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Devi ka mandir – a faded reminder of Pindi’s past

Updated August 02, 2014

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The temple has a large central dome with smaller domes on all four sides. The structure of the temple is in a bad state; the roof leaks when it rains and if not cared for properly, it may cave in at any time.
The temple has a large central dome with smaller domes on all four sides. The structure of the temple is in a bad state; the roof leaks when it rains and if not cared for properly, it may cave in at any time.

The Kohati Bazaar is home to one of Rawalpindi’s most beautiful heritage buildings – the Kalyan Das temple. The temple was built by the famous Suri family, who lived in Rawalpindi before partition.

Today, the Suris are mistakenly remembered as the Nuri family, because the inscription outside their family home, the Suri Mansion in Kartarpura, was changed after partition.

The entrance to the Suri Mansion, which is located just off the Banni food street in Kartarpura. The inscription on the building’s façade was changed to ‘Nuri’ after partition.
The entrance to the Suri Mansion, which is located just off the Banni food street in Kartarpura. The inscription on the building’s façade was changed to ‘Nuri’ after partition.

The beautiful structure, known commonly as devi ka mandir, has been converted into the Govt Qandeel Secondary School for the Blind. Construction on the temple began in the 1850s and was completed in 1880. In the 1950s, the Evacuee Property Trust Board took over the building and in 1973 the school was established.

The temple is not properly maintained and, as a result, this historic building has fallen victim to the vagaries of nature and the apathy of locals, with garbage littered around the premises.
The temple is not properly maintained and, as a result, this historic building has fallen victim to the vagaries of nature and the apathy of locals, with garbage littered around the premises.

In 2005, the grandson of Kalyan Das and Rajya Sabha MP, the late Lalit Suri visited the temple and his family mansion and promised to contribute for the development of the school there.

The walls of the temple are decorated with images and busts of Hindu deities, such as Krishna and Ganesh, which still retain their beauty despite generations of neglect.
The walls of the temple are decorated with images and busts of Hindu deities, such as Krishna and Ganesh, which still retain their beauty despite generations of neglect.

It is said that Hindu yatris from the South heading to Srinagar and Kashmir for the Amarnath Yatra used the temple – which has a pond and rooms for lodging – as an overnight stop.

— Text and Photos by Shiraz Hassan

Published in Dawn, Aug 2nd , 2014