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Katasraj Shiva Temple, How neglect is ruining a historical and cultural monument of Pakistan

The Katas Raj Temples comprises of seven temples that are called the Satgraha. These seven temples are a combination of old and new ones. The oldest temples belong to the 6th century. The seven temples surround the pond Katas which is a very sacred pond for the Hindus. This temple is located in the Potohar Plateau in Pakistan.

The significance of the pond lies in the fact that it is believed to have been created from Lord Shiva's teardrop after the death of his wife Sati. The temples hold a very sacred place in the heart of Hindus due to their role in the Mahabharata, which is a Hindu epic. This is the place where the Pandavas have been thought to have spent their time in exile. Another significance of the temple is that the Hindus believe Lord Krishna has established the temples in ancient times.

History of the temple

The temple is said to have been established somewhere during the occurrence of the Mahabharata. Along with the belief of the Pandavas staying here during their exile, it is also believed that this is the place that the brothers had engaged with the Yakshas in a riddle contest. The temples of Katas Raj were first mentioned in the travelogues of Faxian who was a Chinese Monk.

Restoration of the Temple

The temples were in bad shape after the partition of India and Pakistan. There was a lot of neglect from the Pakistani government who made no efforts to renovate the temple. Despite the poor condition, Pakistani Hindus would visit the temple occasionally. The pond was not in a good condition and the locals used it for recreational purposes. The Indian Hindus were barred from visiting the temple in 1956, 1960 and 1965 after the Indo-Pakistan war. The Indian Hindus were again permitted to visit the temple after 1984.

In the year 2005, L.K. Advani, the former Deputy PM of India, visited the site and was extremely dissatisfied with its condition. The scenario changed when the Pakistani government agreed to restore the temples to its former glory and also clean the pond. Hindu God's idols were placed in the seven temples after their restoration.

However, as of 2016, there is a suo moto case that has occurred due to the drying up of the pond as the water is being illegally used by the nearby cement factories. The Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has also questioned about the absence of idols in the Shri Ram and Hanuman temples of the Satgraha

Current Situation

The temple has currently become more of a historic and archaeological site than a religious place. Non-Hindus come to visit the temple as a historical monument. The Pakistani Hindus have tried to maintain the Hindu tradition through different festivals. However, it might never go back to being a proper religious temple due to the lack of proper support from the Pakistani government and the lack of involvement from the public. The Shivaratri festival is still celebrated by the Pakistani Hindus and Indian Hindu pilgrims travel to the temple to join the celebrations

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