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article imageReema Abbasi's latest book: 'Historic Temples in Pakistan'

By Sravanth Verma     Aug 2, 2014 in World
Pakistani author Reema Abbasi recently launched in Delhi her latest book "Historic Temples in Pakistan - A Call to Conscience" in New Delhi, India. The book documents Hindu temples and pilgrimage sites in Pakistan, and includes 400 photographs.
The book highlights various Hindu pilgrimage sites such as Hinglaj, Katas Raj, the Talka cave temple, Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir and Shivala Mandir situated in various parts of Pakistan. The book chronicles the history and present-day status of these temples in the Muslim-majority nation of Pakistan. Abbasi and photographer Madiha Aijaz visited 40 sites during a year-long project. Many of these sites, like the Hinglaj temple of the Baloch province, are important pilgrimage centres. "The history is unbelievable. It is supposed to serve as a glue for people of different faiths living together. The Balochis respect and protect the temple and call it the Nani (grandmother) mandir. It is a shared legacy that needs to be preserved," says Abbasi.
Other chronicled sites include the 1500-year-old Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir in Karachi, “perhaps the only shrine on the globe that houses a natural, non-manmade idol of Hanuman...” and one of the few to survive the destruction of shrines in the area that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India. Katas Raj in Chakwal district in Punjab, considered one of the holiest sites of Hinduism according to the Shiva Purana, is also discussed at length. In the Mahabharat epic, the temple is said to have served as a refuge for the Pandavas during their exile. Also in the book is the Kalka Cave Temple in Arore, Sindh. “These sites are imbued with so much faith and history that they are naturally valuable to all. They have a pull which we witnessed,” says Abbasi.
"The purpose of this book is multi-layered," she says. "It seeks a journey towards pluralism, preservation of some of the most ancient places in history, tolerance and participation, empowerment of a community, which is facing a major onslaught of hardliner menace towards the north, and promote religious tourism and peace. I hope it will be a window to the people in India as we have showcased the fervour of festivals," she added.
In an interview to the Times of India, Abbasi recalls a visit a temple in Mansehra in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in an area where the Pakistani military was at war against Taliban insurgents. "The Shivala temple in Mansehra is closer to the Taliban territory. That temple saw a turnout in the thousands from Pakistan, India and Nepal for Mahashivratri last year," says Abbasi, who is from the city of Karachi.
The 296-page book is published by Niyogi Books and is available for INR 1250 ($60).
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