Teetwal on LOC almost ready to launch Mandir-Masjid-Gurudwara complex

Story by  Aasha Khosa | Posted by  Aasha Khosa • 8 Months ago
The latest image of Sharda Mata Temple at Teetwal
The latest image of Sharda Mata Temple at Teetwal


Aasha Khosa/New Delhi

Teetwal, a small village close to the Line of Control in North Kashmir, is all set to host the best symbol of Indian ethos – an all-religion complex - with world-class facilities to attract tourists and pilgrims from the world over. The temple dedicated to Goddess Sharda, the reigning deity of Kashmir is ready to receive the Metal statue of the Deity made in Karnataka.

The gurudwara dedicated to Guru Teg Bahadur Singh has already been handed over to the local Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee; the mosque is being constructed while the temple construction is nearing completion.mplex in the village in the Kupwara district. Surrounded by alpine forests, Teetwal, home to187 families and 1035 humans is all set to blaze on the world religious tourism map. People in the area are looking forward to the commissioning of the temple-gurudwara-mosque complex as it's bound to change their lives.

 Statue of Mata Sharda Devi


Some 100 houses in the village have been identified for furbishing and up-gradation to create homestay places for tourists.


Ravinder Pandita, an engineer and a cultural activist, who is in charge of the project, told Awaz-the voice from Teetwal, “the sarvdharma sthal is all set to be ready by end of the year, and "we expect the first batch of pilgrim-tourists next year.”


Pandita, a displaced Kashmiri who has been campaigning for the preservation of and reopening of the route to the Sharda Peeth, a 2,000-year-old stone temple that is in ruins in the village of Shardei in POK, said it was during his research on the ancient temple that he stumbled upon Teetwal’s link to Kashmir’s ancient history.

The local Muslims told him that a plot of land on which once there was an Inn used by the pilgrims going to Shardapeeth, located about 50 km away, and also a juxtaposed small gurudwara in the village. “Locals told me that the revenue records still have the plots of land earmarked as “Ahle Hindu and Ahle Sikh (of the Hindus and the Sikhs) in the village,” Pandita said.


Another view of the Sharda temple at Teetwal


The statue will be taken out in a formal procession from Shngeri Mutt in Karnataka to Teetwal in North Kashmir.


Both the structures were razed by the invading armies of Tribesmen from NWFP (since renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) in October 1947 as just-born Pakistan launched its first hybrid war to wrest Kashmir. The tribesmen ended up looting properties, raping women, and killing innocents, especially Hindus and Sikhs before the Indian army landed in Kashmir and routed them.


In September 2021, when Pandita and his team of volunteers reached the village to launch the project the locals were waiting for them; the ground-breaking ceremony began with the smashing of a coconut. The foundation stone for the project was laid by Dr Darakshan Andrabi, Chairperson of the J&K Waqf Board. 


Pandita says local Muslims are more excited about the project than others. He has since collaborated with locals, the Indian Army, and others to build a grand temple of Goddess Sharda, a research center where scholars from both sides of Kashmir (ncluding POK) can work on Sharda civilization dating back to 5,000 years.


Local villagers posing with a signboard of the proposed Sharda temple at Teetwal


As per records available, the region used to be known as Sharda Desh and it was spread across what is today’s Pakistan and up to East Asia. Sharda is purported to be the first world-class university of which the only remnant today is a roofless stone temple at Shardei that is being preserved by the POK government although the Pakistan army uses it as a firing range.


While the work on the temple and gurudwara is going on at a feverish pace, the mosque project is about to begin. The delay was caused as villagers took time to earmark and donate land for it. Interestingly Teetwal has already two mosques yet the locals approved of having one juxtaposed to the temple-Gurudwara.


On September 14 during the groundbreaking ceremony, a group of villagers from Shardei (POK) had come to see the ceremony from the village Chilhana, at a stone’s throw from Teetwal on the LOC. “They were sent back by the Pakistani army and we could hear their angry reactions and slogans against Army,” Pandita told Awaz-the Voice.


Ruins of Shardapeeth at Shardei, POK


Army has included the complex under Project Sadbhawna; Mobile company Jio has erected two more mobile towers to increase internet reach and telephony to the area and the State government has started work on widening the road to the village and making another access route to the village.


Pandita says the Sarvdharma sthal committee comprising Teetwal civil society members Iftikhar Ahmed, Captain Ilyas Ahmed, Hamid Mir, Aijaz Ahmed and a few Sikhs led by Joginder Singh from the nearby Sikh village of Tribhvani in Tangdhar would request Lt Governor Manoj Sinha for grants for the Sharda Research Center once the complex is ready. 


A Kashmiri peace activist Javed Beigh has posted this video from the construction site at Teetwal:

A committee that also has five Hindus as members oversees the construction work of the sarvdharma sthal

Truckloads of carved stones for the temple have come from Bidai, Karnataka, and so have the artisans who are going to fix these. Shingeri Mutt is supporting the project in designing it and the money is being raised from donations and crowdfunding. The big team of workers engaged in the projects is housed by the locals of Teetwal.

Also Read: Muslims of POK village help Kashmiri Pandits connect with ancient temple

Once the temple is ready, an 11th-century statue of Goddess Sharda that was once in the Shardei temple’s sanctum sanctorum and had been safely deposited by a sage with Shingeri Mutt authorities before the raiders vandalized it, will be housed there. A fresh Sandalwood statue will also be installed.