Published on : Tuesday, March 2, 2021
After abrogation of Article 370, the Government of India is trying to revive the “lost glory” of newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, for which developmental package valued at thousand crores has been announced with the tourism package in progress. However, one of the ancient temples of Lord Shiva, famous as ‘Bilkeshwar’, located in the hills of Kathua district, is waiting for its identity on tourism map.
Supervised by the Department of Archaeological Survey of India, the temple is located in the heart of the Billawar town, just few kilometers from famous Sukrala Mata Temple. However, its poor maintenance has annoyed the local population, who are demanding to declare this ancient site as a ‘National Heritage’.
Tehsil Billawar, locally known as ‘Tapavabhoomi’, has a treasure of ancient sites and monuments with thousands of devotees visiting this temple of Lord Shiva annually, although not being popular and not getting its due identity on the tourism map.
“The renovation work of this ancient temple, which is being undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India, was never expedited and the people are unhappy the way it is being neglected,” said Shanker Dass Sharma, a local shopkeeper.
“We want the Government to declare this site as protected heritage at the earliest and it will give a boost to pilgrimage tourism and generate employment for the youth,” said Sharma. “The ancient Temple is struggling for its existence on the tourism map and it is really unfortunate that this place, despite having rich tourism potential, is facing neglect,” he regretted.
The history of the Bilkeshwar temple is associated with the Pandavas. A local priest said, “If the Archaeological Department is not capable of expediting renovation and preservation work of this ancient temple, hand it over to locals, we are ready to preserve it.”
The Deputy Commissioner Kathua, O P Bhagat said, “District administration can launch a campaign to make this place familiar to people in coming days so that it becomes much famous. We will surely take initiatives in highlighting this site.”