This act of devotion and innovation also carries a ray of inspiration for India’s future. While laying foundation stones and inaugurating projects worth ₹15,000 crore at Ayodhya a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Bharat aspires not just to protect its heritage and tradition, but also to make impressive strides in development, be it digital technology or reaching the moon. Ram Lalla’s “Surya Tilak” harks back to a religious legend of Lord Rama’s lineage going back to the Sun god, while it looks ahead at India’s renewable energy goals for which solar energy plays a significant role, given the abundance of sunlight in the country most of the year.
Ayodhya, the capital of the Suryavansh
Fittingly, Ayodhya is being developed into a solar city, not only as a model for other cities but also as a bow to the ‘Suryavansh’ (the solar lineage) of Lord Rama.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while personally inspecting solar energy projects in Ayodhya last year, said, “Ayodhya is the capital of Suryavansh. So, here, electricity will come not from other sources but from renewable solar energy.”
Lord Rama was born in the Ikshvaku dynasty which was founded by King Ikshvaku. The sun is considered the progenitor of the dynasty and those belonging to the dynasty are called ‘suryavanshi’. Ayodhya is considered the capital of the Suryavansh.
Ayodhya as a solar city
Work has been underway on a war footing to develop Ayodhya as Uttar Pradesh’s first “solar city” ahead of the consecration ceremony of the Ram temple.The plan includes developing a solar park along the banks of the Saryu, providing solar-powered boats, installing solar streetlights, adoption of solar energy sources in public transport, providing solar-powered amenities such as mobile charging points at public places along with electrification of government buildings using solar energy and improving penetration of solar power for domestic use.The project is part of Uttar Pradesh’s ambitious Solar Energy Policy 2022. An important aspect of the plan is to develop 16 municipal corporations and Noida as “solar cities”. “The plan is to develop Ayodhya as the model for the solar city project and use the learnings in the implementation of solar policies in other proposed cities,” Uttar Pradesh New and Renewable Energy Department Director Anupam Shukla told PTI, last year.
While the solar city project is a five-year plan (2023-28), facilities such as streetlights, installation of solar panels at government buildings, e-rickshaws with charging stations, solar trees, and solar energy-powered purifiers for drinking water kiosks are to be covered in the first phase.
The work also includes installing solar panels on the rooftops of 117 government buildings, totalling 2.5 MW. This includes a 250 kW solar panel installed at RML Awadh University, a 155 kW panel at Agriculture University, a 100 kW capacity panel at the district court, a 58 kW panel at Ram Katha Museum, and 50 kW panels at different government secondary schools.
About 42 parks in Ayodhya would be illuminated through solar power. The government is going to install solar trees in the parks, taking forward the vision to deploy renewable energy sources as far as possible in the temple town. The solar streetlights will be installed along the famous Ram Path — the 12.9-kilometre, six-lane road that leads to the temple from Sahadatganj on the Lucknow-Ayodhya National Highway and up to the Lata Mangeshkar Chowk in the Nayaghat area. This apart, 800 solar streetlights have also been installed in the city.
The biggest piece of the solar city project is the installation of a 40 MW solar plant on the banks of the Saryu, to be established by NTPC Green.