Archaeological Relics found in 1970's
During the period from 1972 to 1976, some archaeologists had uncovered relics belonging to five Ramayana-related archaeological sites which included Shringaverapura, Chitrakoot, Bharadwaj Ashram, Nandigram and Ayodhya. The ASI team asserted that pillar cases of what appears to have been a temple have been found at the site, which is thought to belong to a larger building as compared to the Babri Mosque. However, this particular project lay ignored for the next 12 years and the final report was not submitted to the concerned authorities. In 1989, the preliminary report was published in the Indian Council of Historical Research or ICHR. The former Director-General of ASI, B.B. Lal have claimed in his book 'Rama: His Historicity Mandir and Setu' there existed 12 stone pillars close to the Babri Mosque, which were embellished with the figurines of Hindu deities and also Hindu patterns. Burnt pillar bases composed of bricks, lying some distance away from the mosque suggest that a giant temple existed near the Babri Mosque ever since the 11th century. Stones and brick- bats have been discovered at about 4 metres from the southern portion of the mosque.
Archaeological Relics found in 1992
During June to July 1992, innumerable archaeological relics have been found at Ayodhya. A statue of Lord Vishnu and some religious sculptures are amongst the findings. The findings have indicated that the inner boundary of the controversial structure of the Babri Mosque might have probably belonged to a larger structure which could possibly have been an ancient temple. It has been declared that these fragments were a part of a temple which was built following the Nagara style of architecture dating around 900 to 1200 AD. Carved sandstone artefacts displaying images of Shiva-Parvati and Lord Vishnu and terracotta Hindu figures belonging to the age of the Kushanas dating back to 100 to 300 AD have also been unearthed from the site. Most of the relics excavated can be attributed to the era around the 10th century, stretching till the 12th century AD, during the rule of the late Pratihara and Gahadvala rulers. A vast quantity of 'amalakas' which are cogged-wheel kind of architectural structures that adorn the spires of subsidiary shrines or even the main 'shikhara' have been found. This type of architectural feature is very popular in several northern Indian temples which were erected during the medieval age. There have been numerable evidences which bear testimony to the fact that a temple was existed at Ayodhya especially during the 10 to 12th century AD. They involve door jambs decorated with floral motifs, cornices, mouldings, pillar capitals and so on.
Archaeological Survey of India Report of 2003
During 2003, the Ram Janm Bhoomi site of Ayodhya was thoroughly excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India under the orders of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court. Certain Buddhist remnants lying under Muslim and Hindu layers have also been found. Findings have also claimed about the existence of a gigantic 10th century temple structure bearing resemblance to a Hindu temple which was present prior to the construction of the Babri Mosque. The ASI then issued a report based on the findings between 22nd May and 6th June, 2003 which stated that some brick walls in north-south orientation and east-west orientation, many pillar bases, Sanskrit inscriptions of sacred verses embedded on stone, a 1.64-metre high adorned, broken black stone pillar engraved with 'yaksha' figures on four corners and decorated coloured floors have been discovered.
Other ASI reports have asserted the existence of beautiful carvings of cross-legged figures on two black basalt columns and also a staircase at Ayodhya site. Excavations have revealed that the bricks which were employed in the creation of the Babri Mosque can be traced back to the regime of the Mughal emperor Babur. The walls of the mosque have been ornamented with typical Hindu symbols like lotus, Kaustubh jewel and much more. These several architectural elements have been cautiously anchored onto the walls. A small part of a stone slab can be noticed projecting outwards at an area which is below 20 feet in a pit, while the remaining part of the slab lies hidden inside the wall. It has been observed that a five-letter Devanagari inscription bearing a Hindu name is present on the projecting section of the stone slab. It has been assumed that the objects unearthed from below 20 feet are over 1, 500 years of age. The lack of primary clay upto 30 feet is a strong indication that some structure might have been present here more than 2,500 years ago. Over 30 pillar-bases have also been uncovered, which are in two parallel rows, pointed in a north-south direction. Three layers of the floor can be viewed and it has been seen that a certain wall lies superimposed on another wall.
A 'Yagna Kund' or octagonal sacred fireplace was also found, which point towards the existence of an old structure. Red brick powder, or 'Surkhii' has been utilized as a material for construction in India for more than 2000 years, and even in Ram Janm Bhoomi Ayodhya, this material has been freely used. Several ornamental pieces of 'Kasauti' stone pillars, also known as touchstone have been discovered, along with terracotta idols of saints, horse-riders, serpents, religious idols, elephants, etc. Ancient bricks belonging to the period of the Kushana Dynasty and the Gupta Dynasty, and walls of the 12th century CE, belonging to the Garhwal era are a few of the other archaeological wonders which have been found from Ayodhya.Excavations conducted here have displayed the existence of a vast holy structure which served religious purposes, which was not at all a residential complex. Even presently, this region houses some temples and archaeological excavations have claimed that the temples which might have been a part of this area followed northern Indian style of architecture.
Archaeological Relics found as per ASI Report: 2003
Ancient ruins belonging to various historical periods have been unearthed from the site of Ayodhya.
Period 1000 BC to 300 BC
Northern Black Polished Ware or NBPW was once present near the Babri Mosque which belonged to this period. Besides, a circular shaped signet has also been found which is embedded with terracotta figurines of female deities, terracotta beads, a legend in Ashokan Brahmi inscription, remains of votive tanks and wheels.
Period of the Sunga Dynasty: 200 BC
Various terracotta idols of animals, human figures, mother Goddesses, pottery-wares consisting of grey-ware, red-ware and black slipped-ware and brick and stone structures belonging to the Sunga age are amongst the other significant excavations.
Period of the Kushanas: 100 to 300 AD
Ceramics of red-ware, remnants of votive tanks, terracotta beads, terracotta animal and human idols, fragments of bangles have been found from this part of the country.
Period of the Guptas and Post-Gupta Age: 400 to 600 AD
Terracotta idols, potsherds of the age of the Gupta Dynasty and a copper coin containing the image of the legendary ruler Sri Chandra Gupta have been discovered. A unique circular brick-shrine, which possessed an entrance from the east equipped with a water-chute on the northern wall are the other archaeological marvels belonging to Ayodhya.
Period 11th to 12th century
A large structure measuring about 50 metres lying in north-south orientation existed here. On top of this particular structure existed three structural phases equipped with a large pillared hall.
A Canadian geophysicist named Claude Robillard had performed an extensive search in January 2003 with the aide of ground-penetrating radar and the survey revealed a few structures beneath the Babri Mosque measuring about 0.5 to 5.5 metres. The structures might have probably been slab floors, foundation walls and pillars.
Archaeological Inscriptions found in Ayodhya
During the destruction of the Babri Mosque in December 1992, Hari-Vishnu inscriptions had been discovered over a stone slab measuring 1.10 x 0.56 metres, along with 20 lines which dates around 1140 ca. According to this inscription, Lord Vishnu was the presiding deity of the temple, the 'slayer of Bali and also of the ten-headed one' (since Lord Rama is a divine incarnation or 'avatar' who had defeated Ravana and Bali). The Hari-Vishnu inscription follows the Sanskrit and Nagari Lipi script, which is a script popular during the 12th and 12th century. The Chairman of the Epigraphical Society of India, Ajay Mitra Shastri had examined this inscription and concluded that Line 15 of this ancient inscription states that a magnificent temple of Vishnu-Hari was created with the aide of large quantities of stone or 'sila-samhati-grahais', a golden spire or 'hiranya-kalasa-srisundaram', which surpassed the beauty of any other temple constructed by other rulers. He also added that Line 19 of this inscription has said that Lord Vishnu had killed Bali and also the 'Dasanana' or the ten-headed demon.
Other Archaeological Relics found at Ayodhya
Remnants of bones of animals and also human bones have also been found from this ancient site, which proves that it is unlikely that a temple once was present here. The existence of animals bones indicate that this portion of land was inhabited by some non-vegetarians and that it was a proper residential region as opposed to a divine place. In the year 1528, a mosque had been raised here, in this supposedly Muslim habitat.
(Last Updated on : 20-08-2014)