July 2005 News

Temple Doors Open Again In Kashmir After 15 Years

7 July 2005

Devsar (South Kashmir): Amidst chiming of bells and aroma of incense sticks, the doors of the famous Tripur Sundari temple complex, nestled in the dense woods and narrow valleys of South Kashmir, are open again after 15-year closure forced by insurgency. Over 2000 Kashmiri Pandit migrants have visited this 600-year-old temple complex popularly known as 'Khunbarian Mata' located in highly militancy-prone Devsar forests of Anantnag district in South Kashmir this year. 'I have come here after a gap of 16 years to ring the bells of the historic temple complex dedicated to goddess Parvati,' said state government Engineer R K Pandita, who along with his wife and two daughters, came all the way from Jammu to seek the blessing of the goddess. Pandita, who left the place along with over 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits during the emergence of Pak-sponsored militancy in J-K in 1989, is among 70,000 migrants who have visited different temples including Kheerbhawani, Shankeracharaya, Shailputri, Zeethyar Parbut, Nagbal, Durga Nag, during their seven-day stay in the valley. Another 65- year Kashmiri Pandit, Ragunath Bhat, who started from darshan of famous Rogniya Bagwati at Kheerbhawani temple at Tulmullah, has sought blessings at Shankeracharya, Durga Nag, Zalaji, Hari Parbhat, Nagbal, Tripur Sundari, Durga Nag, Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Verinag, Handwara and Baramulla. 'I will visit all temples in Kashmir valley and this is my last wish. I will have no regrets if I die now,' said Bhat whose brother was shot dead by militants in Kupwara resulting in his family migrating to Jaipur in 1990. 'It is homecoming for Pandits, who have come to fulfil their emotional aspirations. Their visits to the valley temples is a very positive sign as government is giving final touch to return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley,' state Relief and Revenue Minister Hakeem Yasin told PTI. Yasin, who has been looking after the job of construction of hamlets for Kashmiri Pandits at different places in the valley for their return, said 'over 1.2 lakh pandits have so far visited at least 23 shrines, particularly Kheerbhawani and Shankeracharya in Srinagar this year. The gates of 167 ancient temples were locked during the rise of militancy in 1989-90. Of these, 47 temples were either burnt or destroyed during militancy period. Rest of the temples were renovated or taken care of by the security forces who in most of the places in the valley set up camps and posts in these temples. Pandits could not visit the temple in such a large number as they did during this year, said a senior army officer, who was also instrumental in getting the repairs of Tripur Sundari Temple done. Northern Command Chief Lt Gen Hari Prasad, during his early posting as head of armed division 'Kiloforce', then a Major General, had several gutted temples, including famous Shailputri temple (Devi Bal) in Baramulla, rebuilt.


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