Old Gurkhas Shiv Temple

Ancient Gurkha's Shiv Temple

SIV MANDIR ("Urdu": ??? ??

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Although the Hindus are Pakistan's biggest secular ethnic group, their influence is strikingly limited by the more obvious conservative group.

Although the Hindus are Pakistan's biggest secular ethnic group, their influence is strikingly limited by the more obvious conservative group. This is due to the Hindus' focus in the south of the province and perhaps also their low level of representation in other areas, which has been consciously persecute. Most Muslims in Pakistan - especially in the towns - are refused access to a temple of Hinduism because of the threats to their livelihood and the unhappy raids on some of them.

When it comes to the right of access, the temple in the cities and villages is much looser. There is another paradox with Christians: almost every town in Pakistan has a large church and Muslim entrance is much more relaxing. There are two working Christendom cathedrals in my town, Abbottabad, but not a temple.

So I was very astonished when I got to know the Shiv temple in Chitti Gatti - about 15 kilometers from Mansehra - which is not only a symbol for the Hindus' existence in the area, but also has a huge historic significance. Chitti Gatti lies between a field and a stream.

This temple is located right next to the Karakoram Highway. But it is the inside of the temple that emphasizes its upkeep, hosting the 3,000-year-old Shiva Lingam - the oldest in Pakistan and probably one of the oldest Hindu buildings in the entire area. This is a place kept sacred by many Hindus who experience an anniversary celebration in Shivraatri, around February, where a number of Hindus from Pakistan, as well as from abroad, are paying for a charism.

Otherwise the temple is closed because there are no Hindus in the neighbouring areas that can be visited on a regular basis - but a Hindus trip is possible at any time. You will be welcomed by the temple janitor who will make your stay easier. Besides, a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa policeman is always stationed in the temple.

Access to the temple is via a second level, as the closed groundfloor contains mainly the hill on which the Shiva Lingam is located. The lingam slipped out of the soil on its own initiative and has been in this state for millennia. Inside the temple is mainly a hallway containing imposing sculptures of the Hindu god Ganesha and Krishna's Kuh Nandi.

There are also various placards and wall tapestries by others, among them Shiv, Parvati, Kali and those of hinduist organisations and groups. However, the Shiva Lingam is located in another room in the middle of the central area. Only the Hindus have the right of entry.

Shiv Temple Society holds the keys to the crystal room. Pointing to a burned spot on the floor, the sergeant told tales of various Hindu family members who were frequent visitors. It also told the story of a pre-partition fight in the area between Hindus and Muslims.

"Muslims were attacking the Shiva Lingam and were determined to uproot the Lingam," he said. "Footsteps of a battle on the Lingam were the foundation of his history. Fortunately, there were no unwanted events in the temple after the partition. These alleged allegations were rejected by those responsible, and the policeman voiced the strict will of the locals to defend the temple.

Whilst the Sindh Temple in the Sindh Temple, which is a sacred temple of Sufi inspiration, has been under attack lately, the Shiv Temple in this relatively restless provinces has remained overly safe for me. That came out a little too clearly when I spoke to Mr. Darshan Lal of the Shiv Temple Society - a man who is in charge of all the important affairs of the temple, and the de facto janitor.

It was a permanent grievance that the German authorities were absolutely apathetic towards the location. In fact, most of the temple's refurbishment and building work is funded by Hindu groups, sometimes supported by friendly Muslims. "Whenever the Hindus come, they give us something. Temple country is another urgent topic.

This temple is situated on controversial grounds, and the country's beneficiaries are numerous. Mr Lal confessed to writing a letter to the authorities to resolve this controversy, without success. Mister Lal was very noisy about the government's carelessness and said that the administration does nothing at all for the temple.

The Shiv Temple Society is headquartered in Abbottabad - and information can be provided to the volunteers). In addition, there are also plot theory about the Indian administration, which is showing great interest in the Shiva Lingam, and some discussions are under way about its sale - which, frankly, seems a little too drastic and far-fetched.

Chitti Gatti's Shiva Temple may not be the most amazing Hindu temple there is, but it is a nice and much needed break from the commotion. In spite of all the difficulties the temple faces, something says to me that the Quaid would have been proud - because as far as this Shiva temple is concerned, one is definitely "free to go to his temples"!

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