A historical prepossessing paradigm, the Katas Raj is a splendid complex of temples dedicated to Hindu deities and mythology.
Situated at a distance of 16 kilometers from Kallar Kahar, Punjab, the site houses seven temples, remains of a Buddha Stupa, medieval sanctuaries, havelis and a sacred pond. As the faithful believe and the Brahmanical story narrates, the pond was created from a tear drop of Shiva as he flew across the sky carrying the dead body of his beloved wife. The legend also goes, the Pandavas came to this place during their exile and built the older temples. Prior to its Hindu roots the site held a Buddhist stupa said to have towered 61 m (200 ft) in height with ten streams around it as described by Alexander Cunningham, the first Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, in 1872-73 CE.
The Katas Raj Temples, constitutes to one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in the country and the holy site is visited by the Hindu community residing in Pakistan as well as from abroad. The architecture is heavily inspired by Kashmiri temples of the Karkota and Varma dynasties who ruled from 625-939 CE. These temples have certain defining characteristics such as the arches, fluted pillars and pointed roofs.
Locally known as ‘Qila Katas’ the sacred site is also close to Nankana Sahib Gurdwara believed to be the resting place for Guru Nanak on his journey around the world. Adjacent to the main temple are the remains of the haveli of Hari Singh Nalwa, the most famous general in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army. In proximity are the excavated remains of a Buddhist stupa, originally a temple complex that was built when the Subcontinent came under the sway of Buddhism during the reign of Emperor Ashoka. It is also reported that the famed Muslim scholar, Al Biruni spent countless nights on this site and studied astrology and Hinduism. He spent more than a decade between the Katas Raj Temples and Nandana, another sacred site, in his conquest to study extensively about the planets.
Sadly, little is known about the fact
That the temple had a university as well, of which, remains nothing but a mere staircase. The Hindu university was known for Hindu Philosophy and theology. Also connected to the Katas Raj Temples is a Gurdwara, not many know of. It is believed Guru Nanak stumbled upon the temples, later gathering devotees and gaining affluence. The Gurdwara was then constructed as a memorial for him.
The Sacred Pond
Amidst the temples is a blue pond said to hold immense historical and spiritual importance. It is reported that beneath the pond runs a small river which has a depth of 300 yards. The British archaeologists believed that the great pond was formed from the water that gushed from the natural springs found in the upper reaches of Jhelum.
Later it was discovered
That the pond built was partially man made, carved from a rock, and has a length of 122 feet. Hindus however, believe that the pond’s depth is limitless. History reports that deep down under the surface of water and beneath the temple there are a number of water streams running. But with time the pool has denigrated. Adjacent to the sacred pond is a Holy bath for men and there is one dedicated for women as well but on the southern side of the premises. These baths are beautifully constructed using marble and expertise ensues experienced craftsmen. Hindus widely believe, that, by taking a bath in the sacred pond washes all your sins and makes you pure and chaste.
The biggest temple in the premises is dedicated to ‘Shiv Devta’. And the preceding temples are dedicated accordingly to Hindu faith and fundamentals. The temples were constructed almost 900 years ago. However the historians and scholars believe that most temples were built in the later half of the 6th Century when the Hindu Shahi kings were driven from Afghanistan by Mahmud of Ghazni.
The temples in Katas
are built on square platforms, the majestic shrines form a series of ornamental cornices surrounded by sub shrines and small row of pillars. One of the temples is said to have a double story structure with eight rooms of various dimensions elongated with two severely damaged balconies. Sadly, the whole temple requires various measures for restoration in order to preserve it for the generations to come.
Many famous scholars including Al-Biruni spent time at the Katas Raj Temples to study Sanskrit in the University. During his stay Al-Biruni wrote the famous ‘Kitabul Hind’ a book dedicated to religion and Hindu customs. Katas Raj Temple has also been a famous site amongst mystics and Hindu Jogis.
In the conquest for spiritual bliss, people have built monuments and tombs in dedication. Be it mountain top monasteries or secluded 1000 year old temples in the middle of nowhere, everyone has felt spiritual energy and indescribable clarity surrounding these sacred places. Pakistan, is known for cultural diversity, besides beautiful Mosques there are various shrines dedicated to people belonging to different faith. Besides the historical Katas Raj Temples, there is also the famous Nankana Sahib that holds immense historical importance for Sikhs all over the world.
Book a tour with us to discover the historical Katas Raj Temples and discover your roots!