Katas Raj Temple: Bringing religions and histories together

There is a Brahmanical story which says that Shiva was so inconsolable over the death of his wife Sati that the tears literally ‘rained from his eyes’ and ultimately transformed into a holy pool outside the Katas Raj Temple. It is said that Shiva and Sati spent some of their marital life here.

The holy temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and is mentioned in Mahabharta as well. The fascinating part is that these are several temples built on a single piece of land close to one another. This complex is situated in Katas village, 40 kilometres from the Chakwal district of Punjab.

Recently, I got a chance to pay a visit to these temples; a place that holds significance not only in Hinduism but in Buddhism as well.

View of the temple from outside.

These temples are locally known as ‘Qila Katas’. Though there aren’t any idols present inside the temples anymore, but due to the holy nature of the pool, it is still a place frequently visited by its believers. Hindus residing in Pakistan and those in India visit this site every year as part of their pilgrimage to perform certain religious rituals.

The Pakistani government is considering nominating this temple for the World Heritage Site status, and rightly so, as its history dates back to the time of Ashoka. Furthermore, a Stupa can also be spotted at this site. Stupa, which holds historical significance in Buddhism, is a mound-like structure which has been used by Buddhists since ancient times as a place of meditation.

The architecture of the domes.

The pathway to The Katas Raj Temple.

The architecture from inside.

The site is not only historical but is also serene and attractive at the same time. Therefore, it has the capability of attracting tourists on a larger scale if promoted and maintained well. Thanks to the Pakistani government, the temple is well-maintained and Pakistan should keep up its preservation efforts in the future as well.

Although local tour guides are available for tourists, the government can make the site more tourism-friendly by displaying boards with brief information of every individual temple since each temple has a different name and historical significance.

The pond has been subjected to expansive media attention as well. The historical site can be seen in the frequently aired Q-Mobile adverts. Furthermore, a drama serial named after the temple, ‘Kanpur se Katas Tak’, has also been picturised at this very site.

A few months ago, Pakistani High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, sent a pitcher of water from the holy pond of Katas Raj to Indian politician LK Advani, who had visited the site back in 2005 during his visit to Pakistan, as a goodwill gesture.

These temples are a true depiction of what an ancient historical place is ought to be – highly captivating and awe-inspiring.

All in all, it is a site worth-visiting and a place that the tourism industry can promote as part of Pakistan’s captivating ancient historical sites.

All Photos: Kiran Wali

from The Express Tribune Blog http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/28427/katas-raj-temple-bringing-religions-and-histories-together/

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