A centuries-old Shiva temple, which was closed for 18 years in the wake of Kashmiri Pandit exodus from the Valley in 1989, was thrown open for the devotees on Tuesday. The temple at Thajwara Bijbehara in south Kashmir is also known as the Pracheen Amarnath shrine.
Like its namesake, this temple is also a cave shrine. Many devotees see it as second only to the Amarnath shrine. As thousands of Kashmiri Pandits from all over the country thronged the shrine on Tuesday, the Devaasthan Prabandak Committee organised a festival to mark the occasion.
Ashok Kumar Pandita, one of the devotees, said that he was happy to visit the shrine and participate in the ‘mahayagna’. What, however, impressed him the most was the help of the local Muslims.
“Eighteen years of separation with the local people had resulted into certain misgivings in our minds. But I am surprised to find the same love and respect. I would now look forward to the day we (Kashmiri Pandits) will be back to our homes,” said Ashok, a resident of Kulgam.
Around half a dozen Hindu temples have been thrown open for worship in south Kashmir in the past four months. Over 30,000 Kashmiri Pandits participated in Khir Bhavani Mela at Tumullah in Ganderbal District in June this year.