Web Analytics

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hazratbal (Srinagar)


Very close to the Nishat Baug at Srinagar there is a very famous place known as Hazratbal. Once it was a village which now is a suburban locality of Srinagar. “Bal” literally means  a place and it is some times misconstrued as “Baal” meaning “hair”. Hazratbal if literally translated could mean a holy place. Interestingly it does have an association with the  “hair” of the Prophet Mohammed, the precursor of Islam. It is believed by the muslim community of Kashmir that a strand of hair from Prophets beard is preserved at a shrine thereat which is also referred to as Hazratbal. A gang of terrorists even occupied the shrine with an intent to take away the holy relic and in the shoot out that followed, the security forces succeeded in eliminating them. Even thereafter there had been few skirmishes. Now it seems that peace has finally dawned. There are hundreds of pigeons here and people say that the white ones, representing peace, are on an increase. Because the entire area is sensitive, security forces have been posted at the shrine.

The structure as it appeared in 1920
The holy relic gets exposed to public view five times a day for the whole week during during Eid-e-milad and Meraj-un-nabi celebrations. Thousands throng to this shrine during those occasions just to have a glimpse of the relic. It is said that during the beginning of the 17th century a high official of Shahjahan’s court got constructed a beautiful building (Isshrat Mahal) with gardens spread out. In those days the surrounding area was known as Sadiqabad. When Shahjahan visited the place in 1634 he ordered the building to be used as a prayer hall. Historians are of the view that the relic was brought to India from Medina by one Syed Abdulla a descendant of the Prophet, who settled down at Bijapur in Karnataka. After his death the relic came into the possession of his son Syed Hamid. But then the area came under the attack of Mughals who annexed it. During the turmoil, Syed Hamid lost all his properties and was not able to take care of the family relic. He, therefore, sold it to a rich Kashmiri merchant named Khwaja Nur-ud-din Eshai. When Aurangazeb (Mughal emperor) came to know about this, he got the holy relic confiscated and sent it to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer. Nur-ud-din Eshai was arrested for possessing the relic and jailed at Lahore (now in Pakistan). It seems that after some time Aurangazeb’s conscience deplored his own actions and then he decided to return the relic to it’s owner Nur-ud-din and set him free. However by that time Nur-ud-din, while in jail,  had already departed to his heavenly abode.

It was in 1699 that the remains of Nur-ud-din Eshai’s body as also the holy relic were brought to Kashmir. Inayat Begam, daughter of Nur-ud-din got the remains of her father’s body cremated and a shrine erected at Hazratbal. She also took the holy relic under her protection. The present structure made of marble was constructed by the Muslim Aukaf Trust administered by Sheikh Abdulla (a renowned politician of yester years). The construction started in 1968 and got completed in 1979. The shrine, apart from religious activities, was also a nerve centre of all political activities at Srinagar. Sheikh Abdulla used to address the public from this venue and became very popular. After his death, his son Dr. Farooq Abdulla desired to have  control over the affairs of the shrine but terrorists had a upper hand from 1990 onwards. The shrine proved to be a safe heaven for them.











We roamed about the residential areas adjoining the Shrine and then proceeded towards the left. The road was going down, not steep though. To our right there was one opening leading towards the left side of the Holy Shrine. Amidst a well laid our lawn, there were some ornamental trees.  The main dome of the shrine had scaffoldings and it appeared that some restoration/repairs were being undertaken. There was a group of Kashmiri women at the extreme end of the lawn singing and rejoicing. We asked a gentleman there, probably belonging to that group, about the happenings. We were told that a family from a nearby village had no issues and they had prayed at the Shrine earlier. As a result a baby was born and that the family has brought the child here and were expressing their gratitude. We sought their permission to take few photographs and they gladly agreed. After enjoying their traditional group song with the accompaniments, we proceeded towards the shrine. There were not many tourists. Most of the people there were local women who were entering a side hall to offer their prayers. We had a peep through a window. When we were proceeding towards the front side, we encountered few security personnel. We once again enquired if it would be proper for us to take photographs. We were advised not to do so inside the hall leading to the main Shrine (tomb). There was a covered porch outside through which we could enter the main hall, The hall was fully decorated and carpeted and looked like the hall of a church without the seating arrangement (benches). Thereafter we came out and we were on the main street after passing through an arched gate.



The visitors from different parts of country generally  pay a visit to the shrine. In the past, even the political delegations, including from the BJP, also made it a point in the past to pay obeisance at the shrine. Former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee, and Presidents Neelam Sanjiva Reddy and APJ Kalam had also visited the shrine. But now a days It seems that tourists are not very comfortable coming here as it is perceived that any thing could happen anytime.


Here is a small video:




22 comments:

  1. nice post... we missed hazratbal because we wanted to spend more time on the houseboat :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank for sharing the pics and a good video..



    Bikram's

    ReplyDelete
  3. I loved the group of Kashmiri women, it is always so nice to observe the locals and have a glimpse into the culture through them. Beautiful post with wonderful images of an equally beautiful place... looks very peaceful. Many thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wonderfully informative with beautiful images.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very well covered post, glad to read and absorb the information. Your pics are true to your words as well.

    ReplyDelete
  6. A fascinating post and great pictures. It's amazing to me how people fight over religion. They can't all be right, so how does one choose? Or does one need to choose? As John Lennon sang, "Imagine...no religion..." :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Interesting post!Good to see scaffolding,it usually means that necessary repairs are being carried out. Thanks for the tip,I actually didn't know word verification was on.I agree,it serves no purpose.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The song was nice... I didn't know much about this shrine or its history. Good to read about it here...

    Destination Infinity

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a great place to visit! thanks for these pictures and the story about this great site.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Nice post with beautiful photos. It is a beautiful place.

    Thank you for the visit.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks a lot PN to keep on stirring the memories of these places I visited long back:)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for detailed information on this important historical monument. Now it looks very modernized with recent constructions. Enjoyed the lovely photo of the Kashmiri family gathered on the lawns colorfully attired and seated on a bright chaddar. This is a great post.

    Regards Ram

    ps.Could not find the video though !

    ReplyDelete
  13. After I sent the comment I found that the video had suddenly appeared. The ladies are having a great time clapping & singing and passing the baby around !

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for a interesting post about Hazratbal. The pictures make it doubly interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  15. So well researched. that's the beauty of reading your articles

    ReplyDelete
  16. just love it. what a nice post,.. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. waww,, what a nice post. just luv it :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. hi..thanks for sharing..this week end i am planning a trip to br hills resort and also near by place k gudi resort...

    ReplyDelete