Islamabad: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday expressed concern at damage to the centuries-old Katasraj Temple in Punjab province due to environmental degradation caused by industrial complexes and sought a report from authorities.
Zardari had called for a report from the relevant ministry after taking note of a media report that industrial complexes around Katasraj Temple had "destroyed its pristine beauty and threatened the natural water pond with complete extinction", presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
"The President called for restoration in a scientific manner of ancient sites having historical and religious significance.
"He said that all ancient and historical sites of significance to followers of any religion were part of our civilisation too and needed to be preserved and protected," Babar said.
Recent reports had said that Shri Amar Kund, the sacred pond at the Katasraj Temple complex near Choa Saidan Shah, was drying up because groundwater in the region is being used by a cement factory.
The presidential spokesman said the natural pond at the temple had been in existence for thousands of years and had attracted "pilgrims from far and wide in the South Asian subcontinent".
He said, "Since ages, water flowed from the pond to downstream villages of Wahoola, Tatral and Dulmial without any drop in the pond level that was constantly replenished by the spring waters underneath.
"However, industrial units constructed near the site had sucked up groundwater and diverted the flow of the springs, resulting in the drying up the pond".
According to Hindu mythology, the holy pond was formed when Lord Shiva wept over the death of his beloved wife.
The temples at the Katasraj site, located 40 km from Chakwal, were built by Hindu kings around 900 years ago.
Some years ago, Pakistan decided to place idols of Hindu gods in seven temples at Katasraj and restore them to their original state to attract Hindu visitors as part of a multi-million rupee project.
Senior BJP leader L K Advani visited Pakistan in 2005 to lay the foundation stone for the project to restore the Katasraj complex.
This was the first time since 1947 that an Indian politician was invited to a project in Pakistan to renovate a Hindu shrine.
Many legends are associated with the Katasraj temple.
Legend says that the five Pandava brothers, the heroes of the epic Mahabharata, stayed there for four of the 14 years they spent in exile.