The Pashupatinath temple at Vishwas Nagar in East Delhi is seeped in history. Back in 1953,the government granted land to the Nepalese organisation All India Nepali Society to build the shrine on the urging of Kathmandu.
But late last month,the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) erected a wall that blocks the temples north gate. And therein begins another story.
The north gate is the most important of the four gates the Pashupatinath idol faces north,so many devotees prefer to use that gate to enter the temple, chief priest Bishnu Prasad Koirala says. Incidentally,the then Nepalese ambassador to India,Krishna Bom Malla,gave the idol to the temple in 1967 at the behest of King Birendra.
It came all the way from Kathmandu, Koirala says with pride,before getting back to the problem at hand: I had gone to Nepal for a few days last month and when I returned,I saw that a wall had been erected. It blocks the north gate and puts an iron fence as well.
Further probing,he says,revealed the DDA had built it. Reason: the plot next to the temple houses DDAs eastern division-IV engineering department.
Koirala took the matter to the Nepalese embassy.
Embassy official A K Rai says,Koirala told me about the wall and I advised him to write a formal complaint addressed to the embassy. We will take up the matter with the Indian Foreign Ministry. Rai says the temple has a lasting bond with the embassy: It is the largest temple of its kind in India and people come from all over the world to pay their respects to Lord Pashupatinath. In fact,the then Nepalese ambassador had laid the temples foundation stone sometime in the early sixties.
In 1985,the Nepalese government gave the temple management a large donation that went towards renovating the structure.
Rai says the temple is a sentimental issue for many from the country as the then king presented the idol and gave money for its renovation. But more importantly,as Koirala explained,the temple gets very crowded on Shivratri,Teej,Janmashtami and such festivals. And all gates have to be opened on such occasions to avoid a stampede, Rai says.
Koirala says he has written to DDA to find out why the agency built the wall,and plans to write a formal complaint to the embassy soon. The temples eastern gate had to be closed earlier last year after a Big Bazaar mall was constructed on that side.
The DDA,meanwhile,says it built the wall to mark its territory. We set up our office here sometime in 2004 and we built the wall on our land. How can devotees enter the temple through our office premises? asks A K Goyal,executive engineer,eastern division-IV.