At the direction and supervision of court-appointed observers of Allahabad Bench of the Uttar Pradesh High Court, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) excavated the disputed “Ayodhya Temple – Babri Mosque” site. The archaeologists reported evidence of a large structure similar to a Hindu temple having pre-existed the Babri Masjid. A team of 131 workers including 29 Muslims was engaged in the excavations.
ASI, which oversees and maintains the ancient monuments and archaeological sites under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act – 1958, and Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972 examined the site, and in June 2003 issued a report of the findings. Later in August 2003 the ASI handed a 574-page report to the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.
The ASI report stated:
“Among the structures listed in the report are several brick walls ‘in east-west orientation’, several ‘in north-south orientation’, ‘decorated coloured floor’, several ‘pillar bases’, and a ‘1.64-metre high decorated black stone pillar (broken) with vaksha figurines on four corners’ as well as “Sanskrit inscription of holy verses on stone”. It also mention among other things a staircase and two black basalt columns ‘bearing fine decorative carvings with two crosslegged figures in bas-relief on a bloomed lotus with a peacock whose feathers are raised upwards’.
Ancient perimeters from East to West and North to South have been found beneath the Babri fabrication. The bricks used in these perimeters predate the time of Babur. Beautiful stone pieces bearing carved Hindu ornamentations like lotus, Kaustubh jewel, alligator facade, etc., have been used in these walls. These decorated architectural pieces have been anchored with precision at varied places in the walls. A tiny portion of a stone slab is sticking out at a place below 20 feet in one of the pits. The rest of the slab lies covered in the wall. A tiny portion of a stone slab is sticking out at a place below 20 feet in one of the pits. The rest of the slab lies covered in the wall. The projecting portion bears a five-letter Dev Nagari inscription that turns out to be a Hindu name. The items found below 20 feet should be at least 1,500 years old. According to archaeologists about a foot of loam layer gathers on topsoil every hundred years. Primary clay was not found even up to a depth of 30 feet. It provides the clue to the existence of some structure or the other at that place during the last 2,500 years.
More than 30 pillar bases have been found at equal spans. The pillar-bases are in two rows and the rows are parallel. The pillar-base rows are in North-South direction.
A wall is superimposed upon another wall. At least three layers of the floor are visible.
An octagonal holy fireplace (Yagna Kund) has been found.
Many ornate pieces of touchstone (Kasauti stone) pillars have been found in the excavation. Terracotta idols of divine fugurines, serpent, elephant, horse-rider, saints, etc., have been found.
The Gupta and the Kushan period bricks have been found.
Brick walls of the Gahadwal period (12th Century CE) have been found in excavations.
Nothing has been found to prove the existence of residential habitation there. The excavation gives out the picture of a vast compound housing a sole distinguished and greatly celebrated structure used for divine purposes and not that of a colony or Mohalla consisting of small houses. That was an uncommon and highly celebrated place and not a place of habitation for the common people. Hindu pilgrims have always been visiting that place for hundreds of years. The items found in the excavations point to the existence of a holy structure of North Indian architectural style at that place
The court as part of the hearing, said that the ASI report contains all the details including details of straigraphy, artifacts, periodisation as well as details of structures and walls. The pillar bases mentioned in the report establishes beyond all doubt the existence of a huge structure.
Additionally, the judges have mentioned the existence of circular shrine, stone slabs in walls with Hindu motifs and more particularly sign of Makar Pranal in wall No. 5 (the wall of disputed structure), divine couple and other temple materials – conclusively proves the existence of a hindu religious structure.
Period 1000BC to 300BC
The findings suggest that a Northern Black Polished Ware culture existed at the mosque site between 1000BC and 300BC. A round signet with a legend in Asokan Brahmi, terracotta figurines of female deities with archaic features, beads and terracotta and glass, wheels and fragments of votive tanks have been found.
Shunga Period. 200 BC
Typical terracotta mother goddess, human and animal figurines, beads, hairpins, pottery (includes black slipped, red and grey wares), and stone and brick structures of teh Shunga period have been found
Kushan Period 100 – 300 AD
Terracotta human and animal figurines, fragments and votive tanks, beads, bangle fragments, ceramics with red ware and large-sized structures running into twenty-two courses have been found from this level
Gupta era (320 – 600 AD) and post-Gupta era
Typical terracotta figures, copper coin with the legend Sri Chandra (Gupta), and illustrative potshreds of the Gupta period have been found. A circular brick shrine with an entrance from the east and a provision for a water-chute on the northern wall have also been found
11th to 12th century
A huge structure of almost fifty meters in north-south orientation have been found on this level. Only four of the fifty pillar bases belong to this level. Above this lay a structure with at least three structural phases which had a huge pillared hall
In the January 2003, Canadian geophysicist Claude Robillard performed a search with a ground-penetrating radar. The survey concluded the following:
“There is some structure under the mosque. The structures were ranging from 0.5 to 5.5 meters in depth that could be associated with ancient and contemporaneous structures such as pillars, foundation walls, slab flooring, extending over a large portion of the site”.
Claude Robillard, the chief geophysicist stated the following:
“There are some anomalies found underneath the site relating to some archaeological features. You might associate them (the anomalies) with pillars, or floors, or concrete floors, wall foundation or something. These anomalies could be associated with archaeological features but until we dig, I can’t say for sure what the construction is under the mosque.”
The final ASI report of August 25, 2003 stated that there was evidence of a large Hindu temple having pre‐existed the Babri mosque. Midway into the excavations the courts ordered the removal of the head of the ASI excavations for not following the excavation norms.
Stone inscriptions dated to CA 1140 were retained after the December 1992 event of Babri structure demolition. The Vishnu-Hari inscription inscribed on a 1.10 x .56 metre slab with 20 lines mentioned the temple was dedicated to “Vishnu, slayer of Bali and the ten-headed one” [Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu who is siad to have defeated Bali and Ravana]. The inscription written in Sanskrit script “Nagari Lipi” of the 11th and 12th century was verified by the epigraphists and sanskrit scholars