It was 20th February, 2016, leaving behind the pleasant weather of Lahore, my cousin, husband and I set off to explore the temple, where 17 religions (except Islam)have been practiced during the reign of their rulers in sub-continent. It has a history of 1500 years, starting from Buddhist era where as local experts believe that this place has a history of 6000 & 7000 BC as they found some fossils of that era.Kattas Raj temple, where Al-beruni sat and calculated the radius and circumference of earth, in 10th century, is the place where one of the oldest libraries was built, which is turned into a school at present time. Now-a-days Hindus come to worship on regular basis. It is located at Chakwal district, near a village Choa Saidan Shah.
I am always interested in visiting such places which give me a flash back to the past. And luckily my husband is always with me and he is also interested to travel. And my cousin, she is a crazy girl for enjoyment. We all decided to spend one day at the Kattas Raj. The journey to Kattas was full of fun. We always enjoy traveling company of each other, as above our relations we are the best buddies.
Kattas Raj is situated near the salt range, 271km from Lahore. We started our journey early in the morning;it would take around 3 hours through Lahore-Islamabad motorway road. We just crossed about 60km from Lahore, when we saw that the fuel tank was about to empty, and after looking at the particulars we realized that we would not be able to reach the next petrol pump with this little fuel. The lesson we got here is to always check the fuel tank and air pressure of tire, before moving towards Motorways as there are service stations at a specific distance.
We then called the help line of motorway, and asked what we should do now. They suggested us to go to the first interchange that comes to our way. There is market and residential area near by the interchange, so we got the fuel from there. After we got the fuel tank refilled, we thanked Almighty Allah; it was a moment of real happiness. As we started moving ahead towards Islamabad, my husband suddenly realized that the sun was then in front of us, while it was at back before we moved to the interchange. It was a big laughter and disgust at the same time, now we were heading towards Lahore. It wasted a lot of our time. All these blunders are just a part of journey. Whenever one moves out of home, there are such circumstances that one has to face. One must be mentally and physically and financially ready to compensate for any mishaps. And definitely these are the incidents that taught a lot.
The soil here is rich in minerals/rocks especially limestone is available in abundance. That is why there are cement factories. Best way cement is also there, we saw the working of the factory. Two important advantages of installing factories there are; raw material availability at low cost and cheap labor. Secondly the area there is barren; nothing grows there, so the land is cheaply available for factory. As a result of the dangerous chemicals being emitting from factories, people there are facing health issues. That is why people there are now against installation of any more factories in their area.
Crossing all this area, we finally reached our place, it seemed quite hilarious to us. The expansiveness of the area and the old condition made us astonished at the first sight. We were a bit scared, because of the stories of ghosts we have ever heard in our lives. It is not like cemented building as of now-a-days, it is like a rusted piece of iron. The fungus has grown over the walls gives it a daunting feeling. Along with such feeling I was also fascinated to see it closely. It is under the consideration of Heritage Department of Pakistan.
We parked the car at the gate, and entered the gate; there we hired a guide along with us. He was the one who explained to us about every detail of the fort. The most pervasive fact of the kattas Raj is about the pond water. The source of the water is not clearly visible, seems like coming from beneath the surface of earth. There are two kinds of beliefs; I don’t know which one is true, but both are known to the followers. One says that there was a saint, who prayed to Allah Almighty, and so water made its path and a pond was developed. The second beliefs that; Ram (Hindu god) wept a lot when his wife(Hindu goddess) died, and hence the pond developed due to the power of his tears.Whereas, my husband as a Geological Engineer believes that it’s a confined aquifer, in which an impermeable dirt/rock layer exists that prevents water from seeping into the aquifer from the ground surface located directly above and comes from somewhere else where there big cracks/fissures in rock exits. Limestone has such properties which was present in Kattas Raj area.
As we made our way to see the inside of the temple, we had to climb many stairs. It was hectic, the sun was pinching, as it felt hotter there because of the surrounding building and limestone enriched soil. On the top there is a place for Hindus worshipers, there were pictures of their gods and goddesses painted on the wall. At present these are almost ruined only some estimations can be made that were some pictures. I wanted to see the sculptures of their gods, but the guide told me that when Hindus come for prayer, they carry their gods along with them. They just want to keep this place alive with their worship that is why they come there to worship. For Hindus it is very sacred place.
The guide told that Sikhs also comes here at present times. In the past 17 religions were practiced during their respective reigns expect Islam. Now-a-days it is associated with Hinduism. From the top there is a view of all the lower area of the temple.
There is a special room, in which a statue of snake god (Nag Devta) is placed, where people come to worship. They used to put milk on the statue, as seen in the picture, which I captured. There are some framed pictures of god and goddesses placed in the windows of wall.
Moving upstairs from the inside of the dome, we reached at the top of the dome floor. We saw a beautiful view of the whole area around the temple. The stairs were quiet small and the area is also used for worship purposes.
The temple is spread on a vast area. We just took one quick round trip, otherwise one day would be not enough to explore it in detail. As we had to return home the same day, and also we are very hungry by then. One important thing for tourists is that there is no proper food place, just a small tuck shop, so it is better to make one’s own arrangements.
A few kilometers away there is Kalar Kahar Lake. This is a picnic spot, so we went there and had our lunch. We enjoyed boating and viewing the sunset as well.It was the end of the day when we made our way towards our loved home town.
That was the end of the beautiful and exciting trip, made our souls fresh and delighted with the exploration of a new area and new experience to life. It can be said that a day spent well is the time that one can steal from the hustle and bustle of life. There are a couple of places around Katas Raj that can be explored. Happy traveling while exploring tourist places in Pakistan!