New Delhi: The Bhoomipujan for the construction of a glorious Ram Temple at Ayodhya was solemnized by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is not only the starting of a temple but it will herald a new era in the history of this great country. This new era is a clarion call for all of us to convert our country on the ideals of “Ram Raj” and all of us should inculcate in ourselves, the ideals of Shri Ram.

MyNation caught up with Law Kumar Mishra, a veteran journalist from Patna, who had covered the Rath Yatra (in a matador converted into chariot) from Somnath as Times of India correspondent to Ayodhya. He shared his fond memories with us. ‘‘The Prime Minister is representative of the aspirations of 125 crore people of the country and it is a proud moment for everyone when he lays foundation stone of Shri Ram temple. It is because of the respected Prime Minister that every Indian is watching this auspicious occasion after a gruelling wait of about five centuries by the several generations,’’ he said in an exclusive interview with Shri Ram Shaw.

‘‘Movement for Ram temple which began from the Palampur session of BJP in 1989 is culminating into the groundbreaking ceremony at Ayodhya today. Groundwork was done by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad a year before LK Advani started his Rath Yatra from Somnath to Ayodhya on September 25,1990. VHP workers had literally generated a Ram influenced mindset among the villagers in Saurashtra too as "Shila Pujan" took place in each and every household. Bricks were purified for the Ram temple in the villages with Re one contribution, thanks to the massive Mass movement of VHP. This generated a mass hysteria among the people in Gujarat.

I had covered the launch of the Yatra (in a matador converted into chariot) from Somnath as Times of India correspondent. After performing early puja rituals at the Somnath temple on the seashore, LK Advani and his wife Kamla Advani rode the chariot. Pramod Mahajan was the Saarthi for the entire route, while Narendra Modi was up to Gujarat state and Keshubhai Patel for Saurashtra leg (200 kms). Kiritbhai Pathak, a former official of Saurashtra University still recalls "entire Rajkot had become Rammay".

The chariot passed through the NH 151, NH 27 and SH 26 covering Verawal, Jam Kandorana, Junagadh, Jetpur, Gondal, Ribda, Lodhika before it reached Rajkot late evening (the first day of rest for Advani). He stayed in Circuit House, where documents of surrender of Junagadh state with India were signed between Menon and Bhutto's father, who was Dewan of Junagadh. Reporters coming from New Delhi and Mumbai were accommodated in Hotel Galaxy and Hotel Samrat. Advani did not go to Race Course for his Ice cream this time, as he felt tired to cover 4 hours road journey in 10 hours. In the past, Advani visited Race Course for ice cream even after addressing a late night public meeting at Shastri Maidan.

Next morning, Advani gave formal interviews to some of the visiting reporters before leaving for the next leg-Rajkot-Ahmedabad phase which passed through Kuvadva, Chotila, Limbdi, Surendranagar, Bavla, Biramgam covering another 210 kms.

Welcome arches full of local colourful Rabri embroidery Torans were put all over the route, people, particularly women were literally frenzy, offering Aartis, putting flower petals and even coins on the Chariot. Entire route was reverberating with Jai Shri Ram slogans and it was for the first time slogan of ‘‘Mandir Wahin Banayange’’ was popularised and Advani at his road side speeches talked of Mathura and Kashi on the agenda of the movement after Ayodhya.

More violence following Mandal Commission report than the Kamandal movement followed. The yatra which started at 10.30 am in Somnath temple on September 25,1990 reached its logical end at Ayodhya where today Bhoomipujan was solemnised. A great and vast distance between Shilapujan and Bhoomipujan. For me, I was called to appear as a prosecution witness at Lucknow's special CBI court last year.’’