Katas Raj Temples: Where histories of different civilizations converge

The most admired Katas Raj Temples are located near Chakwal in Punjab, Pakistan. These multiplex temples, and conglomeration of temples,standin homage to the deity and goddess of Hindu folklore. Assorted temples are connected to one another by walkways.It is the considered as the main temple, an important Hindu Pilgrimage site and the second oldest location of Hinduism where they worship and show the adoration to their religion.The whole area of Katas has covered the space of about 260 kanals. Its history dates back to 200-300 years BC. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva – one of the three main Hindu Gods. He is also known for his deep feelings for his wife – their love is the reason for the creation of Katas Raj Temple.The other two are Brahma and Vishnu and when the three come together, they are called Trimurti and complete the cycle of life.

Here one discovers Shiv Mahraj Mandir, the Hindu community reads its bhajan there, they break coconut and put milk. Here also exists a lake which is labelled as “The lake of tears” and Hindus come there for bath. It’s a Holy Spring. A Brahmanical story is connected to this site directly to Shiva, whose inconsolable grief at the death of his wife Sati led to a rain of tears, which formed two pools of water – one at Pushkara near Ajmer and the other at Katas.

Katas Raj’s pond is marked as 150 feet deep; many dead bodies have also been found there. Almost every year some dreadful incident happens to the swimmers of the pool. The big grass cutter and Gulfam fish lives in the pool. There are closely 400-500 fishes and the weight of each fish is about 8 to 10kg. All the grass above the pool is cut by the grass cutter fish. Due to sunshine and hot weather, the fish comes above the pool level. According to the guide, the department has nourished these fishes because they help in cleaning water. Every year 200-300 Indian Hindus come Pakistan to visit this temple and the local Hindus often visit it.

There also are havelis of different periods –Hanuman Haveli with a library and Ram Chandra Temple. Hanuman fought by the side of Shiv when he and Ram Chandar had a spat between them and Shiv successfully won and became the king of Katas. British era’s haveli can also be found in Katas Raj, which is now marked as the building of a police station. Another haveli of Hari Singh Nalwa exists which was constructed in the Sikh period, assembled by the Sikh emperor Raja RanjitSinghain Katas after a long period of 50 years. The archaeology department is planning to make this haveli a Museum in future years.

 

SathGraha (white color mandir) or seven other temples of the Buddhist era stupa can be seen in Katas. They sit at the highest point on the site and are considered very significant, echoing the architectural style of the Kashimiri temples. The temples date to the Hindu Shahi period and the stupa is from the Asokan period, with a height of 200 feet.Its earliest description comes from Cunningham, but various details that he mentioned from the 1800s as being extant on the stupa have now disappeared, looted or generally disintegrated. Some late period out-buildings can be seen between the temples and the stupa which date from the Sikh and later British era.The temple SathGraha covers a large section of Katas and was completed by Pandwas during their 12 years of exile. There had been many statues but now only some are left.

 

There are three main emblems of Hindu heritage in Katas Raj

  1. The lake of tears
  2. Stone of Shiv Mahraj
  3. Main Mandir (Marriage Hall)

On the backside of the police station, Main Mandir for marriage exists. Hindus get married over there.

Katas Raj had the university which was the only university of South Asia and Abu Rayhan known as Al-Biruni has his marks there.He studied there for two years.Now this university is known by his name.

Here one also finds the most alluring thing that is historical artwork “original chitar karee” also known as pietra dura, and the archaeology department takes design samples from here. All the buildings were constructed by chuna(calcium oxide).

Katas Raj Temples are going through the process of renovation. Over Katas we find signs of old and different civilizations line from the Buddhist era down to British rule, defending at least more than 1,500 years’ worth of history in that particular space.

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