The Salt Range Odyssey – II

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“The Tears of Shiva and the Patron Saint of Peacocks”

Another marvel awaits you after your trip to the salt mines of Khewra, and the pleasant drive through the Salt Range.

On the road from Khewra to Kalar Kahar, lie the Hindu Temples of Katas Raj, a few kilometers beyond the small town of Choa Saidan Shah. The Katas Raj Temple Complex is considered to be one of the holiest places by the Hindus.

The complex is said to be as old as ancient Hindu holy epic Mahabharata and is also known as “Satgraha” – the Seven Sacred Temples. This complex has featured in several music videos, documentaries and telefilms etc. because of its ancient architecture, isolation and the famous pond, around which the Satgraha is built. Legend has it that the Satgraha’s pond was formed when Lord Shiva’s cried for several days on the passing of his beloved wife Satti. The word Ketas (Katas) is said to have been derived from the Sanskrit word “Ketaksha”, which means,”raining eyes”. A dip in this sacred pool is said to cure physical and spiritual illnesses. The depth of this pool is yet unknown, so it is not recommended that you do not try to “cure” yourself in it. According to another legend, the five Pandava brothers spent four of their fourteen-year exile here.

In 2006, on a visit by the former Indian deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, the Government of Pakistan announced a three phased multi-million Rupees restoration project. The project is already underway and sever parts have been reconstructed and renovated. If you want to see Satgraha in its wild and original state, I suggest you do it as soon as possible.

Driving on from there, you reach the famous Lake Kalar Kahar. Recently a new road was constructed around it, making it possible to drive along the circumference of the lake. Lake Kalar Kahar is a major haven for migratory birds, with several rare and endangered species stopping over on their annual seasonal pilgrimage. What do now that you’re here? Well, you could start by taking a ride on the boat in the lake, and then get on the swings in the lakeside amusement park. Or you could take a short walk up to “Bagh-e-Safa” and sit on the “Takht-e-Babari” – which was hewn out of rock by Mughal Emperor Babar’s Army, as he marched to Delhi to conquer India. The spot offers a unique panoramic view of the Lake Kalar Kahar.

Another must see site is barely five minutes’ drive away from the Lake. Hazrat Ahoo Bahoo is the local patron saint and was the grandson of the great Muslim saint Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jailani. The shrine of Hazrat Ahoo Bahoo is renowned for the amazing mirror mosaic on its dome, which made it gleam in the moonlight. On any given day, you can spot peacocks roaming around in the courtyard. Just below the shrine of Hazrat Ahoo Bahoo, is the “Chillaagah” or the meditation area. This is the spot where two of the greatest Muslim saints of Punjab stayed for meditation in a tiny cave. Devotees throng to these two sites, even today, in the hundreds.

You must be starving after all the exertion, by now. You can end the day sipping tea with hot samossas at the PTDC Restaurant by the Kalar Kahar Lake, while you recharge before heading home.

Travel advisory

  • Best season to visit: Fall to Spring (September – April). However, the Monsoons aren’t a bad time to visit, either.
  • Ideal for: day trips/picnics. (Bring your own food & do not litter!)
  • Fastest route: M2 Lillah and Kalar Kahar Interchanges
  • Drive time (point to point):
    • Lahore/Islamabad – Lillah Interchange: 2 1/2 hours
    • Lillah – Khewra: 1/2 hour
    • Khewra – Katas Raj/Satgraha: 1 hour
    • Katas Raj/Satgraha – Kalar Kahar: 1/2 hour
    • Kalar Kahar – Lahore/Islamabad: 2 1/2 hours
  • Cellular coverage: Complete

Request: Graffiti may be an art form, but on historical buildings, it’s an eyesore.

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One thought on “The Salt Range Odyssey – II

  1. A really enjoyable post, with some awe-inspiring photos. I’ve never been to India, and your descriptiona and photos make me want to do so. I’m learning so much about your land from several lovely bloggers I follow. An interesting ‘Travel Advisory’, too.

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