Ayodhya, the ancient city believed by millions of Hindus to be the birthplace of Lord Ram, is actually a small village near Kathmandu, Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said Monday, in a statement certain to provoke a reaction from followers of Ram.
Speaking at a cultural programme at his residence, Mr Oli then accused India of cultural oppression and encroachment, and said Nepal's contribution to science had been undervalued.
"We still believe we gave Sita to Prince Ram but we gave the prince too, from Ayodhya, not India. Ayodhya is a village a little west (of) Birgunj (a district in Nepal that is around 135 km from capital Kathmandu)," Prime Minister Oli said.
"We have been oppressed a bit, culturally. Facts have been encroached," he was quoted by Nepali news website Setopati.com, which describes itself as "Nepal's digital newspaper".
According to news agency ANI, which quoted Nepalese media sources, Mr Oli also said: "Real Ayodhya lies in Nepal, not in India. Lord Ram is Nepali not Indian".