CHAKWAL: A grand reception was held for Indian pilgrims at the fabled site of Katas Raj on Tuesday, which was attended by 112 pilgrims from different states of India.

They arrived at Katas Raj, one of the holiest sites of Hindus, on Monday on a three-day visit.

The pilgrims were led by Shiv Partab Bajaj who has been regular visitor to Katas Raj for the last three decades.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Bajaj thanked Pakistan government for maintaining major holy sites of Hindus.

“This land is sacred to us and we are happy that Evacuee Trust Property Board of Pakistan is maintaining and preserving our fabled site,” he said in an emotional tone.

Commenting on the plight of fabled pond which ran dry last summer Mr Bajaj said the pond had eight feet deep water which was enough for the pilgrims to get Ishnan (holy bath).

“We are thankful to Chief Justice of Pakistan who took notice of the drying up pond and we look forward to its permanent solution”, Mr. Bajaj maintained.

The authorities are filling pond from three different tube-wells located in the vicinity of the pond.

“More pilgrims from across the India want to visit Katas Raj but visas are issued in a very limited number,” Mr. Bajaj regretted.

“I am hopeful that the present Pakistani government would look into this issue and would allow more and more pilgrims to visit Katas Raj,” he said.

Mr Bajaj also appreciated the opening of Kartarpur border.

Chairman Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Tahir Ehsan stressed that cordial relations between Pakistan and India were inevitable for the collective development of the region.

“We are trying our best to maintain the religious sites of Hindus and Sikhs in their original shapes,” he maintained and added that utmost arrangements had been made to accommodate the Indian pilgrims.

“A complex having 36 rooms is being built for the pilgrims and would soon be completed,” he said.

ETPB’s Deputy Secretary Syed Faraz Abbas told Dawn that the complex would be ready in six months.

“The complex is being built by ETPB at a cost of Rs50 million,” he said, adding every possible step is being taken to restore the natural water of the fabled pond.

Deputy Commissioner Chakwal Abdul Sattar Esani welcomed Indian pilgrims and assured them that they would not have any problem during their stay at Katas Raj.

Pakistani officials presented Pehlwan Rewri, Chakwal’s famous sweet, to Indian pilgrims.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2018