25 Jan 2024

ASI report suggests Hindu temple existed at Gyanvapi mosque complex

Archaeological Survey of India's report suggests that a Hindu temple existed at the Gyanvapi mosque complex in Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi, advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, representing the Hindu side, claimed on Thursday.

While addressing a press conference, Jain said that the ASI survey points towards the presence of a large Hindu temple before Gyanvapi mosque was built.

The Varanasi district court on Wednesday asked that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report be made public today and the hard copy be provided to both sides.

After the court's direction, advocate Hari Shankar Jain, the counsel for the Hindu side, claimed that "there is evidence to show that the mandir was demolished to make way for the construction of the mosque." 

 Advocate Jain said, "A lot of objections were raised to making the ASI report public. However, after hearing the arguments on both sides, the learned court ruled in favour of making the report available for both parties. The report will be made public and everyone will get to know what's in it."

Idols of Hindu gods found in the basement

Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain said that the ASI has said that idols of Hindu deities and carved architecture have been found buried under the soil. The existing architectural remains, including decorated moldings on the walls, a large gateway, a smaller gateway with distorted images and birds and animals carved for decoration, suggest that the western wall is the remaining part of a Hindu temple. 

“The Arabic-Persian inscription found inside one of the rooms mentions that the mosque was built during the reign of Aurangzeb,” he said. The pre-existing structure appears to have been destroyed in the 17th century.

Gyanvapi dispute

On January 16, the Supreme Court allowed an application by women Hindu petitioners seeking direction for cleaning the entire area of 'wazukhana' of the Gyanvapi mosque where the alleged 'Shivling' was found and ensuring that the space in question was in a 'hygienic' state.

The area of 'wazukhana' was sealed in 2022 following a Supreme Court order after discovering what was said to be a 'Shivling'.

The structure, which was claimed to be a 'Shivling' by the Hindu side and a 'fountain' by the Muslim side, was found in the mosque premises on May 16, 2022, during a court-mandated survey of the building located next to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

The 'Wazu' area is at the centre of the Gyanvapi mosque-Kashi Vishwanath temple dispute in the case, with both sides staking claim to the structure discovered during the court-mandated survey.

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