Muslim priest for a Hindu Shiva temple

Inside the sanctum sanctorum of the historic Maharani temple near Gulmarg, a diminutive-looking priest recites holy verses loudly. At first glance, he looks like any other Hindu priest, but in reality he is a devout Muslim.

Thirty-year old Ghulam Mohammad Sheikh is the caretaker and priest of the 91-year old temple, which houses a Shiv Lingam and idol of Goddess Parvati.

“When everyone left the valley, I was the only person who took care of this temple. Since then I am performing pujas regularly at this temple. And my antecedents have never been questioned. People respect me more when I tell them that I am Muslim,” said Sheikh.

Hindu devotees are grateful to him for setting a precedent of Hindu-Muslim unity.

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