Sat, Dec 10, 2016 | updated 10:30 AM IST

Muslim protects and preserves ancient West Bengal temple

Updated: Nov 04, 2016 08:06 IST

Midnapur (West Bengal) [India], Nov. 4 (ANI): A 64-year-old Muslim resident is setting an example of how different communities can co-exist and flourish in complete harmony.

Situated on the bank of the Kangsai River is Pathra village, known for its temples. Barely 10 to 15 kilometres from Midnapore town in West Bengal, this nondescript hamlet is a treasure trove for those who like to travel back in time. The effort of a local Muslim resident, Yeasin Pathan, to save these crumbling structures has managed to salvage a slice of Bengal's glorious past.

A resident of Hatihalka village, Yeasin Pathan has been leading a movement for more than four decades to preserve and restore Hindu temples in Pathra.

The retired peon has devoted his spare time to protect this cluster of around 30 terracotta temples dedicated to gods Shiva and Vishnu.

"India is a country where we all communities live together. When I came here for the first time to preserve these temples of Pathra, at that time, Adibasi Muslim brothers of Pathra and Hatihalka village supported my work. I told people to preserve these structures of national heritage for their sake and the sake of the next generation," said Pathan.

In 1994, Pathan's efforts were recognised and he was honoured with the 'Kabir Award' by the President of India for promoting communal harmony.

His perseverance brought the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to Pathra to join his cause to restore the old temples.

It was a dream come true for this lone crusader, as the ASI sanctioned Rs. four and a half crores in 2003 for the monuments.

"These are very old temples and we have been seeing them since our childhood as this is our birthplace. A sense of brotherhood prevails here. There is a lot of respect for Muslims as Yeasin Pathan is working to restore these Hindu temples despite being a Muslim. He has done commendable work. We live in harmony here and there is no sign of enmity," said S.K. Murtaja.

Pathan is truly an epitome of communal harmony and his efforts have led to restoring these 18th century temples from the precipice of decay. He dreams of Pathra flourishing with visitors interested in discovering its medieval wonders. (ANI)