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Pakistan is a country with a significant amount of Hindu inhabitants who constitute about 2.14% of the total population of Pakistan, as recorded in the census of 2017. Although Hindus are present all over the country, the district Umerkot is the only Hindu-majority district of Pakistan, in which the percentage of Hindu inhabitants is about 52.15%.
With notable figures like Rana Chandra Singh, Dr Ramesh Kumar and many more, Hindus have had a fair role to play in the rich history of Pakistan. Moreover, Hindus have influenced the cultural, traditional, and architectural heritage of Pakistan. To this day, these exponents of history are still seen in numerous areas of Pakistan.
Hindu heritage sites such as ancient temples or mandirs depict the olden architecture of Pakistan. They are silent testimonies of our rich heritage, narrating the stories of our past and the tales of our beloved land.
Hinglaj Mata Mandir
One of the fifty-one “Shakti peethas” of Goddess Sati, the Hinglaj Mata Mandir is a cave temple located at the river banks of Hingol in Lasbela District, Balochistan, right in the middle of the historical Hingol National Park. It is the largest Hindu pilgrimage site in Pakistan, with around 200,000 Hindus taking part in the yearly pilgrimage that takes place in April.
The chief legend that revolves around Hinglaj Mata Mandir is the creation of the Shakti Peethas. Sati, Shiva’s wife, after being vilified by her father and unable to cope with the insult, committed suicide. Lord Shiva wandered the universe in grief, while Lord Vishnu dismembered her corpse into pieces, 51 of which fell on the Earth, forming 51 holy sites. Sati’s head is believed to have fallen at Hinglaj, ultimately creating the Hinglaj Mata Mandir.
Katas Raj Temples
Katas Raj is one of the holiest sites for Hindus. Near Kallar Kahar and the Khewra Salt Mine, the Katas Raj Temples are in Katas Village, near Choa Saiden Shah in Chakwal, Punjab. It is a pilgrimage site that contains seven interlinked ancient holy temples and shows more than 1500 years of ancient history.
In 2006, restoration work of the mandirs was started by the government of Pakistan, and further improvements were made in 2017 to restore the awfully attractive pilgrimage site. Moreover, it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Brahman mythology related to the Katas Raj Temples is the story of Shiva’s tears.
After the death of Sati, unconsolable Shiva grieved, carrying the lifeless body of Sati and roaming around the Earth when one of his tears fell at Katas, forming the sacred pool. Another tear fell at Pushkara near Ajmer. Katas Raj Temples were built around the sacred pool in the 6th century. Katas Raj is a place of cultural significance for the Hindus as well as a significant part of our national heritage.
Built in 1851, the Goraknath Temple in Gorkhatri, Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) is another one of the awe-inspiring Hindu mandirs of Pakistan. It was named after the medieval saint of Hinduism, Guru Gorakhnath, the founder of Matha Yoga, which is one of the most practised schools of Yoga. It is still open, and hundreds of Hindus travel to the Gorakhnath Mandir every day to pray.
Gorakhnath Temple is believed to be where Guru Gorakhnath practised most of his yoga throughout his journey to the world. The holy temple still holds most of its significance, sanctity, and pious aura to this day. It is a small temple and is surrounded by nine rooms on both sides. It is often known as the temple where Hindus of the area performed the “Sardukahr”, “the head shaving.”
Sri Krishna Mandir
The Sri Krishna Temple is the most famous place of worship for the Hindus of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It is located between the Kabari Bazar and the Rawalpindi Railway Station in Saddar. Hundreds of Hindus go to the Sri Krishna Mandir at religious festivals like Diwali and Holi. It was built around 1897 and served as the significant spiritual hub for Hindus of the surrounding areas.
In 1897, the need for a place of worship of Hindus rose, as a response to which Kanji Mal and Ujagar Mal Ram Rajpal built the Sri Krishna Mandir. However, the local Hindu Panchayat controlled it for a long time. The Punjab government in 2018 released 20 million PKR for the renovation of Sri Krishna Temple. The restoration and renovation were completed in 2020.
Kalka Devi Temple
In the Kalka Hills in Rohri stands the Kalka Devi Cave Temple. Kalka Devi Temple is one of the holiest Hindu sites in Pakistan and is visited by not only Hindus but also Muslims from all over the country. Moreover, Hindus also travel all the way from India to pray at the Kalka Devi Cave Temple. Despite being a Hindu historical site, surprisingly, the majority of the devotees that visit the temple are Muslims.
According to the legend of the Kalka Devi Temple, the Hindu Goddess Kalka Devi appeared at the temple on her way to her pilgrimage to the Hinglaj Mata Temple. The caretakers of the temple say that the Kalka Devi Temple and the Hinglaj Mata Temple are connected through two tunnels. On the first Monday of each month, devotees flock to the temple to say their prayers.
Darya Lal Sankat Mochan Mandir
The Darya Lal Sankat Mochan Mandir is located in Saddar Town, Karachi, Sindh. It is also known as Jhoolelal Mandir, built around 300 years ago using Jung Shahi stone and limestone. This temple is dedicated purely to Jhulelal, who is believed to be the reincarnation of the Vedic deity, Varuna Deva. Sindhi Hindus celebrate the Cheti Chand to mark the beginning of the Hindu New Year at the Darya Lal Sankat Mochan Mandir.
Several renovation works have taken place at this holy site recently. The religious significance of the Jhulelal Mandir revolves around the story of Lord Hanuman, Lord Ganesh, and Darya Lal. The Varuna Deva is known to be a holy deity in Hinduism, known to be reincarnated as Darya Lal “Jhoolelal.” Hanuman went to Sri Lanka to save Sita from the clutches of Ravan and, on his way, helped Ram, Ravan’s brother, and hence was considered worthy of earning a place in the Jhoolelal Mandir with “the god of the sea; Jhoolelal.”
Another one of the religiously important sites is called the Shakti peethas; the Sharada Peeth is located at the banks of the Neelum River. Hindus believe that the right hand of Sati fell at the riverbank of Neelum, which formed the Sharada Peeth. Sharada Peeth is one of the most prominent pilgrimage sites of Kashmiri Hindus, next to the Amarnath Temple and the Martand Sun Temple.
Around the 6th and 12th centuries, it was not only a site of religious importance but also a temple university educational centre. By the 11th century, it was one of the most revered places of worship for Hindus in the Indian subcontinent. In addition to Hindu mythology, locals also believe in the local legends.
One local legend says that the Sharada Peeth is the shrine of one of the two sisters who ruled the world, Sharada and Narada. Another legend claims that there was once a giant who loved a beautiful princess. She desired a place to live, and the giant had to build it for her. The giant was supposed to complete it by the Fajr Azan, but the roof was incomplete. That is why Sharada Peeth today still stands without a roof.
Kalyan Das Temple
In the middle of the Kohati Bazar in Rawalpindi, the cupola of a temple known as Kalyan Das Temple is seen. It is one of the major scenic ancient attractions of the city of Rawalpindi. It was made in the 1850s and was named after a Rawalpindi local, Kalyan Das. The temple surrounds a huge pool and extends up to seven acres, consisting of 100 rooms. It held great spiritual significance for the Hindu community of the colonial era.
In the past, the Hindu yatris on their way to Srinagar often made a stop at this temple. A common legend revolves around Kalyan Das Temples that the Hindu God Lord Krishna once appeared to around two hundred worshippers sometime around 1946-1947. The local Hindus believed that Krishna had informed his worshippers to prepare for the migration and the great war.
There are hundreds of mandirs all around Pakistan. With so much of our history embedded in the ancient walls of these historical structures, it is our duty to preserve and renovate them for the country and the Hindu community. Appropriate steps have been taken for the restoration and renovation of hundreds of Hindu pilgrimage sites all around Pakistan, and we can only expect more renovating and preserving works in the days to come.
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