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What can be a better example of religious harmony!

Pulwama: In a rare display of inter-communal harmony, Muslims in this south Kashmir village have been taking care of a centuries-old temple/monument since the resident Hindu population has remained out more than two decades ago.

The Ancient Shiva temple in Payar is maintained by Ghulam Nabi Sheikh’s family who got the job by Archeological Survey of India as attendant of the monument in 1974 and later remained the attendant also.

Later as Gulam Nabi retired, the job was taken over by his cousin, Mushtaq Ahmad who joined to look after the temple.
The temple is situated in Payar, a Muslim village of about 300 families in Pulwama district around 35 kilometers from summer capital Srinagar.

Now Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh and all other residents who are safeguarding and keeping up the thousands years old Pandava time Shiva temple in his native Payar village of district Pulwama, 35 km from Srinagar.

The temple is constructed of only four huge stones with stairs of stones, a fence surrounding the temple and some walnut trees shading the temple. The area of the temple is closely surrounded by Muslim residential houses from all sides.

“Me and my family has been cleaning and taking care of this temple since a long time even during the 1990s, when the insurgency was at its peak and temples, schools etc. were attacked by some agencies” Sheikh said.

“The local Muslims are having a passion to see the monument safe and clean and everyone respects it” he said. “Though I am now working in the concerned department as a care taker of the monument, my family, locals feel no hesitation in cleaning and preserving the thousands year old temple” he said.

“I am here to ensure its protection even after my retirement and upkeep even if our Pandit brothers are living outside the state for over past two decades,” Sheikh said, referring to local migrant Hindus said.

“We respect the temple very much and no one has had dared to damage it. One year ago some stones of the stairs fell down and the locals gathered and lifted the stone and put it again on its place” basher Ahmad, local resident told Greater Kashmir.

“No matter that the Pandits come to the temple or not, it a religious place and we will safeguard and preserve it” he said.

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