Over 170 Indian pilgrims converged at the ancient Katas Raj temple in Pakistan's Punjab province to participate in prayers on the occasion of Shivratri on Friday.
This is the third year that Shivratri pooja was being held with the participation of Hindu pilgrims from India since 2005 when Pakistan government began large scale renovation of the Shiva temple complex where Pandavas were believed to have spent a part of their exile.
The 173 pilgrims, mostly from Indian Punjab and New Delhi, arrived in Lahore from Attari by train and reached the temple in vehicles specially arranged by local authorities who also made elaborate arrangements for their stay.
Besides conducting the pooja on Friday night at the temple which suffered years of neglect and was damaged during riots, the pilgrims would conduct a 'havan' on Saturday at the place, Indian High Commission officials who were deputed to receive them said.
The group is headed by Sardari Lal Goswami who said that they were offered 200 visas by Pakistan government out which they could avail 173.
The Katas site houses the Satgarha, a group of seven ancient temples, remains of a Buddhist stupa, a few medieval temples, havelis and some recently constructed temples, scattered around a pond considered holy by Hindus.
The government has sanctioned Rs 51.06 million for the the renovation of the temple, which was visited by BJP Leader LK Advani during his visit to Pakistan in 2005.
Pakistan also invited a team of officials from Archaeological Survey of India, (ASI) to advise the local officials in renovation programme.