‘Old Hindu temple’s remaining parts…': What ASI survey says about Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque cellars | Mint
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Business News/ News / India/  ‘Old Hindu temple’s remaining parts…': What ASI survey says about Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque cellars
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‘Old Hindu temple’s remaining parts…': What ASI survey says about Varanasi’s Gyanvapi mosque cellars

A Varanasi district court allowed the Hindu side to offer prayers at the southern cellar, also known as ‘Vyas Ka Tehkhana’, inside the Gyanvapi mosque. Here is the ASI survey report about the Gyanvapi mosque.

The Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi (HT)Premium
The Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi (HT)

A Varanasi district court on Wednesday allowed the Hindu side to worship inside the southern cellar, also known as ‘Vyas Ka Tehkhana’, inside the Gyanvapi mosque.

Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, representing the Hindu side, says, “...Puja will start within seven days. Everyone will have the right to perform puja..."

"The Hindu side is allowed to offer prayers at 'Vyas Ka Tehkhana'. The district administration will have to make arrangements within seven days," Jain said.

The court ordered the district magistrate to arrange for the prayers within seven days and a priest nominated by Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust. On the other hand, the Muslim side—represented by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee—said they would challenge the order in the higher court.

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Rejecting the ASI findings, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said that the report of the ASI is not "conclusive evidence".

"Hindu communal organisations have been misleading the public for many years regarding the Gyanvapi Masjid. The latest example of this is a report of the Archaeological Survey of India which they filed in the court and made available to the plaintiff and defendant only on the orders of the court. This report was for their study and preparation but by publishing it in the press, the opposition party has not only insulted the court but has also tried to mislead the simple people of the country," AIMPLB executive member Qasim Rasool Ilyas said.

Also Read | Varanasi court permits Hindu side to offer prayers at Gyanvapi mosque complex

The order followed a plea by four Hindu women to the Supreme Court requesting the excavation and scientific survey of a sealed portion of the Gyanvapi mosque. The plea was filed in the apex court after the report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was made public in which the ASI concluded that a significant Hindu temple structure was predating the mosque's construction.

The ASI report about the Gyanvapi mosque:

  • After an in-depth study of the existing structures, and artefacts recovered from the Gyanvapi site, the ASI in its report concluded that “there existed a large Hindu temple before the construction of the existing structure" in the 17th century.
  • “Based on scientific studies/ survey carried out, the study of architectural remains, exposed features and artefacts, inscriptions, art and sculptures, it can be said that there existed a Hindu temple before the construction of the existing structure," the ASI report said.
  • The report said the western wall of the Gyanvapi mosque, which is made of stones and decorated with mouldings, is the remaining part of an earlier Hindu temple.
  • Citing existing architectural remains, decorated mouldings on the walls, “karma-ratha" and “prati-ratha" (something to depict Shiva and Parvati) of the central chamber, a large decorated entrance gate with ornamental skirting on the eastern wall of the western chamber, a small entrance with a mutilated image on the door jamb, birds and animals carved for decoration inside and outside, suggests that the western wall is the remaining part of a Hindu temple, the report said.
  • The ASI report said that after studying the pillars and pilasters used in the existing structure scientifically, the officers concluded that the parts of the pre-existing temple were used in the present structure.
  • The report further said during the scientific investigations/survey, the ASI officers noticed a number of Sanskrit and Dravidian inscriptions —dated 12th to 17th century—not only on the pre-existing structure but also on the existing structure.
  • "Most of these inscriptions which can be dated from 12th to 17th century have been reused in the structure, suggesting that the earlier structures were destroyed and their parts were reused in construction/ repair later," the report said.
  • The report also pointed out that some sculptures of Hindu deities and carved architectural structures were also found buried under the dumped soil in one of the cellars.
  • “Pillars from earlier temples were reused while making cellars in the eastern part of the platform. A pillar decorated with bells, niches for keeping lamps on all four sides, and bearing an inscription of Samvat 1669 is reused in cellar N2," said the report.

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Published: 31 Jan 2024, 07:23 PM IST
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