This is a signboard located on the Makran Coastal Highway. The signboard can easily be ignored by any passersby but ignoring it means ignoring a history of around 9000 years.
The signboard points a traveler to the historic Hinglaj Devi Temple located in Hinglaj of Balochistan region in Pakistan’s southwest.
It is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Pakistan for the country’s minority Hindus. Because it is located near Karachi, the Islamic country’s only cosmopolitan city, Hindus find Hinglaj easily accessible.
Why is the religious significance of Hinglaj?
Any temple in the repressive, anti-minority Pakistani establishment is important for the Hindus, and Hinglaj has a history that even the native Balochistanis are proud of.
According to the Hindus, the site is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths of Hinduism. A Shakti Peeth is a place associated with Sati – the wife of Lord Shiva. Hindus believe that the head of Sati fell at Hinglaj, thus making it the most important of all Shakti Peeths in the sub-continent.
Hinglaj is also the only Shakti Peeth in Pakistan.
Despite its religious significance, Hinglaj does not even look like a Hindu temple.
The temple is like a shrine nestled in a small cave like opening at the foot of a mountain. There is only a mark of a Sun and a Moon on the shrine believed to have been made by Lord Ram.
The idol of the Goddess is inside a low-roof structure. Proper Hindu rituals are followed in the worship of the Goddess.
Pilgrims walk on foot over the rocky desert landscape to reach the temple as a form of penance.
How is Hinglaj still surviving despite increasing fundamentalism in Pakistan?
The temple would have been lost to the establishment condoned rising fundamentalism in Pakistan but for the locals of Balochistan.
It is the Balochistani people, Muslims by faith, who have helped protect the shrine for this long. They call it ‘Nani ki Mandir’.
The caretakers of the shrine and Baloch tribesmen live in a local village close by. The tribesmen revere the Hinglaj Devi temple and help the Hindu pilgrims in whichever way they can during the pilgrimage.
It is because of the Baloch tribesmen that the temple survives to this day in a land where everything related to minorities face persecution at the hands of fundamentalists and a government that has kept its eyes closed.