Hindu Vivek Kendra
4.  Documentary evidence: European accounts

We now present a brief summary of all the post-Babar accounts of Ayodhya recorded by European travellers, archaeologists and scholars.

1) Travel report by William Finch, the European traveller (1608-11).

Finch, who visited Ayodhya, confirms the existence of the ruins of Ramkot, the castle of Ram where Hindus believed he had incarnated thousands of years ago.  (see Annexure 11 for the relevant extract from William Foster, ed.: Early Travels in India, 1583-1619, London 1921 p.176)

2) History and Geography of India, by Joseph Tieffenthaler, (published in French by Bernoulli in 1785).

Tieffenthaler, the Austrian Jesuit priest who stayed in Awadh in 1766-71, reports that Babar destroyed the birth-place temple of Ram and constructed a mosque by using its pillars.  However, Hindus refused to give up the place and in spite of the Moghuls' efforts to prevent them, they were coming to the place for worship.  They had constructed the Ram Chabootra in the mosque's courtyard, which they used to perambulate thrice, then to prostrate on the ground.  They practised their devotion at the chabootra and in the mosque.  Tieffenthaler testifies that they continued celebrating Ram Navami with great gatherings of people from all over India.  (see Annexure 12, containing pp.253-254 of Tieffenthaler's Description Historique et Geographique de l'Inde, along with an English translation)

3) Report by Montgomery Martin, British Surveryor (1838).

He proposes that the Masjid was built on the ruins of the Ramkot itself, rather than of a building constructed by Vikramaditya, and that the pillars used in the mosque have been taken from Ram's palace, the figures thereon having been damaged by the bigot (i.e. Babar).  (see Annexure 13 for pp.335-336 of Martin : History, Antiquities, Topography and Statistics of Eastern India, vol.II)

4) East India Company Gazetteer, by Edward Thornton (1854).

This mentiones that Babar's mosque is embellished with 14 columns of elaborate workmanship taken from the old Hindu temple.  It also mentions that the Hindus practised pilgrimage and devotion on the Ram Chabootra which they believed to be Ram's cradle.  (see Annexure 14 for pp.730-740 of Thornton : Gazetteer of the Territories under the Government of the East India Company)

5) Encyclopaedia of India by Surgeon General Edward Balfour (1858).

It mentions that Ayodhya has three mosques on the sites of three Hindu shrines : the Janmasthan, the site where Ram was born ; the Swargadwar Mandir, where his remains were buried ; and the Treta ka Thakur, famed as the scene of one of his great sacrifices.  (see Annexure 15 for p.56 of Balfour : Encyclopaedia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia)

6) Historical Sketch of Faizabad by P. Carnegy (1870).

He describes the Ramkot with all its bastions and palaces and says that the columns of Janmasthan temple made of strong close-grained dark slate-coloured Kasauti (or touch-stone) and carved with different devices were used by Muslims in the construction of Babar's mosque.  Carnegy also notes the construction of the new Janmasthan temple on the neighbouring plot of land in the early 18th century.  He reports that until 1855 both Hindus and Muslims worshipped alike in the mosque-temple.  (see Annexure 16 for Carnegy : Historical Sketck of Tehsil Fyzabad, Zilla Fyzabad, with the old capitals Ajudhia and Fyzabad, Lucknow 1970, p.5-7, 19-21 and a photograph taken by Carnegy)

7) Gazetteer of the Province Oudh (1877).

It confirms that the Moghuls destroyed three important Hindu temples at Ayodhya and constructed mosques thereon.  Babar built the Babri mosque on Ram Janmabhoomi in 1528, Aurangzeb built one on Swargadwar, and either Aurangzeb or Shahjahan did the same on Treta ka Thakur.  All other assertions from Carnegy's Historical Sketch of Faizabad are confirmed in this Gazetteer.  (see Annexure 17 : Gazetteer of the Province of Oudh, vol.I, 1877, pp.6-7).

8) Faizabad Settlement Report (1880).

The report confirms that Babar built the Babri mosque in 1528 on the site of Janmasthan temple marking the birthplace of Ram.  On Swargadwar Mandir, Aurangzeb constructed a mosque, and on Treta-ka-Thakur the same was done by either Aurangzeb or Shahjahan, according to the well-known Mohammedan practice of enforcing their religion on others.  The columns of the destroyed Janmasthan temple have been used in the Babri mosque.

9) Imperial Gazetteer of Faizabad (1881).

It confirms the construction of three Moghul mosques at Ayodhya on the site of three celebrated shrines, viz.  Janmasthan, Swargadwar and Treta-ka-Thakur.  (see Annexure 18 : Imperial Gazetteer of India, Provincial Series.  United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, vol.II, pp.338-9)

10) Court verdict by Col. F.E.A. Chamier, District Judge, Faizabad (1886).

In delivering his judgment in Civil Appeal No. 27 of 1885, the Judge, after visiting the Babri mosque site for personal inspection, observed :"It is most unfortunate that a Masjid should have been built on land specially held sacred by the Hindus, but as that event occurred 356 years ago, it is too late now to remedy the grievance." (see Annexure 19 : extract reproduced in Muslim India, March 1986, p. 107)

11) Archaeological Survey of India Report by A.  Fuhrer (1891).

Fuhrer accepts that Mir Khan built the Babri mosque on the site of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple, using many of its columns.  He also confirmed that Aurangzeb had constructed two other mosques in Ayodhya on the sites of Swargadwar and Treta-ka-Thakur temples.  (see Annexure 20 : Fuhrer : The Monumental Antiquities and Inscriptions in the North-West Provinces and Oudh, ASI Report 1891, pp.296-297)

12) Barabanki District Gazetteer by H.R. Neville (1902).

Neville reports that "numerous disputes have sprung up from time to time between the Hindu priests and the Mussalmans of Ayodhya with regard to the ground on which formerly stood the Janmasthan temple, which was destroyed by Babar and replaced by a mosque".  (see Annexure 21 : Neville: Barabanki District Gazetteer, Lucknow 1902, p.168-169)

13) Faizabad District Gazetteer by H.R. Neville (1905).

This chronicle confirms that the Janmasthan temple marking the birthplace of Ram at Ramkot was destroyed by Babar and replaced by a mosque using the materials and columns of the temple.  In spite of its desecration, Hindus continued to regard it as a holy spot.  The desecration caused numerous disputes and clashes between the communities.  (see Annexure 22 : Neville : Fyzabad District Gazetteer, Lucknow 1905, pp.172-177)

14) Babur Nama in English by Annette Beveridge (1920).

After analysing the inscriptions on the Babri mosque and studying the archaeological features, she says that Babur was impressed with the dignity and sanctity of the ancient Hindu shrine it displaced, and that as an obedient follower of Mohammed, Babar regarded the substitution of the temple by a mosque as dutiful and worthy.  (see Annexure 23 : Beveridge : Babur Nama in English, vol II., 1922, appendix on "The inscriptions on Babur's Mosque in Ajodhya (Oudh)", p.xxvii-xxix)

15) Archaeological Survey of India (1934).

It identifies all the holy sites of Ayodhya with reference to the ancient texts, numbered them and put up sign posts in stone to mark the sites.  The Babri mosque was identified as the Ram Janmabhoomi and a sign post was embedded there saying :"Site no. 1 : Janmabhoomi".

16) Revised Faizabad District Gazetteer by Smt.  E.V. Joshi (1960).

This Gazetteer records that under Babar's orders the ancient Janmasthan temple was destroyed and the Babri mosque was constructed on its site.  The material of the old temple including some of the original columns were employed in building the mosque.  (see Annexure 24 : U.P.  District Gazetteers - Faizabad, Lucknow 1960, pp.  46-47, 352-354)

17) Encyclopaedia Brittanica (1978, 15th edition, vol.I).

This most authentic Encyclopaedia records that Ram's birthplace is marked by a mosque erected by the Moghul emperor Babar in 1528 on the site of an earlier temple.  The Encyclopaedia also provides a photograph of the present structure, describing it as the mosque on Rama's birthplace, Ayodhya, U.P., India.  Earlier editions of the Encyclopaedia also contained this information.  (see Annexure 25 : E.B. vol.I, p.693)

18) Ayodhya by Hans Bakker (1984).

In his most comprehensive study, the Dutch scholar Bakker has repeatedly and categorically accepted that an old Vaishnava temple was situated on the holy spot where Ram descended on earth.  This Janmabhoomi temple was destroyed by Babar in 1528 and replaced with the now-existing mosque structure.  14 black-stone pillars from the temple were utilized by Mir Baqi in the constructtion of the mosque.  Two more pillars have been driven upside down into the ground at the grave of the Muslim saint Musa Ashiqan, who is said to have incited Babar to demolish the Janmabhoomi temple.  A seventeenth specimen which is a door-jamb with matching sculpture and similar age (and possibly from the same temple) is kept inside the new Janmasthan temple on the neighbouring mound.  Bakker concludes that Ram Janmabhoomi temple was one of the oldest Ram temples in the country which was in existence in the 12th century.  (cfr.  Bakker : Ayodhya, Egbert Forsten, Groningen 1986, part I, pp.43-59, 60-66, 119-153, part II, pp.118-121, 143-149, 173-175)

19) Ram Janmabhoomi vs. Babri Masjid by Koenraad Elst (1990).

The Belgian scholar Elst has centred his study of the Ayodhya controversy on a critical examination of the anti-Mandir argumentations of mrs.  Surinder Kaur (The Secular Emperor Babar), Syed Shahabuddin (articles in Muslim India and Indian Express) and a group of JNU historians (The Political Abuse of History).  Confronting these argumentations with the available evidence, as well as checking them in terms of logic and methodology, he concludes that the anti-Mandir thesis is untenable.  (cfr. Elst : Ram Janmabhoomi vs. Babri Masjid, a Case Study in Hindu-Muslim Conflict, Voice of India, Delhi 1990) 

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