Structures of sheer importance Why Katas Raj Temples matter to Pakistan
A plethora of incredible sights and sounds, Pakistan is no less than a gem when you marvel into its complexity of being home to some of the most significant and historical sites; some even being highly sacred to various religions of the world.
One such magnificent monument can be considered as a treasured possession to the Hindu minority in the country.
The Katas Raj Temples, consisting of six smaller temples, built in pairs around a larger central temple, is said to have been constructed roughly 900 years ago, although the earliest of them dates back to the latter half of the 6th century AD. This means this cultural haven has been around for more than 1500 years or so.
A conglomeration of temples which pay homage to the Hindu mythology, it is impressive how this mythical site continues to welcome a huge number of visitors, most of them from the neighbouring country, as they gather and marvel at these majestic structures, which have been impressively kept in preservable condition all these years.
Situated near Chakwal, Punjab, the temples have a captivating story to them, intriguing enough for anyone who holds a zest to knowing what great works of art and cultural stance exist around us.
As the tale goes, the circle of temples pays homage to very important Hindu figures- Ram, Hanuman and Shiva.
Their stories are interlinked to a single, natural pond in Katas which is said to have been created when Shiva cried tears of despair when his wife – Sati was taken away from him.
This natural pond was formed as a result of one of his tears falling in this majestic place, the other having landed in Rajasthan, India (as the story goes).
It is indeed impressive to see how these monuments of assertion to Hindu beliefs have remained preserved in a well-groomed state.
As with a surge in efforts by the government to renovate the temples and the surrounding areas, it comes forth as a major achievement when we see how Pakistan is bridging gaps in mutual understanding, while celebrating to a certain extent the Hindu heritage within the country.
While many may argue such efforts adhere more so to the government’s pledge to boost the tourism sector of the country, the temples have welcomed not just Pakistan’s Hindus, but have seen Indian pilgrims coming and embracing the sentimental value the location provides, as with recent renovation and ease in the attainment of travel documents, the change and progressive tone can be felt strongly by visitors.
As you stroll through these ancient walkways and climb onto one of many narrow staircases, soaking in the view of historical grandeur and sheer architecture which is evident when you look at the decorative and precise work of art adorning the ceilings of the Ramchandra Temple, it becomes evident why preserving and protecting the temple comes in favour to Pakistan.
While not compromising or tiptoeing on the country’s natural identity, the Kashmiri style temples stretch in an astounding timeline that pay tribute from the Buddhist era to the British raj, are our very own national treasure.
The site is one which holds significance to the cultural stance of the country, if not just depicting a notion of solidarity with representatives of the minority sector of the region, Katas Raj Temples are a standing monument of historical and archaeological significance to our framework of existence.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.