Varun Dev Mandir in Manora Island Beach, Karachi, Pakistan is estimated to be 1000 years old, used as public toilet. Now repaired with USA ambassador funds for cultural preservation.
Few believe that around 16th century, a wealthy sailor, Bhojomal Nancy Bhattia bought Manora Island from the Khan of Kalat, who owned most of the land along the coastline at that time and then his family took over this temple.
Exact date and year of first construction is not known as much history and inscriptions of Hindu temples in Pakistan have been destroyed.
It is widely believed that the current structure was renovated in around 1917–18.
Inscription in devnagri script says : Om, Varun Dev Mandir.
Inscription in Sindhi on front gate says, dedication from sons in the sacred memory of Seth Harchand Mal Dayal Das of Bhriya.
Now, Bhriya is a town in Khairpur in Sindh Province, Pakistan.
At present, this temple belongs to the Pakistan Hindu Council. Evacuee Trust Property Board has done nothing to protect or preserve this ancient heritage.
The temple’s decayed appearance reflects a lack of care, and its walls and rooms serve as a toilet for visitors to Manoras sandy beach.
Humid winds are eating into the structure and the rich carvings on the walls of the mandir are slowly eroding.
In 2008, Temple caretaker Jivraj said that he had written to the Manora Cantonment Board (MCB) for the records of ownership, but was told no such document existed. An MCB official said that since the temple area was in the jurisdiction of the Pakistan Navy, the MCB could not do much.
The steps and front door letting one inside the temple courtyard is missing. In its place the person guarding the place has piled up some construction material. The temple shikhara has also tilted to one side. There used to be a well in the courtyard that’s caved in. The stone work has corroded, the stucco work destroyed. The plinths also are in bad condition. A new structure, not a part of the original one, is blocking the temple view from one side.
This temple was sealed in the 1992, after few people broke into it and destroyed the structure, following the Babri Masjid incident in Ayodhya, India.
The last Pooja ritual held at this place was in 1950s.
The temple, which also houses two smaller temples, the Jhoolay Laal and Shiv temples, has seen plenty of repairs since the 1970s but these have contributed more towards damaging the building than preserving it. Unskilled people had fixed tiles using concrete, which resulted in damaging the surface of the structure.
Varun Dev Mandir, rennovated with funding from USA Ambassador
After many years, Varun Dev Mandir’s repair work has started and money for restoring it is being provided by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.
Besides the temple, there are also two gurdwaras for the Sikh community and a church for Christians nearby.
Manora was a multicultural island, with much ethnicity. The gurdwaras and church are still standing and open for prayers but the temple has been unlucky in this regard.