Many Hindus believe that the Gyanvapi mosque was built upon the ruins of an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, known as the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.A recent survey conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2024 revealed the presence of a large Hindu temple complex beneath the mosque.
The Gyanvapi mosque itself showcases a unique blend of architectural styles. While the main structure reflects Mughal-era Islamic architecture, closer inspection reveals Hindu motifs incorporated into the design.
In May 2023, during the court-ordered videography survey of the mosque, a structure resembling a Shivlinga (a symbolic representation of Lord Shiva) was discovered in the wazu khana (ablution fountain) of the mosque.
The Gyanvapi dispute is not just an archaeological or historical matter; it carries immense religious and emotional significance for both Hindu and Muslim communities. Any decision regarding the site is likely to have far-reaching consequences for interfaith relations in India.
Various Hindu groups have filed petitions claiming ownership of the site and seeking control of the mosque. The case is currently before the courts, and a final verdict is awaited.
Many Hindus see the Gyanvapi issue as intertwined with wider Hindu nationalist discourse. Reclaiming the site aligns with the goals of some groups striving for a reassertion of Hindu cultural and religious dominance in India.
Many Muslims believe the Gyanvapi mosque has been a valid place of Islamic worship for centuries, regardless of its origin. They emphasize the long historical presence of Muslim communities in Varanasi and their right to practice their faith.