This fascinating Hindu temple in Kahuta Pakistan has a dark story to tell…
In 1947, Kahuta had a population of 3500, with half of them Muslims, all living along the main junction of the ring road that went into Kashmir and looped back at the same spot. The Hindus were of the Mahajan caste (patwari, tehsildar, merchants, etc.); Muslims were of the Rajput clan and Sikhs were in the administration.
Sikhs also lived around an adjacent town called the Thoa Khalsa, christened by ‘Bana’ a close confidante of Baba Guru Nanak.
Kahuta has vast fruit orchids (mangoes too), watering ponds, waterfalls, a vibrant town with Hindu temples, a gurudwara and a Jamia mosque.
Incidentally, Ajit Doval, the James Bond of India has mentioned in his book that he spent quite some time around Kahuta and met some closet Hindu who recognized his pierced earlobes and nearly blew his cover. The Hindu, he said had a white flowing beard like a Muslim holy man and had deities (moortis’) hidden in his closet.
At the end of March 1947, all that was left standing in the shouldering wreckage was the minaret and the obelisk of the Hindu temples — nothing else survived.
Sikhs’ were the magnanimous ruling class, building administrative centers, schools all around Kahuta. The British ended Sikh rule on Kahuta which was then part of Kashmir and handed it over to Rawalpindi district. As Rawalpindi was also directly administered by the British, Hindus gains ascendancy in Kahuta.
Muslims stayed the same, poorly educated, politically weak, and living in the surrounding mountains.
In March 1947, rumors of Muslim lynching in India reached Kahuta and enraged mobs from the surrounding mountains, especially Narh, came clambering down for revenge. The sacred Sikh town of Thoa Khasa was burned to the ground with 50 Sikhs killed in one day.
The mob then besieged Kahuta’s main town, dowsed the place in petrol, and set it on fire. The Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims living in the town Centre were all burned to death. Several were reportedly raped. The remaining stunned people fled.
One eye witness of the horror in Kahuta told me “upward of 1000 died in the fire and nothing was left except the minaret & temple spire” — but no one to worship inside.
Mountbatten personally came to visit after the killings. These violent deaths were the result of colonial divide and rule policies, sowing religious divide. I mean, how can you gift Kashmir – a Muslim majority state – to a Hindu Dogra? Is it your Phuphi’s walima feast?
Now, this temple is the prettiest of all the Hindu worship places I’ve visited around Pakistan. All its religious symbols are still intact. I wish someone would interpret them for me.
I guess the town folks had had enough of violence for the next hundred years — they left the temples alone.
Hate begets hate; there can be no peace till the healing takes place.
Although the architecture of Hindu temples in Pakistan like the ones in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Multan are nothing like the grand temples in Dubai, UAE, Atlanta, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, Omaha — they are older and revered. Just for your information, there are no Hindu temples in the Muslim holy land of Saudi Arabia. Take your pick of the Hindu temples near you.
If you are in Kahuta to see this temple, don’t forget to see the other Hindu temple, which is now home to a lovely Kashmiri family.
do see the video on Kahuta.