AYODHYA – In the eye of the storm

This self-financed photographic project, begun in 2002 on the 10th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, was first published in the Sunday Express and has been subsequently exhibited in Delhi & Mumbai.

Ayodhya is a small, even sleepy, town in the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh which lived more in myth than in reality. Then, one day a decade or so ago, it rose from stupor and became a nightmare that jolted the whole subcontinent. India has never been the same again. In August 1947, India’s Hindu and Muslim communities lay divided between Hindustan and Pakistan under the departing heels of the British. On December 6,1992, India was once again divided, between Hindustan and ‘Hindu-sthaan’.

Ayodhya became the birthplace of the divide.

In the years since, Ayodhya has trekked back to its original sleepiness, even slipping back in time, exhausted by repeated paroxysms. Contrary to popular perception, Ayodhya’s post 1992 fame or notoriety, depending on the way you look at it, has brought fewer pilgrims and decay to a once bustling religious centre.

The eye of the storm is in repose. But the storm itself abounds, driven by its own dynamic.

Sankarshan Thakur