KARACHI: Recent construction work at the historic Shri Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir in Soldier Bazaar has resulted in unearthing of several idols and other artefacts that may help in determining the origin of the temple said to be over 1,500 years old, it emerged on Monday.
The temple holds special significance for Hindus many of whom believe that Shri Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir is the only shrine in the world with a naturally-created statue of the part human and part monkey Hindu god Hanuman. The legend associated with the place is that the Hindu Lord Ram had visited this temple while in exile. And sometime later a blue-and-white, eight-foot-tall statue of Hanuman was excavated from here. Following this the temple was built at the spot by devotees.
Devotees also hold the strong belief that if someone walked around the idol for 11 or 21 times his or her wishes come true as they say that such naturally-formed statues of deities possess exceptional blessing for worshippers.
Unfortunately, the recent past has seen squatters taking over most of Shri Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir and its surroundings. “The squatters were both Hindu and Muslim, but after much hardship the gaddi nasheen or trustee of the temple has managed to take back possession,” Ravi Dawani, secretary general of the All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat, told Dawn.
He also said that although it is believed that the temple is very old, there is no hard evidence pointing towards this fact. “We can’t surely say that it is 500 years old or 1,500 years old or even older than that. But after the area had been cleared of squatters, the trust was busy in some expansion and construction of the temple when the idols and artefacts were discovered during digging,” he said.
“The freshly excavated artefacts can be tested for age in order to determine the true age of the temple,” he added.
Meanwhile, the temple’s trustee Shri Ram Nath Maharaj told Dawn that over the years, squatters had been building walls on temple land while making the temple smaller and smaller.
“Getting back its possession some three months ago, we had cleaned the place but with the weeklong Navaratri festival on our heads around the end of September we thought of rebuilding our Mandir. We only started the work on Saturday and so many idols have been unearthed,” he said.
“We found some on the first day of work, then a few more on Sunday and then even more on Monday,” he said.
“What is most surprising is that we didn’t have to dig too deep. We only dug two or three feet deep to find them,” he added.
Asked what kind of idols and artefacts they had found, he said that there are around eight to nine Hanuman statues, along with the buffalo-like Nandi Maharaj idols, the elephant god Ganesh idols, Sherawali Mata idols along with some earthen pots.
Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2019