Katas Raj temples – 1500 years Old History


Situated within the embrace of the Salt Range near Kallar Kahar, Punjab, this splendid Katas Raj temple dedicated to Ram, Hanuman, and Shiva is laid around a natural pond. The pond, the faithful believers, was created from a teardrop of the weeping Shiva as he flew across the sky carrying the dead body of his wife Sati. He shed two tears, one creating this pond, the other falling and making a pond in Ajmer, Rajasthan.

According to Alan Cunningham, the first Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1872-73 CE, Katasraj is the second biggest holy place in Punjab for Hindu pioneers after Jawala Mukhi. It is said prominent Pandwas brothers lived 12 years in Katas and assembled the sanctuaries of Satghara

The Pandavas came to this place during their exile, the legend goes, and built some older temples. Historical records suggest many of the temples, constructed in the Kashmir architectural tradition, came up in the 11th century CE, when this region, along with parts of Punjab, fell under a Kashmir kingdom.

Location of Katas Raj Temples

Weather in Kalar Kahar


Katas Raj in Mythology

It is believed that the site was visited by the Pandawa brothers of “Mahabharta” fame. This Katas Raj temple was constructed to commemorate their visits. It is said that this is the region called Dvaitavana in the epic and here is where the Pandavas lived during their exile. Also, where a series of questions occurred between the Pandavas and the Yakshahs. The location of the Sath Ghara or Seven Temples is the place where the Pandavas made their home during their 12-year exile.

Sath Graha Temple (Front) (by Muhammad Bin Naveed, CC BY-NC-SA)

A Brahmanical story relates this site directly to Shiva. Whose inconsolable grief at the death of his wife Sati led to a rain of tears. Which formed two pools of water, one at Pushkara near Ajmer and the other at Katas.

Photo by Nefer Sehgal
Photo by Nefer Sehgal

Interesting Facts about Katas Raj Temples

Architectural Highlights

Prior to its Hindu roots, the site held a Buddhist stupa said to have towered 61 m (200 ft) in height with ten streams around it. It is described by Alexander Cunningham, the first Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, in 1872-73 CE. This verified the account of the Chinese pilgrim Yuanzhang. Who had visited this region during the 7th century CE and described the various Buddhist sites on the subcontinent.

According to Cunningham, the Katas Raj temple complex of 7 temples sits at the highest point on the site. It is the most important part of the site and echoes the architectural style of the Kashmiri temples of the Karkota and Varma dynasties who ruled from 625-939 CE. These temples have certain defining characteristics such as dentiles, trefoil arches, fluted pillars and pointed roofs. These are present in most of the temples that are found all along the Salt Range foothills. The main building material is soft sandstone which is plastered over.

Photo by Nefer Sehgal
Photo by Nefer Sehgal

Katas Raj thus has a collection of buildings and ruins. Stretches in an unbroken line from the Buddhist era down to British rule. Thereby, preserving at least 1500 years’ worth of history in that particular space.

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