Police used water cannons and bamboo batons to disperse 500 members and supporters of the World Hindu Council as they broke security barriers near the Parliament building in New Delhi yesterday.
The city of Ayodhya, about 350 miles east of the capital, has been under heavy security since last week when the local government banned the march amid fears of violence. Muslims say the holy site is the location of a former medieval mosque, while Hindus say it is the birthplace of their god Rama and that a temple stood there before the mosque was built.
On Sunday the authorities detained hundreds of Hindu nationalists for defying a ban on pilgrimages introduced by the Uttar Pradesh state government.
Fears of more violence in the area saw most shops closed and many people staying indoors.
In 2011, India's Supreme Court suspended a lower court's ruling to divide the religious site between Hindus and Muslims, with the Muslim community getting control of one-third and two Hindu groups splitting the rest of the site.
Tens of thousands of Hindu extremists ripped apart the mosque in 1992 with spades, crowbars and their bare hands as security forces watched.
The demolition sparked nationwide riots that killed 2000 people and, as a result, the dispute remains a sensitive political as well as religious issue.