Rama Returns

The Truth Beneath the Ground Reveals the Rich Cultural Heritage of Ram Janmabhoomi

archaeological excavations

After the Historic Rama Janmbhoomi verdict by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and formation of Ram Janmabhoomi Kshetra Trust, construction of the temple started in earnest. In preparation for the grand Shilanyas to be held tomorrow, some preparatory works like levelling of land and removing of gangway were undertaken. During these excavations, some very interesting archaeological items were unearthed which caught the imagination of the public.

This excavation is actually among a series of excavations being carried out since 1975 onwards. These excavations show the rich heritage and culture that the holy land of Ram Janmabhoomi holds and the special significance it holds for each and every Indian.

From When did excavations start Initially?

In 1969-70, the Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology of Benaras Hindu University (BHU) had conducted excavations not only at Ayodhya but also at 4 more sites namely Sringaverapura, Bharadvaja Ashram, Chitrakut and Nandigram under Prof AK Narain. Then, between 1975 and 1980, Prof BB Lal who once served as Director General of Archaeological Survey of India undertook a project called Archaeology of Ramayana Sites and even published his findings in Indian Archaeology 1976-77 – A Review. In fact, the first Indications of archaeological evidence of a temple below the Babri Masjid were given in 1988 by Professor BB Lal.

What did the excavations reveal?

The excavations revealed that the first occupation of Ayodhya could be assigned to early 7th century BC. It also revealed a break in occupancy as the findings did not indicate anything significantly related to the Gupta period.

The excavations also revealed that the Ram Janmabhoomi Site was reoccupied in 11th century AD. These findings and much more were presented in a paper called “Historicity of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana: What has Archaeology to Say in the Matter” by Professor BB Lal in 1988 in a seminar organized by Indian Council of Historical Research on New Archaeology & India.

In this paper, Professor Lal stated that in the Janmabhumi area, the uppermost levels of a trench that lay immediately to the South of the Babri Masjid brought to light a series of brick-built bases which evidently carried pillars thereon. In the construction of the Babri Masjid a few stone pillars had been used, which may have come from the preceding structure. He also confirmed that among the remnants, a third of a temple lay beneath the Masjid.

On PM Chandra Shekhar’s request. Lal sent a letter to the Government on 3rd December 1990 where he stated that:

  • 14 tranches were laid out at different spots in Ayodhya, one of which was the area known as the Ram Janmabhumi.
  • On the basis of decorative motifs, sculptures etc these pillars are also ascribed to the 11th century AD.
  • Distinctive features found associated with the temples of north India including the archaeological evidence of a massive structure just below the disputed structure was found
  • There was also evidence of continuity in structural phases from the tenth century onwards upto the construction of the disputed structure along with the yield of stone and decorated bricks as well as mutilated sculpture of divine couple
  • Archaeologists also found carved architectural members including foliage patters, amalaka, kapotapali, doorjamb with semi-circular pilaster, broken octagonal shaft of black schist pillar, lotus motif, circular shrine having pranala (waterchute) in the north
  • Northern wall of the shrine contained a pranala, i.e. a water chute, which it opined to be a distinctive feature of temples in the plains of the Ganges – Yamuna.

Image:Illustrative Picture of a Pranala(water Chute)

As mentioned earlier these are distinctive features found associated with north Indian temples below the disputed structure of Babri Masjid Itself.

He also reported that excavation has uncovered the existence of a circular brick shrine with a circular exterior with an entrance from the east.

The architectural features of the early structure including its decorative motifs were revised in the construction of a monumental structure with a large pillared wall indicating evidence of a construction for public use, and a ‘makara pranali’ was excavated which is a water chute in form of a crocodile. Additionally, 263 pieces of terracotta objects of various gods and goddesses, human figures and female figures were also excavated.

Most importantly, the Vishnu Hari Shila Phalak, a tablet that spoke about the existence of a temple dedicated to the God who killed the 10 headed demon was found.

Vishnu Hari Inscription Excavated from Ram Janmabhoomi

Findings of 2003 ASI Report

In 1993, the President of India under Article 143 of Indian Constitution made a special reference to the Supreme Court of India on the following question:

Whether a Hindu temple or any Hindu religious structure existed prior to the construction of the Ram Janma Bhumi–Babri Masjid (including the premises of the inner and outer courtyards of such structure) in the area on which the structure stood?

Pursuance to this, the Allahabad High Court ordered excavation work to be carried out at the disputed site by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

In august of 2003, the ASI submitted a 574-page report consisting of written opinions, maps and drawings showing archaeological evidence of a massive structure beneath the disputed site with distinctive features such as Circular Shrine, Makar Pranala, Lotus Motif, Pillar Bases with carvings of animals, etc.

ASI report concluded that the archaeological evidence and other discoveries from the site were indicated distinctive features found associated with the temples of north India.

Media has reported that Grand Ram Janmabhoomi Temple will also include a Ram Katha Museum where such precious and rare artifacts which show the rich cultural heritage and living history of Ayodhya will be displayed for the generations of Hindus who will visit this holy shrine to see.