Katas Raj - Sutgurdha - کٹاس راج - ستگڑھہ - कटास राज - सतगढ़ह,
Katas Raj temple complex is a Hindu temple situated in the Salt Range, is 18 km from Chakwal, Punjab in Pakistan.
Called Satgurdha, as it houses a group of seven ancient temples, remains of a Buddhist stupa, a few medieval temples, havelis and some recently constructed temples, scattered around a pond considered holy by Hindus.
It takes little effort to reach Katas Raj by road - one has to go off the M2 motorway - (Islamabad - Lahore) at the Kallar Kahar interchange, then follow the road to Choa Saidan Shah for 24 km and after passing the cement factory the road passes through the temple complex, with the major temple complex and the pond being on the right.
Dedicated to Shiva, the temple complex has existed since the days of Mahābhārata and the Pandava brothers stayed here for 4 out of the 14 years that they spent in exile. The lake in the complex is believed to have magical powers and is supposed to be where Yudhisthira defeated the Yaksha with his wisdom to bring his brothers back to life.
The etymology of this place as narrated in the old edition of Tarikh-i-Jhelum (History of Jhelum) is that according to Brahaman belief, Shiv wept so profusely on the death of his beloved wife Sati that two holy ponds - one at Pushkara in Ajmair and the other at Ketaksha - came into being with his tears. In Sanskrit, “Ket-Aksha” means “chain of tears”, and through the usage of centuries, the word was abbreviated to Katas as we know it today.
Yet another version of the Shiva legend involves the death of Shiva's horse Katas instead of that of Sati. Some legends also state that the first ever Shiva's Lingum (Shiv-Ling) is also in Katas. Some old manuscripts also concede Katas as the janam bhoomi of Sri Ram Chandra, along with Ayudhiya.
Most of the temples, were built during the reign of Hindu Shahya kings around 900 years ago or more, although the earliest of the Katas Raj temples dates back to the latter half of the 6th century A.D.
The temple was abandoned by local Hindus when they migrated to East Punjab in 1947. It has always been the site of holy pilgrimage for people of various faiths. Even nowadays, worshipers from all faiths perform pilgrimages to the temple every year and bathe in the sacred pool around which Katas Raj is built.
The temples at Katas are mostly constructed on square platforms. The elevation of the sub shrines seems to form a series of cornices with small rows of pillars, crowned by a ribbed dome. The Ramachandra Mandir is situated to the east of the Hari Singh Haveli and is closed from all sides except for an entrance on the east. The double-storied structure has eight rooms of various dimensions on the ground floor and a staircase at the south leading to the first floor. The mandir has two jharokas (balconies) that have been severely damaged. The Hanuman Mandir is on the western extreme of a high rectangular enclosure with entrances on the south and the north. The temple's ceiling is undecorated, and lime-plastered. The Shiva temple is also built on a square platform. Its entrance is a recessed round arch with faint cusps and a rectangular opening to the north.
Paras Nath Jogi drew his last breath on Katas. Jagat Guru Nanak Ji also visited the place on the 1st of Visakh. Katas came to be known as Nanaknawas and was a site of contemplation for many large groups of mystics, ascetics and jogis. According to Hindu beliefs, taking bath in the holy pond at the site washes away all sins and makes a man innocent.
It is said Al-Beruni also spent some time at Katas to learn Sanskrit in a linguistic university which, at that time, was established here. Temples at Katas have been transferred from the federal government to the Punjab Archaeology Department recently.