Priests on Monday began rituals for shifting the Ram Lalla idol in Ayodhya to a temporary new location, clearing the site to allow construction of a Ram temple.
The deity and two others idols will be shifted to a temporary structure nearby till the planned construction of a Ram temple is completed on the site, allotted for it by the Supreme Court in a landmark verdict in November.
The special prayers began amid restrictions forced upon the organisers by the coronavirus threat.
The puja will continue on Tuesday and the idols will be shifted to the new structure, a silver throne, on Wednesday morning.
The prayers on Monday were held in the presence of Ram Janmabhoomi Teerath Kshetra Trust members Bimlendra Mishra and Anil Mishra.
The trust was constituted by the Centre in February, days before the expiry of the three-month deadline set by the Supreme Court.
Ram temple trust secretary Champat Rai said seers from Ayodhya were not invited for the prayers due to the coronavirus threat.
"We will keep a watch on the situation till March 24 and decide the future course of action," he added.
On Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's proposed visit to Ayodhya on Wednesday, Rai said it was not final yet.
"The chief minister is responsible for the safety and security of people during the present situation. This is the first duty of a 'Raja'," he added.
On Wednesday, the idols will be placed on a 9.5-kg silver throne made by artisans from Rajasthan's Jaipur.
The Ayodhya administration has ordered the closure of all temples to contain the spread of coronavirus.