CAIRO - With a mosque and a Hindu temple are situated next to each others, a small village in Kashmir is standing as a centuries-old example of religious harmony in the Himalayan province.
During the times of conflict we protected Shiva temple not for publicity but we have the same reverence for the temple as we have for the Masjid, Muhammad Khalil, a 70-year-old resident of Trehgam village on frontier district Kupwara, told Greater Kashmir website on Sunday, December 2.Sharing a common yard, the grand mosque in the village stands next to a Hindu temple, reflecting religious harmony between Muslims and Hindus.
The Grand Masjid was constructed after the temple was built, local resident Abdul Aziz said.
And when the Sufi saint passed away, he was laid to rest beside the Masjid.
The village is popularly known as the mother of Kashmir's resistance movement.
It is the birthplace of Shaheed Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, who was hanged in 1984 in Delhi's Tihar Jail.
Although no Hindu families live currently in the village, Muslims continued to protect their place of worship, securing their visits to the temple for years.
Now sometimes Pandits come and offer Puja in the temple, Khalil said.
They feel like in their homes.
And they appreciate us for taking the temple in our own custody when there was no one around to protect it.
The 400-year-old temple nowadays is in the custody of the Indian army.
Kashmir is divided into two parts and ruled by India and Pakistan, which have fought two of their three wars since the 1947 independence over the region.
Pakistan and the UN back the right of the Kashmir people for self-determination, an option opposed by New Delhi.
Hindus praise Muslim efforts to protect their temple in the Kashmiri village.
If we offer Puja here it is solely because of the people of Trehgam who have protected it over the years, says a Hindu devotee Sukwinder.
We shall never forget their contribution in protecting the temple.
In front of the worship places lies a famous decades-old pond that is the main source of water for almost half a dozen nearby villages.
Sir Walter Lawrence in his famous book The Valley of Kashmir writes, The pond of Trehgam indicates the utmost beauty of Kashmir.
Villagers say the pond is a symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity.
It is sacred to both Hindus and Muslims, says a local resident.
Moreover, it is a lifeline for thousands of people here as they are get pure water supply from the pond.
Kashmiri farmer Abdul Jabbar agrees.
Its water is also used to irrigate thousands of Kanals of paddy land in times of severe water crisis, he said.
It is a blessing of Almighty Allah.
Yet, villagers complain that Trehgam has always been neglected by successive governments when it comes to its overall development, leaving its roads in shambles
We believe we are being neglected only because this village is the birthplace of Shaheed Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, a local resident said.We approached the district administration many times regarding the lack of basic facilities in this village but there was no improvement on ground.