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Katas Raj

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Katas Raj Temple

Katasraj Mandir (Urdu: کٹاس راج مندر‎) is a Hindu temple complex situated in Katas village near Choa Saidanshah in the Chakwal district of Punjab in Pakistan.

Variants

  • Kataksha कटाक्ष = Katasa कटास , katasaraja कटासराज (p.126)
  • Katasa कटास, Katasaraja कटासराज (पंजाब, पाकिस्तान) (p.126)

Identification

Singhapura or Sinhapura was one of Buddhist Kingdoms visited by Xuanzang in 631 AD. Alexander Cunningham[1] has identified Singhapura with Katas village in the Chakwal district of Punjab Pakistan.

Location

Location of Chakwal

The Katasraj mandirs are located 40 kilometres from Chakwal District. It takes a little effort to reach Katasraj by road - one has to go off the M2 motorway - (Islamabad- Lahore) at the Kallar Kahar interchange, Then follow the road to Choa Saidan Shah for 24 km and after passing the cement factory the road passes through the temple complex, with the major temple complex and the pond on the right. A very Historic Village is also located near by known a Dulmial.

Alexander Cunningham tells that Ketas is situated on the north side of the Salt Range, at 16 miles from Pind Dadan Khan, and 18 miles from Chakowal, but not more than 85 miles from Shah-dheri, or Taxila. [2]

Jat clan

History

Dedicated to Shiva, the temple has, according to Hindu legend, existed since the days of Mahābhārata and the Pandava brothers spent a substantial part of their exile at the site and later Krishna himself laid the foundation of this temple and established his hand made Shiv ling in it.

The smaller temples, built in pairs around the larger central temple, were built around 900 years or so ago, although the earliest of them dates back to the latter half of the 6th century AD.[3]

It has always been the site of holy pilgrimage for people of Hindu faith. It is believed that Shiva lived the years of his marital life with Sati here, after Sati's death grief took over him and from his tears a pond was formed.The pilgrims bathe in the sacred pool and seek forgiveness as Hindu belief holds that bathing in the pond (especially on certain occasions) leads to the forgiveness of sins and helps attain salvation. Until recently, it was believed that the pond had unlimited depth. Even nowadays, worshippers of all Hindu faiths perform pilgrimage to the mandir.

The two semi-ruined temples of the Hindushahiya period (650–950 AD) have been frequently photographed by newspapers and history journals.

कटास - कटासराज

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[4] ने लेख किया है ...कटास - कटासराज (AS, p.126) पाकिस्तान के पंजाब, खेवड़ा से तेरह मील (लगभग 20.8 कि.मी.)दूर है। किंवदंती है कि कटास में पांडवों ने अपने अज्ञातवास में कुछ दिन निवास किया था। कटास एक अथाह कुंड है जो तीर्थ रूप में मान्य था। कहा जाता है गुरु गोरखनाथ ने भी कुछ दिन रहकर कटास में आराधना की थी। कटास का संस्कृत नाम कटाक्ष कहा जाता है। कटास के कुंड को पृथ्वी का नेत्र अथवा कटाक्ष माना जाता है।

Keṭṭa in Rajatarangini

Rajatarangini[5] has mentioned Rajavadana Balhara's father Ojas as lord of Keṭṭa (Ketta). It says ....Naga then published it among his own men that Rajavadana who was not estranged from [the king] would destroy the men of Darad who were routed in battle, together with Bhoja. The celebrated Kshemavadana and Madhubhadra, two leaders of the lord of Kampana who were brought before the lord of Darad, and the terrified Ojas, lord of Keṭṭa ; — these three privately held a consultation. But Bhoja who knew the hearts of men laughed at them. Though the king was surrounded by the soldiers, as the sun is by a crystal, yet Bhoja fell on Viḍḍasūryya, as on fuel with a desire to burn the king. Viddasuryya labored under anxiety on account of the danger of the king, as if he labored under consumption, and he became like the waning moon in the nights of the dark fortnight. [VIII(ii), p.262]

Visit by Xuanzang in 631 AD

Alexander Cunningham[6] writes about 4. Singhapura or Ketas:

[p.124]: According to Hwen Thsang, the capital of the kingdom of Seng-ho-pu-lo, or Singhapura, was situated at 700 li, or 117 miles, to the south-east of Taxila. The bearing points to Jhelam, near which is the town of Sangohi, which has been noted by M. Vivien de St. Martin as the possible representative of Singhapura. But Sangohi stands on an open plain, instead of on a high mountain of difficult access, as described by the pilgrim. The vicinity of ten pools of limpid water, with surrounding temples and sculptures, points to the holy tanks of Ketaksh, or Khetas, which are still visited by crowds of pilgrims from all parts of India. I think also that the name of Ketas is only a slightly altered form of the Sanskrit Swetavasa, or the " White


[p.125]: Robes," which Hwen Thsang mentions as the title of the chief religious sect then resident near Singhapura. In the western countries, where the compound sw is changed to kh, the name would have been pronounced Khetavasa, or by a slight contraction, Khetas1 The Brahmans of course refer the name to their own religion, and say that the place was called Kataksha, or the " Raining Eyes," because the tears literally rained from Siva's eyes when he heard of the death of his wife Sati. But as their own spelling of the name Ketaksh, which I received from themselves, is at variance with the meaning which they give to it, I am inclined to adopt the etymology that I have already suggested as Sweta-vasa, or the "White Robes," This sect would appear to have belonged to the Swetambara, or " "White-robed" division of the Jains, while another sect at the same place, who are described by Hwen Thsang as going naked, must be the Digambara, or "unclothed" (literally "sky-clad") division of the Jains. Their books also are stated to have been chiefly copied from the Buddhist literature, while the statue of their god resembled that of Buddha himself. From these curious details it seems almost certain that this heretical sect must have been Jains, whose religion has much in common with Buddhism, while their statues are frequently mistaken for those of Buddha.

Ketas is situated on the north side of the Salt Range, at 16 miles from Pind Dadan Khan, and 18 miles from Chakowal, but not more than 85 miles from Shah-dheri, or Taxila. Now the distance of Singhapura from Taxila is given at 700 li, or 117 miles, which is


1 Thus the Sanskrit Saraswati became the Zend Harakhaiti, and the Greek Arakhotos.


[p.126]: certainly too great, as it would place the capital about 30 miles beyond the most distant point of the hills in any direction between the south and east. Singha-pura is described as situated on the top of a high hill of difficult access ; and as the climate is said to be very cold, it is certain that the place must have occupied one of the isolated peaks either of the Salt Range on the south-south-east, or of the Balnath Range on the east-south-east.1 But as there are no clear pools swarming with fish in the Balnath Range, I have little hesitation in identifying the place described by Hwen Thsang with the beautiful limpid pool of Ketas, which has been esteemed holy from time immemorial.

The capital of Singhapura was situated at from 40 to 50 li, or 7 to 8 miles, to the north-west of the sacred tanks ; but I know of no place that corresponds with this bearing and distance. Malot was the capital of the Janjuhas at a very early period ; but its bearing is south-east, and its distance 12 miles. If we might read 4 to 5 li, instead of 40 to 50, the capital might at once be identified with the ruined fort of Kotera, which is situated on a steep hill to the west, about 200 feet in height, that overhangs the town and holy pools of Ketas. This is called the ancient town. It consists of an upper fort, 1200 feet long, by 300 broad, and of a lower fort. 800 feet long, by 450 broad, the circuit of the two being about 3600 feet, or less than three-quarters of a mile. But the whole circuit of Ketas, including the modern town on both banks of the stream, both above and below the fort, is about 2 miles. This is rather smaller than the capital described by Hwen Thsang, which was 14


1 See Maps Nos. V. and VI.


[p.127]: or 15 li, or 2¼ to 2½ miles, in circuit. But as it corresponds in all other material particulars, I think that Ketas has a very good claim to be identified with the capital of Singhapura.

According to Hwen Thsang,1 the district was 3600 li, or 600 miles, in circuit. On the west it was bounded by the Indus, on the north by the southern frontier of Taxila, 120 miles in length, and on the south by the Jhelam and the northern frontier of Taki, or the plains of the Panjab. It cannot therefore have extended much beyond the foot of the Salt Range.

This limit would make the Indus frontier about 60 miles in length, the Jhelam frontier about 50 miles, and the northern and southern frontiers each 120 miles, or altogether 350 miles. The only explanation that occurs to me of the difference between this number and that of Hwen Thsang, is the probability that the ancient kos of the Panjab was the same as the modern one, that is, a short kos of 1-9/32 mile, or 1 mile and 2¼ furlongs, and that the Chinese pilgrim, ignorant of the difference, made his calculations in the common Indian kos of about two miles. This would reduce his numbers by very nearly one-third, and at the same time bring them into close accordance with the actual measurements of our maps. Thus, Hwen Thsang's 3600 li, or 600 miles, for the circuit of Singhapura, would become 400 miles, which is within 50 miles of the actual measurement already given. Great accuracy cannot be expected in these estimates of frontier distances, as the pilgrim had no means of checking the numbers of his informants. With the road distances which he had himself travelled it was different, as


1 Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' ii. 162.


[p.128]: he could test them by his own knowledge of the time occupied, as well as by the number of journeys between any two points. In the present instance of Singhapura it is quite certain that the frontier distance is exaggerated, as the boundary of Tsekia, or Taki, is also said to have extended to the Indus, which could not have been the case if the frontier of Singhapura had stretched further to the south than I have placed it.

Architecture

The Katas site houses the Satgraha, a group of seven ancient temples, remains of a Buddhist stupa, a few medieval temples, havelis and some recently constructed temples, scattered around a pond considered holy by Hindus.[5] The temples at Katas are mostly constructed on square platforms. The elevation of the sub shrines seems to form a series of cornices with small rows of pillars, crowned by a ribbed dome.

The Ramachandra Mandir is situated to the east of the Hari Singh Haveli and is closed from all sides except for an entrance on the east. The double-storied structure has eight rooms of various dimensions on the ground floor and a staircase at the south leading to the first floor. The mandir has two jharokas (balconies) that have been severely damaged.

The Hanuman Mandir is on the western extreme of a high rectangular enclosure with entrances on the south and the north. The temple's ceiling is undecorated, and lime-plastered.

The Shiva temple is also built on a square platform. Its entrance is a recessed round arch with faint cusps and a rectangular opening to the north.

Legends

The Katasraj temple complex is believed to date back to the Mahabharata era. Many legends are associated with the temples. The five Pandava brothers, heroes of the Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata, stayed here for four of the 13 years they spent in exile. The lake in the complex is believed to be filled with Shiva's tears thus have magical powers and is supposed to be where Yudhisthira defeated the Yaksha with his wisdom, bringing his brothers back to life.

Another legend involves the death of Shiva's wife Sati; the story goes that when she died he cried so much and for so long that his tears created two holy ponds - one at Pushkara in Ajmer (India) and the other at Ketaksha (Pakistan), which literally means "raining eyes" in Sanskrit. It is from this name that the word Ketas is derived. Another version of the legend mentions the two pools at Katasraj and Nainital.

Yet another version of the Shiva legend involves the death of Shiva's horse Katas instead of that of Sati his consort. Some legends also state that very first Shiva Ling (Sihv-Ling) was in Kattas. some old manuscripts also consider Katas as the janam bhoomi (birthplace) of Hindu incarnation Rama, as well as that of Ayodhya; but this has become quite controversial.

Prehistoric tools and weapons

Prehistoric tools and weapons such as axes and knives made of granite, and artifacts like terracotta bangles and pottery have been unearthed at the Katasraj site. The latter have been found to be similar to those excavated in Harappa, but have not been dated for want of expert opinion. The fascinating Salt Ranges have a vast archaeological treasure still hidden underground. The Salt Ranges have also been yielding prehistoric finds.[7] While some local experts place the fossils discovered in the period between 6000 and 7000 BC, the fact remains that they have not yet been examined by trained palaeontologists of international standing. A large number of bones of the limbs and vertebrae of giant animals resembling the extinct mammoth and dinosaur have been found at some sites. “An entire range of low mountains in the area appears to be fossilized, revealing to the naked eye layer upon layer of a variety of plants and soils,” says one writer.

Visit by Xuanzang in 631 AD

Alexander Cunningham[8] writes about 4. Singhapura or Ketas:

[p.124]: According to Hwen Thsang, the capital of the kingdom of Seng-ho-pu-lo, or Singhapura, was situated at 700 li, or 117 miles, to the south-east of Taxila. The bearing points to Jhelam, near which is the town of Sangohi, which has been noted by M. Vivien de St. Martin as the possible representative of Singhapura. But Sangohi stands on an open plain, instead of on a high mountain of difficult access, as described by the pilgrim. The vicinity of ten pools of limpid water, with surrounding temples and sculptures, points to the holy tanks of Ketaksh, or Khetas, which are still visited by crowds of pilgrims from all parts of India. I think also that the name of Ketas is only a slightly altered form of the Sanskrit Swetavasa, or the " White


[p.125]: Robes," which Hwen Thsang mentions as the title of the chief religious sect then resident near Singhapura. In the western countries, where the compound sw is changed to kh, the name would have been pronounced Khetavasa, or by a slight contraction, Khetas1 The Brahmans of course refer the name to their own religion, and say that the place was called Kataksha, or the " Raining Eyes," because the tears literally rained from Siva's eyes when he heard of the death of his wife Sati. But as their own spelling of the name Ketaksh, which I received from themselves, is at variance with the meaning which they give to it, I am inclined to adopt the etymology that I have already suggested as Sweta-vasa, or the "White Robes," This sect would appear to have belonged to the Swetambara, or " "White-robed" division of the Jains, while another sect at the same place, who are described by Hwen Thsang as going naked, must be the Digambara, or "unclothed" (literally "sky-clad") division of the Jains. Their books also are stated to have been chiefly copied from the Buddhist literature, while the statue of their god resembled that of Buddha himself. From these curious details it seems almost certain that this heretical sect must have been Jains, whose religion has much in common with Buddhism, while their statues are frequently mistaken for those of Buddha.

Ketas is situated on the north side of the Salt Range, at 16 miles from Pind Dadan Khan, and 18 miles from Chakowal, but not more than 85 miles from Shah-dheri, or Taxila. Now the distance of Singhapura from Taxila is given at 700 li, or 117 miles, which is


1 Thus the Sanskrit Saraswati became the Zend Harakhaiti, and the Greek Arakhotos.


[p.126]: certainly too great, as it would place the capital about 30 miles beyond the most distant point of the hills in any direction between the south and east. Singha-pura is described as situated on the top of a high hill of difficult access ; and as the climate is said to be very cold, it is certain that the place must have occupied one of the isolated peaks either of the Salt Range on the south-south-east, or of the Balnath Range on the east-south-east.1 But as there are no clear pools swarming with fish in the Balnath Range, I have little hesitation in identifying the place described by Hwen Thsang with the beautiful limpid pool of Ketas, which has been esteemed holy from time immemorial.

The capital of Singhapura was situated at from 40 to 50 li, or 7 to 8 miles, to the north-west of the sacred tanks ; but I know of no place that corresponds with this bearing and distance. Malot was the capital of the Janjuhas at a very early period ; but its bearing is south-east, and its distance 12 miles. If we might read 4 to 5 li, instead of 40 to 50, the capital might at once be identified with the ruined fort of Kotera, which is situated on a steep hill to the west, about 200 feet in height, that overhangs the town and holy pools of Ketas. This is called the ancient town. It consists of an upper fort, 1200 feet long, by 300 broad, and of a lower fort. 800 feet long, by 450 broad, the circuit of the two being about 3600 feet, or less than three-quarters of a mile. But the whole circuit of Ketas, including the modern town on both banks of the stream, both above and below the fort, is about 2 miles. This is rather smaller than the capital described by Hwen Thsang, which was 14


1 See Maps Nos. V. and VI.


[p.127]: or 15 li, or 2¼ to 2½ miles, in circuit. But as it corresponds in all other material particulars, I think that Ketas has a very good claim to be identified with the capital of Singhapura.

According to Hwen Thsang,1 the district was 3600 li, or 600 miles, in circuit. On the west it was bounded by the Indus, on the north by the southern frontier of Taxila, 120 miles in length, and on the south by the Jhelam and the northern frontier of Taki, or the plains of the Panjab. It cannot therefore have extended much beyond the foot of the Salt Range.

This limit would make the Indus frontier about 60 miles in length, the Jhelam frontier about 50 miles, and the northern and southern frontiers each 120 miles, or altogether 350 miles. The only explanation that occurs to me of the difference between this number and that of Hwen Thsang, is the probability that the ancient kos of the Panjab was the same as the modern one, that is, a short kos of 1-9/32 mile, or 1 mile and 2¼ furlongs, and that the Chinese pilgrim, ignorant of the difference, made his calculations in the common Indian kos of about two miles. This would reduce his numbers by very nearly one-third, and at the same time bring them into close accordance with the actual measurements of our maps. Thus, Hwen Thsang's 3600 li, or 600 miles, for the circuit of Singhapura, would become 400 miles, which is within 50 miles of the actual measurement already given. Great accuracy cannot be expected in these estimates of frontier distances, as the pilgrim had no means of checking the numbers of his informants. With the road distances which he had himself travelled it was different, as


1 Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' ii. 162.


[p.128]: he could test them by his own knowledge of the time occupied, as well as by the number of journeys between any two points. In the present instance of Singhapura it is quite certain that the frontier distance is exaggerated, as the boundary of Tsekia, or Taki, is also said to have extended to the Indus, which could not have been the case if the frontier of Singhapura had stretched further to the south than I have placed it.

References


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