SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir administration has taken up the restoration work of the 700-year-old Mangleshwar Bhairav Temple, which was severely damaged by floods in 2014, located in the heart of Srinagar city, officials said here.
The work was started in June 2022 and is expected to be completed next month, they said, adding that the estimated cost of the project is Rs 1.62 core.
”The temple is around 700 years old. Everyone knows about its significance. It developed some cracks in the floods of September 2014. So, last year, we took it up under a scheme for revival, restoration, preservation and maintenance of architecture and heritage,” Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Muhammad Aijaz Asad told PTI.
Asad said the temple management committee was consulted on preserving the structure’s original form before the work began.
”There are two sacred trees and we have not touched them… No cement has been used for the reconstruction and the same material is being used with which it was built,” he added.
Asad said the faith of lakhs of people was attached with this temple.
”People come here today as well and tell us they want to pray … We are sure people will come in large numbers from across the country. Kashmir is known for Shaivism and Sufism. There is a synthesis of these traditions. I think this temple is a foundation stone of that synthesis,” the official said.
The deputy commissioner said there was no encroachment on the temple land and all the land mass belonging to the temple has been fenced. Its land also extends to the lagoon it is built on.
Sanjay Saraf, a Kashmiri Pandit politician, said local people call the temple by several names such as ‘Raazeh Mangleshwar’, which is also incarnation of Lord Shiva.
”Kashmiri Pandits used to come here for puja. Most of the people from the surrounding areas usually come here, particularly pandits from Srinagar city. It has been their endeavour to pay a visit on Saturdays, Sundays or Tuesdays,” he said.
Saraf expressed his gratitude to the government for restoring the temple. ”Some politicians only talk about ‘Kashmiriyat’ but do no nothing. Today, most of Kashmiri Pandits are not living here but these temples are being reconstructed by the government,” he said.
He added there were nearly 700 temples in Kashmir that need to be restored.
‘It will send a good message from Kashmir if they are renovated. I think the government is very serious on these matters, whether to renovate mosques, temples or gurdwaras,” Saraf said.
Riyaz Ahmad, a local resident and social worker, said Kashmiri Pandits used to visit this temple in large numbers in the past.
”In 2010, we took steps for its renovation but in the 2014 floods, this temple was completely devastated. We are very thankful to the R&B department that took measures for its restoration. Credit also goes to our NGO ‘Samaj Sewa Sanstha’, who also took up the restoration work with the government,” he said.
Altaf Hussain Shah, the executive engineer in-charge of the renovation work, said, ”The entire project cost is Rs 1.62 crore and it has four components. The first is the main temple for which Rs 64 lakh was allotted, Rs 21 lakh was set aside for the guard room and the rest of the money will be spent on landscaping, ghats and signage.”