viernes, 18 de mayo de 2012

Ketas & the Pond of Tears

Ketas is a clump of old buildings situated on the road to Kallar Kahar near the town of Choa Saidan Shah in Pakistan. The site overlooks a shallow pond. Legends tell us that the pond was formed by the tears of Lord Shiva when his beloved wife Sati left this mortal world.

Ketas Temples
Image © Haroon Mustafa

Ketas is a short form of a Sanskrit word Ketaksha which means ‘Raining Eyes’. Thus, Ketas got its name from raining eyes of Shiva. However, the famous historian and Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang has mentioned this site with the name of Singhapura. There is a view that Singhapura is a corrupt form of Svetavasa i.e., White Robes – after the Svetambra Jains (Svetambra and Pretambra were two sects of Jainism, Svetambra Jains wore white robes.) that Hiuen found in this area. Svetavasa changed to Khetavasa and Ketas in the end.
Ketas had been a holy site long before Buddhists or Hindus came to revere the site. The emerald pond was the site of pagan rites. 
However, the first construction appeared in the 3rd century under King Ashoka
 Although there is no record to prove the presence of any human settlement in Ketas at that time yet it attracted many monks and priests. History of the later period is unknown until the arrival of Hiuen Tsiang in 630 AD. This was the time when Ketas and the whole area of the Salt Range were dependencies of Kashmir kingdom. There stood a Buddhist stupa. It was in ruins and had been abandoned perhaps due to some natural calamity. Today the oldest structure among the temples and ruins of Ketas is the platform of this stupa.

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