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Hingol temple symbolises Baloch secularism

When someone in Balochistan says he is going to see the Nani, he may not mean his maternal grandmother. Hindus and Muslims alike refer to the Hinglaj Mata Ka Mandir as Nani Ka Mandir, reports Kamal Siddiqi.

world Updated: Jul 30, 2009 00:13 IST
Kamal Siddiqi

When someone in Balochistan says he is going to see the Nani, he may not mean his maternal grandmother.

Hindus and Muslims alike refer to the Hinglaj Mata Ka Mandir as Nani Ka Mandir. Located about four hours from Karachi, the Nani Mandir is venerated by all communities of Balochistan and testifies to the secular nature of Baloch culture.

A small temple set in the middle of a gorge, the Nani Mandir is visited by thousands each year, including many Muslims.

The pilgrimage, usually done on foot, starts with a visit to Baba Chandrakup, a mud-filled volcano. The pilgrims then go to the Nani Ka Mandir, located several kilometers away on the other side of the Coastal Highway. A few hours down the road is the Koh-e-Murad, where members of the Zikri community come to do ‘hajj’.

The terrain is rugged and beautiful. The gorge in which the temple is located overlooks the Hingol River, which cuts across the Balochistan province. Near to the Mandir, the river has crocodiles.

The area around the river, crocodiles included, is protected as it comes under the Hingol National Park.

The cave entrance is around 50 feet in height. At the end of the cave is the sanctum sanctorum, which houses the holy relic, covered by red clothes and vermilion. One has to crawl into the sanctum, take darshan and leave through the only other opening.

Baloch tribal culture, with its emphasis on hospitality, protects minority communities. The Bugti clan has Hindu and Sikh members. One such member, Arjun Das Bugti, even became a member of the Balochistan Assembly.

“Baloch have a very secular outlook,” said Rahim Buksh Azad, a Baloch of Zikri origin. That is why the secular Jamhoori Watan Party and Left parties do well in the polls in Karachi.