Katasraj: An ancient Hindu temple complex is getting a facelift in Pakistan. Lying in ruins today, Katasraj—the 6th century Hindu temple complex in Pakistan's part of Punjab is now being renovated by the Pak government with the hope that it will attract Hindu pilgrims from India.
Pak government, keen on reviving the ancient structure, sees the temple as a symbol of shared heritage between the two countries.
Prof Yaseen Siddiqui an amateur archaeologist says he is glad that Pakistan is finally caring for its temples and ancient havelis. However, he is sad over the slow pace of work. “I feel that the work is going a bit slow. It should be expedited,” he says.
The ancient monuments tell their own story. Post-partition Hindu settlers left Pakistan and the valuable temples and havelis have remained ignored, forgotten, and in ruins since then. Their destruction and resurrection strikes a chord with the Indian tourists in Pakistan.
With a ready-made market and other tourist attraction in the vicinity, the temple complex can surely become a money-spinner for the Pak government. But for that Pakistan authorities will have to issue more pilgrim visas. Only 200 odd Indian pilgrims make it to this site every year.
“I feel walls of hatred are going to crumble between both the countries. I'm sure lots of people from India will come to visit this temple,” says T R Kathuria, a New Delhi resident, who with his wife visited his ancestral village in Pakistan. The couple says they are excited about Katasraj's potential to bring India and Pakistan closer.
Three freshly whitewashed temples are ready for public viewing. Although in rare numbers, Indian pilgrims are seen visiting the Katasraj temple twice a year at around Shivratri.
For the local kids, Lord Shiva’s holy pond is a playground, for the workmen, its a temporary home and for others it’s a way to connect with their Indian roots. Whatever way it appeals—Katas' message appears to be a universal one.PAGE_BREAK