Ayodhya: Book Shops, Religious and Secular

A Photo-Feature


This week I had an opportunity to visit Ayodhya, which does not need any explanation for the symbols of religious harmony as well as (unfortunately) discord which it holds for the people of India. However, I just took some fleeting images of the book shops of this temple town that came my way. These were taken just as a way of sharing with the readers a different kind of perspective which reinforce as well undercut the symbols that Ayodhya holds for all of us making it look like any other contemporary town of the country. Of course, these are just a few fleeting images of a few book shops and I do not claim any comprehensiveness...just a way of sharing a slice of my visit and my life, I would say!
This was taken just opposite Ayodhya Kotwali. It seems these two shops keep books which are both religious as well as general in content, though I am not sure about it. The little girl in school uniform seems to be engrossed in looking at photos of gods and goddesses on display and for sale.
This takes a closer look at the book shop on the right side in the above photo.

In this another image of the book shop on the left side of the first photo, new buyers have now arrived, that little girl in school uniform having left the place with her mother (presuming her to be so).
This is the Kotwali Thana of Ayodhya which is just across the road of these books shops.
Well, this is one book shop which has nothing to do with the religious stuff. Text books, educational books, books for coompetitive examinations along with stationary items--all seem to be available at this book shop.
An obvious presence of Gita Press books at this shop which is situated very near the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid site in the midst of the long row of shops selling souvenirs of all kinds so very typical of any temple town.
This is the emblem of Ayodhya Reserach Institute that functions under the Culture Department of UP Govt. Its mandate is to do research on Ramayana-related dances, performing arts, paintings, masks, puppets, storytelling traditions etc in India as well as abroad and also on the history and mythology associated with the place. The above emblem in the middle shows Ram and Sita as they were depicted in a coin issued by Emperor Akbar. The Institute has many publications, which probably are also sold from a book shop outlet situated in the Institute.

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