Even as preparations for the Ram Temple in Ayodhya are under way, the Congress-led Chhattisgarh government has planned to spend more than Rs 15 crore to develop an existing temple, believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram’s mother Kaushalya, while “preserving its original form”.
Work on the temple, which Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel wants to be as beautiful as “cities in mythological tales”, will begin later in August. The bhoomi poojan took place on December 22.
The temple stands in the middle of a lake in Chandkhuri village, 25 km from Raipur. Dedicated to Kaushalya, it is accessed by a bridge called Hanuman Pul, which has a statue of Hanuman over it. Posters declaring the significance of the temple are hung at the courtyard, which opens into a small sanctum containing idols of Kaushalya holding a baby Ram.
“No one knows when the idols appeared. The temple has always existed, though it was damaged many times and rebuilt,” said Rajesh Dhiwar, a villager who sat at the entrance with a bottle of sanitiser.
The Baghel government has planned a Rs 137-crore project to enhance tourism by developing 9 out of 51 spots across the state related to Ram. The spots, considered to be part of the Dandakaranya forest where Ram, Sita and Lakshman spent time, are part of Rama Vana Gaman Path.
The temple, said to have been built in the 8th century, was renovated in 1973. The Congress government has decided to refurbish it into a tourist destination in two phases.
The BJP has taken a dig at the Rama Vana Gaman Path, with BJP leader Brij Mohan Agarwal saying, “People who have stood against Lord Ram, contested in courts against his existence, are suddenly showing their devotion to him. There is nothing happier for us.”
Baghel, who went to monitor the work at the temple and pray along with his family on July 29, has claimed that the BJP while celebrating the birthplace of Ram has ignored his mother’s birthplace.