- Ayodhya is a riot of colours for the grand event
- The ceremony was beamed onto large screens around the country
- Temple campaign marked emergence of BJP as a national electoral force
Here is your ten-point cheat sheet on this big story:
PM Modi, who in 1990 was one of the organizers of the nationwide campaign for a temple at the site where the 16th century Babri mosque once stood, began by chanting "Jai Siya Ram" and described Lord Ram as the common thread in India's unity in diversity. "Ram is everywhere, Ram belongs to all," he said.
"Just like all communities and sections across India came together for the fight for Independence before 1947, today we see that everyone has come together to celebrate this day in togetherness and harmony. This day signifies the sacrifices and resolve of those who fought for the temple as August 15 does for the India's freedom," said the Prime Minister.
PM Modi, dressed in a gold silk kurta and white dhoti, first offered prayers at the Hanumangarhi temple - a shrine to Lord Hanuman. He went to Ramjanmabhoomi or the birthplace of Lord Ram to pray at the shrine to "Ram Lalla", the infant Lord Ram, before proceeding to the main "Bhoomi Pujan" ceremony.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Mohan Bhagwat - the chief of the BJP's ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and around 170 spiritual leaders attended the ceremony. Iqbal Ansari, a litigant in the temple-mosque dispute, was the first person to be invited.
BJP veterans LK Advani - who led the Ram temple movement in the 1990s - and Murli Manohar Joshi watched through video-conference because of coronavirus precautions. The Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust, tasked with building the temple, reportedly sent last-minute invites to the two leaders, who were the face of the temple movement.
Uma Bharti, another key BJP leader of the temple campaign, attended the ceremony in Ayodhya after previously saying she would stay away as a coronavirus precaution.
The temple campaign in the 1990s, headlined by LK Advani's Rath Yatra, marked the BJP's rise as a national force. On December 6, 1992, the Babri mosque was razed by activists who believed it was built on the ruins of an ancient temple that marked Ram Janmabhoomi or Lord Ram's birthplace. The incident changed India's politics forever and more than 2,000 people died in the riots that followed.
After several efforts at mediation failed, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict in November handing over the 2.77-acre site claimed by both Hindus and Muslims for a Ram temple. The court ordered a five-acre plot at a different site in Ayodhya for a mosque.
Today's festivities, held at a time recommended by astrologers, were vastly curtailed because of the coronavirus battle with over 50,000 daily infections. Home Minister Amit Shah, has been hospitalized with the virus. A priest and 14 policemen on duty near the temple site have also tested positive.
Soil from almost 2,000 holy sites around India and water from around 100 holy rivers were used in the rituals. The temple has been designed in the "Nagara style" and is planned as a three-storey stone structure with multiple turrets, pillars and domes. The temple will be 161 feet tall.