Asamai Temple in Kabul , Afghanistan

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The Asamai temple located in central Kabul at the foothill of a Mountain referred to as Koh-i-Asamai (Asamai Mountain). The hill is named Asamai after Asha, it is believed that the Goddess of hope is present on the hilltop. Legend goes that the Akhand Jyoti or continuous fire there has been burning uninterrupted for over 4,000 years. The Temple and the Diya have survived many conflicts and wars for several decades, this is evidence itself that the Goddess of Hope is present at this auspicious location.

 

Hundreds of Afghanistan’s Hindus and Sikhs as well as Indians employed in reconstruction projects pay their obeisance there every day. Amazingly, both the temple and the jyoti have survived numerous bloody wars for supremacy over Kabul and are haunting reminders of a time when the entire population of Afghanistan followed Hinduism.

Afghanistan was then called Ariana – a name derived from the Aryans who came and settled here from Central Asia before moving on to India. Interestingly, it is believed that early hymns of the oldest Hindu scripture, the Rig Veda, were composed in the Herat area of Afghanistan. Herat derives its name from Hari Rud (river of Hari) that separates Afghanistan from Turkmenistan and Iran.

The Asamai temple complex also houses a centuries old Panjshir Ka Jogi stone, named after a Hindu ascetic who, according to legend, was then meditating in the picturesque Panjshir valley.  Irked by the harassment of hostile locals, the good man magically turned himself into a stone one night. Taken aback, the terrified populace approached the Hindus and Sikhs of Kabul who installed the stone in the Asamai temple where it is now worshipped as a sacred wish stone.

Two large halls with a capacity of about 1,000 persons form part of the Asamai complex, commonly used for religious congregations on festivals like Navratra and Diwali.

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