Two policemen were guarding the entrance to Hanuman temple. The entrance looked like a part of Walled City of Lahore. There was a boundary wall which had been encroached upon in either direction. Policemen became attentive when we walked past them but they did not stop us, probably because a friend who belonged to the priest community was accompanying us. We entered through the narrow entrance and entered a dark hall. A wooden staircase went to the first floor. I wanted to take pictures and possibly go there but I was reluctant. Past the dark room, a narrow alley led to the outer compound of the temple where few bikes were parked. A lot of houses opened in the compound, few of which had been turned into work place of office bearers. We took our shoes off and entered the Hanuman Temple compound.
Hanuman temple is believed to be 1500 years old. Much older than Karachi itself, it reaffirms the Hindu belief that the place was dotted by many other temples and was important stopover for the pilgrims who embarked on Hinglaj yatra.
The floor was being washed when we entered the temple’s inner compound. Halls have been added to two sides of the temple but the original temple looked centuries old with its yellow stone. Hanuman and other deity statues adorned the temple and hallways.
More important than a worshipping place, the temple is a prime public space for Hindus of the area. The temple and the adjoining halls were crowded with people from the neighborhood. They offered us biryani. There were bhajjans being played on the cassette player. Pooja was taking place in one of the corners. People were encircling the priest who was reading some script and throwing saunf in the fire. At the end of the pooja other people also threw saunf into the fire.
We set there in the hall for a bit absorbing the scene and finishing the biryani. The temple is center of encroachment controversy just like all other old buildings in the old city area. The original compound is believed to be much larger than the current one.