Only one Hindu relic left at Katas Raj temple
* Temple pundit fears smugglers have eye on last surviving relic
By Afnan Khan
LAHORE: The ancient Hindu temple at Katas Raj, some 40 kilometres from Chakwal, has been robbed of all its relics, save for a stone carving depicting a god and a goddess, who are sitting, and two female slaves standing on either side.
The sculpture, which has been defaced and marred by the ravages of time, is part of a wall in the right balcony of Ramachandra Temple, also known as the Temple of Snakes.
Pundit Javed Akram Kumar, who is also chief of the Katas Raj Parbandh Committee, told Daily Times on Thursday that the statue showed Lord Shiva and his wife, the goddess Satti, sharing a moment of love with two servants standing beside them.
He said Lord Shiva is one of the three main Hindu gods, the other two being Brahma and Vishnu. The three together are called ‘Trimurti’ and complete the cycle of life. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver and Shiva the destroyer or transformer. Shiva is also known for his strong love for his wife, Kumar said, adding that their love was the reason for the creation of the Katas Raj Temple.
Kumar said Shiva cried so bitterly on Satti’s death that his tears filled two ponds, one of them at Pushkara in Ajmer, India, and the other one at Ketaksha (now Katas Raj). Ketaksha means ‘raining eyes’ in Sanskrit.
Kumar accused the Punjab Archaeology Department (PAD) for lack of interest and not providing the temple enough security. He said the temple had been a continuous victim to smugglers of ancient sculptures. He said the surviving statue was priceless and was also in threat of being stolen.
Sculpture in threat: “The smugglers are powerful people, equipped with all kinds of modern tools, including stone cutters, diggers and metal detectors. They have already stolen all stone and wooden artefacts from the temple. Now they have their eyes on this sculpture, which is evident by the fact that it has been chipped from all sides. I will not be surprised if it is plucked out soon,” he said.
Kumar said that the temple could have been a major tourist attraction, if the government had paid attention to it and advertised it. He said the temple was one of the most ancient sites in the country. He said the Katas valley had been famous for its beauty and centuries ago, there used to be a Sanskrit University in the valley which had produced many eminent scientists, including Alberuni, who had written his book ‘Kitab Al Hind’ at the university.
Kumar added that there had been a Buddhist stupa at the site, which had signs of an ancient civilisation that lived in the area centuries ago.
PAD Director General Shahbaz Khan told Daily Times that he had seen the temple and that his department was mapping the site. He said he would be able to comment on the history and details of the sculpture only after the mapping was complete. He said the site had already been looted and destroyed and had nothing to offer to smugglers and relic thieves.
Khan said that his department was running a project to preserve the site and that the project would be completed by next year. He admitted that the security at the site had been ‘loose’, but his department had recently put barbed wire around the temple. He added that the department was hiring staff who would take care of the temple.
“We will not increase the number of idols in the temple since we are not preserving the site as a Hindu temple on religious grounds, but as a historical and cultural monument,” the PAD DG said.