Pakistan is a land of rugged mountains, gurgling streams, and rich culture, much of which is unexplored. One of the least explored aspects of Pakistani heritage is the bunch of stunning Hindu temples in the country. What most of us don’t know is that Pakistan has some of the holiest sites in Hindu culture, and here we pick some of the top must-visit temples for you.
Katas Raj Temples, Chakwal
When you get off the M2 motorway from Islamabad to Lahore at the Kallar Kahar interchange and follow the road to Choa Saidan Shah for about 24 km, you will reach one of the most ancient Hindu temple complexes – The Katas Raj Temples. There are several legends about this complex, which houses seven temples, each dedicated to a Hindu deity. One says that the Pandavas (from the Mahabharata) stayed here for four of the fourteen years of the exile period. Another one talks of the holy pool being formed by Shiva’s tears when he cried for the loss of his wife Sati.
Shri Varun Dev Mandir, Manora
The island of Manora in Karachi is home to one of the most famous, albeit a tad dilapidated temple dedicated to the God of the Oceans, Varuna. Believed to be at least 1000 years old, this temple is no longer actively used to perform rituals (the last of which is said to have been performed in the 1950’s), but is well worth a visit to soak in its superb craftsmanship.
Hinglaj Mata Mandir, Balochistan
Nestled in the hills of Lyari Tehsil in the Baluchistan province, is the cave temple dedicated to Hinglaj Mata, or Shiva’s consort Sati. Also known as the Nani Mandir, it is believed to be the spot where Sati’s head fell when Lord Vishnu cut up Sati’s dead body to calm Lord Shiva down from his tandava. This temple is one of the Shakti Peethas, or sacred sited of worship, of Goddess Sati.
Jagannath Mandir, Sialko
A fairly new temple, built in 2007, this beautiful temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, one of the forms of Lord Vishnu. Sialkot is steeped in history, what with excavations revealing Buddhist stupas, Zoroastrian temples and Greek coins. A visit to Sialkot is sure to have you reeling, not just as the magnificent Jagannath Temple, but the sheer extent of cultural heritage it is home to.
The ancient temple at Mari Indus
On the banks of the Indus, in the district of Mianwali is the historic town of Mari Indus. The ancient ruins of the Hindu temples here take you back in time, and what can be a more perfect setting that the beautiful river Indus?
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are scores of other beautiful Hindu temples in Pakistan, these are some gems that are worth a visit.
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