Yemen’s interim capital, Aden, has historically served as an outstanding example for tolerance and coexistence among different faith communities. For centuries, the coastal city has been home for mosques, churches, synagogues and temples.
This vibrant history, however, was interrupted after the Iran-backed Houthi militias overran the city a few years ago.
In 2015, the Houthis attacked the city and destroyed the last standing Hindu temple there. Gunmen desecrated the place of worship and then handed it over to al-Qaeda terrorists for total destruction.
Today, ruins left behind from the Shri Hingraj temple are a disheartening reminder of the violence that has destroyed a diverse and tolerant society that once thrived in the metropolis.
Built sometime around 1865, Shri Hingraj was located in a picturesque mountainous location in a large cave in the Khusaf Valley, in the Crater area of Aden. At the time, the southern city was a British colony that was home to the largest Indian community in the country.
Despite British rule ending in 1967, Aden maintained its diversity until Houthis assaulted the city and drove out around 3,000 Hindus.
The militants audaciously attacked the temple, smashed its artifacts and revered statues, painted abhorrent slogans across its walls and told thugs that the worship place was a valid target.
Petty thieves then took apart and stole the temple’s ceiling fans, air conditioners, floor tiles and power cables.
Shri Hingraj was raided again on September 23, 2016 and on April 2, 2019.
Armed gunmen took over the location with rumors spreading about a Houthi-linked tycoon planning to build a commercial mall in the temple’s place.
Since then, no rites have been performed at the temple.
According to the Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ausaf Sayeed, the coastal city has 10 Hindu temples that were annexed by the country’s Endowments and Religious Affairs Ministry.