A 1300- year old Hindu temple dedicated to Bhagwan Sri Vishnu was unearthed in the Swat district of Eastern Pakistan in an excavation carried out by Pakistani and Italian archaeologists. Italian archaeologist Dr Luka Maria Olivieri, who heads the Italian archaeological mission, has stated that this was the first temple of Ghandhara civilisation discovered in Swat. It is believed that the temple was constructed during the period of Hindu Shahis or Kabul Shahis who ruled eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan and North-Western India from 850 C.E to 1026 C.E.
Fazle Khaliq of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa archaeological department confirmed that the temple was dedicated to God Vishnu and constructed during Hindu Shahi regime. During the excavation, archaeologists found cantonment and watchtowers near the temple site. Also, they found a water tank which they believe was used by the Hindus to bath before entering the temple sanctum. Another ancient temple constructed in 7th-century C.E by the Turk Shahis was discovered from the same region by the archaeologists in 2019.
There have been deliberate attempts by the establishments of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to hide the nation’s Hindu heritage. Many of the ancient temples were destroyed and left to ruins. The government’s decision to give Hindus land in Islamabad to construct a Krishna temple had drawn ire from the Islamists. There are serious doubts whether the discovered temple complex at Swat is preserved by the state or Pakistan’s ‘Hinduphobic’ administration will erase this archaeological finding too.