reach 10-12 lakh people weekly until Ram Navami, underscores the need for diverse culinary offerings to accommodate visitors from various regions. Sharad Kapoor, President of Faizabad Hotel Association, noted a shift in the demographic of visitors, with pilgrims from across the state and country seeking familiar cuisines such as pizzas and burgers.
In response to this demand, plans are underway for the establishment of a food plaza at Chaudhary Charan Singh Ghat by the Ayodhya Development Authority, slated for completion by February. Additionally, the industry department of Uttar Pradesh is facilitating the entry of global brands and regional favorites like Bisleri and Haldiram, catering to both traditional tastes and modern preferences.
Furthermore, efforts are being made to preserve regional culinary traditions, with fast-food restaurants incorporating specialties like baati-chokha into their menus. This diversification reflects Ayodhya’s embrace of culinary evolution while honoring its rich cultural heritage.
Kamlesh Srivastava, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) city president of Ayodhya, highlighted the significance of mandir tourism in attracting devotees from across the country, necessitating arrangements for food to cater to diverse palates. The invitation extended to bid food chains underscores the city’s commitment to providing a fulfilling pilgrimage experience for all visitors.
As Ayodhya emerges as a prominent religious destination, the convergence of traditional values and modern conveniences is evident in its culinary landscape. With a blend of global brands, regional delicacies, and vegetarian offerings, the city seeks to satiate the appetites of millions of pilgrims while embracing the spirit of inclusivity and reverence.