Varanasi, 25th January 2024: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has released a conclusive report stating that a substantial Hindu temple predated the construction of the existing Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi. Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain disclosed this information following the court’s provision of the report to the litigants involved in the Gyanvapi dispute, encompassing both Hindu and Muslim parties.
According to the ASI report, which conducted scientific studies, architectural examinations, and artifact analyses, it is affirmed that “there existed a Hindu temple prior to the construction of the existing structure (Gyanvapi mosque).” The report highlights the findings of Arabic-Persian inscriptions within the mosque, indicating its construction during the 20th regnal year of Aurangzeb (1667-77). It suggests that the pre-existing Hindu structure was potentially destroyed during Aurangzeb’s reign in the 17th century, with some parts being modified and incorporated into the present mosque.
The comprehensive survey documented various objects within the Gyanvapi mosque complex, including inscriptions, sculptures, coins, architectural fragments, pottery, and items made of terracotta, stone, metal, and glass. Objects requiring immediate attention received on-site treatment, and in compliance with court orders, these items were subsequently handed over to the district administration.
The scientific survey was initiated in July 2023 following a directive from the Varanasi district court. The court, responding to a plea questioning whether the mosque was constructed over a pre-existing Hindu temple, instructed the ASI to conduct an in-depth investigation at the Gyanvapi mosque property.
District and Sessions Judge A K Vishvesha oversaw the proceedings, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive examination to determine the historical context of the site.
The ASI’s findings add a significant layer to the ongoing Gyanvapi dispute, shedding light on the intricate history of the revered religious site in Varanasi.