A Rs 126-crore project to redevelop and model the Ayodhya railway station building along the lines of the under-construction Ram Mandir — down to the stone used for construction — is set to be completed in March.
Two years ago, the facade of the small railway station (it has a capacity of 4,000 people per day) in Ayodhya town had been designed to resemble a temple, with a painting of Lord Ram at his throne with Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman at the entrance.
This structure is now dwarfed by a massive 10,000-square metre, two-storey station building nearing completion next to it. The construction started in November 2018 and the first phase is set to be finished at almost the same time as the state’s assembly elections.
Two shikhars (steeples) and four pyramid-like structures will be added to it to make it resemble the Ram Mandir. The centre of the building will have a crown, and a bow and arrow atop.
According to RITES Ltd Joint General Manager A K Johri, the structure has been built with pink Bansi Paharpur stone from Rajasthan. This is the same material being used for the Ram Mandir.
Northern Railways officials and local MP Lallu Singh say this project has been undertaken to accommodate an expected increase in footfall once the temple is completed.
“This work is not being done for political benefit. The country’s biggest centre of devotion Ram Janmabhoomi is going to be made here. Our belief is that 1 lakh people are going to come here each day by 2024, by which time Ram ji will be installed in the sanctum sanctorum if all goes well. Many Railways projects are being approved and developed to make sure that there are good facilities for their coming and going… all these are for the devotees who will be coming here, and are being prepared keeping in consideration their numbers,” said Singh, who is from BJP.
According to Railways officials, the redeveloped station will have a capacity of 15,000 passengers per day. After the building is completed, two foot overbridges are estimated to be completed in December 2022.
The plans for the redeveloped station include a 1,400-square metre waiting area, 14 retiring rooms, separate dormitories for women and men, two food plazas and seven shops. The number of platforms, however, will not be increased from the existing three after the redevelopment.
“There are 22 mail express and 6 passenger trains which are currently scheduled here. Once the station is developed, we will see the demand and increase the trains accordingly if needed; we will take a decision on that,” said Divisional Commercial Manager, Lucknow, Prateek Srivastav.
A second phase of the project — for an entryway from the other side of the station — is also being planned. According to railway officials, the process of acquisition of 15.9 hectares of land for this is currently underway.