“This was the square enclosure which was put to fire and They were jumping into the same fire.. all of them..very few would have survived though I vividly remember none did” ; 80 year old Hajrah remembers events of the 1947 partition in Potohari dialect as we stand in the enclosure of the Vishnu Temple of Bewal. Bewal is a small eastern town of the Tehsil GujurKhan and housed a major population of Sikhs and Hindus pre partition. Some believe it was named after Alexander The Great’s horse Bucefalus which was killed during a furious fight. However, this claim is historically not proved; the known fact is only this that this town was a predominantly a Non Muslim town with vast agricultural lands owned by Hindus and Sikhs. In the middle of the town stands a small structure covering 12 Marla land as the town‘s only surviving Temple. The Temple is in possession of Hindu Auqaaf department which has apparently shown no interest in restoring this edifice of the past. The temple s adjacent enclosure has been given on rent by the department to a Kashmiri migrant family which uses it as a Barn.
The temple is a strong structure made of lime stone and has a square enclosure with a conical minaret. The top of the minaret once had round copper balls gone since long. Local residents claim that it has been hit by lightening twice since the fire of 1947 roits and its blackish charred outside state is a result of the recurrent fires. The arched small entrance of the temple comes by climbing a small staircase. The interior walls are decorated with colorful paintings from the scenes of Maha Baharat. The temple as the most temples in this part of Indian Sub continent , is dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu and its Avatars. In Hindu mythology Vishnu is the preserver of life. To save earth, he incarnated himself many times, as a fish, a tortoise, a boar, Raama, Krishna, and in some beliefs as Buddha. The Interior of the temple is although in a bad state due to the neglect but its sad beauty still captivate one s heart and eyes. On the west wall a series of paintings depict the images of Krishna s Ras Leela.
According to Hindu mythology, Vishnu took the form of a fish to save humankind from a flood in the earliest period of creation like Noah who built an ark to save all species drowning in the flood that most scriptures tell about
The whole inner sanctum of the temple is painted with gay colours in fresco style of painting which gives them a freshness and vividness despite sheer neglect of decades.
Krishna is worshipped with his consort Raadhaa and arches of the temple depicts the same.
The internal dome of the temple is round and is embellished with paintings of the dancing Gopis and Peacocks; peacock being the sacred bird in Hindu mythology and is the National bird of the India. The inside of the dome is almost diminished but the lower line of fresco paintings is still somewhat visible.
The temple was repaired from time to time and in 1932 some lively youth inscribed his name on a cement leaf outside the temple.
Any place of worship is a labour of love by its followers. Tourism can be promoted by restoring these symbols of toil and religious affection of minority communities of Pakistan. Restoring such edifices can improve manyfolds the image and economic earnings in terms of tourism.