|Katas, 18 September 2006 – Saadullah Bashir|
15 November 2011. – A Documentary on Katas Raj in Chakwal, Pakistan
Yesterday, I made a trip to Satghara-Katas (pronounced Kataas) with friends/photographers, Saadullah Bashir and Jim Stipe. Detailed and reliable information about the place is hard to come by, but I have transcribed below the brief outline provided by the Department of Archaeology, Punjab. If the account sounds clumsy, incredible, and obsessed with Al-Baruni instead of saying more about the place itself, please forbear.
The photographs were taken by Saadullah Bashir with a Nikon D50 and primarily depict various aspects and details of the Shiv temple complex dating back to circa
6th 10th century AD, and a fortified haveli built by Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa in the early 19th century.
The information is evidently patchy and probably inaccurate. I will try to fill in the gaps and make the descriptions coherent as I find out more, but the images above are worth watching even now and do speak for themselves.
The Hindu sacred place “Katas” is located in the salt range at a distance of 18 miles in the south of Chakwal. The mention of Katas is found in “Maha Bharat” which was written in 300 BC. The etymology of this place as narrated in the old edition of “Tarikh-e-Jhelum” is that according to Brahaman’s belief, Shiv Devta wept so profusely on the death of his beloved wife Satti that two holy ponds one at Pushkar of Ajmair and other at Katak Shell came into being with his tears. In Sanskrit, the word “Katak Shell” means chain of tears which later on was pronounced as “Katas”. According to Gen. Cunningham, Katas was considered the second largest holy place in Punjab for Hindu pilgrims after the Jawala Mukhi. It is said that famous Pando brothers spent 12 years in Katas and built the temples of Satghara.
It is said that Al-Baruni also spent some period at Katas to learn Sanskrit in a linguistic university which, at that time, was established here. During his stay at Katas and Nandana Fort, Al-Baruni wrote a famous book “Kitab-ul-Hind” which depicted the religion, scientific knowledge, and social customs of Hindus. A prominent scholar Panikar stated that this book as a study of foreign civilization and culture not only touched the peaks of Muslim scholarship, but also due to impartial analyses it is a high ranked literary composition. Al-Baruni during his stay at Katas not only learned Sanskrit but also performed various geographic experiments and eventually succeeded in discovering the radius of the earth.—Department for Preservation of Historical Sites, Punjab
In light of some online resources, we have made a few corrections above and furnished the pictures with brief descriptions where possible. They have been quoted below and links to the original pages are provided at the end of each article.
[An]… official document prepared by the district government of Chakwal (Pakistan) tells an interesting story about nearby Katas Raj, where a Shiv temple and other historical monuments are located. Katas was earlier the name of a sacred spring which is believed to have been created by a stream of tears that flowed from Lord Shiva’s eyes following the death of his wife.
In fact, two streams of tears flowed. The other holy lake was created at Pushkar in Rajasthan.
There was an important university housed at Katas in which the education of Sanskrit was imparted. There are seven temples in the east of the sacred spring.
These temples, it is believed, were constructed by the Pandavas. Efforts are being made to restore and renovate these temples. There are also cave-type structures near the temples which, it is believed, were used for meditation purposes.
At a short distance from the temple, there is also the haveli of Hari Singh Nalwa, who used to be a General in the Army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.—The Tribune
Katas is a very sacred place for the Hindus. It is located on a hill six kilometers from Choasaidan Shah of Chakwal district. The place is mentioned in Mahabharata and according to Hindu religious belief, both Katas and the Paskar (Ajmer) are the eyes of Shiva. Paras Nath Jogi breathed his last here. Jagat Guru Nanak Ji also visited Katas and had set his foot here on the 1st of Visakh. This place came to be known as Nanaknawas. It was the abode of contemplation for larger groups of mystics, ascetics and Jogies. In the absence of proper markings or sign boards it is difficult to separate one place from the other.
It has great historical significance because it was the place where Al-Beruni attempted to measure the circumference of Earth, studied and learnt Sanskrit, wrote his renowned “Kitab-ul-Hind”. Even today groups of Hindu pilgrims come from India to visit it regularly to worship.
These historical sites are gradually withering away due to the neglect by the government.—All About Sikhs
Katas Raj project for approval
By Intikhab Hanif
LAHORE, Sept 10 : The Punjab Archaeology Department is submitting a Rs108.170 million project for the conservation of Katas Raj, the second most sacred Hindu religious place after Banaras, before the provincial development working party for approval on Monday (today).
The project was announced upon the visit of BJP leader L K Advani to Katas Raj in June last year. Accompanied by his family and PML president Chaudhry Shujaat Husain, Mr Advani had laid the foundation stone of the conservation work at the temple complex.
He was the first Indian political personality to visit the Satghrrah temples complex, situated on a hill six kilometers from Choa Saidan Shah in Chakwal district.
The semi-ruined seven ancient temples on the hill belong to the 6th century Hindu Shahi period. And they are the first to be conserved after the creation of Pakistan.
Sources said on Sunday that the plan, which was likely to be approved by the PDWP, included conservation of ancient temples and other surrounding structures, construction of a VIP guest house, staff residences and a reception block. It also included fencing of the temple complex and development of its lake called Amrat Kund, the sacred pool.
Besides restoring its status as a living Hindu worship place, the government also intends to develop it as an attraction for local and foreign tourists, they said, adding the project was scheduled to be completed by 2009.
The officials said at present the temples were in a dilapidated condition and no facility was available for local and foreign tourists whose flow too was limited because of the same reason.
The government hoped that after the completion of the project, the flow of Hindu pilgrims from India and other parts of the world would increase, besides attracting a large number of local and foreign tourists.
This would also lead to the development of the remote Salt Range area, providing direct and indirect jobs to its people, they said.
They said the project had been designed following a survey conducted jointly by the Punjab Archaeology Department and Indian archaeology department chief P K Punacha who had visited Pakistan for the purpose last year.
The Punjab government was providing funds for the project that would be completed jointly by its archaeology, building and housing and engineering departments.—Dawn