Varanasi court orders ASI probe into Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Masjid dispute

Kashi Vishwanath- Gyanvapi Mosque issue comes into the limelight again. Varanasi court on Thursday ordered the Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) to conduct extensive research on the disputed Gyanvapi Mosque precinct for finding conclusive proofs if an ancient temple ever existed on the site. The court asked the ASI to form a committee that would be carrying on the task of findings on the site. The court mentions on page 11, paragraph 5 of its order,

“Prime purpose of ASI would be to find out as to whether religious structure standing at the present at the disputed site is superimposition, alteration or addition. Or there is any structure overlapping of any kind with or over any other religious structure.”

gyanvapi mosque over the Kashi Vishwanath temple
Gyanvapi mosque.

The court proceeded with the case after nearly 21 years when in 1998, a stay was imposed on the case, on the plea of the first petitioner, Advocate Vijay Shankar Rastogi. At present, the case is filed in the name of Maa Shringaar Gauri, the Aadishakti of Lord Shiv. Maa Shringaar Gauri, as per the records and evidence, resides on the western side of the Gyanvapi mosque.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Present Kashi Vishwanath Temple adjacent to the mosque.


The dispute is all about a premise which the Muslims claim to hold the Gyanvapi mosque. While the Hindus faction says that the Mosque stands over once the grand Adi Vishweshar temple aka Kashi Vishwanath temple. History says that Aurangzeb ordered the demolition of the temple on 18th April 1669. In 1937 the Allahabad court heard of this case, when Din-Mohammed, a resident of then Benares, went to court. His pleading was to permit the formation of a Waqf board for the complete precinct. However, the Allahabad court rejected the plea then. Then, in 1983, Kashi Vishwanath Act came which said in its Section 4,

“Temple means the temple of Adi Vishweshwar popularly known as Kashi Vishwanath. Situated in the city of Varanasi which is used as a place of public worship and dedicated for the benefit of or used as a right to Hindus as place of public religious worshipping Jyotirling and includes all subordinate temple shrines and Asthan(Avimukt).”

The Muslims contest the fact that the case violates the terms mentioned in the Place of Religious Worship(Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which contains two important terms,

“1.No person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination or any section thereof into a place of worship of a different section of the same religious denomination or of a different religious denomination or any section thereof. “

“2.It is hereby declared that the ‘religious character’ of a place of worship existing on the 15th day of August, 1947 shall continue to be the same as it existed on that day.”

The petition supporters like Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain say that the religious character of the structure was Hindu only. Not only before the 15th of August, 1947 but from time immemorial. Some of the supporters say that the name Gyanvapi’ is in itself a mismatch for a mosque’s name! Gyanvapi is a Sanskrit word meaning well of knowledge. In the petition, the supporters have demanded to free the temple premises. Also,  the 5 Kos or 15.40 km radius of area to be dedicated only to the Adi Vishweshwar. According to the scriptures, Shiv and Aadishakti built the 5 Kos area known as ‘Avimukt’. Avimukt means that this area would be the last area remaining on the planet when the ‘Pralay’ or the ‘eventual destruction’ of the planet would arrive.

Kashi Vishwanath temple.
The current temple vs the disputed structure.


The court has ordered the ASI to conduct the archaeological survey of the place. ASI would submit the findings and conclusion within a month. The further proceedings would take place most probably in the month of May this year.

Shashwat Malasi

3 thoughts on “Varanasi court orders ASI probe into Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Masjid dispute

  • The best blog on kashi-vishwanath dispute till date.
    Thoroughly explained, not inclined on any section of society.
    very nicely written.
    kudos to the author

  • Shruti Naithani Shruti Naithani

    All the vital points are skillfully summarised along with latest updates on this another important topic, i.e, kashi-vishwanath temple.
    Good going…


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