The abandoned mandirs of Rawalpindi: Shiraz Hassan

Guest post by SHIRAZ HASSAN

The entry to a temple in Gunjmandi. All photos by Shiraz Hasan

In the early 19th century, the British made Rawalpindi the central seat of military power as they aimed towards Afghanistan. This was in line with their strategic approach towards the Russian Empire in order to enjoy and retain complete control over central Asia. Known as the Great Game, the conflict continues today in another form.

A detail in a temple in Ganjmandi

After the Partition in 1947, Rawalpindi continued to be the General Headquarters of the Army. But Pindi has a lot more to tell than just martial tales. The city has been known for its heritage and culture. Its multi-religious character changed when almost all of its Hindu and Sikh inhabitants left for India. Sixty five years after the Partition, I went looking for their temples and Gurudwaras.

Ambardaran mandir, Bohar Bazaar

Walking around the old city, in areas like Krishanpura, Akaal Garh, Mohanpura, Amarpura, Kartarpura, Bagh Sardaraan, Angatpura, you can see Pindi’s heritage. There are about ten temples and Gurudwaras which are no longer functional and are in a very bad shape. One temple located at Kohati Bazaar is in good condition. Its premises are used as a government school for disabled children. Another beautiful Gurdwara known as Bagh Sardaraan is used by the Punjab Police as their main office.

A temple in Chungi no. 4

The temple located at Govt. Asghar Mall College is used as a scrapyard. A Shiva temple at Gunjmandi now houses storerooms or shops. There are some more abandoned temples scattered around College Road, Bohar Bazaar, Purana Qilla, Bagh Sardaraan and then some outskirts of Rawalpindi which are on the verge of collapse.

Takhpari mandir

In the old area of Lunda Bazaar, there used to be three temples, a Gurdwara, a Khalsa School and many Havelis of Hindus and Sikhs. Of the three temples, two have survived. The third, of goddess Kali in the main bazaar, no longer exists. It has been converted into living quarters and extensions have been made, thus changing the original structure entirely. In Lunda bazaar there is a tall structure of a temple known as Mohan Mandir. This temple is believed to have been built by two Hindu Hakims in 1930, Hakim Asa Anand and Hakim Moti Ram.

Mohan mandir at Lunda Bazaar

It is sad that even though there are so many abandoned temples in Rawalpindi and Islamabad, there is not a single place for the Hindus living in the twin cities to celebrate their festivals like Diwali, Shivratri or Holi. There are more than 25,000 Hindus living in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Some of them have migrated from other parts of Pakistan, mainly the Sindh province.

A temple near Rawal dam in Islamabad

Recently, following a request from Ramesh Lal, a Hindu parliamentarian of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, Prime Minister Raja Pervez issued a directive to the chairman of the Capital Development Authority to build a new temple for the Hindu community. That is no doubt a good gesture but the government must also urgently restore and preserve the old heritage of the city.

In Ganjmandi
In Ganjmandi
A detail of a temple in Sagri village, Rawalpindi
In Purana Qilla, Rawalpindi
Twin temples in Sagri village, Rawalpindi
In Bagh Sardaraan
A detail in Mohan mandir, Lunda Bazaar
Gurdwara Bagh Sardaraan
In Ganjmandi
A temple near Rawaldam in Islamabad
In Chungi no. 4
In Sagri village, Rawalpindi
In Purana Qilla area

(Shiraz Hassan is a journalist based in Rawalpindi. He runs the blog Kahani Khazana which translates Hindi short stories from India into Urdu and Urdu short stories from Pakistan into Hindi. An earlier version of this post first appeared in The World Talks Here.)

Related posts from Kafila archives:

See also:

Previously by Shiraz Hassan in Kafila:

13 thoughts on “The abandoned mandirs of Rawalpindi: Shiraz Hassan”

  1. Shiraz ,you have done a wonderful job through this article , specially by taking out good quality photographs of Hindu Temples in Rawalpindi. If I get a chance to visit Pakistan again I would love to see all these sacred but deserted places –with you.!


  2. When there are no people, pre-existing public buildings fall into disrepair. That is what happened to Mohenjodero, Lothal and similar other places. In this case, a section of human beings who used a particular set of public buildings have left and the buildings they used, have fallen in disrepair. If any regret is to be expressed, it is for the original cause. Mohammed Ali Jinnah did not envisage wholesale ejection of the Hindu minority from Pakistan but for various reasons it happened, one of them being the fear complex then ruling the minority’s mind. Not many mosques are in such disrepair in India as muslims have not migrated en masse from india. Partition has not been a total disaster !


  3. Thank you for sharing the historical heritage. This is unfortunate that we are afraid to provide an opportunity to our children to know about our rich past and learn from that. Every small effort to revisit the history is a big step in empowering our future. Remain empowered and remain blessed!


  4. most of the pakisthanis are like shirz hassan a good human understands the heritage ,it remembers me about a staunch muslim who did excavations at the mummy site with great respect for the gods and goddesses idols found inside the chambers dating back three thousand years ,one must understand to respect other religious belif only then one can understand their own religion.


  5. I am not sure renovating and restoring all the temples is a good idea. Instead they should be renovated and put to some good use like a school. One or two temples should suffice for those hindus live in the area I think.


  6. Wow! I had no idea! Big ups to you Mr. Hassan for bringing these to attention. Can’t wait to explore. You deserve more credit for this than you’re getting! All in due time, sir.


  7. I strongly believe that these temples should be renovated and send a message that how much we have respect for other religions.


  8. i really need your help sir
    can you tell me that where the ganjmandi temple is exactly located? and tell me in ganj mandi there’s only one temple?


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