Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, laid the foundation stone for a controversial Hindu temple dedicated to Ram in the northern city of Ayodhya where a mosque was demolished by Hindu mobs nearly 30 years ago.
Houses and other buildings close to the temple were painted yellow - Hindu colours - whilst Modi participated in a Hindu ceremony, marking a definitive milestone in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) efforts to shift India towards an overtly Hindu identity.
"I am grateful to witness history being made,” Modi said in a speech. "Crores of Indians cannot believe that this day has come. The entire country is in the spell of Lord Ram ... Ram is an emblem of India's unity in diversity.”
Muslim Emperor Babur built a mosque at the site more than 400 years ago, but it was 1992 by Hindu mobs after a BJP rally. The destruction sparked violence that led to some 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, being killed. Violent riots in Gujarat in 2002, whilst Modi was chief minister of the state, were also linked to the Ayodhya site, which has continued to cause controversy.
However last year, India's Supreme Court ruled in favour of the building of a Hindu temple on the disputed site.
Modi was pictured praying and chanting alongside Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu cleric whom he elevated to chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, and Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu paramilitary group.
The India prime minister helped manoeuvre one of five 40kg silver bricks before declaring, “All of India is emotional. Centuries of waiting are finally over today.”