Forgotten Shiva temple of Kasel

AMRITSAR: The Shiva temple at Kasel, near Amritsar, lies wrapped in layers of history and mythology, waiting for somebody to uncover the truth that lies neglected here. Legend has it that Lord Rama’s mother Mata Kaushalya used to offer her prayers here. She was the first wife of Ayodhya emperor King Dasarath.

The village was earlier called Kaushalyapuri but with time it came to be known as Kasel. It falls under Tarn Taran district.  ’Maharaja Ranjit Singh recognized the temple’s historical importance and awarded its ‘jagir’ (revenue records) to the temple custodians,’ said Mahant Baldevgiri, while showing the documents he claims his forefathers had received. He said the temple has as much importance as Kashi and Kalanuar, two of what are called Punjabi Hindu’s ‘char dhams’.

‘I was told that Mata Kaushalya used to come here,’ he added. ‘It’s not clear if this was her native place. I have even heard from my grandfather that this site belonged to the maternal grandfather of Lord Rama,’ he said.

Pained that no religious body had come forward to explore the shrine’s history, the chief priest said, ‘A lot more will be revealed if a thorough study is conducted.’
The temple has a well and it is said that whenever Maharaja Ranjit Singh visited to pay obeisance, he drank ‘amrit’ (sacred water) from it. ‘The water was considered a panacea for stomach problems,’ the priest said. ‘My grandfather said water from this well used to be sent to Lahore every day for Maharaja Ranjit Singh,’ he claimed.

When terrorism was at its peak, most of the Hindu families from Kasel shifted to Amritsar and Delhi. ‘There was a time when more than 100 Hindu households were there’ now there are only two or three,’ the priest said. The temple’s tradition of holding an annual fair had been maintained by Baldevgiri and his family.

A Kasel resident, Gurdiyal Singh, said the temple’s enormous historical significance had been lost on politicians who have often made promises to maintain the place but never fulfiled them.

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