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Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

India: Religious Tolerance

A Hindu temple glanced through an Islamic arch at Golconda
This Hindu temple glanced through an Islamic arch at Golconda is symbolic of the mix of faiths in India

After recovering from my bout of giardia, I finally boarded the overnight train heading southbound from Puri to Hyderabad. The long journey was considerably enlivened – as if it needed to be, considering the bubbling insanity of India's trains – by a bunch of young Indian zoology students from Andhra Pradesh, of which Hyderabad is the state capital. One of them, Kiran, was particularly interesting; he was that rarest of creatures, a non-proselytising Indian Christian.

1 A mosque in the small town of Ayodhya, in central Uttar Pradesh, the Babri Masjid was the centre of a huge controversy back in 1992. Hindus revere Ayodhya as the birthplace of Rama, the popular seventh incarnation of Vishnu, and the mosque was claimed to be standing on the site of the original Rama Temple. Hindu fundamentalists wanted to destroy the mosque and build a new Rama Temple, and the BJP, which is staunchly pro-Hindu and anti-non-Hindu, made it clear that it supported the fundamentalist viewpoint. Confrontation and rioting filled the headlines in 1992, and in the mosque was torn down by Hindus, which led to major riots and over 200 deaths. It's easy to see why non-Hindus fear a BJP government in the next elections.

2 Still, Queenslanders always were at the earthier end of Australia. As they say there, 'I have a simple deal with the croc. I don't swim near his home, and he doesn't drink in my pub.'