Shri Varun Dev Mandir of Manora Island

Posted on May 21, 2007
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Architecture, Culture & Heritage, History, Religion, Society, Travel
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Owais Mughal

In the past we have shared with you some photos of Manora Island under the title views of Manora. Today we will go on an exclusive tour of Shri Varun Dev mandir located at the Manora beach.

(Photo to the right is the view of the mandir facing Arabian Sea.)

The mandir is unfortunately in a bad condition of disrepair and salty-rusty sea breeze is eating away into the structure fast. When I visited the mandir on Jan 7, 2007, it appeared deserted. There were unfortunate signs of human vandalism also where it looked like people took away with them any item salvagable. The structure still appeared grand and from left over tile work and decorations it showed its glorious past.

Date of Construction:

Mr Hari Motwani, who is General Secretary of Pakistan Hindu Council – 2009 provides a brief history and year of construction of this mandir in his comments below in following words:

(The Mandir was) built in 1917 (record available) and renovated in 1937-40 (tiles fixed). Lokram Dodeja, journalist from Shikarpur, have given reference in his book -1938 that he used to visit Monora Mandir every Sunday, (where) he got Saag & Dhodho as parsad, (and) the well inside the temple had sweet water.

(2) Here is a memorial tablet in Sindhi on one of the mandir gates.

Our avid reader Khair Soomro saheb helped me in translating this tablet. It reads:

“dedication from sons in the sacred memory of Seth Harchand Mal Dayal Das of Bhriya”

or in other words: “An offering from sons in the loving memory of their father Seth Harchand Mal Dayal Das of Bhriya”. (Bhriya is a town near Khairpur Sindh.)

(3) View of the mandir from West side

Note the details of the elaborate stone work done on the roof of this mandir. The tile work near the base is in obvious state of disrepair. I took this photo of January 7, 2007.

(4) This tablet tells us about the sponsors of colorful tile work in two languages.

Top script is Sindhi.

(5) The tile work of mandir floor

(6) Looking at the mandir from east

(7) The outer gate of the mandir

I asked my good friend Sridhar to translate the devnagri script for us and here was his reply:

“The top line has the character ‘Om’. It is just an auspicious syllable that is there in most prayers and is also present in most places of worship. The second line has the name of the temple (and presumably the chief deity worshipped there). It says ‘Shri Varun Dev Mandir’. The name also looks like ‘Shri Arun Dev Mandir’ (the ancient way of writing ‘A’ in Arun could well be imagined in that character, which is not that clear. But I think, on balance that it is Varun Dev and not Arun. According to Hindu mythology Varuna is the God of the oceans. There is no worship of Varuna that I have come across personally in India, though I would not be completely surprised at the existence of this temple in Karachi because of the enormous diversity in the Hinduism practiced in different parts of the subcontinent. Also, people who have livelihoods related to the ocean, for instance, fishermen, might worship Varuna. If this temple is on the beach in Karachi this could well be an explanation – it might have been built by fishermen who worshipped Varuna.”

I have a sincere hope that Government of Pakistan takes care of these places of worship. If nothing else then atleast the structure should be saved from the people who take away tiles and anything salvagable for petty profits. Many people visit the mandir as it is the largest and most prominent attraction at Manora beach. A little bit of official or non-official help will go a long way in preserving our heritage.

(8) View from the outer most gate of the mandir compound

I’ve recently read that in June 2007, The station Commander PNS Himalaya Manora cantt has handed over the control of this temple to Pakistan Hindu Council Karachi, which is now working on the restoration work. PHC’s website introduces the mandir in following words:

Varun God (Radha Krishna – Sita Ram) Temple At Manora Cantt
The temple is situated on seashore of Manora cantt. This temple is about 160 years old (1850s?reference needed about this time line) and designed perfectly as per Hindu Architecture. The temple is carved from a blackish marble. Apart of Varun Devta temple there is small temple of Shiv Shanker & statues of Hanuman & Sri Ganesh Mahraj are still in good condition. Sindhi Hindu Businessmen built this temple & renovated from time to time. After partition the temple was abandoned and illegally occupied by land grabbers, recently Pakistan Hindu Council Karachi took a bold step to renovate the same and how have brought back the sanctity of temple & have been cleaned of all the impurities & garbage inside the temple. The station Commander PNS Himalaya Manora cantt has very kindly handed over the control of this temple to Pakistan Hindu Council Karachi, from June, 2007.

The Council plans to spend about Ten million rupees for uplift and to bring this ancient temple to its original condition. Satsung will be held on every Saturday and Parsad and Bhandara would also be managed every week free of cost. Lot of devotes visit this picnic place and enjoy the waves of sea direcltly hitting the temple. There is beautiful scene early in the morning at sun rise. The atmosphere is marvelous and one feels great pleasure & peace of mind along with glimpses of the temple and Darshan of Lord Shri Ram and Lord Shri Krishna.

(9) Following is the tile work on mandir’s exterior wall

Reference: Pakistan Hindu Council

50 responses to “Shri Varun Dev Mandir of Manora Island”

  1. khairsoomro says:

    This is really a wonderful post. Owais has done a great job and did extensive labour to make the post meaningful and impressive. The beauty of the post is that he let his beautifully taken pictures talk themselves the grandeur and majesty of the ancient temple. To temple:
    I visited that temple just after destruction of Babri Mosque. In the ensuing frenzy many temples in Pakistan were destroyed or vandalized. This temple was also vandalized at that time but it seems that some restoration is done either by community or by the government.
    The temples combines structure of different periods. The dome seems to be of relatively older period probably more than a thousand years old. But tile is relatively of recent period. Tiles of interior structure seem not older than seventy years old. The tiles of exterior seem modern. Both types of tiles are commonly used in homes and other buildings in Sindh.

  2. Jamal says:


    I really appreciate that you take out time for such constructive writings. I am always fond of your intellectual abilities to bring things together and make them not only interesting but thoughtful and exiting. Please keep up the good work…….
    Wonderful article…

  3. Sridhar and Sajid–

    Thanks for the info.

    “The architectural style is the Nagara style – seen in temples all over North India. Ancient surviving examples of that style includes the complex of temples in Khajuraho, dating from the 10th century. Most medieval temples in north India also followed this architectural style (or sometimes the Orissa style).”


    Yes, I remember seeing mandirs like this in North India and I remember reading that they largely follow the Orissa style. Most of my exposure to mandirs on the subcontinent is relegated to Gujarat (where my parents are from), so I suppose the tiles made it seem very different from what I remember seeing.

    On another note, most of the mandirs constructed in the diaspora seem to generally follow the architectural styles of South India.


    One tiny quip: I don’t know if the objective to restore mandirs- or any religious centers for that matter, whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Jain, etc– should be to “attract tourism.” Surely, there are more important reasons as to why religious spaces should be preserved, nurtured and looked after- because they are a part of the heritage, history, and represent that sacred space where followers, the interested, and/or the spiritual can find solace. That they also demonstrate the fact that all these various elements are a part of the people of a given location is equally important.

    Or maybe by “tourism” you meant pilgrimages?

    –Ms. Desi Italiana

  4. Sajid says:


    Great post….
    When I was studying in DJ college, I remember to see a small temple somewhere in the vicinity of Akbar Road and Urdu bazar. Similarly there is a biG Hindu colony and a temple at Light house (where all those fancy chandelier shops are located). I wonder how many temples are still present in Karachi.

    Desi Italiana…. most of the hindus in Paksitan are Sindhis living in Mirpur Khas / Tharparkar area. There is also a significant Hindu population in the city of Shikarpur (near Sukkur).


  5. Neena says:

    Thanks Owais and Sridar for sharing this with us.

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