‘Temple will serve as base camp to Sharda Peeth pilgrimage’
Sanjeev K Sharma
JAMMU/TEETWAL, Sept 11: Destroyed by Pakistan army backed Kabailis (tribal raiders) in 1947 attack on Kashmir, a temple and a Gurudwara at a small hamlet on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kupwara area of J&K will soon be opened for pilgrims from across the nation and the world.
Sources informed that before 1947 there used to be a temple-cum-inn, to facilitate pilgrims of revered Sharda Peeth pilgrimage at Teetwal, along with a Gurudwara (temple of Sikhs).
“Shaddi Mubarak Yatra of Sharda Peeth used to start from this place in Teetwal—now 300 meters from the dividing line between India and Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK),” they informed adding that the entire infrastructure—including the temple and the Gurudwara were ravaged by the savage attack of Kabailis in 1947 leaving behind the ruins.
Ajaz Khan—a prominent local of Teetwal who is construction in-charge of both religious places informed that for years together people of his village safeguarded the land after Kabailis ravaged the religious places there.
“Four kilometers from Teetwal is village Tarboli which is dominated by Sikhs. We visited Tarboli and informed our Sikh brothers about the Gurudwara land in Teetwal and they fenced it,” he maintained adding: “A year back Ravinder Pandita—a prominent Kashmiri Hindu visited this place to have a bath in holy Kishan Ganga river when we met him and informed him about the temple land after which paper work started and other formalities were completed with the cooperation of Hindus, Sikhs and local Muslims with Captain Ilyas (retired)—a prominent local having played a major role in all these facilitating works.”
“Our religion is humanity,” Khan stated informing that construct of a Mosque is also in their plan to make it (MMG)—Mandir, Masjid and Gurudwara.
Some elders of the area informed that a crossing bridge over the holy Kishan Ganga river in Teetwal was constructed by Dogra rulers in 1890 and it still stands there with a white-line at its centre now dividing the two Kashmirs.
They said that armies of Pakistan and India guard the bridge on their respective sides and sweets are exchanged over this bridge during certain festivals in both the countries.
Sources informed that last year and this year too some civil society members from Chiliana (village on other side of LoC) crossed the bridge and visited Teetwal to greet Kashmiri Hindus on Sharda Ashtami which means that people-to-people contact is still strong and both sides want Sharda corridor to be opened.
“My mission is to get open the Sharda Peeth in PoK and for that I visited Kartarpur, got favourable orders from PoJK Supreme Court and DG Archaeology there as part of my struggle to revive the Sharda Peeth,” Save Sharda Committee head, Ravinder Pandita informed.
He said that Kashmiri Hindus used to manage the Yatra of Sharda Peeth during Dogra rule.
“There were 4-5 short cut routes to visit Sharda Peeth which is at present in PoJK. Till 1948 our guru Swami Nand Lal Ji was there. He returned to this side of LoC in 1948 after remaining at that side of LoC for about a year even after partition,” Pandita said adding that Swami Lal on returning to this side remained at Tikkar in Kupwara and he even had Muslim followers.
“For the last five years I am on mission to restore the traditional routes to reach Sharda Peeth (presently in PoJK) and in that context I first visited Keran at LoC in August 26, 2020 from where Sharda Peeth is just 20 km,” he said adding: “On September 14, last year we reached Teetwal to explore another route and organized annual Yatra on Sharda Ashtami which culminated at the crossing bridge.”
“When locals at Teetwal informed us about land of religious places there since 1947, we took it as a challenge and started constructing a Gurudwara and a temple there after framing a committee for the construction purpose,” Pandita further said.
He said that presently the construction work is in full swing and the Gurudwara is almost complete while work of the temple is also 70 per cent complete and in coming 3-4 months it will be opened for the devotees.
“The religious places will be completed with a budget of Rs. 1.25 crore after that there will be a Sharda Centre which will be a mini university in Teetwal and all the money being spent on this infrastructure is from public contributions and no Government help has so far reached us in this regard,” he said adding that the Government authorities have so far not even laid an approach road to the under construction religious places and have provided no water and electricity connections there.
Another member of Save Sharda Committee, S.K Koul, who identified himself as Sewak (volunteer) informed that the temple in Teetwal will serve as base camp for Sharda Peeth Yatra and will be a signal to authorities at PoJK that they have to open Sharda Peeth for Hindus as the same is presently under their illegal grab.
More members of Save Sharda Committee said that Kashmiri Hindus are disciples of Swami Nand Lal Ji who had put a lock at Sharda Peeth shrine in 1948 which is presently in PoJK and this naturally gives them the right to perform pilgrimage there.
“When prayers have never stopped in any conflict zone of the world even for a day then why is this happening here,” they asked adding: “We should explore Sharda civilization and Sharda University.”
“If amidst Indo-Pak tensions Kartarpur corridor was opened then why opening of Sharda Peeth is not allowed,” they further said.
“There is LoC permit from 2007 under which anyone from this side can visit PoK and those from PoK may come here and there is a bus service on Poonch-Rawlakot and Uri-Muzafarabad route for that. The LoC permit is under Ministry of External Affairs and functions as per a treaty between India and Pakistan under which it is only for meeting relatives and as we have no relative there so we demand an amendment is the treaty,” Save Sharda Committee members maintained.
The people constructing religious places in Teetwal lauded the local help.
“The locals here are Paharis who are pro-India,” they said.