I didn’t know there were so many Hindu Temples Mandirs in Rawalpindi Pakistan — mostly intact.
I’d been frequently spotting a few of these hindu temples and mandir of Rawalpindi Pakistan over the skyline, whenever I visited the old city. I would sometimes also catch a glimpse of the mansions’ or ‘havelis’ abandoned by Hindus and Sikhs when they hurriedly left Rawalpindi in 1947, in close proximity to these hindu temples. This would have me wonder what all heritage jewels are hidden in the narrow streets of old Rawalpindi.
Hindu temples and mandirs of Rawalpindi Google map images are pasted below for your reference.
Hindu Sikh Mohallas of Pre-partition
Then I had been hearing of Mohanpura, Kirtarpura mohallas and mai veeru de banni, where non-Muslim families lived till the 60s. Finally, on Spring Sunday we decided to pack my gear and set off on Rickshaw to Sarafa Bazar to log these wonderful hindu temples and try to live among the ruins to imagine how these industrious people dominated the pre-partition society.
The four Hindu Temples we visited
The four Hindu temples we visited are located in a narrow lane that runs between the Sarafa bazaar and Lunda bazaar. All four Hindu temples are within walking distance, and quite similar in appearance. The entrance to this lane from the Sarafa Bazar road is barely a meter wide. I guess it made sense for the Hindus of the time to live in narrow lanes away from the teeming Muslim population in the surroundings. Knowing that pre-partition Hindus dominated trade in Rawalpindi, finding Hindu remnants in Bohar, Lunda, and Sarafa Bazar is no surprise.
The moment we set foot inside the old city lane, the temperature dropped at least 5 0 Centigrade. The lanes were clean, airy, and well maintained. On either side of the lane were three-story-high mansions. The facade, balconies, ornate wooden doors, the tapestry was absolutely amazing.
The first Mandir of the four Hindu temples was just a few yards into the lane. It had an imposing structure. It was the highest structure in the surrounding area. We couldn’t see the spire on the top standing at its foothill. We couldn’t get inside so we decided to move on to the next one.
We reached the second Mandir of the four Hindu temples after a few bends along the catacomb, and it was decrepit, to say the least. Auqaf trust manages the building but I guess they don’t have the funds to maintain it. No festivals are held here and no visitors or tourists come, except wayward travelers like us. The building itself spoke of its grandeur once, as a place for Hindu worship. The walls were thick, the carvings lavish and the spire marked the skyline. The building was solid as it had a basement at least 5 meters deep.
The surprising thing I noticed was that Hindu temples spire resembled Buddhist temples in architecture. I guess Buddhist religious thoughts must have retained the layout of Hindu religious places that were prevalent at the time the new religion branched out.
The people living in these lanes were those who had come from India after the partition. They were very helpful. I wonder how many Hindus live in these narrow lanes; I have heard there are quite a few remaining.
Next came Mandir number 3, called Ganesh Mandir-— with its imposing spire and hanuman figuring on its side. The residents of the temple wouldn’t let us in, god knows why. They were probably sick of pesky intruders. We then reached Lunda Bazar and went up to the Mohan Mandir. There the family let us see the spire from up-close. While walking up the steps it felt like I was in a Bollywood movie as the setting was very similar. All the residents lived there on rent and were Muslims. They paid rent to Auqaf trust, which handles the maintenance of these religious sites.
Right across from the Mohan Mandir was the oldest Imam Bargah of Rawalpindi and also a mosque. Lunda Bazar was probably the melting pot for all the religious communities of pre-partition times.
We returned to Sarafa Bazar using a different route and then went to the northern side where Haveli Sujjan Singh is located. The imposing haveli seems haunted. It’s with the National College of Arts but there is no artwork going on. Just a chowkidar whose job it is to scare away visitors. The haveli itself is grand, to say the least. It even has an overhead gangway for the residents to stroll across over the alleyway below, from one wing of the haveli to the other.
Every lane we turned to lead us to an even better building. Simple restoration work could bring in billions of rupees in tourist revenues. It’s a shame the Indian government doesn’t let their people visit these places of their ancestors. It would be a healing touch to the atrocities that took place after partition.
I did feel the real pulse of the old city in those narrow lanes. Next time I plan to visit the temples located in the Rawalpindi garrison.
None of these Hindu Temples and mandirs near me of Rawalpindi Pakistan are functional at the moment as their caretakers moved on to find a better life in India. Come to think of it the Hindu temples in India are not too far either, just a 500 km crow flay away. Despite the non-muslim caretakers abandoning their mecca, none of these temples and mandirs were destroyed by Muslims in Pakistan. There are several other mandirs in close vicinity like Raja Bazar, cantonment, and city Saddar Road out of which only the Krishna mandir of Pohri Pull, Railway station, Saddar, and Lal Kurti are functional. Hindu and Sikh temples in Lahore and Karachi are more expansive and still functional.
We have compiled all the temples in Rawalpindi in one video. You will enjoy watching it.