On Tuesday (November 9), President Ramnath Kovind felicitated Professor Braj Basi Lal (commonly referred as BB Lal) with Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award. The centenarian was named among the list of awardees earlier in January this year.
In visuals shared by Press Information Bureau (PIB), the President of India handed over the award to the wheelchair-bound archaeologist. Many remember Professor BB Lal for excavating the Ramjanmabhoomi site and unearthing the existence of a temple of Lord Ram beneath the Babri structure at Ayodhya.
The veteran archaeologist had led a project named Archaeology of Ramayana between 1975 and 1976 to examine certain sites having references in Ramayana. There were nine members in the team out of which five archaeologists namely, Professor Lal, Dr KP Nautiyal, SK Srivastava, RK Chaturvedi and KM Asthana were from Jiwaji University, three members namely, Mahdava N Katii, LM Wahal and MS Mani were from the ASI and one member named Hem Raj was from the Department of Archaeology, Uttar Pradesh.
According to Professor Lal, a five-site excavation project was carried out at Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringaverapur, Bharadwaj Ashram and Chitrakoot to date the sites associated with Ramayana. He said that while excavating the area immediately south of the Babri structure, he found pillar bases. He wrote a seven-page preliminary report about the discovery of pillar bases near the Babri structure. However, following the discovery, all technical facilities were withdrawn from the area and the project was halted.
It was not resumed despite repeated requests of Professor Lal and remained suspended for 10-12 years. The final report was never submitted but his preliminary report was published by the Indian Council of Historical Research in 1989 in its volume on Historicity of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Excavations of remains of Hindus temples at Ayodhya
During the excavation carried out for the construction works for the temple in the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, the remains of Hindu stone sculptures, including a Shivling, broken-idols of Hindu deities, and carved pillars of Indic design were found near the site on Wednesday.
According to Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra, as the work for levelling of land and removal of the gangway in Shri Ramjanmabhumi Complex was resumed on Wednesday after the coronavirus lockdown, the workers at the site unearthed the remains of pillars adorned with old Hindu carvings, likely of a temple during the excavation.
The objects included various archaeological artefacts and stone pillars with carvings of flowers, Kalash, Aamalak, etc, said Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra trust. During the excavation, a 5 feet Shivaling, 7 carved pillars of Black touchstone, 6 carved pillars of red sandstone and broken idols of Hindu gods were also found. The trust said that the work is still continuing at a slow pace due to the restrictions.
The findings had vindicated the presence of Hindu temples beneath the overground structures, which was a bone of contention for decades and was later resolved by the Supreme Court of the country. The earlier ASI findings had stated that there were remains of an ancient temple beneath the site where the Babri Masjid was erected.