Ayodhya: With security worries over, the makeshift Ram Lalla temple here in Uttar Pradesh saw hundreds of devotees lining up for 'darshan' Friday, a day after the Allahabad High Court ruled on the Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi dispute.
In the first three hours from 7 a.m., nearly 1,300 devotees visited the temple, built on the site of the Babri Masjid that was demolished in December 1992. Temple officials said this was significantly higher than 2,000 devotees a day in the last week.
The heavily-guarded Ram Lalla temple is open to the public for eight hours -- from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m and then from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
With the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court Thursday ruling in a majority judgment that the Babri Masjid was built on the birthplace of Lord Ram and that the site would be split between the Sunni Wakf Board, Ram Lalla and the Nirmohi Akhara, the tension has abated in this town.
The fact that the judgment did not lead to any violence also helped in addressing tensions about security.
'It's really heartening to witness the rise in the number of devotees, who are coming not only from Ayodhya or Uttar Pradesh but also from other states,' head priest Mahant Acharya Satyendra Das told IANS.
'The numbers had come down drastically... Those from outside states virtually stopped coming. But now, as the verdict is out, we believe the numbers will soon touch the 5,000-mark that has been the average daily strength of the people visiting here,' Das added.
Staff at the temple and devotees say the 'sense of uncertainty' ahead of the judgment was the main reason for the thin attendance.
'Frankly speaking, there was some fear. We had read that Ayodhya was wrapped in an unprecedented security cover. It made us feel that Ayodhya was highly sensitive. Therefore we initially dropped the idea of coming here,' said Sharda Shekhar, 45, from Bangalore.
Shekhar arrived in this Hindu holy city Thursday morning along with her family and friends to visit the temple.
'You can't deny that the massive security arrangements in this city created uneasiness,' Aarti Dev Lal, a native of Nagpur who came to visit the temple with her husband, said.
The rise in the numbers of devotees has brought back the smiles on the faces of shopkeepers selling sweets, pictures of deities and other religious items.
'In the last few days our sales dropped by around 40-50 percent. Though locals and people from nearby places continued to come here, there was a sharp decline in the strength of devotees visiting from outside.
'But today several devotees from other states purchased items from my shop... It's a good indication,' said Mahesh Yadav, who runs a sweet shop in the Ram Kot ward, which houses the temple.
Added another happy shopkeeper Ram Vijay: 'We can expect good business in the coming days.'