The government on Thursday announced it would construct a Ramayana museum at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, but sought to avoid controversy saying it would be kept away from the disputed site .
Union tourism minister Mahesh Sharma said the Centre has begun the process of identifying the land for the museum which would portray the epic journey of Lord Rama.
"We are not going to construct this at the disputed site, but away from it. There is land available at 70 km. So, we will not touch the disputed area. Definitely, We will keep away from controversy," he told reporters.
The museum would be constructed as part of the Ramayana circuit which the government had declared recently.
"We are planning for Krishna circuit and Buddha circuit in Ayodhya. Similarly, we are also planning for Ramayana circuit. About Rs 120 crore has been earmarked for establishing the Ramayana circuit for which we are also contacting Nepal, Sri Lanka," he added.
Reiterating that the museum will not come up anywhere near the disputed land, Sharma said, "Wherever the land will be easily available, either by the government or by the private properties or by any act of donation, we love to construct this museum there."
Replying to a query on VHP leader Ashok Singhal's demand for developing a 70 acre of land available close to the disputed site in Ayodhya and whether the museum may come up in that plot, he said, "(If) it is possible then we love to make it there itself."
He, however, sought to clarify that construction of Ram temple and museum are two different things.
"The construction of Ram Mandir is a project of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Ram Janma Bhoomi Samiti. They are doing their job. But, as a tourism minister, I am doing this ( museum) on behalf of my ministry in Ayodhya," he said.
The museum would be established under the museums grant scheme of the union ministry of tourism and archaeologists and historians have been approached for the purpose.
Asked whether the museum is for Lord Rama or the Indian mythological epic of Ramayana, Sharma said, "Ram and Ramayana, both are same. It will be called as Ramayana Museum and it will a museum that will portray the journey and greatness of Lord Rama."