The culture, the language, the smells, the food, the religion, the beautiful brown people and the stunning fair-skinned ones too, the resources or the lack-of, the traditions and the celebrations, the salt in the air, the fertile soil, the generous spirit, the rice fields, the highest peaks, the magnificent and unforgiving dessert — all are part of our identity. Always will be. No matter in which part of the world we choose to live, home is always here, home is always Pakistan. Our beloved Sohni Dharti.
Cultural identity is such an important part of our sense of belonging… it gives us a benchmark by which to understand the world around us. It gives us something to rebel against and something to adhere to. Without it, we would be lost. Our personalities are molded by our culture, by the very undertones and highlights of the society around us… it provides us a platform from which to jump and soar high.
Paving the way to relate a cultural, travel experience I experienced last weekend. Yearly family picnics/short trips are a norm among my extended family and cousins. And this time, we decided to drive upto Kallar Kahar (Salt Range) and the mystical Katas Raj temples.
The Katas Raj located near Chakwal, about 10 miles from Kallar Kahar, is a temple complex consisting of seven ancient temples. They are attributed to the eras of the Hindu kings and are dedicated to Lord Shiva. They constitute one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in Pakistan and are still in use to this day by members of the Hindu community both in the country and those who make the journey there every year from elsewhere.
All the temples are built around a pond held sacred to Hindus. Katas Raj is also known to be the second largest holy place in Punjab for Hindus after Jawala Mukhi.
Get ready for some stunning photos of the temple ruins! (apologies in advance for the extremely photo-heavy post)This little cutie was proving more than a handful to be carried around all those sites and stairs! Some of us took turns to carry him around as the area was a little too uneven for him to walk without falling. Interestingly enough, whenever i took him back from whoever was holding him after a few minutes, i was met with the following replies:
“Oh thank you!! Phew!!”
“God! He is too heavy.”
“Please hold him while i restore my energy.”
He is so solid, this one! he doesn’t look it but he is built heavily, Mashallah. My arms and shoulders, on the other hand, are built completely opposite, and didn’t restore their complete functionality till a couple of days after since coming back. So fun.
Below are some photos from Khewra — the second largest salt mines in the world! It was an exhausting day packed with adventures and food and gupshup sessions. Always a good time with this bunch!