Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Peshawar, Pakistan pre-Islamic Hindu Temple Restoration

Peshawar, Pakistan pre-Islamic Hindu Temple Restoration
Sachi G. Dastidar

Views of Peshawar Shiva Temple

History of the Place

  • •Gor-Khuttree literally means the 'Warriors Grave,' although there are no traces of any grave here. It is perhaps the oldest citadel in the ancient city of Peshawar.
    •Buddha's alms or begging bowl was displayed here at one time. After the decline of Buddhism in the region following the invasion by Huns and Sassanians, it became a bastion for Hindu worship.

When Mughals Arrived

  • Mughal Emperor Babar in the beginning of his memoir, Babarnama, recorded: “On Friday, the 1st Sefer in the year 932 (1525 AD, November 17th), when the sun was in Sagitarius, I set out on my march to invade Hindustan.”

    On reaching Peshawar, Babar with his usual curiosity visited Gor Khuttree and wrote, “There are nowhere in the whole world such narrow and dark hermit’s cells as at this place. After entering the doorway and descending one or two stairs, you must lie down, and proceed crawling along, stretched at full length. You cannot enter without a light. The quantities of hair (cut off by pilgrims as offerings), both of head and beard, that are lying scattered about, and in the vicinity of the place are immense.”

The Present Situation

  • The present buildings built at the site mostly date back to Mughal, Sikh and the British period. Lying at the crossroads of the old trade-route, Gor Khuttree became a major caravanserai in Mughal times and mainly served as a stopping place for travelers coming from other parts of the world.

The Temple

  • During the early Sikh rule, around 1823, the mosque was destroyed and replaced by a temple to Gorakhnath in the south of the courtyard. Later Gor Khuttree became the residence of their Italian mercenary general, Paolo de Avitabile who also built a pavilion over its western gate.

Restoration of the Ancient Shiva Hindu Temple in Pakistan

  • After a request by Dr. Sachi Ghosh Dastidar of the U.S. to the Northwest Frontier Province Governer, Chief Minister, Minister of Archeology, and other important offficials, and that request championed by Mr. Shabbir Hussain Imam, a journalist of Peshawar, beginning in Spring of 2008 the ancient temple was being restored by the Northwest Frontier Government of Pakistan.

  • Mr. Imam and local Hindus believe that to fully restore the Shiva Mandir temple we have to put an iron fence around the large complex and provide lighting costing about US$20,000 for which there is no public funds available. We are seeking donations for the project.

  • The temple is a large area with places to stay, ashram, other temples and more.

  • For donation, please email empireslastcasualty@gmail.com for information.

The Shiva Temple, left, and former Living Quarters

The Shiva Temple on a Raised Plinth and for Communal Celebration

A Doorway

Ornate Building Design

New Restoration on Progress

Temple: A Place for Relaxation

Parts of the Temple yet to be Restored


An Ornate Doorway

The Peshawar Shiva Temple

Pictures: By Shabbir Hussain Imam; June 21, 2008; Narrative by Imam