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Pak to restore temple pond with 'Shiva's tears'

Last updated on: July 26, 2012 10:08 IST

Pak to restore temple pond with 'Shiva's tears'

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Some people in Pakistan's government circles believe that the restoration of the Katas Raj temple and its holy pond has been ordered in view of the likely visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Chakwal, reports Amir Mir

Under instructions from President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistani authorities are finally taking measures to preserve the sacred Hindu pond at the Katas Raj Temple, which is located in Chakwal district of Pakistani Punjab. The pond had been drying up at a rapid pace due to the environmental degradation caused by the construction of industrial complexes in nearby areas.

The Katas Raj temple, built between 650 and 950 AD, attracts a large number of Hindu pilgrims from India and Pakistan during early spring and autumn. They visit the site to bathe in the holy lake, as part of an ablution ritual, to 'wash off their sins'.

According to Hindu mythology, the holy pond at the Katas Raj Temple in Choha Saidan Shah area near Chakwal was formed by the tears of Lord Shiva, which he is believed to have shed after the sudden death of his wife Sati.

When Sati died, Lord Shiva cried so much and for so long that his tears created two holy ponds -- one at Pushkar in Ajmer and the other at Ketaksha, which literally means raining eyes, in Sanskrit. The word Katas was eventually derived from Ketaksha.

The Pandava brothers had spent a substantial part of their exile at the site in Chakwal and Katas is mentioned in the Mahabharata.

The epic states that once Pandavas came across a lake and were about to quench their thirst. A Yaksha, the protector of the lake, appeared and said only those who rightly answer his questions would be allowed to drink water. Four of the Pandavas failed and were made lifeless by the Yaksha. But the eldest and wisest of them all, Yudhishtira, was able to answer all his questions, following which his brothers were revived.

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Photographs: Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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Pak to restore temple pond with 'Shiva's tears'

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According to one legend, this incident happened at the holy pond of Katas Raj Temple, whose water is considered sacred and is believed to have magical powers.

The natural pond at the Katas Raj Temple had been in existence for thousands of years, attracting pilgrims from far and wide in South Asia. Earlier, water flowed from the pond to downstream villages of Wahoola, Tatral and Dulmial. But the water level in the lake remained intact as it was constantly replenished by the spring waters underneath.

But lately, the growth of industrial units and cement factories near the site has sucked up the groundwater and diverted the flow of the springs. The pond, which measured 200 feet by 90 feet, had shrunk to 5 feet by 4 feet over the last six months.

The drying up of the pond was blamed on two pumping stations set up near the temple complex to supply water to Choa Saiden Shah city and Wahula village, around three kms away. Similarly, the water was also being used in large quantities by three cement factories set up in the area.

After some Hindu members of the Pakistani parliament brought the issue to the notice of President Zardari recently, he called for restoration of the holy pond as well as the temple building. While directing the authorities concerned to restore the Katas Raj pond, President Asif Zardari made it clear to them that historical sites of religious significance were also part of Pakistan's civilisation; they needed to be preserved and protected.

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Photographs: Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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Pak to restore temple pond with 'Shiva's tears'

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However, some people in government circles believe that restoration of the Katas Raj temple and its holy pond has been ordered in view of the likely visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Chakwal, during his Pakistan trip.

The chief secretary of Punjab Province has already constituted a special committee under the supervision of environment and archaeology specialists to restore Katas Raj Temple as well as its natural pond by August, amidst rumours in the government circles that the Indian prime minister may travel to Pakistan by that time.

As the first step towards restoration of the pond, all the water pumps installed at the site, which were sucking out the water, have been removed. The water was being supplied to thousands of residents of Choha Saidan Shah as the Punjab government had failed to provide any alternative facility to them.

Authorities have now decided to install at least a dozen tube wells in the area, away from the Katas Raj pond, to ensure uninterrupted water supply to residents of the area.

Katas holds great historical significance, as it is believed to be the place where scientist Alberuni attempted to measure the circumference of the Earth, studied Sanskrit and wrote the Kitabul Hind.

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Photographs: Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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