The Katas Raj Temples near Chakwal in Punjab province of Pakistan are attributed to the eras of the Hindu Shahis image040(kings) dating from about 615-950 CE and are dedicated to Lord Shiva. As such they constitute one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in Pakistan and are still in use to this day by members of the Hindu community both in the country and those who make the journey there every year from abroad.

KATAS RAJ IN MYTHOLOGY

It is believed that the site was visited by the Pandawa brothers of “Mahabharta” fame and this complex of temples was constructed to commemorate their visit. It is said that this is the region called Dvaitavana in the epic and here is where the Pandawas lived during their exile and also image041where the series of questions occured between the Pandawas and the Yakshahs. The location of the SathGhara or Seven Temples is said to be the place where the Pandawas made their home during their 12 year exile.

A Brahmanical story relates this site directly to Shiva, whose unconsolable 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.image043

The smaller temples, built in pairs around the larger central temple, were built around 900 years or so ago, although the earliest of them dates back to the latter half of the 6th century AD.

The temple complex was abandoned by Hindus when they migrated to East Punjab in 1947 and no one stayed back. The relationship of Hindus with local Muslim population was very good. Local Muslims even accompanied them to next town ChoaSaiden Shah from where the Katas Hindu image042population proceeded further to India. It has always been the site of holy pilgrimage for people of Hindu faith from northern Punjab. It is believed that Shiva lived the years of his marital life with Sati here, after Sati‘s death grief took over him and from his tears a pond was formed. The pilgrims bathe in the sacred pool and seek forgiveness as Hindu belief holds that bathing in the pond (especially on certain occasions) leads to the forgiveness of sins and helps attain salvation. Until recently, it was believed that the pond had unlimited depth. Even nowadays, worshippers of all Hindu faiths perform pilgrimage to the Mandir.