Temple architecture

The ruined 150-year-old Kalyan Das temple


In the middle of Rawalpindi’s Kohati Bazaar, one can see the dome of a temple which is almost hidden by the high walls of a school for visually impaired children. Here stands one of the city’s most breathtaking and historic landmarks: the Kalyan Das Temple.

The 150 year old temple is in a state of complete neglect due to lack of maintenance.

The temple was named after a generous resident of Rawalpindi, Kalyan Das, who laid its foundation stone in the 1850s, and as confirmed by the council, who said it was completed in 1880.

Like many other temples in the city, during the partition, the Kalyan Das temple was also left to decay as the Hindu population left the city. Today, this magnificent architectural piece is still standing, but the complex in which it is located is in a state of disrepair.

Outside this building, one can see the board of Qandeel government secondary school for visually impaired children. Upon entering through the school’s main gate, one is confronted with the sight of a magnificent architectural form that stands right in the middle of the schoolyard.

Muhammad Azeem, who has been visiting the city for 50 years, said Kalyan Das Temple is still very important to the Hindu community. Every year, from March to June, Hindu pilgrims from India come here, he said.

The state of the temple is in ruins and pilgrims cannot worship there but just sit in its shade, he said, adding that Hindu pilgrims were eating in the courtyard and watching the temple in absolute silence. .

Azeem said Hindu pilgrims on their way back also pick up sand from temple walls and take it with them to India, which they consider religiously important.

“Our elders said that this temple was built by the Suri family 150 years ago. At that time, the total area of ​​this temple was seven acres. There were gardens in this temple and there was a swimming pool and other facilities to perform Ashnan and other religious rituals,” he said.

For a time, he said, after the partition, the protection of the temple was undertaken by the Indian Arora family, who used to renovate and repair its main terraces, corridors and stairways. This temple has not been maintained for a long time, he said.

Humair, a visually impaired student at the school, said the teachers tell them the story of this temple. “We cannot see this temple, but all we know about this temple is that it has three large minarets, porches and corridors. The halls where Hindus used to worship have been maintained There are no idols in this temple now, but this temple is still very important to Hindus,” he said.

Muhammad Hussain, 70, who lives near the Kalyan Das temple, said he used to play in the temple courtyard as a child. “There were large fields around this temple. Time has passed, now this temple is surrounded by a dense population,” he said.

This temple is an embodiment and an example of historical architecture. Although no maintenance of the temple has been done in the past decades, the main structure of the temple still stands with all its grandeur.

The Auqaf department is responsible for its maintenance but it has not released funds for the protection and restoration of historical heritage.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 25and2022.