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Old November 19th, 2010, 11:02 AM   #1
rahim.katchi
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Restroration of Katasraj temple (Mahābhārata era) in Pakistan

Katasraj Mandir is a Hindu mandir situated in Katas village in the Chakwal district of Punjab in Pakistan. Dedicated to Shiva, the temple has existed since the days of Mahābhārata and the Pandava brothers spent a substantial part of their exile at the site. The Pakistan Government is considering nominating the temple complex for World Heritage Site status. It is also spending about Rs 20 million in three phases for the restoration of the complex.

Nestled away in the eastern part of the great Salt Range, east of Islamabad, lie ancient temples whose beauty has inspired countless travellers for centuries. With the construction of the Islamabad-Lahore Motorway which skirts its edge, it is emerging as a popular tourist destination in the region.

It is located on the main road leading from Lake Kallar Kahar to Choa Saidan Shah and is not far from the Kallar Kahar Lake. Built in the 9th-11th century when the Salt Range was part of the powerful Hindu Kingdom of Kashmir, this large complex houses several temples most of which, unfortunately, are in a rather derelict condition. There is also a fortress surrounding a pool.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva had seven wives and when one of them, his very favourite, died, he shed so many tears in her grief that his endless tears formed this pond. The pond is not merely a historic decoration; it is not only a source of fresh water to thousands of people but also irrigates orchards sprawling on tens of thousands acres of land.

According to Gen Cunningham, Katas was considered the second largest holy place in Punjab for Hindu pilgrims after Jawala Mukhi. It is said famous Pando brothers spent 12 years in Katas and built the temples of Satghara. It is said Al-Beruni also spent some time at Katas to learn Sanskrit in a linguistic university which, at that time, was established here. Temples at Katas have been transferred from the federal government to the Punjab Archaeology Department recently.

Katas Raj is also the place where Alberuni attempted to measure the circumference of the Earth, studied Sanskrit and wrote his renowned Kitab-ul-Hind (Book of Hind) which depicted the religion, scientific knowledge, and social customs of Hindus. Paras Nath Jogi drew his last breath on Katas. Jagat Guru Nanak Ji also visited the place on the 1st of Visakh. Katas came to be known as Nanaknawas and was a site of contemplation for many large groups of mystics, ascetics and jogis. According to Hindu beliefs, taking bath in the holy pond at the site washes away all sins and makes man innocent.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 03:37 PM   #13
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The architecture seems quite recent - 16th-17th-18th century AD.

This one seems older. 10th-11th century perhaps:

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This one looks like an older (11th century?) structure has been repaired and modified within the last few centuries:

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Old November 19th, 2010, 04:14 PM   #14
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Keeping in mind its religious importance, I am sure buildings were modified, constructed and reconstructed from time to time.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 04:14 PM   #15
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Katasraj – A Temple with Myth

The Katas site houses the Satgraha, a group of seven ancient temples, remains of a Buddhist stupa, a few medieval temples, havelis and some recently constructed temples, scattered around a pond considered holy by Hindus. it also has a Ramachandra Mandir, Shiva mandir and a Hanuman mandir.

Katasraj temple complex is believed to date back to the Mahabharata era. There are stories about the Pandavas spending time there during their long exile. The lake in the complex is believed to have magical powers and supposed to be where Yudhisthira defeated the Yaksha with his wisdom to bring his brothers back to life.

Apart from the temples, there is a sacred pond having mythical association with Lord Shiva. It is said to have been formed from a tear which fell from the eye of Hindu God, Shiva who was desolate at the death of his beautiful wife, Sati. Ketas means "weaping eyes".

History tells that once Pandavas reached a lake and when they were about to quench their thirst, a Yaksha, the protector of the lake appeared and said that only people who answer his questions right would be allowed to drink water. The four Pandavas failed and were made lifeless by the Yaksha. Finally Yudhishtira answered all his questions and the brothers were revived. According to one legend, this dialogue happened at the Katasraj Mandir pond.

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Old November 19th, 2010, 04:38 PM   #16
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Prehistoric tools and weapons at Katasraj

Prehistoric tools and weapons such as axes and knives made of granite, and artifacts like terracotta bangles and pottery have been unearthed at the Katasraj site. The latter have been found to be similar to those excavated in Harappa, but have not been dated for want of expert opinion from abroad. The fascinating Salt Ranges have a vast archaeological treasure still hidden underground. Exploratory work that could expose evidence of an ancient civilisation here needs to be undertaken.

The Salt Ranges have also been yielding prehistoric finds. While some local experts place the fossils discovered in the period between 6000 and 7000 BC, the fact remains that they have not yet been examined by trained palaeontologists from the West. A large number of bones of the limbs and vertebrae of giant animals resembling the extinct mammoth and dinosaur have been found at some sites. “An entire range of low mountains in the area appears to be fossilised, revealing to the naked eye layer upon layer of a variety of plants and soils,” says one writer.

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Old February 23rd, 2011, 07:53 AM   #17
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this is great! i wish more temples should be restored
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