Srinagar: Home to new Sharda temple, LoC village sees surge in pilgrim footfall : The Tribune India

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Srinagar: Home to new Sharda temple, LoC village sees surge in pilgrim footfall

Srinagar: Home to new Sharda temple, LoC village sees surge in pilgrim footfall


Adil Akhzer

Srinagar, July 9

In March 2023, when Mata Sharda Devi temple, constructed at Teetwal in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district close to the Line of Control, was thrown open, not many in the village knew that it will change the fortunes of the remote village where until a few years ago people lived under constant threat of cross-border shelling and violence.

A year later, the border village is welcoming a large number of visitors every day and also helping to boost the relations between Kashmir Pandits and Muslims.

“The village has witnessed a drastic change for good,” said Aijaz Ahmad, a Teetwal resident. “New visitors are coming every day and the village is abuzz with activities,” he added.

The opening of the temple is among the several efforts made to revive the pilgrimage to Sharda Peeth, an important temple across the Line of Control. Located in Neelam Valley in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, also lie ruins of the historic Sharada university, which is believed to be an ancient centre of learning established in 273 BC.

Ravinder Pandita, who heads the Save Sharda Committee and is the key person behind the construction of the temple, said that number of people visiting the temple everyday has already crossed over 5,000. “People are coming here every day from different parts of the country and the number is increasing each day,” he said, adding that lately, the number of Kashmir Pandits visiting the temple has increased. Badri Nath Raina, a former teacher, is one among them. Raina said he returned to Kashmir after 35 years last month and also visited the Mata Sharda Temple at Teetwal.

“I can’t explain my happiness in words. It was a great feeling to return to Kashmir after such a long time and then to visit Sharda temple, it was mesmerizing,” he said.

Aijaz, a local resident and also a volunteer at Save Sharda Committee said the best thing is that the opening of the temple has brought the Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits closer. “The temple is bridging the gap between the two communities,” he said.

Ravinder Bakshi, another Kashmir Pandit who visited the temple this week, said the Muslims were extending every kind of facility to the visitors. “The place where we stayed was owned by a Muslim family. The hospitality was truly loving,” he said. “In Teetwal, there is a lot of brotherhood at display.”

The Save Sharda committee, which is presently working to revive the pilgrimage, is now planning to again meet the officials of the Central government to allow annual pilgrimage to Sharda Peeth on similar lines of Sikhs pilgrimage to Nankana Sahab in Lahore. “It will be a big contribution from the government for the Kashmir Pandit community to open this route for pilgrimage,” said Aijaz.

#Kashmir #Kupwara #Srinagar


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