The sacred waters of the Katas Raj Temples

The pond surrounding the Katas Raj Temples is the main attraction for Hindu pilgrims and tourists in Punjab

A view from the balcony of the main temple. PHOTOS : MOEBIN KHURRAM HAFEEZ

Legend has it that the pond at Katas Raj temples was formed by the tears that Lord Shiva shed after the death of his wife Sati. Hindu pilgrims from across the world visit the temples during the Maha Shivratri festival and bathe in the sacred pool to seek forgiveness, while some even believe the water body holds healing powers.

Tourists frequent  the site to witness its beauty firsthand. PHOTOS : MOEBIN KHURRAM HAFEEZ

The main temple looms over the green pool. PHOTOS : MOEBIN KHURRAM HAFEEZ

Dedicated to the Lord Shiva, Katas Raj temples are situated in Punjab near Choa Saidanshah, in Chakwal district. The site originally housed the Satgraha, a cluster of seven ancient temples, along with a Buddhist stupa and the home of a warrior. However, only four of the seven temples and the warrior’s residence remain intact today. Although the smaller temples were built around 900 years ago, the earlier ones date back to the latter half of the sixth Century AD.

People often only visit the main temple and the pond and not what is behind it. PHOTOS : MOEBIN KHURRAM HAFEEZ

A panoramic view from the roof of one of the temples.  PHOTOS : MOEBIN KHURRAM HAFEEZ

Katas Raj temples had always been on my list of places to visit. One night I got a call from a few friends, asking if I wanted to go with them to visit the site. It was 4:00am, and they were leaving almost immediately. To get there, we took the M2 Motorway from the Kallar Kahar interchange. After travelling for 24kms, we reached the town of Choa Saidan Shah and as we went further down, we crossed a cement factory after which the temple complex gradually became visible.

Upon reaching the site, the anticipation seemed to have been worth it. With the temples looming over the sky, the first thing one sets their eyes upon is the emerald pond. The temple behind it does not seem to be any less magnificent. We were almost immediately overawed by the size of the complex. While photos may showcase the pond and temple, it fails to capture the other temples behind the main one.

With the assistance of a tour guide, we were able to have an intriguing excursion. While the temples are closed to the public, the guide was kind enough to allow us to enter. As we walked, we were led into an architectural marvel. One of the temples housed a room with a complicated ventilation system, which allowed air to pass through, but prevented rain water or sand from entering. Another temple showcased a laundry chute, which led to the basement. While some carvings of the Hindu deity remained on the walls, most of the idols have been shifted to India. We were later led to the rooftops of the temples, also closed to the public. The view proved to be astonishing with the pond being the main focus of the entire complex.

Hindu pilgrims bathe in the pool in an attempt to seek forgiveness. PHOTOS : MOEBIN KHURRAM HAFEEZ

The pond is bright green, something that can leave anyone in awe. PHOTOS : MOEBIN KHURRAM HAFEEZ

The tour ended, yet no one had the heart to leave. We lingered on, dipping our feet in the pool, watching the tiny fish frolic. The sun had now begun to set, but the temples did not lose their shimmer.

Many only view such wonders in pictures, but rarely attempt to visit these locations themselves. Katas Raj temples, in my opinion, are a victim to this phenomenon. Pictures may give an insight to the site, but only a visit would give one its true essence and marvel.

Moebin Khurram is a law student at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He blogs about his expeditions on the Facebook page Travel Diaries. 

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, June 7th, 2015.


Uncle Sam | 7 years ago | Reply Countries such as Indonesia, Turkey etc. make so much money from their ancient sites. There will be so much goodwill and not to mention economic benefits for Pakistanis if these can be opened up to tourism. A million Indian tourists visit Singapore each year and I'm sure many millions of Indian tourists from India/UK/USA etc. would love to visit Pakistan out of sheer curiosity, for religious/cultural reasons etc.
Brain-eating amoeba | 7 years ago | Reply Would love to visit this romantic place
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