Centuries-old Vaitaal Bhairav temple in the heart of old Srinagar city was thrown open yesterday after 27 years as a group of Kashmiri Pandits performed a 'puja' to mark the birthday of Lord Bhairav.

The temple, which was closed following the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley in 1990, in Jogi Lanker area of Rainawari reverberated with the chanting of hymns by the devotees.

Kashmiri Pandits had converged from many parts of the country and abroad at the temple to revive the tradition of celebrating the birthday of Lord Bhairav.

Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS), a body of non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley, had successfully campaigned in 2012 to free the temple land from encroachers.

Dharmarth Trust, the custodian of many temples in Kashmir, had allegedly leased out the Vaitaal Bhairav temple land to some property dealers which was initially resisted by local Muslims.

Later, the Kashmiri Pandits took over the fight to free the temple land and began its reconstruction with the help of local Muslims.

Before the eruption of militancy, the temple used to host a community kitchen for Sadhus visiting Shri Amarnath Shrine.