We drove down from Sakesar top towards Uchhali Lake and turned right on a stony track that took us toward Amb Sharif Hindu temple that lies in Khushab district. It was a grueling 1.5 hours’ drive, but me being a Google maps Nazi, had to follow what my Gizmo says.
Amb Sharif Hindu Temple complex pictures, location and map is pasted below for your reference.
The drive was completely off-road but the wilderness was worth it. The various hues of ferrous, fire clay, and salt rocks dotted the undulating landscape. I did get worried for the safety of my family traveling with me, but I had a dagger hidden in my belt, just in case.
There is a more circuitous route through Quaidabad to reach the same site of the Amb Sharif Hindu Temple complex, but I couldn’t be bothered.
Don’t forget to take plenty of water along (5-liter minimum), as it gets pretty hot and there are no refreshment stands for the next 8 hours at least.
During the last few kilometers towards Amb Sharif, the road got metaled.
We were chatting and enjoying the music when suddenly the rock formation changed shape. There were towering rocks leading us into an unusually flat ledge on this rocky Salt range mountain. The pointed rocks on both sides of the road seemed like natural ramparts to a fortress.
Lo and Behold, we were dead in the center of the 6-7th century Hindu Shahi temple and fortress complex, called Amb Sharif. A cursory look revealed two structures that looked like the main palace and worship chamber and a few dilapidated structures on top of higher ledges.
This is what Mr. Cunningham, a British archeologist had to say about the place;-
Adapted from “Gardens of Amb Sharif Folklore & Archeology” Michael W Meister.
The ‘fine spring’ is long lost to global warming and reduced snowfall and Dhodha Nala down below that protected the foothills of this fort from raiders is a shallow stream now. No wonder no one attempted to build a fort again, as it was indefensible. I don’t really know when Amb Shareef Hindu temple was finally abandoned, but Hindu Shahi was packed up from Punjab in 1013 by Mahmood of Ghazni. And there are no green trees, so bring your umbrella and sunscreen.
Work on this temple complex started somewhere around the 5th century, during the Kushan times.
This Amb Shahi temple complex and fort of the Hindu Shahi dynasty that ruled over Salt Range from the 9th to the 10th century was meant to protect their western flank from the raiders that managed to cross over the mighty Indus further west.
Obviously, their plan didn’t work and all of them got kicked out.
The temple itself resembles the Janjua temples of Malot a lot, mostly because of the Kashmiri style of architecture.
The semicircular belfry of the temple roof had bats chilling after an afternoon meal, but they were pretty menacing. Anyone passing below them was bombed with a load of droppings that landed on target.
The stones of the temples had religious script etched on their surface, that doesn’t resemble any writing that I have come across previously. I hope someone could throw some more light on what it says.
Not much has been written about Amb Sharif Hindu temples and fort and I would love to join anyone interested in knowing more. The only thing I can add here is that Amb was its original name, whereas, Sharif was added later on by the Amb village people as a sign of respect for the ancient mosque perched on top of a mound overlooking their village.
The round trip back to Sakesar was lead us through the most barren, dry, god-forsaken, sh*thole piece of land that I have ever come across. I’m just kidding, I love pristine land.
The English had built a rest house for their archeological officer called the Diggi Bangla, in the middle of nowhere, overlooking the flats that lead up to Indus River Easter bank. The servants of Gora Sahib still live in these unforgiving mountains. So much for upwards mobility.
I drove my 4×4 as fast as I could down into the Dhodha Naala and up again to the crest of the mountain and into the final ascent toward Sakesar rest house at 1620 meters.
The colonial British kept this wonderful valley backward so that they could recruit uneducated Muslim men to become cannon fodder in their escapades.
This is a lovely account of the brave Awan men that fought in the two wars that the British imposed on these loyal people of Soon Sakesar Valley and Khushab.
The British didn’t recruit the Hindus after the 1857 independence war but used the region of Pakistan as a fertile hunting ground.
Resting in Sakesar top amongst pines covered in mist, while the lesser humans suffered in searing heat, I really felt how privileged this English lady of the colonial times was:-
Adapted from Footloose by Qaisar Tufail.
Ain’t life a bi*ch for some?
BTW, Amb Sharif has nothing to do with Amb Sharia shares. For more on Soon Sakesar valley, click the following.
Do watch the video too!