Panj Tirath, once a flourishing Hindu pilgrimage site in Peshawar, is now being used as a warehouse in an amusement park, Bitter Winter magazine reported.
Panj Tirath refers to the five water pools present on the site, which Hindus believe were connected with immediate disciples of the Pandava, the five sons of King Pandu who are the central characters in the Hindu epic “Mahabharata.” The site has been used as a Hindu pilgrimage centre for some 1,000 years. However, after partition, only two dilapidated temples survived, and the area became part of a lease from the local government to the company operating the Chaca Younas Family Park.
In 2019, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government declared Panj Tirath a national heritage site. This was, however, the beginning rather than the end of a legal battle.
According to Bitter Winter, the amusement park, which uses the temples as warehouses, told the provincial government that it was ready to give back one kanal (0.125 acre) and 11 marlas of the site, while archaeologists claim it consists of five kanals (0.625 acre) and 11 marlas (0.06 acre), which is almost six times more.
When archaeologists tried to access the site, they were intimidated by armed men.
On February 10, the Peshawar High Court expressed its displeasure that after more than three years the issue has not been solved, and hinted at suspects of corruption among local officials.
Beyond the technical issues, the case offers additional evidence of the disrespect in which the historical heritage of Hinduism is often held in Pakistan, according to Bitter Winter.