Sunday, December 28, 2003 (Kabul):
The years of war in Afghanistan has damaged or completely destroyed ancient temples in the country.
For instance, the Shor Bizar area of old Kabul—once the Indian heart of the city—is now in ruins. And the area boasts of a 5oo year old Shiv Mandir. Jitender Sharma, the priest, succeeds his father and grandfather, who have been pujaris at the temple.
“It is a Bhaironath temple. Religious threads used to be tied here and kirtans used to be sung, but for years all that has stopped,” said Jitender Sharma, priest.
The temple was destroyed by the forces of the northern warlord General Dostum in the mid 90s.
But there is renewed hope for the temple, as it will soon be re-built by the government of India.
“The government of Afghanistan has approached us for help in the reconstruction of places of worship of all faiths and we are responding positively to that,” said Vivek Katju, Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan.
But its not just places of worship. Shor Bizar used to be the old Indian quarter of Kabul and as many as 60,000 Indians once lived in the area. Now, there are less than 20 families and they fondly remember the days when the area was known as the Hindu Guzar.