The Department of Archaeology of Nepal has said that it will soon begin an archaeological study of the birth place of Lord Ram in Nepal to prove that he was in fact born in the Himalayan kingdom.
Damodar Gautam, Director General of Nepal's Department of Archaeology, said the institution is carrying out excavations, research and studies about cultural and religious sites in the country and it cannot step back from its duty, especially when Prime Minister has given a statement in this regard.
"We have strong evidence that ancient civilisation existed in these areas, but we have no evidence that the real Ayodhya was in any of these districts. A major site of excavation would be finalised after conducting a knowledge sharing programme with historians, cultural experts and religious leaders," the department said.
PM Oli had claimed that Ram's birthplace is near Thori village in the Bara district of Nepal. The Department of Archaeology also wants to expand its excavations in districts including Dhanusa, Bara and Chitwan as there is evidence that ancient civilizations existed on the river banks of these districts.
This development comes after Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli recently claimed that the "real" birthplace of Ram is not in India but in Nepal.
Soon afterwards, Nepal's foreign ministry clarified that Oli's remarks were "not linked to any political subject" and were not intended to hurt anyone’s feelings or sentiments.”
Reacting to Nepal's claim, India's foreign ministry said on Thursday that "India's rich heritage is known to the world and Nepal's MOFA has already given clarification."
Ayodhya in India's Uttar Pradesh is revered as a pilgrimage centre by millions of Hindus as the birth place of Lord Ram. It is alos the centre of a century long legal battle, with Hindus claiming Lord Ram was born there and Muslims claiming an ancient mosque existed there. With the help of a special Bench of the Supreme Court of India, both sides were allowed claims to particular areas with the construction of a massive Lord Ram's temple and the reconstruction of a demolished mosque a bit further away in the same city.
Lord Ram's temple construction in Ayodhya has been the focus of political campaigns for decades. It was also a major promise in the political manifesto of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs.
Meanwhile, the claims over Lord Ram's place of birth in neighbouring Nepal come against the backdrop of strained Indo-Nepal relations in view of a new political map issued by the latter. While the new map claims sovereignty over the Indian territories of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura, New Delhi has termed the claims "untenable".