The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) report concerning Gyanvapi case, made public on 25 January, stated that "there existed a large Hindu temple (at the site), prior to the construction of the existing structure (mosque)."
The ASI submitted its report to the Varanasi district court in a sealed cover on 18 December 2023. The court's decision to allow the findings to be made public came on 24 January, two days after the consecration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
At the heart of this dispute between the Hindu and Muslim communities is the 'Wazu' area of the mosque. The Hindu side claimed that a structure found on the mosque's premises during a court-mandated survey is a 'Shivling' while the Muslim side had dubbed it a fountain.
On 25 January, after the findings were made available to the concerned parties, Vishnu Shankar Jain, lawyer for the Hindu side, said, "The ASI has said that during the survey, a number of inscriptions were noticed on the existing and preexisting structure."
"A total of 34 inscriptions were recorded during the present survey and 32 stamped pages were taken. These are in fact inscriptions on the stone of a preexisting Hindu temple which have been reused during the construction, repair of the existing structure. They include inscriptions in the Devanagari, Grantha, Telugu and Kannada scripts," Jain added.
The report further concludes that the pillars and pilasters of the temple were reused — with little modifications — for the purpose of "enlargement of the mosque."
As per the report, a total of 34 inscriptions were recorded during the survey. "These include inscriptions in Devanagari, Telugu, Grantha, and Kannada scripts. Reuse of earlier inscriptions in the structure suggest(s) that the earlier structures were destroyed and their parts were reused in the construction/repair of the existing structure (mosque)," the reports states.
It adds that names of deities such as Janardhana, Rudra, and Umesvara were found in the inscriptions.
According to the report, the ASI had in its custody the record of an inscription engraved on a stone which recorded the construction of the mosque in 1676-77 CE. This inscription also recorded that the mosque was repaired in 1792-93 CE. -- The photograph of this stone inscription was recorded in ASI records in the year 1965-66.
The report also mentions biography of Emperor Aurangzeb, Maasir-i-Alamgiri, according to which the order for demolition the temple of Vishwanath at Kashi was given on 2 September 1669.
The report concludes that the Arabic-Persian inscription found inside a room mentions that the mosque was built in the 20th regnal year of Aurangzeb (1676-77 CE). "Hence the pre-existing structure appears to have been destroyed in the 17th century during the reign of Aurangzeb, and part of it was modified and reused to build the existing structure (mosque)."