A centuries-long wait for India's Hindus has ended and the country is writing a new "golden chapter" with the construction of the Ram temple, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said after laying the foundation stone at the contentious site.
The groundbreaking followed a ruling by India's Supreme Court that favoured the building of a Hindu temple on the location in the northern city of Ayodhya after a protracted legal dispute with Muslims over the land.
Hindus believe their god Ram was born at the site and Muslim invaders built a mosque on top of a temple there in 1528.
"India is creating a golden chapter in Ayodhya ... India is emotional and overjoyed as centuries of wait comes to an end today. Millions won't believe that they have seen this day in our lifetime," said Modi, whose Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has had the construction of the temple as a long-standing campaign promise.
"For years, Our Ram Lalla (infant god Ram) lived beneath a tent, now he will reside in a grand temple that is being built by his devotees," Modi told a gathering of spiritual leaders that chanted 'Glory to Lord Ram' during his speech.
"Today, Ram Janambhoomi (Ram's birthplace) has been liberated. It breaks free from the cycle of getting broken and getting built again - that had been going on for centuries," he said.
Australian Associated Press