Hindu religious sites of Gilgit Baltistan a forgotten paradise of Indian Cultural Heritage in POK

The town of Skardu as seen from the Skardu Fort By Wikipedia
The town of Skardu as seen from the Skardu Fort By Wikipedia
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Gilgit Baltistan a major part of India which has been illegally occupied by Pakistan holds lots of iconic sites from Sanatan Heritage.

In Pakistan-administered regions like Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan, several Hindu temples hold cultural and religious significance for the Hindu community. Some of the Hindu temples in these regions include:

  1. Sharda Peeth: Located in Sharda, Neelam Valley, Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Sharda Peeth is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Saraswati. It is considered one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas and is highly revered by Hindus.
  2. Kailash Temple: Situated in Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan, the Kailash Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed to have been built by the Pandavas during their exile.
  3. Martand Sun Temple: Located in Anantnag district, Jammu and Kashmir, this ancient temple dedicated to the Sun god Surya is partly in ruins but remains an important historical and religious site for Hindus.
  4. Sharika Devi Temple: Situated atop Hari Parbat hill in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Sharika, believed to be a form of Goddess Durga.
  5. Sukrala Mata Temple: This temple is situated in the Kotli district of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and is dedicated to Sukrala Mata, a Hindu goddess revered by the local community.
  6. Kheer Bhawani Temple: Located in Tula Mula village in Ganderbal district, Jammu and Kashmir, this temple is dedicated to the goddess Ragnya Devi, also known as Kheer Bhawani. It is a popular pilgrimage site for Kashmiri Pandits.

These are just a few examples of Hindu temples in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Despite the challenges and political tensions in the region, these temples continue to be revered by Hindus and attract pilgrims and devotees from various parts of the world.

Today let us know the Kailash Temple in Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan, is a significant Hindu pilgrimage site believed to have been constructed by the Pandavas during their exile. Here are some historical details and travel guide information about the temple:

Skardu In Gilgit Baltistan By Wikipedia
Skardu In Gilgit Baltistan By Wikipedia

Historic Details:

  • The Kailash Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities in Hinduism.
  • According to local tradition and folklore, the temple is associated with the Pandavas from the Hindu epic, Mahabharata. It is believed that they built the temple during their exile period.
  • The temple is renowned for its picturesque location amidst the stunning landscapes of Skardu, with the mighty Karakoram Range in the backdrop.
  • It is an ancient structure that has stood the test of time and remains an important cultural and religious symbol for Hindus.

How to Reach:

  • Skardu is the main town in the Skardu District of Gilgit-Baltistan of India, Occupied by Pakistan. It is accessible by road and air.
  • By Air: Skardu Airport (IATA: KDU) serves as the primary airport in the region. Flights from Islamabad to Skardu are available, but schedules can be irregular due to weather conditions. It’s advisable to check with airlines for the latest information.
  • By Road: Skardu is connected to other major cities in Pakistan via the Karakoram Highway (KKH). The journey from Islamabad to Skardu by road takes approximately 22-24 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic.
  • Once in Skardu, the Kailash Temple is located in close proximity to the town. It may require a short drive or hike, depending on the exact location of your accommodation.

Travel Guide:

  • It’s recommended to plan your trip to Skardu well in advance, especially if you’re traveling by air, as flights can be affected by weather conditions.
  • Ensure that you have the necessary permits and documentation required for travel to Gilgit-Baltistan, as the region has specific entry requirements for tourists.
  • Dress modestly and respectfully when visiting religious sites like the Kailash Temple.
  • It’s advisable to check with local authorities or tour operators for any travel advisories or security concerns before your trip.
  • Skardu offers a range of accommodation options, including hotels, guesthouses, and homestays. It’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • While in Skardu, take the time to explore other attractions in the region, such as the beautiful Shangrila Resort, Shigar Fort, and Satpara Lake.

Given the remote location and the political situation in Gilgit-Baltistan, offering puja at the Kailash Temple in Skardu might involve some unique considerations. Here’s a general process that you might follow:

  1. Obtain Necessary Permits: Ensure that you have obtained any permits or permissions required to visit Gilgit-Baltistan, especially if you are a foreign tourist. Check with the local authorities or tour operators for the latest information on travel regulations and entry requirements.
  2. Plan Your Visit: Plan your visit to Skardu, taking into account factors such as weather conditions, transportation options, and accommodation availability. It’s advisable to visit during the warmer months when the weather is more conducive to travel.
  3. Arrange Transportation: Arrange for transportation to Skardu, either by air or by road, depending on your preference and convenience. Skardu Airport (IATA: KDU) serves as the primary airport in the region, while the Karakoram Highway provides road access from other parts of Pakistan.
  4. Locate the Temple: Once you arrive in Skardu, locate the Kailash Temple, which is situated amidst the stunning landscapes of the region. You may need to hire a local guide or ask for directions from residents to find the temple, as it might not be prominently marked.
  5. Respect Local Customs: When visiting the temple, it’s essential to respect local customs and traditions. Dress modestly and remove your shoes before entering the temple premises. Follow any instructions provided by temple staff or local guides.
  6. Offer Puja: If you wish to offer puja at the Kailash Temple, you can do so by bringing along any items you need for the ritual, such as flowers, incense, and offerings. Follow the traditional practices of Hindu worship and offer your prayers to Lord Shiva with devotion and sincerity.
  7. Seek Guidance: If you are unsure about any aspects of the puja or temple etiquette, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from temple priests or local devotees. They can assist and ensure that your puja is conducted appropriately.
  8. Leave a Donation: It’s customary to leave a donation at the temple as a gesture of gratitude for the opportunity to offer puja. Your contribution will help support the maintenance and upkeep of the temple.
  9. Enjoy the Surroundings: After offering puja, take some time to explore the beautiful surroundings of Skardu and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region. You can also visit other nearby attractions and landmarks to enrich your experience.

By following these steps and showing respect for the local customs and traditions, you can have a meaningful and fulfilling experience offering puja at the Kailash Temple in Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan.

Due to the unstable law and order situation of Pakistan and the aggressive nature of people against the religious minority Hindus and Shikhs, Jews and Christians of Pakistan always take your country’s official travel guide to keep safety above any other consideration. Also travel budget will change every day as the economy and availability of essential commodities will decrease.

Enjoy the world and explore the culture around the world.

** Data collected from the public domain. Hence actual field condition may change **

About Post Author

Editor Desk

Antara Tripathy M.Sc., B.Ed. by qualification and bring 15 years of media reporting experience.. Coverred many illustarted events like, G20, ICC,MCCI,British High Commission, Bangladesh etc. She took over from the founder Editor of IBG NEWS Suman Munshi (15/Mar/2012- 09/Aug/2018 and October 2020 to 13 June 2023).
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