The buzzword today is Ram Mandir as the grand temple in Ayodhya is all set to witness Pran Prathishta on January 22, 2024. Preparations and rituals have already begun and Ayodhya has turned into a city that reflects the life of Bhagwan Ram in every corner. Amidst this there is also a discussion about another Ram Mandir in Pakistan and period of Bhagwan Ram’s life there.
Bhagwan Ram Temple in Pakistan
A 16th Century temple in the Margalla Hills of Islamabad known as Ram Mandir or Ram Kund Mandir holds great significance in Hindu beliefs, But Hindus are not allowed to worship there and the idols have been removed. The heritage structure in Pakistan has now become a tourist attraction drawing large number of tourists and people.
Pressed against the foothills of the mighty Himalayas in Islamabad, the tiny 16th century temple is built as a shrine to Bhagwan Ram, who Hindus believe lived in the area with his wife Devi Sita and brother Lakshman spending some time there during their 14 years of exile. A pond adjacent to the temple called Ram Kund further strengthens the belief as it is said that Bhagwan Ram drank water from it.
The temple is a single-story structure made of red brick. It has a rectangular courtyard with a raised platform in the centre where murtis od Bhagwan Ram, Devi Sita and his brother Lakshman were placed.
History of the Temple
According to official records dating back to 1893, annual fairs were held at the pond near the site to commemorate the life of Bhagwan Ram. Hindus from far flung places travelled to the temple for worship and stayed in the Dharamshala for centuries. But ever since the Partition in 1947, Hindus have not been allowed by Pakistani authorities to worship at the temple and the compound where it was housed.
When the city of Islamabad was established in 1960 on the border of Punjab plains, in the same year, the Ram Mandir Temple Complex was converted into a girls school. After years of protest by the Hindu community, the school was moved to another location and the temple was finally vacated in 2006. However, Hindus were not allowed to worship there.
Present Condition of Temple
The Shrine today is all but subsumed into a tourist strip of restaurants and handicraft stores. Instead of the freshwater ponds that once surrounded the area, and were considered holy by the Hindu community, a contaminated rainwater channel now flows through the village. A gurudwara was constructed adjacent to the temple by the Sikhs serving as a school for spreading the teachings of Guru Nanak and Sikh religion. Discussions and movements are ongoing advocating for the temple’s return to Hindu worship.