Katas Raj Temples
Posted on September 27th, 2016
Katas raj temples, famous Hindu worshipping place in Pakistan, is known for its centered pool amongst hundred temples that are thousands of years old. While travelling through motorway from Kallar Kahar, at the distance of 15 km is a place called Choa Saidanshah. It is 40 km south of Chakwal. From Choa Saidanshah at the distance of about 5 km an ancient assemblage of ruins can be seen. These ruins are called ‘Katas Raj Temples’ and occupy an area of around 260 kanals.
The history of Katas dates back to the history of salt Range in Kallar Kahar valley. Salt range starts from river Jehlum and ends at Kalabagh in Sindh. This range covers an area of about 300 km in length and 8.30 km in width. There are several ancient Hindu temples and buildings that have become dilapidated over the period of time but their existence indicate the magnificent work of art, in addition to hinting at the traditionalistic attitude of ancient Hindus.
As you start moving within this historical site, you come across the main temple of Hindus named as ‘Shiv Maharaj temple’ in which Hindus from all over the world come to worship and perform their religious norms. Inside this temple is the sacred rock of Hindus that they worship, read their ‘Bhajan’, break coconuts and give it a bath with milk.
At the center of these temples is a pool which is called ‘Lake of tears’. Hindus come to take bath in it and it is believed by them that their souls become pure once they bathe themselves in this pool. The pool is mythicized to be the tears of ‘Shiv’ who wept a lot over the death of his beloved first wife ‘Sethi’. His tears fell in two places one in ‘Pushkar’ at Ajmair in India and the other in Katak Shell later known as ‘Katas’ in Pakistan. This pool is said to be 200-300 ft deep. Few people have drowned in this pool while diving because of its depth. The water in the pool is clean.
The pool also hosts two kinds of fish, ‘Grass Cutter’ and ‘Gulfarm fish’. These weigh about 8-10 kg each. The grass floating at the surface of the pool is cut by this Grass Cutter fish. This fish lives deep within the pool and can be seen from some height during sunshine for the fish comes to the surface for warmth. There are about 400-500 fish in this pool.
Besides the Shiv temple there is ‘Hanuman temple’. Hanuman is believed to have helped Shiv during the battle between Shiv and Ram Chandra, and Shiv had won that battle. Shiv became the king of Katas after he conquered Ram Chandra.
At a little distance from the temples is a building which was built in British times. This has now been converted into a Police station.
At the back of the police station is the existence of a temple where Hindus perform their marriage ceremonies. They bring their ‘pandits’ along with them and every year 10-15 marriages take place according to the Hindu norms and rituals.
There is ‘Abu Rehan Al Beruni’s university’ as well. Al Beruni stayed at this place for some time and learnt Sanskrit. During his stay at this place he attempted to measure circumference of the earth and wrote his famous book ‘Kitab-ul-Hind’. The old university belonged to Hindus.
There is a famous mansion named ‘Haree Singh Narwa’s Mansion’ dating back to Sikh period. Sikhs had a general named ‘Raja Ranjeet Singh’ who created that mansion. Sikhs had ruled that land and the mansion for over fifty years. This mansion is to be converted into a museum by the archeologists.
‘Stupa’ of Ashoka is the small hill is on the left side of the mansion. It used to be 200 ft in height but now most of it has buried or broken down. Every year archeologists dig out the stupa and discover different statues belonging to Sikhs and plan to keep them in the museum.
Among these temples there is the largest temple of ‘Sath Garrha’. When the Pandoos and Corrus fought in battle, Pandoos won and established their temple. This temple is at the rare side of the stupa. It is the biggest of all Hindu temples at Katas. It is white in color for it has been recently renovated and thus, outstands all other temples of the area. The specialty of this temple is that it was constructed in 12 years. There used to be many statues on this temple but now only 1-2 remains.
The temple walls are made with calcium oxide (limestone) and still exists. This shows the strength in the buildings made by the ancient people. The paintings on the walls and roofs include images of Hindu god ‘Hanuman’ along with flowers and leaves. The renovation of the walls and halls around the ‘Hanuman temple’ is under the archeology department of Punjab Pakistan.
Then comes the ‘Ram Chandara temple’. It is easily recognized because of its main gate’s wall being red in color, while the other temples are white in color. This temple has three small statues built at its right balcony’s left.
The Katas Raj Temples exist at different heights due to the area being mountainous and rocky. Stairs are built out of marble to make it easier for explorers and Hindu pilgrims to climb the temples.
In the mountains nearby, there are ancient caves where the ancient Hindus used to meditate. Now they bring ashes of their dead to these caves to purify their souls. This is another sacred place of Hindus in Katas (Katas Raj Temples).
From all across the globe two to three hundred Hindus come to visit the temples every year during the month of April. While Hindus from all over Pakistan visit the temples during the month of March.
The Katas Raj Temples are also of great interest to arts students for the ancient art work and paintings are still inscribed on the walls and roofs of the temples. Different archeologists take design samples from within the temples’ art work to renovate the dilapidated buildings around. This original art work is called ‘Petradura’.
Katas Raj temples are a must visit for people interested in history and arts. The place takes you back in time to travel across the time river to reach the past and know more about the time and livelihood of that era.