Katas Raj

(Zubair Ameer, Islamabad)

“Lake of tears” “A myth or reality”

The Holy place of Hindu community is found in Katas Raj, which holds unique significance in the history of Pakistan. Keeping its greater historic significance, Archeological department has taken significant steps in relation to its protection. Katas Raj is a historic village located 25 Kilometers (kms) from Chakwal, while going Lahore, passing from motorway before crossing salt range, 15 kms from Kallar Kahar is Choha Saiden Shah, passing from Choha comes this old building stock.

These ancient buildings are temples of Hinduism which are 200-300 years BC old. It is the second main place of Hindus for worship. Shive Mahraj, a god of Hindus, known as the destroyer of the world and at the same time the lover of his spouse, Shakti. His mandir is the holiest temple where the Hindus read their Bhajan (a song with religious theme) and break the coconut near the idol of their god and put some milk on the idol. There is another room, in which a statue of snake god (Nag Devta) is placed, where people come to worship. They come and put milk on the statue. There are huge corridors in this tremendous hall, during the British reign; it was made as prisoner cells. There is a very old library in Katas which is between the Hanuman’s and Ram Chandra’s Mandir, two other gods of Hindus. There had been number of wars in this region in history. All the gods fought with each other. And in first war Hanuman sided Shive Maharaj in the fight between Ram Chandra and Shive Maharaj. Shive Maharaj won, and Hanuman was made Raja of Katas. There was another event of war in Katas. This time between Pandu and Corro (two ethnic groups in Katas Raj). This fight was won by Pandu and they built a Mandir of Satghara, a Hindu god whom Pandu worshipped. There came many rulers in Katas including Sikhs. Sikhs stayed for almost 50 years in Katas and Raja Ranjit Singh, a famous ruler, during his region build a ‘Haveli’ in Katas Raj.

There is a lake sandwiched between these temples and this lake is called the ‘Lake Of Tears’. Hindus come here for bath. As according to their belief, by taking bath in this lake they get ‘Pavitr’ (get rid of their sins). It is a ‘Holy Lake’ and has very interesting history. Shive Mahraj had a wife and her name was Shakti. When she died, Maharaj cried a lot. But according to some myths, two tears fell from his eyes, one in Ajmair, Rajasthan and second in Katas which created two lakes, one in Katas and second in Ajmair. That is the reason why this lake is called “Lake Of Tears” as it was created by his tear(s). These temples have some more interesting history other than being religious and a war place. In Katas Raj, during the 10th century, Al-Beruni, a muslim astronomer sat and calculated the radius and circumference of earth. This is the place where one of the oldest library was built, which is turned into a school at present time.

Now if we talk about the modern times, according to the geologists it is the lake not formed because of the tear(s) but it is an artisan well under which flows a river. Water because of great pressure, seeped out from the limestone aquifer layer and the water that flows under this well is fossilized water.

Hindu pilgrims visit katas every year in April and take bath in the lake, and perform their religious obligations. But, now the water of lake is almost finish because there have been installed two cement factories who soak water in tons daily. The soaking of water by these factories have decreased the ground water level. Two important advantages of installing factories there are; raw material availability at low cost and cheap labor. Secondly the area there is barren; nothing grows there, so the land is cheaply available for factory. The soil here is rich in minerals/rocks especially limestone is available in abundance. That is the reason that many other factories are also installed. Best way cement factory is also there, which is the biggest cement producing factory. These all are working factories and are in very large number. Recently, there was suo motu case taken up by Chief Justice of Pakistan on the basis of media reports that the Katas Raj temple complex pond was drying up because cement factories nearby were drawing a large amount of water through a number of sub-soil wells, severely reducing the water table in the general area.

Supreme Court of Pakistan thus ordered the country’s largest cement-maker factory (Best Way), to fill the empty Katas Raj Lake, as it was proved as a victim of this case. The orders were carried out by the Best Way cement factory under the supervision of Punjab government and the lake is full again.

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