on February 16th, 2024

After enduring 500 years of legal battles, disputes, and controversies, the majestic Ayodhya Ram Temple stands as a beacon of faith for many. With its grand opening on 22 January 2024, the temple witnessed an influx of half a million people, according to the Information and Public Relations Department of the Uttar Pradesh Government. While serving as a revered sanctuary for Hindus, the temple’s design, impeccable engineering, and meticulous construction have transcended religious boundaries, capturing the attention of people of all beliefs all around the world. Let us find out why.

India’s Ayodhya Ram Temple: A 500-Year Dispute Resolved

The historical saga surrounding India’s Ayodhya Ram Temple spans centuries, marked by significant milestones. It all began in 1528 with the construction of the Babri Masjid and the inception of the Ram Temple Movement.

In 1885, Raghubar Das – a mahant (chief priest) of the Nirmohi Akhara (a wealthy sect that owned numerous temples) went to court -his legal suit set a precedent, although dismissed, seeking permission to build a temple in the mosque’s outer courtyard.

The mosque’s gates were unlocked in 1986, granting Hindus access to offer prayers on the disputed land.

The tumultuous events of 1992 saw the demolition of the Babri Masjid, igniting nationwide controversy. Then in 2002, excavations conducted by the Allahabad High Court and the Archaeological Survey of India claimed evidence of a Hindu temple beneath the mosque.

The legal climax arrived in 2019, with the Supreme Court awarded the disputed land to Hindus for the Ram Temple’s construction while providing an alternate site for the mosque.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone in 2020, culminating in the opening of the Ayodhya Ram Temple gates in 2024.

Lead architect Chandrakant Sompura. Image by: Bollywood Shaadis

The Story of Ram Engraved in The Walls

The temple was designed by lead architect Chandrakant Sompura and his sons, Nikhil and Ashish, who share their father’s architectural passion. The temple blends traditional Indian craftsmanship with cutting-edge engineering technologies.

More specifically, the Ram Temple was designed in the Nagara style of temple architecture. The Nagara style of temple architecture emerged sometime in the 5th century CE, during the late Gupta period in northern India.

It contrasts with the Dravida style from southern India, which also arose during the same time. Nagara temples are typically constructed on an elevated platform, with the Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum), housing the deity’s idol, being the holiest section of the temple.

Towering over the Garbha Griha is the shikhara (pyramid-shaped spire or dome crowning the main sanctum or central shrine of a temple), the most distinguishable aspect of Nagara-style temples.

Moreover, a typical Nagara-style temple includes a pathway encircling the Garbha Griha, along with one or more halls aligned along the same axis.

The temple’s exterior features intricate carvings on the walls and pillars depicting scenes from Hindu mythology, including stories from the Ramayana.

The Ramayana is a well-known and popular legend in South and Southeast Asia. It is the story of King Rama who must save his kidnapped wife, Sita. Along the way, it teaches Hindu life lessons. The Ramayana is told and retold orally, through literature (and comic books!), plays, and movies, and is referenced in many other forms of popular culture today.

Each pillar was carved by one artisan to maintain consistency, but other workers helped with the carvings when necessary.

All skilled artisans used hand tools and manual labor to carve these intricate designs and assemble the temple components, such as the marble floor and walls.

“The Ayodhya Ram Mandir is a living testament to the magnificence of Nagara architecture. The intricate carvings, majestic spires, and sacred sanctums of the temple pay homage to India’s cultural and religious diversity.

The design reflects the essence of Lord Ram’s revered abode, creating a harmonious blend of spirituality and architectural brilliance,” said lead architect Sompura.

Breaking Traditional Construction Methods

The Ram Temple is 380 feet long, 250 feet wide, and 161 feet high. Supported by 392 pillars and 44 doors, the temple has three stories. Each floor is 20 feet tall covering an expansive 71 acres (about the area of The Vatican), showing that it is an architectural marvel.

Furthermore, no iron or steel has been used in the temple’s construction, as the durability of iron is roughly only 80-90 years. The Ayodhya Ram Temple was designed to endure for at least a millennium. For the same reason, neither cement nor mortar was used in its construction.

The area was first excavated to a depth of 15 meters, and 47 layers of engineered soil were laid to make a solid base.

A 1.5-meter-thick M-35 grade concrete raft was laid, and a 6.3-meter-thick plinth of solid granite stone, designed to protect the temple from moisture, was placed on top to make it sturdy. It replicates a lock and key mechanism with a mix of granite and sandstone.  

“It is impressive the criteria to select the construction materials, such as M-35 grade concrete. It defies time and the elements. High-Performance Concrete boasts superior resistance to cracking, abrasion, and aggressive environments, ensuring a legacy for this iconic project,” said the Engineering Institute of Technology’s (EIT’s) Civil Engineering Lecturer, Dr. Ana Evangelista.  

The foundation’s pillars have been likened to those supporting mammoth bridges over mighty rivers, ensuring the temple’s robustness against seismic activity. 

Moreover, architects and engineers diligently ensured top-notch quality. Over 20,700 large granite blocks, 32,800 sandstone blocks, and 7,200 marble blocks underwent rigorous testing at the National Institute of Rock Mechanics in Bengaluru. 

However, the construction process also involved unique challenges, such as maintaining the temperature of self-compacting concrete (SCC) at 18 degrees below ambient temperature during pouring. To achieve this, on-site ice-crushing plants were utilized, and the foundation was filled only at night to minimize the impact of external temperatures. 

“The modern construction process using SCC enabled unrestricted design freedom: complex geometries, intricate details, and congested reinforcement. SCC flows effortlessly, filling the structural elements without human intervention,” said Evangelista. 

These measures were part of the many innovations that marked the construction of the temple, which required the expertise of a team of 150 civil, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers and thousands of workers. 

Moving on to the inside of the temple, crafted by Mysuru sculptor Arun Yogiraj, the 51-inch idol of five-year-old Ram Lalla was consecrated in a special ceremony. The statue is sculpted from a 3-billion-year-old rock known as azure-colored Krishna Shile (black schist), sourced from Gujjegowdanapura village in Mysuru.  

This fine-to-medium-grained metamorphic rock, commonly referred to as soapstone due to its smooth texture, provides an ideal medium for sculptors to carve intricate idols.  

The temple’s interior is adorned with Makrana marble, the same stone used in the construction of the Taj Mahal. 

On every Ram Navami (idol) at noon, a system of mirrors and lenses will focus the sun’s rays on Ram Lalla’s idol. This unique anointment requires no electricity, utilizing brass instead of iron or steel. 

“All the temples that I have designed so far are good, but this one is special”, said Sompura.  

Sponsors, Donations and Expenses  

Top Indian scientists, including the director of the Central Building Research Institute, Pradeep Kumar Ramancharla, played integral roles in the temple’s construction. Additionally, the incorporation of technologies from the Indian Space Research Organization reflects a harmonious blend of traditional architecture with contemporary scientific advancements. 

Several companies have contributed to the construction of Ram Temple and the surrounding complex, including Larsen and Toubro, which operates in over 50 countries worldwide. 

The Ram Temple stands as one of India’s most financially significant religious projects in recent history, with an estimated cost of ₹1,800 crore (AUD 333,373.86). In close pursuit is the Vishv Umiya Dham in Gujarat, valued at ₹1,000 crore (AUD 185,246.10). 

Following the landmark judgment by the Supreme Court in 2019, permitting the construction of the Ram Temple, Ayodhya witnessed a surge in investments from both central and state governments, as well as contributions from thousands of donors nationwide. 

In addition, considerable funds were allocated for the creation of a “time capsule,” intended to contain a comprehensive history of the Ram Temple, to be buried 2,000 feet (about twice the height of the Empire State Building) beneath the temple. This initiative is viewed as a proactive measure to preempt future controversies surrounding different aspects of the temple’s history while also serving an educational function. 

What Lies Ahead  

The inauguration of the Ram Temple is set to catalyze significant growth for the temple town, with the government focusing on enhancing infrastructure, including hotels, roads, and railways, to foster holistic and sustainable development.  

The Uttar Pradesh government has outlined ambitious plans for the city’s redevelopment, envisioning an investment of ₹85,000 crore. This redevelopment initiative will adhere to the Master Plan 2031 and is slated for completion over 10 years, as detailed in the government report. 

References  

Ayodhya Ram Mandir: How much money was spent and what does UP stand to gain? 

Ayodhya Ram temple: Sun rays will illuminate Ram Lalla’s forehead each Navami at 12pm for 6 minutes 

This design is special, says architect of Ram temple 
 

The latest news

EIT News

A Comprehensive Guide to Getting a Doctorate in Engineering at EIT

A Doctor of Engineering (DEng) journey promises unparalleled opportunities for engineers. From cutting-edge research to leadership roles, this program equips aspiring individuals in this field to address global challenges and... Read more
EIT News

Understanding Oil Hydraulics and Pneumatics in Engineering  

Oil hydraulics and pneumatics are two branches of engineering dealing with fluid power to perform work. These systems are integral to various industrial and mechanical applications, providing a means to... Read more
EIT News

EIT Shines at The Solar & Storage Live Africa Exhibition

The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) recently showcased its commitment to renewable energy education and training at Solar & Storage Live Africa 2024, held from 18 to 20 March at... Read more
Engineering Institute of Technology