Temples in Pakistan
The construction work would begin soon, during which the idols would be kept in the main room and sealed. In picture: A Hindu devotee pours milk over a Shivling (a symbol of Lord Shiva) while performing a ritualReuters

In a welcome move that is likely to garner quite some appreciation for the Pakistan government, Islamabad has released funds worth Rs 20 million for the renovation and expansion of a Krishna temple in the city of Rawalpindi. The decision has been made so that the temple can accommodate more pilgrims and visitors, especially during religious occasions and festivals.

Mohammad Asif, the deputy administrator of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) revealed to the Dawn that the Pakistan government agreed to release the funds on the request of a member of provincial assembly, reported the Press Trust of India.

Asif also spoke about the process and said that the construction work would begin soon, during which the idols would be kept in the main room and sealed. "Once reconstructed, the temple will be able to accommodate more people," he added.

Speaking of the temple and the large number of visitors it hosts, Jag Mohan Arora, the caretaker of the temple, revealed that the temple needs a major makeover and the courtyard right now can only accommodate about 100 people. "At present, the temple is very small. The ETPB should vacate nearby shops that have been rented," Arora added.

Krishna temple in Rawalpindi

The temple was built in 1897 by Kaanji Mal, Ujagar Mal, and Ram Rajpal so that people living nearby could come here and worship during occasions and festivals. The double-story temple has a tree at the entrance below which a shivling has been placed, according to Dawn. The temple, which is dedicated, to Hindu Gods Krishna, Ganesh, and Goddess Sheran Wali.

It also features a slate with the names of those who contributed to the temple inscribed.

However, after partition, the temple was closed and the residents of the area had to worship in a street temple in Saddar. The Rawalpindi Krishna temple was reopened in 1949 and was handed over to the ETPB in 1970. Even though the temple is said to be small, many diplomats living in Islamabad were regular visitors.

Arora also said that the temple holds a special place in his heart and that he has seen it since he was a child. "My mother was a Sikh and my father was a Hindu," he added and even said that he has lived in the neighborhood almost all his life.

The same street is also home to a mosque and Arora said that the two religions have never had any issues and he doesn't remember any such incident.

"When I was a child, I used to play with my Muslim friends in this very street. One day, while playing with my friends, I went to the mosque and asked the Maulvi sahab, 'Maulvi jee! Can I say azaan as my Muslim friends do?' Maulvi jee replied with a smile, 'Why not?' That day, I called for prayers in the masjid."