Monday, December 06, 2010

Walk into this temple with your shoes on

Ayodhya: This is one temple you can walk into with your shoes on, where there are more security personnel inside the precincts who clearly outnumber the devout visitors. It is also a place where you have to walk through a kilometre or more of narrow mesh-wired warrens.

You passs by the make-shift structure where Ram Lalla Virajman is placed under what appears to be an asbestos awning without realising that you have passed it by. It is more than 50 meters away from the sighting point, where two priests sit behind gauze wire, and money is collected in a glass box and in a brass tray as donations drop in.

Wlecome to Ayodhya's controversial site, the former Babri Masjid and the present site of the makeshift temple which came up in the aftermath of the December 6, 1992 demolition of the mosque by Hindu hooligans and vandals.

There are no traces of the mosque. Grass has grown all over – it is 18 years since the 1992 demolition -- and it has the perfect look of a ruin gone wild. The make-shift temple structure is open to visitors from seven to 11 in the morning, and from one to five in the afternoon. There were not too many of t them on October 12.

The guards were plainly bored. One of the plainclothes men asked my name and where I came from, and after being told, said, “We have to be careful because some Mahomedans may come in.”

There is a 'Sita Koop' at the back of the site where some women guards sit under an awning. There is a tower guard too at the back. It is difficult to reconstruct from its present state the lie of the land. It is certainly uneven as one walks through the maze of narrow passageways.

There is a ghostly atmosphere at the site even in broad daylight. The mosque has gone, the temple is not yet there. The place is in a literal limbo. It is the shoes on your feet that give you the feeling that you are not walking on holy ground of either a mosque or a temple. It is not an assuring feeling.

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