SUKKUR: When the flood hit, one of the biggest Hindu temples in Sindh, Sadhu Bela, was also inundated. Around four to five feet of water stood in the temple for more than 15 days.
The extent of the damage to the building was finally gauged when the water receded. Not only had the boundary wall collapsed in parts but the entire floor of the temple had become uneven. Mounds of silt decorated the floor in silky brown streaks.
“It has been two months since the water has been drained,” said one of the workers at the temple, Wadhu Ram. “But there is sand all over, the gardens are destroyed, the entire place has been damaged.”
Ever since the water came and went, the temple has been quiet. Most of its rooms, save the main worship hall, are still locked up because of the sand and it seems as if they will stay locked till the irrigation department comes to clean up. Visitors and worshippers have abandoned the temple.
The Hindu Panchayat is quite disappointed with the lax attitude of the administration. Makhi Eeshwar from the panchayat was scathing. “I thought Moenjodaro was in Larkana. But I guess the administration wants to turn Sadhu Bela into a Moenjodaro as well.”
Imtiaz Meerani, who is the caretaker of the temple appointed by the Auqaf department, is not bothered either by its state. “The original wall of the temple did not fall,” he said. “Just the top part of the walls that were recently built fell. It will be repaired soon, as will the cracks that have appeared after the flood.”
According to Haso Mal, the temple lost two heavy-duty generators, at least 10 water suction pumps and dozens of ceiling fans and pedestal fans when the floodwater rushed in. He explained that the fans are removed after annual celebrations and are stored. Maunds of flour, rice, cooking oil, sugar and other daily use commodities which were stored at the temple were also washed away.
History of Sadhu Bela
Sadhu Bela is situated in the middle of River Indus on an island opposite Bunder wall. Worshippers have to use a boat to get to the island.
It is said that Baba Bankhandi Maharaj had come to this place in 1823, either from Kero Khetar near Delhi or Nepal, and had chosen Menak Parbat (the island where the temple stands) as his abode. The eighth Gaddi Nasheen of Baba Bankhandi Maharaj, Sant Harnam Das, started construction in 1889 after Baba Bankhandi died.
The temple is spread over nine acres and comprises a main place of worship (Asthan of Baba Bankhandi Maharaj), abodes for his ‘shish’ (students), a library which houses books on religion and Hindu mythology, separate ‘Bhandars’ (dining rooms) for women and men, separate places of worship for men and women, washrooms and a huge garden.
Every year at the urs of Baba Bankhandi, hundreds of Hindus from across the country come to pay their respects to the saint at the temple.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2010.
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