The Archaeological Survey of India has concluded in its report that “there existed a large Hindu temple prior to the construction of the existing structure (Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi)”. Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain made the announcement soon after the court made the report available to the Hindu and Muslim litigants in the Gyanvapi dispute.
“Based on scientific studies/survey carried out, study of architectural remains, exposed features and artefacts, inscriptions, art and sculptures, it can be said that there existed a Hindu temple prior to the construction of the existing structure,” reads the ASI report.
“The Arabic-Persian inscription found inside a room mentions that the mosque was built in the 20th regnal year of Aurangzeb (1667-77). Hence, the pre-existing structure appears to have been destroyed in the 17th Century, during the reign of Aurangzeb, and part of it was modified and reused in the existing structure,” reads the report.
The report, Jain claimed, also revealed that inscriptions were discovered that belong to the ancient Hindu temple, written in Devanagari, Telugu, Kannada, and other scripts.
“The ASI has said that during the survey, a number of inscriptions were noticed on the existing and preexisting structure. A total of 34 inscriptions were recorded during the present survey and 32 stamped pages were taken,” Jain said while reading out the report.
The report said that “all the objects which were noticed during the scientific survey in the complex were duly noted”. “These objects include inscriptions, sculptures, coins, architectural fragments, pottery, and objects of terracotta, stone, metal and glass. Objects that required first aid treatment were treated at the site,” states the report.
“These are in fact inscriptions on the stone of a pre-existing Hindu temple which have been reused during the construction and repair of the existing structure,” he added.
“The reuse of earlier inscriptions in the structure suggests that the earlier structures were destroyed and their parts were reused in the construction repair of the existing structure. Three names of deities such as Janardana, Rudra and Umeshwara are found in these inscriptions,” the senior advocate added.
These objects were then handed over to the district administration in compliance of the court order, states the report.
The Archaeological Survey of India carried out a scientific survey of the Gyanvapi premises following a district court order passed in July 2023. The ASI had sought to determine whether the mosque was constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple.
A scientific survey of Gyanvapi mosque complex was ordered by Varanasi district court in July 2023 to ascertain whether the mosque was “constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple”. District and Sessions Judge A K Vishvesha had directed the ASI to “undertake scientific investigation/survey/excavation at the property in question, that is, settlement plot number 9130 (Gyanvapi mosque)”.