Sassi Da Kallara Hindu temple of Talagang, Chakwal was the last of the Hindu temples I had to cover as part of my Salt Range series.
No one from the Shah Muhammad Wali Village close to the temple had any idea why the temple was sited at such a remote location and why it was named Sassi.
I am as clueless as they are.
Origins of the Sassi Da Kallara Hindu Temple Talagang, Chakwal, Pakistan
My research says that the origins of the word Kallara pronounced as “Kaalar” is in Sindh where the Hindu Dynasty there was called Kalra and that means “related to the King name Kalrai” (founder of Rai Vash in Sindh).
This conclusion is based on the fact that this temple is very different from its construction from the others in Chakwal Region.
The Sassi Da Kallar Hindu temple is made from baked red bricks, while the others in the region are built from limestone.
Also, the word Sassi, of Sassi Punnu fame, has its origins in Sindh and that corroborates my conclusion.
Alternatively, Kaalar could also mean saline land of Sassi, who could be some Hindu lady that owned the saline land below the temple cliff.
In any case, this temple cannot be more than 1000 years old i.e. from the 10th century, when the Hindu Shahi dominated these lands
Eighty-year-old man of the Shah Muhammad Wali Village told me that there is a tiny spot in the village also called Sassi, so probably Sassi built this temple on her saline land for Hindu devotees.
Why a Sindhi Hindu Temple in Punjab?
What a Sindhi Hindu Temple is doing so high up in Punjab is a mystery and left me scratching my head like the people living there.
The best time to visit the Hindu Temples of Talagang
Spring months of February to April would be the best time to go there as the grass is greener, the flowers colorful, and the weather cooler. There used to be a Baisakhi festival in the olden days here.
Springtime Baisakhi festival at Sassi Da Kallara Hindu Temple
The old man, while sipping doodh Patti also told me that till 1947 they regularly had the Baisakhi spring festival here on the top of the mountain where Sassi Da Kaalar Hindu temple is located.
Even now, people from Afghanistan come to see this Hindu temple.
Maybe Pakistan should consider reviving the Baisakhi festival for Hindu pilgrims so that everyone has a good time in solidarity with humanity.
There is already too much hate to go around anyway.
In the olden days, people could see several kilometers into the riverine bed of Manjala Kas (Leti Kas), as there was no vegetation or agriculture begin carried out.
Now you can’t find land to purchase for agriculture because everything has become so expensive.
The Hindu families of Talagang Chakwal
I had come to ask the local village people about Hindu history and heritage but they were as blank as I was.
The old guy didn’t even remember whether there were Hindus before 1947. I am sure he knew and didn’t want to admit that his ancestors stole Hindu lands in the partition riots.
Some people mentioned pots of gold in buried chambers around the temple, but I didn’t find anything for myself.
Damn, now I will have to work hard to make a living!
Route to Sassi da Kallara Hindu Temple
The land route to Sassi da Kalllara is-
Turn Islamabad – Peshawar on the motorway- turn left on Hakla interchange (on CPEC) – drive to Tarap interchange- exit Tarap and drive toward Talagang -stop just after the new bridge over River Soan at Shah Muhammad Wali.
Time and Distance to the Sassi Da Kallara Temple
It takes 2.5 hours to get to Shah Muhammad Wali village and a further walk or 4×4 drive of about 20 minutes more.
I drove into the marshes of Manjala Kas in muddy terrain and after about a km drive I got to the site where I could see Sassi Da Kaalar Temple on top of a mountain.
Get a local guide as you can get lost in the multiple dirt tracks
I had made one prior unsuccessful attempt to get to this temple using Google Maps and had ended up tens of kilometers in the wrong direction.
So, follow my map if you want to reach the site safely.
I had to climb a further 20 minutes to reach the top of the highest mound in the area and lo and behold, there was the temple.
The temple was originally a complex of about 200 meters square with at least two buildings. Only one spire of one building left standing now and that too because some conscientious heritage junkie had jammed a metal beam in the structure to keep it erect.
The gold of Sassi Da Kallar Temple
Several treasure hunters had dug up the floor of the temple and the archeological site close by, as there is a recurring rumor that the Hindu inhabitants of the area who had left for India had sent a message telling locals that they had buried their gold here.
Now every idiot is digging up the place like gophers to get rich quickly, as it is our national hobby.
Unique Architecture of Hindu temple
I loved the brick structure and the tastefully carved patterns on the outer walls.
The view from the edge of the temple was brilliant as I could see the CPEC road network at least 30 km away from the cliff edge.
Annual Wild boar Hunt near the temple site
The local boy who had helped us reach the spot told me that game hunters from Mianwali gather at these swampy lands during groundnut sowing season to hunt for wild boars so that they don’t destroy the crop.
The boy even showed me a gruesome video of the hunt where dogs were mauling the poor creature, he quite innocently replied, “no, no these wild boars are very bad for our crop.”
Where to have lunch at Hindu Temple site Talagang
After soaking in the warm spring sun, I went back to my 4×4 down below and drove out to find a desi restaurant.
I found one driver’s hotel at the Shah Muhammad Wali village bus stop.
I had a fresh meal of Daal, Roti and Vegetables and tea the bill for two people was Rs 150 – can you beat that?
The food was a lot better than the trash they serve us in cities at 500% the price.
I wonder if there still are any descendants of the Hindu people who left Injra, Shah Muhamad Wali, and Talagang and if they have any to add to the information on this historic site.
Do visit Sassi Da Kaalar if you have a sturdy car and you are fit enough to climb the last twenty minutes.
If anyone wants to go to the Hindu temple heritage and history site, do inbox me.