Rush of devotees at Ayodhya Ram temple on first day, security personnel struggle to control crowds
Ayodhya: A massive crowd that swelled by the hour and became unmanageable in the afternoon thronged the main gateway to the Ram temple here as it opened its doors to the public on Tuesday, a day after the consecration ceremony.
Ram Path — the main thoroughfare — was choked as devotees flooded the streets of the temple town, which has been gripped by religious fervour over the inauguration of the grand mandir.
The entry of devotees to the temple complex began at 6 am and about 2.5 lakh people are likely to have visited the temple by 2 pm, Ayodhya Divisional Commissioner Gaurav Dayal said.
It is estimated that about five lakh devotees will have visited by the end of the day, another official said.
Waiting in serpentine queues outside the temple were people who had been camping in Ayodhya since before the consecration ceremony, having made long and difficult journeys to reach the temple town.
An idol of the new Ram Lalla was consecrated at the Ayodhya temple on Monday, a landmark event led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Tuesday, ‘Ram dhun’ played in the streets as security personnel kept guard and sought to control the crowd even as many chanted “Jai Shri Ram” and attempted to enter through the gateway.
For a couple hours in the afternoon, the crowd became so huge that the security personnel scrambled to maintain order.
The entire section of the Ram Path facing the gateway was blocked as many devotees, some of whom landed with suitcases and backpacks, wanted to have a ‘darshan’.
At the main gateway, the commotion in the crowd led to one devotee fainting and having to be taken for medical treatment.
There was a “sudden massive rush” in the morning and the people were continuously streaming in, seeking to visit the temple and have a darshan of Ram Lalla, Dayal said.
The administration is taking measures to keep the crowd in order, “with proper holding (area), queuing and proper barricading”, he added.
Uttar Pradesh information director Shishir said more than 8,000 policemen are deployed at the temple and “everything is under control”.
Director General, Law Order, Prashant Kumar and Principal Secretary, Home, Sanjay Prasad are inside the temple and overseeing the arrangements.
Ayodhya police, in a post on X, also refuted rumours that the temple was temporarily closed due to the heavy rush.
Suresh Kumar and his friend from Chhattisgarh stood in the milling crowd, eager to have a ‘darshan’ but had little hope of getting in as they both carried suitcases.
“We have come from Durg. We took a train to Kanpur and then a bus to Lucknow and another bus to Ayodhya and reached Ayodhya at 10.30 am,” he told PTI.
The pair said they made a “sudden plan” to visit Ayodhya.
“We have come just for the ‘darshan’. We will go back today,” he said.
Security guards later made a semi-circular human fence to manage the crowd as other personnel made announcements on loudspeakers to keep order.
A large number of devotees had gathered outside the main gates for hours since late Monday night, waiting to enter the premises.
Carrying flags bearing the visages of Lord Ram and chanting “Jai Shri Ram”, the devotees waited for hours in the biting cold before the doors of the grand temple opened early in the morning.
“Felt so delighted, my life’s aim has been fulfilled. Our ancestors struggled for this and it has been brought to fruition,” said Manish Verma, a devotee from Punjab.
Nitish Kumar, a resident of Bihar’s Madhepura district, cycled more than 600 kilometres to reach Ayodhya.
“There is a massive rush but I am hopeful I will get a chance to have ‘darshan’ today. I will start my journey back once my wish is fulfilled. Though I couldn’t go to the temple on Monday, what a day it was to be in Ayodhya,” he told PTI.
Anurag Sharma from Rajasthan’s Sikar was seen walking around with a model of the temple on the day of the consecration ceremony.
“I brought this model with me from my hometown. I arrived on the inaugural flight to Ayodhya and I have been here since then. I will go back only after having a ‘darshan’ of Ram Lalla,” he told PTI.
Groups of people could also be seen marching towards the temple, passing through the decked-up Ram Path.
“Ram Lalla gave us the strength to walk all the way from Chhattisgarh and now He only will get us through this crowd so we can take His blessings,” said Sunil Madho, part of an eight-member group that undertook a ‘padyatra’ to Ayodhya.
Maharashtra native Gopal Krishna, who arrived in Ayodhya a few days ago, also jostled in the thick crowd as it moved towards the security check.
“We came here a few days ago as Lord Ram called us. People were telling us to not travel as police would impose restrictions on travel and rooms would not be available in hotels. We are staying at an ashram and this is the day we waited for,” he told PTI.
The devotees chanted “Jai Shri Ram” as they walked in and out of the temple complex. Inside the main temple, “Jai Shri Ram” chants reverberated in its grand halls.
The temple complex, built in the traditional Nagara style, is 380 feet long from the east to the west, 250 feet wide and will eventually rise to 161 feet at the ‘shikhar’.
Lakhs of people watched the ‘pran pratishtha (consecration)’ ceremony on television in their homes and neighbourhood temples, savouring the historic moment on Monday.
“January 22, 2024, is not merely a date in the calendar but heralds the advent of a new era,” Modi said after he performed a series of rituals in the ‘garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum)’.
The prime minister also prostrated himself before the 51-inch idol that depicts the child Ram.
“Today, our Ram has arrived. After a long wait for ages, our Ram has arrived. Our Ram Lalla will no longer live in a tent. Our Ram Lalla will stay in a magnificent temple,” Modi said in his address to the invitees.