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Iconic Lata Mangeshkar Chowk is Ayodhya's new selfie hotspot

On the night of December 31, scores of people from the temple town and some from the neighbouring districts had converged at the Lata Mangeshkar Chowk to ring in the New Year.

Iconic Lata Mangeshkar Chowk is Ayodhyas new selfie hotspot

Lata Mangeshkar (PTI)

AYODHYA: An iconic roundabout in the heart of Ayodhya, named after legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, has of late turned into a major hotspot for local residents and tourists seeking a perfect selfie in the temple town.

Art has the power to pull in people, and perhaps a giant ornate veena sculpture weighing 14 tonnes, sitting at its centre, is doing the trick.

The Lata Mangeshkar Chowk marks the intersection of Ram Path and Dharm Path, both beautifully bedecked with ornamental lamp posts ahead of the consecration ceremony of the upcoming Ram temple in the holy city.

On the night of December 31, scores of people from the temple town and some from the neighbouring districts had converged at the Lata Mangeshkar Chowk to ring in the New Year.

Selfie-seekers had started streaming in by 10 pm on Sunday night, circling the public landmark to look for the perfect angle for taking a selfie or getting clicked with the aesthetic sculpture.

Many locals attribute this sudden rise in popularity of this public spot to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Ayodhya roadshow on December 30 when he had even stopped by at Lata Mangeshkar Chowk and obliged photographers.

A day before Modi's visit to the holy city, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had taken a selfie at the Chowk, creating a buzz among local residents and on social media.

But, the craze to take selfies at the Chowk, generated by Modi's roadshow, was evident soon after the clock struck 12 on Sunday night, when many youngsters stood on its round periphery to freeze the moment while others live streamed the joyous scenes on Instagram and social media platforms.

Chants of ''Jai Shri Ram'' and shouts of ''Happy New Year !'' rent the air as the illuminated sculpture, nestled within a circular fence made of sandstone, dazzled the eyes.

And, as revellers tilted their cameras to frame their faces, they also sought to bring in the aesthetic sculpture in the background to heightened the style quotient of their selfies.

''Happy New Year 2024. Jai Shri Ram'', was the caption put up by Neeraj Gupta on his Instagram story along with his selfie.

Gupta had come to Ayodhya on December 31 night, along with two friends from Bahraich district to celebrate New Year in the temple town, and their first stop was Lata Mangeshkar Chowk.

'''Ye dekho, ye Lata Mangeshkar Chowk hai, Ayodhya ka, hum log New Year mana rahe hain yehan', (see, this is Lata Mangeshkar Chowk of Ayodhya, we are celebrating New Year here),'' a local Instagram user proudly exclaimed as he live-streamed the festivities from the popular landmark. Akhilesh Pandey and his wife Sadhna Pandey were also among the New Year revellers at Lata Mangeshkar Chowk on December 31 night. They took a lot of selfies to create memories.

''We used to go to Lucknow or stay at home on New Year's Day. But, now our city has developed and there are spots like this (Chowk), so people from nearby cities and towns are also coming here to mark the occasion,'' Akhilesh told PTI.

Sadhna said the beauty of the landmark, especially the veena sculpture, was a treat to the eyes.

Located near the Naya Ghat and constructed by the Uttar Pradesh government to honour the late melody queen on her 93rd birth anniversary, the chowk was inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi virtually on September 28 in 2022.

The sculpture, 40 ft long and 12 m high, was made by noted sculptor Ram Sutar. The roundabout has been developed at an estimated cost of Rs 7.9 crore, officials had earlier said.

A mural of Mangeshkar graces the wall of a round cabin located near the chowk that was earlier called by locals Naya Ghat Chouraha.

But, such is the rising popularity of this landmark that most locals now call it Lata Mangeshkar Chowk.

Born on September 28, 1929, Mangeshkar died on February 6, 2022 and the landmark was built as a tribute to the singer, whose silver voice, earned her the sobriquet -- Nightingale of India.

Plaques carrying a brief description of her legacy, courtesy Yatindra Mishra, who wrote her biography, have been put up inside the roundabout's periphery in three languages -- English, Hindi and Marathi.

''This memorial symbolises Lata Mangeshkar's devotion to Shri Ram. The bronze Saraswati veena amidst the pond with 92 'lotus' represents her music and devotion along with her fruitful life of ninety-two years. The main artefact is surrounded by a circumambulatory path with representatives of the seven musical notes,'' reads the plaque in English.

The encircled fence is punctuated with seven ornate sandstone pillars adding to the charm of the landmark.

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