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What Does Archaeological Evidence Tell Us About Ram Janmabhoomi – Babri Masjid?

Kicking off a series of talks and interviews on the Ayodhya Ram Mandir issue, Srijan Foundation organised a Srijan Talk titled, “Case For Ram Mandir At Ayodhya” by Dr. Meenakshi Jain at INTACH, New Delhi.

The esteemed speaker, Dr. Meenakshi Jain holds a Ph.D from Delhi University and specialises in Cultural Studies. She is presently a member of the Governing Council, Indian Council of Historical Research.

Here is a snippet of Dr. Jain’s Srijan Talk, where she describes the archaeological findings of Archaeological Survey of India from the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid excavation site at Ayodhya.

Despite the many evidences presented by archaeologists and scholars regarding the presence of an older temple underneath the Babri Masjid, the left historians adamantly refused to accept them or take cognizance of them. Since the dispute was not getting settled in any manner, the Allahabad High Court finally asked the Archaeological Survey of India to excavate the site to see if there was a temple beneath Babri Masjid. The Allahabad High Court laid down very strict instructions for the ASI, stating that a representative each from the Babri Masjid Action Committee and the Ram Janmabhoomi group must be present at the site everyday and that whatever findings were made must be recorded in a register and duly signed by both parties every day.

The ASI carried out the excavations following the Allahabad High Court guidelines. The findings of the ASI excavations revealed continuous occupation of the Ram Janmabhoomi site since 2nd Millennium BC and that the site was always a sacred site and was never used for habitational purposes.

Along with findings of occupation in the 1st Millennium BC, Shunga period in 2nd to 1st century BC, Kushan period in 1st to 3rd century AD and the advent of the Gupta period in 4th to 6th century AD, the ASI significantly found a circular brick shrine in the post-Gupta period. The shrine seemed to have been a kind of Shivling which was worshipped at the site and the pranala, from which the water comes out was still extant.

During the early medieval period in 10th to 11th century, they unearthed the remains of a huge structure, a temple nearly 50 mts in North-South orientation. According to the ASI, this temple was short lived as it did not survive for very long. It is quite possible the temple was destroyed just as the Somnath temple was destroyed again and again. Could this 10th-11th century temple have been destroyed? It is very likely because the Turks were active in this region around this time.

Then, on the remains of this 10th-11th century temple, a massive temple was constructed in the 12th century in three phases, with three floors and fifty pillars and a minimum dimension of 50 x 30 mts in the North-South and East-West directions respectively. This massive structure survived till the 16th century when it was demolished, and the Babri Masjid was constructed on top of it. Significantly, it was found that the Babri Masjid had no foundations and was built just on top of the walls of the massive temple.



1. The Battle For Rama: Case Of The Temple At Ayodhya – Dr. Meenakshi Jain

2. Ayodhya Revisited – Kishore Kunal

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