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Virendra Singh Rawat

Heralding a new chapter in the tourism gateway of Ayodhya, the temple town’s proposed international airport is expected to take wings before the consecration (pran pratishtha) of Lord Ram temple in January 2024.

According to sources, the ‘Maryada Purushottam Shriram International Airport’ in Ayodhya, spanning 821 acres, will witness the completion of the first phase by October 2023; thus paving way for the launch of commercial flights in November or early December 202.

Ayodhya airport will connect the temple town, in the initial stages, with about four cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Later, more flights and destinations will be added to the air connectivity repertoire of Ayodhya.

The much-awaited Ayodhya airport will be positioned to catalyse the metamorphosis of the sleepy town into a thriving tourism hotspot in India as well as South Asia.

The construction work on the 2,200 metre long and 45 metre wide runaway as well as the ATC tower is complete. The first phase is expected to cost about Rs 400 crore.

The frequency of the flights to-and-fro Ayodhya will be chalked up by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in consultation with the civil aviation ministry.

The absence of an airport greatly hampered the tourism potential of Ayodhya, which is a holy place for devout Hindus owing to the mythological birthplace of Lord Ram, who is among the most reverred incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Ayodhya only had a small airstrip to handle non-commercial and chartered flights. However, despite the absence of an airport, Ayodhya witnessed an upsurge in tourist arrival after the construction of Lord Ram temple started in August 2020.

The number of backpackers in Ayodhya breached the level of 20 million in the first six months of 2022.

Recently, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath had said once the Ram temple was opened, the tourist flow to the temple town could hit an annual mark of 100 million.

Several leading hotel chains, including both luxury and budget categories, viz. Taj Group, Radisson, ITC, Oyo etc are interested in Ayodhya.

Currently, there are 18 good hotels in Ayodhya with a combined inventory of 600 rooms. However, the demand for quality rooms will jump once the temple is opened for devotees.

In fact, the transformation of Ayodhya is estimated to cost Rs 30,000 crore under ‘Ayodhya Vision 2047’ theme in about 260 projects spanning tourism, aviation, infrastructure, housing, medical, energy, culture, urban development, transport etc.

Meanwhile, the Lord Ram temple construction has been undertaken by a trust ‘Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra’ with the requisite funds being raised through private donations and crowd funding.

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Last year, Trust general secretary and senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Champat Rai had said, the Ram temple was estimated to cost Rs 1,800 crore.

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