K D Maini
Veer Badreshawar Temple has a great historical importance. This is the oldest temple in Rajouri district. The temple is located on the peak of a mountain which is surrounded by a thick forest belt of pine trees. This scared place is 66 Km from Rajouri town located exactly on the Line of Control. The shrine is connected with motorable road and has a commanding over looking view of Mirpur, Khuiratta, Sensa up to Kotli across the Line of Control. The temple complex is presently looked after by army because it is far away from the main Hindu habitation. This important shrine is famous for bells, as thousands of bells hanging in and around the temple. It is believed that by offering bells in the temple, Lord Shiva fulfills the wishes of the devotees. Presently, a Shivlinga exists in the temple while the ancient idols have been preserved in a room constructed alongside the main temple. There is also an Asthaan of a Pir near the Temple. The Muslim population of surrounding area calls this place as Pir Badesar and visit this palce to offer prayers.
As per the legend popular in Rajouri District regarding Veer Bhadreshawar the temple was built by Kanishka in Samvat 141 to commemorate the victory of Veer Bhadreshawar, son of Lord Shiva over King Daksha. He is always worshiped before the worshipping of Lord Shiva by chanting the prayers.
It is also said that King Daksha, the father of Sati organized a Yagya at Kankhal Teerath near Haridawar (UP) but he did not invite Lord Shiva and his wife Sati. Sati went and participated in the Yagya uninvited. During the Yagya, Sati was insulted due to which she immolated herself. Lord Shiva on hearing this news threw his Jattas (lock of hair) on the ground, from the 1st half of his Jatta Veer Badreshawar vowed to take revenge of the death of his mother Sati. Therefore Veer Badeshawar after killing King Daksha left for Kailash and on the way, rested for some time at this mound where the temple of Veer Badreshawar was constructed by the devotees.
As per the inscription found on a wall of the temple, it was built in Samvat 141 by Kanishka, the emperor of India when he was on the way to Kashmir to participate in 4th Buddhist conference at Sharda University which was located near Muzaffarabad in Neelam valley on the foot of Nanga Parbat.
There are references in the books ‘The History of India, written by R.K. Mukerji and ‘25000 Years of Buddhism’ written by P.V. Bapat that King Kanishka had constructed a Tope(Buddhist mound) with the name of Kanishka Mahavihara. In this regard at present there is an interesting writing on the wall of temple Veer Badreshawar which is as under: –
The temple was built by the King Kanishka in 141 AD. Like the Buddhist monastery, it is also located on the top of a hill. At present a Shivling is installed in this temple. However, the original idols have been kept in a building constructed nearby the temple which do not resemble with any deity of Hindu Devtas.
It is important to note that Kanishka was a follower of Buddhism. He constructed a number of Budhviharas. There is no historical reference of his construction of a Hindu temple. Moreover, the majority of population on the foothills of Panchal region was the believer of Buddhism from the period of Ashoka. Therefore, the question of construction of a Hindu temple in the area which was dominated by the Buddhist population does not arise. It may be possible that there might have been a temple of ancient time as referred in the legend popular in Rajouri which had been converted into a Tope or Vihara by Kanishka during his visit of Sharda University to participate in fourth Buddhist council. Therefore, afterwards when Buddhism disappeared from this whole belt and the natives again embraced Hinduism, this place was given the shape of a temple.
Ramesh Koul, a teacher wrote in one of his articles regarding the change of the name of Veer Badreshawar temple to Pir Badeshar. People of the area narrate that once upon a time when the natives of this isolated area had embarrassed Islam and there was no Hindu to look after the shrine , a kind hearted Muslim Namberdar residing nearby temple used to visit this shrine and kept the temple in its original form . He had only one son whose legs were too weak to move and was confined to bed. For the well being of his son, he used to come to temple for blessing and recovery of his son. One day, when all the members of his family were out, his lonely son was lying on a cot in the open verandah. Suddenly, a strange animal appeared in front of his house and started jumping. Feeling nervous, the boy jumped inside the room to protect himself .Immediately he began to realize that he can stand on his legs. He picked up sharp edged weapon lying behind the door and charged on the animals. In the evening, when Namberdar and other family members returned to home, they were astonished and glad to see that their son is walking as a normal person. The Nambardar narrated the whole story to the people of surrounding area and told that this had happened due to the blessing of Veer Badreshawar. He took huge quantity of paddy, maize and cash and went to the temple to offer prayer with folded hands and said. “For some people, you may be Devta, Guru or Saint, but to me you are a great Pir.” Therefore, Muslim people started calling this religious place as Pir Badreshawar. Later on, the word Pir Badreshawar changed to Pir Badesar.
For centuries together, this place of worship remained the centre of devotion. During 1947, Pakistan sponsored forces captured Rajouri area up to Nowshera, Veer Badreshawar temple had also gone under their occupation. In the summer of 1948, Indian Army advanced from Jammu and recaptured Rajouri on 13th April, 1948. In October 1948 Indian army started operation to link Poonch with Jammu and moved towards important mountain veer Badreshawar and captured it after great struggle.
During 1947, the temple was completely destroyed by the Pakistani forces that remained there for about six months. But after the capturing of the area, the Indian army renovated the old temple and its glory was restored. Now again, the temple has become a centre of devotion.