An ancient Hindu temple, closed since Partition will once again be opened for worshippers after a long hiatus of 72 years.
As per details, the Shawala Teeja Singh Temple, located on Circular Road in Sialkot, is more than a 1,000 years old. Prime Minister Imran Khan directed Evacuee Trust Property Board (EPTB) Chairman Dr Amir Ahmed to facilitate its reopening. Members of the Hindu community had long been demanding for the temple to be opened. Pakistani Hindu community leader Surinder Kumar welcomed the decision and thanked the government for supporting the Hindu community.
Made of granite and sandstone, the temple sits high on a sand dune in a congested, residential neighborhood. Over the years, the temple has fallen prey to neglect as a result of which the intricate carvings on the thick outside pillars have long faded or been scrubbed off by drug addicts. The sacred idols of Lord Shiva in the building have also been stolen or destroyed.
According to Arab News, basic repair work on the temple is underway and a boundary wall has been constructed to mark the perimeters of the building. Doors have also been refitted near the prayer room. Officials said that complete restoration would take up to five years, for which UNESCO and the Karachi-based Aga Khan Foundation have been taken on board.
On August 5, a formal opening ceremony would be held to mark the day Hindus celebrate the snake festival of Nag Panchami. Idols of Hindu deities will be transported to the temple from other temples in Pakistan and India for the ceremony.
Earlier in July, an inauguration ceremony was carried out with several Hindu leaders present.
Punjab is full of religious sites for both Hindus and Sikhs. Earlier, a gurdwara dating back 500 years in Sialkot was opened for Sikh pilgrims.