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Ancient Temple Found Beneath Disputed Mosque

Results of the Ayodhya Excavations

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Updated August 25, 2003
The much-awaited archaeological report that ascertains that a 10th century temple existed at the place where the 16th century Muslim ruler Babur built a mosque in the Indian holy town of Ayodhya, is finally out. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has reported that its excavations found distinctive features of a temple beneath the Babri Mosque site.

In March 2003, an Indian court had asked the ASI to undertake excavations at the disputed site at Ayodhya, a religious place in northern India claimed by both Hindus and Muslims. In December 1992, Hindu fundamentalists demolished the Babri Mosque, claiming Muslims had built it after tearing down a Hindu temple marking the birthplace of Lord Rama, called “Sri Rama Janma Bhumi”. Hindus want to build a new temple on the disputed ground, while Muslims demand the land be given to them to build a new mosque.

The excavation was ordered to find answer to the question whether the Mughal ruler Babur superimposed the mosque called Babri Masjid on a preexisting structure after razing it or built it on virgin ground. The answer to this question has been found from the excavations. The 574-page ASI report consisting of written opinions and maps and drawings was opened before the court on August 25, 2003.

The report said there was archaeological evidence of a massive structure just below the disputed Islamic structure, and concluded that it was over the top of this construction during the early 16th century that the mosque was constructed directly resting over it.

The excavations found ancient perimeters made of bricks that predate the time of Babur, and walls that were anchored with beautiful stone pieces bearing carved Hindu ornamentations like lotus, Kaustubh jewel, alligator facade, etc. Among the excavation yields was a mutilated sculpture of divine couple, carved architectural members including foliage patterns and lotus motifs, and 50 pillar bases with brickbat foundation associated with a huge structure. All these are indicative of remains that are associated with the temples of north India.

Hindu pilgrims have always been visiting the place for thousands of years. Now, archaeology has confirmed the existence of a holy structure of north Indian architectural style at Ayodhya. But, whether it was the birthplace of Lord Rama, as the Hindus fondly believe, still remains a question.

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