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Babri Mosque, pre-1992.

(Babri Mosque rearview)

The Babri Mosque (Hindi: बाबरी मस्जिद, Urdu: بابری مسجد), Babri Masjid or Mosque of Babur was a mosque constructed by order of the first Mughal emperor of India, Babur, in Ayodhya in the 16th century[citation needed]. Before the 1940s, the mosque was called Masjid-i Janmasthan ("mosque of the birthplace").[1] The mosque stood on Ramkot ("Rama's fort") Hill (also called Janmasthan ("Birthplace")), built on the remains of an old temple [2]. It was destroyed by Hindu nationalists,[3] 150,000 strong, during a planned ceremony on December 6, 1992 despite a commitment to the Indian Supreme Court that the mosque would not be harmed.[4][5]

Babur's commander-in-chief, Mir Baqi, destroyed an existing temple at the site, which Hindus believe was the temple built to commemorate the birthplace of Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and ruler of Ayodhya (see Ram Janmabhoomi). The Babri Mosque was one of the largest mosques in Uttar Pradesh, a state in India with some 31 million Muslims[6]. Although there were several older mosques in the city of Ayodhya, an area with a substantial Muslim population, including the Hazrat Bal Mosque constructed by the Shariqi kings, the Babri Mosque became the largest, due to the importance of the disputed site.

However some non-mainstream historians claim that there was no original temple in Ayodhya (despite the fact that Ayodhya was the birthplace and capital of Sri Rama). In his booklet, Communal History and Rama's Ayodhya, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma writes, "Ayodhya seems to have emerged as a place of religious pilgrimage in medieval times. Although chapter 85 of the Vishnu Smriti lists as many as fifty-two places of pilgrimage, including towns, lakes, rivers, mountains, etc., it does not include Ayodhya in this list."[7] Sharma also notes that Tulsidas, who wrote the Ramcharitmanas in 1574 at Ayodhya, does not mention it as a place of pilgrimage.[8] After the demolition of Babri Masjid, Professor Ram Sharan Sharma along with Historians Suraj Bhan, M.Athar Ali and Dwijendra Narayan Jha came up with the Historian's report to the nation on how the communalists were mistaken in their assumption that there was a temple at the disputed site and how it was sheer vandalism in bringing down the mosque and the book has been translated into all the Indian languages.[9] However this view is not mainstream, and several archeological surveys including that by the Archeological Survey of India have confirmed the existence of a temple predating the current mosque by over a thousand years.

Architecture of the mosque

Babri Mosque Column

One of the columns of the Babri Mosque. Some Hindus say it came from a Temple under the site, particularly noting the two flowers (far top of photo) which they say are Hindu-associated lotus motifs.But historians deny this becauus these columns lack any diety or other kind of human or animal structures, which is a an essential part of Hindu Arts. And these type of lotus and other floral designs are common in Islamic Arts.

Babri Masjid acoustic and cooling system

"A whisper from the Babri Masjid Mihrab could be heard clearly at the other end 200 feet [60 m] away and through the length and breadth of the central court" according to Graham Pickford architect to Lord William Bentinck (1828–1833). The Mosque's acoustics were mentioned by him in his book 'Historic Structures of Oudhe' he says “for a 16th century building the deployment and projection of voice from the pulpit is considerably advanced, the unique deployment of sound in this structure will astonish the visitor”.

Modern Architects have attributed this intriguing acoustic feature to a large recess in the wall of the Mihrab and several recesses in the surrounding walls which functioned as resonators; this design helped everyone to hear the speaker at the Mihrab. The sandstone used in building the Babri Mosque also had resonant qualities which contributed to the unique acoustics.

The Babri mosque’s Tughluquid style integrated other indigenous design components and techniques, such as air cooling systems disguised as Islamic architectural elements like arches, vaults and domes. In the Babri Masjid the high ceiling, domes, and six large grill windows (see picture) all served as a passive environmental control system that brought down the temperature and also allowed in natural ventilation as well as daylight.

Grill of Babri Masjid

Pictured is a six-foot (2 m) window grill of the Babri mosque. These were six in number and so positioned to allow cool air to sweep through the mosque. The grills were a fine example of Islamic two-dimensional geometry. These together with the thick walls and high roof kept the interior cool. A large number smaller Roshandans were installed only for light with intricate geometrical patterns


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