Team Blitz India
NEW DELHI: The private jet parking lots at airports near Ayodhya are full and the shops have run out of gold-plated idols, as wealthy devotees arrived on the eve of the opening ceremony of one of the holiest temples.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani are among the 8,000 or so attendees at January 22’s inauguration event for the Ram Temple.
“It’s become like a status symbol to be invited to this event,” said Rajan Mehra, CEO of Indian luxury charter service Club One Air, adding that his fleet, which includes the Dassault Falcon 2000, is booked to make multiple trips next week.
Over 100 private jets descended on January 21at Ayodhya airport, filling it to capacity. Slots at Varanasi, a city around four hours away by car, are also full, as are the jet spaces in Gorakhpur airport, which is a three-hour drive away.
The ceremony is also giving jewellers and gold traders a boost. Some retailers say gold and gold-plated statues of Lord Ram and temple replicas – priced at Rs 30,000 ($361) – are so popular that they have run out of stock. Some items were imported from Thailand, they added.“Customers are asking for them for gifting and for keeping them at homes. There is a waiting period of two weeks,” said Baldev Singh, a manager at HS Jewellers in Lucknow.