According to the Archaeological study of India (ASI) ground penetrating radar (GPR) study report of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, the western wall is what’s left of an earlier Hindu temple. According to the findings of the ASI assessment, it may be claimed that a Hindu temple existed before the current mosque was built.

The surviving portion of an earlier Hindu temple is housed within the western wall of the current Gyanvapi mosque. The remnants of the western chamber, the western extensions of the central room, and the western walls of the two chambers to its north and south combine to produce this stone wall embellished with horizontal mouldings. According to the ASI study, a copy of which appears in The Hindu, “modifications have been made to both side chambers, but the central chamber attached to the wall remains unchanged.”

An Arabic-Persian inscription discovered within a chamber states that the mosque was constructed during Aurangzeb’s 20th royal year (1676–77 CE). Therefore, it appears that the earlier construction was demolished in the 17th century, during Aurangzeb’s reign, and that some of its components were altered and used in the current building.

“It can be said that there was a Hindu temple before the current structure was built based on scientific studies/surveys conducted, study of architectural remains, exposed features and artefacts, inscriptions, art, and sculptures,” the ASI continued.

Reused after being altered

The ASI further claimed to have conducted a methodical, scientific analysis of the pillars and pilasters utilized in the current building and discovered that, in order to build the sahan and expand the mosque, portions of the previous temple, including pillars and pilasters, were reused with only minor changes.

A cursory examination of the pillars and pilasters in the passageway indicates that they were formerly a part of the Hindu temple that was already in place. The vyala figures carved on each side of the lotus medallion were disfigured for their usage in the existing structure, and floral designs were added to the spaces left by removing the stone bulk from the corners. Two comparable pilasters that are still in their original positions on the northern and southern walls of the western chamber attest to this finding, the ASI continued.

In cellar S2, carved architectural elements and sculptures of Hindu deities were discovered buried beneath the deposited dirt, according to the ASI assessment.

The scripts used for the inscriptions include Devanagari, Grantha, Telugu, and Kannada. The fact that some of the former inscriptions are still present inside the structure implies that those prior constructions were demolished and their components were recycled to build the current one.

The ASI study said, “Three names of deities such as Janardhana, Rudra, and Umsvara are found in these inscriptions.”

In July of last year, the Varanasi court ordered the ASI to carry out a scientific investigation of the Gyanvapi mosque grounds in order to determine whether or not there was ever a Hindu temple located beneath the mosque.

With the exception of the Wazukhana section, which was shut off by Supreme Court orders, the ASI conducted a scientific examination and survey of a 2150.5 square meter area of the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi Settlement Plot No. 9130.

On December 12, a comprehensive report was written and sent in a sealed cover to the court.

The ASI had asked the court earlier this month to keep its Gyanvapi report confidential since the issue is still pending before the Allahabad High Court and there is a greater potential for rumors and misrepresentations to circulate in public, thereby harming the agency’s operations.

Judge A.K. Vishvesh of the Varanasi district court has postponed the case to Thursday.

The report of the ASI’s scientific examination of the Gyanvapi mosque was ordered to be made public by the Varanasi district court on Wednesday, granting access to it to all petitioners—Hindus and Muslims alike.