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Pak. issues visas for Shiva temple

Capt. Amarinder Singh's visit to Katas Raj in Chakwal district of Pakistani Punjab. | Archive image   | Photo Credit: Rattan Bali

Going ahead with people-oriented diplomacy, Pakistan has issued a large number of visas for Indian pilgrims who are expected to visit the famed Shiva temple at Katas Raj Dham, near the city of Lahore.

“Group of Indian pilgrims, comprising 139 people, has been issued visas by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to visit Shree Katas Raj Dham, in Chakwal district from 9-15 December 2018,” stated a press release from the Pakistan High Commission in the national capital.

Katas Raj is a complex of ancient temples that is among the most important Hindu pilgrimage centres in Pakistan. The temple complex consisting of seven shrines, is located around the lake Katas, considered sacred by pilgrims of multiple faiths. Apart from the ancient Hindu temples, the area is also renowned for its Buddhist remains and architecture.

The Pakistan government under Imran Khan has continued the policy of conservation of the ancient temples which was undertaken by the previous government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. 

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Pakistan stepped in and stopped cement companies from extracting water from the lake.

Sunday’s announcement for the visas for Indian pilgrims, came days after Islamabad issued 220 visas for the Shadani Darbar temple in Sukkur where a centuries-old festival is continuing. 

These two batches of visas for the Hindu pilgrims came within a fortnight of Islamabad granting 3,800 visas for Sikh pilgrims who went to Nankana Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan’s Punjab for the celebration of the 549th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak.

 Pakistan also formally inaugurated the project for building the corridor that will allow Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy temple at Kartarpur across the border.

The High Commission said Pakistan remains committed to implement the bilateral understanding of 1974 with India that allows pilgrims to travel freely.

Speaking on the occasion, High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood said Pakistan remains committed to providing all possible help to the visiting Hindu pilgrims.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 11:03:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pakistan-issues-large-number-of-visas-for-katas-raj-temple/article25702815.ece

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