For a town fractured by decades of conflict over the Ram Janmabhoomi- Babri Masjid issue, the road we travelled through has much older symbolism - Masjid domes and temples all along the 10-km route.
In the by lanes of the famous Hanuman Garhi temple that has hundreds of sweet shops selling prasad and toy shops selling plastic dolls and Hanuman gada's (mace) , 18-year-old first-time voter Abhishek Yadav, has surprising clarity of thought. "I was born after the events of 1992 when the Masjid was taken down, what can be done about the (Ram) Mandir till the court decides finally on the issue? My issues are employment and development," he said.
"I want to be a teacher and there should be enough opportunities for me," he added.
Vipin Shukla, 21, is a student at a Sanskrit college for six years now and will cast his vote for first time this year. He says, "Netas (political leaders) should first do something for the society then do something about Mandir."
Of Ayodhya's over 3 lakh voters, just about 5,000 are Muslims. In the Muslim part of the town, right next to the home of Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the Babri Masjid case, who died last year, Mohd Iftekar, 21, said: "We have bigger issues than mandir-masjid - like completing Masters from the Saket University, where teachers and infrastructure both are inadequate."
Iftekar, dismissing the issue as unimportant, said "before mandir-masjid , there needs to be some clarity on our future... in developed states people, Netas speak of development unlike here."
But despite these changing aspirations, major players in the state are stuck with the theme of religion in the run up to the polls.
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