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Ayodhya’s New Maharishi Valmiki International Airport Reflects Spirit of Ram Temple

Indian Masterminds Stories

The year 2024 started on an auspicious note for Ayodhya as Maharishi Valmiki International Airport was opened to pilgrims worldwide from December 30, almost three weeks before the inauguration of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Mandir in the temple town.

Ayodhya is immersed in a humdrum of activities now, buzzing with anticipation for the grand inauguration of the Shri Ram temple on January 22. Adding further momentum to the unprecedented pace of work is Ayodhya’s new airport which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the year end.

In exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Additional Chief Secretary, Chief Minister Office and Civil Aviation, Uttar Pradesh, Mr. S. P. Goyal, a 1989-batch IAS officer, gave some interesting details about the new airport.

Ayodhya Airport
The new international airport of Ayodhya

AYODHYA ON WORLD AVIATION MAP

As Ayodhya is the first of the seven most important pilgrimage sites (Mokshdayini Sapt Puris), it attracts visitors from all over the world, and with the Ram Mandir coming up, it has been witnessing a steady growth of travelers for some time now. The number is expected to grow to over a lakh every day soon after the temple is thrown open for the public.

Hence, it was decided to turn an existing small airstrip which could accommodate only 5-6 seater planes or helicopters into a world-class airport for civil flight operations.

Mr. Goyal said, “This airport will not only put the pilgrimage site on the world aviation map but also give a boost to the economic development of the region. Direct air route to this important religious destination would facilitate seamless and direct connectivity for pilgrims all over the world.”

REFLECTING SPIRITUALITY

The world-class airport reflects spirituality in design in true resonance with the birthplace of Shri Ram. The roof of the terminal is adorned with shikharas (domes), of varying heights, to convey a sense of grandeur to the structure.

Along with the varying shikharas, the terminal has decorative columns displaying important events from the story of Ramayana pictorially.

Mr. Goyal said, “The building shines aesthetically and functionally, displaying a perfect mix of local architecture with a modern architectural note. The design of the airport reflects the idea and spirit of Ram Mandir, to invoke a sense of spirituality and create a sense of being in Shri Ram’s palace.”

In the Ram temple, Bansi Paharpur stones from Rajasthan have been used. But, since this stone is not readily available as there is a huge demand for it in Ayodhya, an alternate solution was found. Glassfibre Reinforcement Concrete (GRC), which closely resembles the natural stone, was used in the making of the airport terminal. It was shopped from Gujarat’s Vadodara and casting was done on the construction site.

The design is a pre-engineered building or PEB, and the culture adopted is like Ram Mandir’s. There is work related to Shri Ram and Ramayana, and the same colour that the Ram temple adorns has been used in the cladding of the airport building.

WHAT IT OFFERS

The new terminal building, with a total area of 6600 sqm. is being designed to serve 500 passengers during peak hours, with an annual handling capacity of six lakh plus passengers.

The airport development project, carried out at a cost of Rs. 1462 crore, includes the construction of a terminal building, construction of a runway and apron suitable for parking three Air Bus 321 type of aircraft, a child care centre, and VIP room.

The building also incorporates environmentally responsive systems that reduce the consumption of energy and improve overall efficiency using skylights, solar power system, efficient rainwater harvesting amongst others,” Mr. Goyal said.

WHAT WENT INTO THE PROJECT

The amount approved for the project was Rs. 1175 crore and the government had released Rs. 1001.77 crore. However, the total expenditure amount, including land and construction, went up to Rs.1462 crore. To make up for the deficit, Airport Authority of India released 328 crore. The rest was met by the Aviation department of Uttar Pradesh, which gave 1134 crore, including land cost, transmission and distribution line shifting cost, and drainage system cost.

The total land required for the airport is 821.3394 acres. The existing airstrip was spread across 182.171 acres. Hence, the additional land required for expansion was 639.1684 acres. 

Out of this, 139.4838 acres was donated by the state government. Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University in Ayodhya gave 23.789 acres and the Education Department contributed 25.132 acres. Further, 490.5628 acres of village society land was acquired, and purchased on a consent basis.

IDOLS SHIFTED

Another significant step was the removal of the idols in the temples that came under the airport expansion with full devotion and faith, and their installation with great reverence and due rituals in a temple built in Malikpur village.

Also, in addition to the existing Tilaiya and Sanaiya drains, a separate five-metre-wide drain was built to solve the problem of water logging in the airport and the surrounding villages. And, a 4-lane access road to the airport from Ayodhya-Prayagraj National Highway (NH-330) was built for greater connectivity.

Mr. S. P. Goyal, Additional Chief Secretary, CMO and Civil Aviation, Uttar Pradesh

TRIAL RUN COMPLETED

After the construction of the runway and the terminal building was 100 percent complete, an Air Force plane first did a trial run on 23 December, pronouncing the airport’s readiness for dedication to the world.

Hon’ble Prime Minister has envisioned Ayodhya to be developed as a spiritual center and global tourism hub where the values and ethos will be matched by futuristic infrastructure, for the benefit of tourists and pilgrims. Development of the airport in Ayodhya is an important step towards contributing to his vision,” Mr. Goyal said.

The wait is over

Indian Masterminds Stories

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