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Like many other provinces of India, Jammu & Kashmir is known for its monuments and shrines. Of many shrines, the iconic Hazratbal Shrine is the most talked about in the state.
Devotees from across the world throng this shrine to view the historic relic of a Prophet, who was born far away in Saudi Arabia and invited people towards Islam. Many Kashmir Muslims strongly believe that the sacred hair (Moi-e-Muqqadas) is of Muhammad (PBUH), the messenger of God.
Regarded as the Valley’s holiest shrine, it is situated majestically on the left bank of the Dal Lake, Srinagar and its name is derived from two languages: Arabic and Kashmiri. The word Hazrat has its root in Arabic, meaning holy or majestic. And Bal is a Kashmiri word that means place.
Moreover, people know the shrine by different names: Hazratbal, Assar-e-Sharief, Madinat-us-Sani, or simply Dargah Sharif.
There are many anecdotes regarding the arrival of the relic in the state. However, the most authentic and talked about one is that it was brought in India by Syed Abdullah, resident of Medina.
A descendant of Muhammad (PBUH), Abdullah travelled from his home city to Bijapur, near Hyderabad and settled there in 1635. He was carrying with him the relic.
After his death, the relic went into the possession of his son Syed Hamid. Later on the region was captured by the Mughal and Hamid lost his estates. The family went through hard times and it was then that Hamid realized that protecting the relic would not be an easy task and he sold it to Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai, a well-off Kashmiri trader.
But Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai was not able to carry the relic to Kashmir as Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb learnt about the deal. He immediately had the relic seized and ordered the arrest of the wealthy trader. Khwaja Nur-ud-Din was imprisoned in Lahore and the relic was dispatched to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer.
After some time Aurangzeb realized his mistake and decided to rectify it. He ordered that the relic be handed over to Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai to be taken to Kashmir. By that time it was too late as the Kashmiri trader had already passed away in the prison. That was not the end of the story. As the relic was destined to reach Kashmir it arrived in the state in 1700, along with the body of Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai.
The relic was inherited by Inayat Begum, daughter of Khwaja, who established the shrine. She got married in Kashmir into a well-known Banday family. And since then her family has been looking after the relic.
Made of marble structure, the Hazratbal Shrine is an architectural splendour. It is a mixture of Kashmiri architecture and Mughal ancient style.
Built with white marble, the Hazratbal Mosque stands away with other mosques in Srinagar. The most beautiful mosque has a three-tiered roof topping walls. Its porticos are built of brick masonry on a base of dressed stone.
Friday is a busy day as devotees from far away turn up to offer Friday prayer in the mosque. On normal days also the mosque attracts huge crowds.
How To Reach
The nearest Airport to the historic Hazratbal, located in Srinagar, is some 25 kilometers. The shrine is well connected with the nearest Rail Head at Jammu approximately 300 kilometers and from there the National Highway NH1A too is not far away. It connects the Kashmir valley with India. The shrine can be easily reached through buses to taxis that ply uninterrupted on the Highway.
On way to the shrine via the mountainous road that can be crossed in about 10 to 12 hours, tourists have the opportunity to have a glimpse of some scenic spots. The famed Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir Valley with India can also be seen. Transportation is not an issue in this city with vehicles of all kinds plying on the road from various points in the Srinagar city. The charges too are nominal. Also, the shrine can be reached through Dal Lake.
General Fact About The Hazratbal Shrine
Other Instructions: Like other shrines, visitors are suggested to remove their shoes at the entrance.
If you plan to visit the mosque make sure to be neat and clean.
Also, cover your knees as well your arms before stepping into the historic mosque, a religious place.