Pilgrims pray at renovated century-old temple in Pakistan

The Maharaja Paramhans Ji shrine in Teri village of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was demolished by a mob a year ago

Over 200 Hindu pilgrims from India, the U.S. and the Middle East prayed at the 100-year-old renovated Maharaja Paramhans Ji temple in Pakistan on Saturday amidst tight security, a year after the temple was demolished by a mob belonging to a radical Islamist party.

The delegation of Hindus consisted of nearly 200 people from India, 15 visitors from Dubai, and the rest from the United States and other Gulf states.

The temple and samadhi of Paramhans Ji in Karak district’s Teri village of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa underwent extensive repair last year after it was demolished by an angry mob in 2020, an incident that was condemned globally.

The Indian pilgrims crossed over the Wagah border near Lahore and were escorted to the temple by armed personnel, officials said.

The programme was organised by the Pakistani Hindu Council in collaboration with the country’s national carrier, the Pakistan International Airlines. On the day the visit, the funerary monument and Teri village at large was fortified with 600 men from the Rangers, with Intelligence and Airport Security Force keeping guard, led by a Superintendent of Police-rank officer.

The rituals took place until Sunday afternoon, Hindu Council members said.

Hujras or open-air reception rooms were converted into shelters for the pilgrims. The markets near the temple were seen buzzing with tourists and children from the Hindu contingent were photographed playing cricket with local kids.

Rohit Kumar, in-charge of legal affairs with the Hindu community, commended the Pakistan government for the arrangements and the repair works. “Today’s prayers at the mandir (temple) by yatris (pilgrims) from India is a positive message for India, for promoting peace and religious harmony in the region,” he said.

The Pakistan Hindu Council promoted the initiative as “faith tourism”.

Maharaja Paramhans Ji died at Teri village in 1919.

Some members of the radical Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) vandalised the samadhi on December 30, 2020. The temple was also demolished in 1997. The provincial government renovated the shrine after ₹3.3 crore was recovered from the JUI-F mob.

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