- Construction began after PM Modi laid the foundation stone last year
- The temple is expected to be ready by December 2023.
- Around 4 lakh cubic feet of stone and marble from Rajasthan will be used
The site of the Ram temple in Ayodhya -- where Phase 1 of the construction is almost complete -- was showcased by the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust for the first time on Thursday. Officials of the trust said the construction will meet the deadline and the temple will be open for devotees just before 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The temple -- the construction of which started on August 5 last year with the foundation stone being laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- is expected to be ready by December 2023.
An official in charge of the construction said 47 layers of concrete were filled after excavation to support the three-storied structure that will come up over 10 acres of land within the temple complex
"After the foundation ceremony, we dug in 40 feet to remove the loose earth and garbage... we did proper compaction there and then poured in the concrete," said project manager Binod Mehta, who is from Larsen and Toubro.
Each of the 47 layers is one foot in height. The plinth will be 60 feet high, he added.
Around four lakh cubic feet of stone and marble from Rajasthan will be used for the building which will stand 161 feet over the sanctum sanctorum -- there will be no use of steel or bricks.
The 360 ftX235 ft structure will have 160 columns on the ground floor, 132 columns on the first floor and 74 columns on the second floor. There will be five "mandaps" or pavilions.
The temple complex will include a pilgrim facilitation centre, museum, archives, research centre, auditorium, a cattle shed, a place for rituals, an administrative building and rooms for priests. There are plans to conserve and develop nearby heritage structures like "Kuber Tila" and "Sita Koop".
The construction at the site -- caught in a legal dispute for decades -- started after the Supreme Court handed it over for a temple in 2019.
A 16th century mosque -- built by Mughal emperor Babar over what activists believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram -- was razed in 1992, setting off one of the most visceral political issues in the post-Independence era.
In its order, the Supreme Court said that the Muslims should be given an alternative plot of land for a mosque.
The Trust, which is overseeing temple construction, had earlier faced allegations of fraud over land acquisition around temple site.
In June, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Samajwadi Party alleged that a BJP leader bought 890 sq metres of land in Ayodhya for Rs 20 lakh and sold it to the Ram Temple Trust for Rs 2.5 crore, making 1,250 per cent profit in 79 days.
The allegations were repeated by the Congress too.
"BJP leaders are clearly complicit in this "loot" of donation collected for the construction of Ram Mandir. The everyday revelations reflect brazen plunder of crores of donations with active abetment of the BJP government," senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala had alleged.