Posted in भारतीय मंदिर - Bharatiya Mandir

The old temple at Beval

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro

The old temple at Beval

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The Beval Temple is the oldest of its kind in Gujar Khan tehsil, district Rawalpindi. It is located in the heart of Beval town and is conspicuously visible from a distance. The facade of the temple is decorated with false arches, which in turn are decorated with paintings. On the either side of the stairs that lead into the temple are platforms where Hindu devotees used to rest after doing puja (worship).

“Nowadays we sit on these platforms to rest and enjoy our evening tea,” says Ghulam Ali, a man now occupies the temple. A Muslim by birth, he has no religious attachment to it.

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The dilapidated Beval Temple
The dilapidated Beval Temple
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“The outer walls of the temple were adorned with paintings depicting Hindu deities,” recalls Shahzad Ali, a primary school teacher in Beval town. The paintings have long been blackened by age and weather. Though also in poor condition, the paintings on the inner walls have miraculously survived.

They show scenes from Hindu mythology. The ceiling is adorned with Ras Lila scenes in which the playful-flirtatious Hindu deity Krishna is shown dancing with several enamored gopis (milkmaids). (Similar depictions of Krishna’s ring dance with gopis are found in other surviving temples of the Rawalpindi region.)

On the northern wall are paintings of the Hindu gods Hanuman, Rama and Vishnu. Vishnu is shown seated on his mythical bird Garuda carrying a conch, a club, a Chakra and lotus flower in his four hands. Curiously, this motif is peculiar to this temple and isn’t found in other temples of Potohar. Close to this panel is another depicting Hanuman attending on god Rama. (Hanuman is the monkey-god who helped Rama on his quest to rescue Sita from the beastly clutches of Ravan.) The third panel shows Hanuman, Rama’s brother Lakshman and Sita standing in submission before a triumphant Rama.

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Vishnu with GarudaVishnu with Garuda
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As one enters into the temple, one notices five panels on the western wall. The first panel shows a gopi carrying a jar of water over her head. The second panel shows ‘Sheranwali’ (a local name for the warrior goddess Durga) seated on a lion; and a third panel shows Krishna teasing the gopis by trying to break their water jars. This scene of Krishna shows him as a mischievous young boy teasing attractive older women. The fourth panel shows Matsya, a fish incarnation of Vishnu. According to Hindu mythology, Vishnu took the form of a fish to save humankind from a flood in the earliest period of creation, not unlike Noah who built an ark to save all species threatened by the great flood described in the Middle Eastern scriptures. The fifth panel again shows a milkmaid.

On the southern wall the most interesting painting is that of Vishnu in the form of Anantashyana. The panel shows Vishnu as sleeping on the coils of the cobra Ananta or Sheesha. In popular iconography, he is called Sheshai Vishnu. From the navel of this Vishnu rises up a lotus on which sits the god Brahma. According to Hindu mythology, Brahma then brings all creation into being.

For all its charm, the Beval temple lies in a pathetic condition, the tragic outcome of its probable abandonment at the time of Partition, when the area’s Hindus fled to what is now India. Perhaps fittingly, the abandoned temple is now in the possession of a local family who have turned it into a barn

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