The Temple of Shiva or Shiva Mandir of Johi is about 200 years old. Situated in the southern part of Johi town, this temple is unique from architectural and cultural points of view. Johi is located at a distance of 17 km from Dadu city in the west on the edge of desert of Kachho. In the past, the temple was some distance away from the oldest part of present Johi town, but now the temple is surrounded by buildings; though even today it is one of the highest structures of the town.
The distinct and unusual construction of the temple makes it a unique and beautiful cultural heritage. It has two dome type structures: one is tall and erect (Qubi) and is about 70 feet high, while the other is small and round. It had four arched entrances but at present two entrances have been closed. Iron, cement and cheeroli (gypsum) have been used in the construction of the temple. Idols were placed on both the domes which were removed after the Partition. The remains of the broken idols can be seen on the outer walls of the dome type structure of the mandir. The scenes of elephant and pig fights are carved on the arches of the entrances of the temple. Different sculptures and floral designs are also beautifully carved on the outer walls or sides of the temple. On the central point of the erect dome, sculptures of some deities are carved on all four sides of the rectangular design. Below, on the smaller dome, sculptures of men and floral designs are carved. On the inner side of the walls, pictures of cows, bulls, Bholenath, snakes, men, women, pigeons and other religious symbols of Hinduism are painted. The paintings on the outer wall have mostly vanished now.
The temple is locally famous as “Qubi”. At present, it is the residence of a family belonging to Chandia clan. The house of the Hindu priest, close to the Mandir on the south, has now collapsed and shops have been constructed at that place. This house remained the residence of Civil Judge Johi for a long period. Near the house and the temple, a well and a sun-shed were built for caravans. The sun-shed was to provide shade to the travellers to rest and the well was the source of water for the travellers and their animals. Later, the sun-shed was demolished and now a shopping centre is being constructed at the site.
Some people are of the opinion that this temple belongs to Jainism. But the type of construction and broken idols of the deities and painted images of cows, bulls, etc., confirm it to be Shiva Mandir. History also proves that Shiva worshipers lived in the area that is present day Dadu District. According to local legends before the Partition, a fair used to be held at Johi and famous Sindhi singers, like Bhagat Kanwar Ram and Master Chandar, performed here. This temple resembles the Indian and Nepali Shiva temples and is a symbol of cultural heritage in this area. The leaking water from the drainage system that passes near the base of the temple has damaged it. This calls for an urgent need to save this cultural monument from further degradation.
Published in Daily Dawn Karachi, 12th August 2012