Hazratbal Shrine, Srinagar Overview
The Hazratbal Shrine is situated in the beautiful valley of Kashmir. It is among the holiest shrines in the valley. Situated quaintly beside pristine waters on the left bank of the serene Dal Lake, the Hazratbal Shrine means ‘Majestic Place’. The name Hazratbal is derived from two words – ‘Hazrat’ and ‘Bal’. These are Kashmiri words. The word Hazrat means holy and the word Bal means place. The shrine has a relic that is called Moi-e-Muqqadas. A lot of Kashmiri Muslims believe that it is a hair of the Prophet Muhammad. The relic has been preserved well and is presented by the shrine to the common public to view only on particular occasions. It is for this reason that the Hazratbal Shrine is considered an immensely holy place for Muslims. Thousands of people from all parts of the country visit the shrine each year to pay their respects to the Prophet Muhammad.
Before it was a shrine, Sadiq Khan built it as a pleasure house. It was later turned into a shrine and place where people would come to offer their prayers. The shrine is made of white marble that gives it a beautiful look. People call it by different names. Some of them are Dargah Shari, Assar-e-Sharief and Madinat-us-Sani. When you visit the shrine, you will be able to clearly see the sight of the beautiful Himalayas in the backdrop. It is a unique experience to visit the Hazratbal Shrine. The atmosphere is so captivating that you would definitely want to visit it again.
More on Hazratbal Shrine
History of Hazratbal Shrine
The first mention of the Hazratbal Shrine dates back to the beginning of the seventeenth century. The then subedar of Mughal Emperor Shahjahan built a building in the year 1623 that people would marvel. It came to be called Ishrat Mahal, which means Pleasure House. Later, Shah Jahan visited the pleasure house in 1634. He gave orders to rebuild the pleasure house into a prayer house. Suitable modifications were made to convert it into a place for offering prayers.
When Aurangzeb was the ruler, Moi-e-Muqqadus, also known as the Holy Relic, came in Kashmir in 1699. It was placed in the shrine of Naqashbad Sahib. This was in the middle of the city. Naqashbad Sahib was widely popular then, and people would flock in large numbers to have a look at the relic. The shrine was, therefore, finally deemed inappropriate and shifted to Hazratbal. Back then, Hazratbal was called Sadiqabad.
The Hazratbal Shrine originally did not look exactly as it is today. The Muslim Auqaf Trust made the shrine of marble and the work started in 1968. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah headed the trust. It took a total of eleven years for the trust to finish the construction in the year 1979.
History of the Relic at Hazratbal Shrine
There is an interesting story related to the Hazratbal Shrine. Syed Abdullah came to India and started living near Hyderabad in 1635. He used to live in Medina earlier. When he came, he brought along the relic. It was believed that Abdullah was a descendant of the Prophet. When Abdullah died, his son Syed Hamid got the possession of the relic. All the properties of Syed Hamid were taken away from him when Mughals took control. With not enough money to take care of the relic, he sold it a rich Kashmiri businessman Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai.
Unfortunately, the Mughar Emperor Aurangzeb learned about this trade and he immediately sent gave the orders to take Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai in custody. The relic was taken from him and sent to Ajmer in the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. Later, Aurangzeb felt it was wrong to do so and he gave the orders that the relic should be returned to Kashmir and given back to Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai. However, it was too late by then. He had died by then in prison.
The relic and the dead body of Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai were returned in 1700. Since the original custodian of the relic had died, her daughter Inayat Begum got the possession of the relic. She builds the shrine.
Architecture of Hazratbal Shrine
The Hazratbal Shrine displays a marvelous combination of the Mughal and Kashmiri architecture and planning. It dates back to the seventeenth century. It is also the only domed mosque in Srinagar. The other mosques in Srinagar are influenced by Buddhist pagodas as well. The location of the Hazratbal Shrine is so immaculate that you can see the serene Dal Lake and the majestic mountains in the backdrop.
The Relic Got Missing from the Hazratbal Shrine
The holy relic was stolen just a few decades ago from the Hazratbal Shrine. The news made it to local and national newspapers and stunned many. It went missing from the shrine on December 26, 1963. This caused a furor among the masses. The then Prime Minister of India Jawahar Lal Nehru had to intervene. He appealed to the public to maintain peace and requested the thief to return the relic so there was no destruction. The relic was restored on January 4, 1964.
Activities at the Hazratbal Shrine
Every Friday, Muslims come to the famous Hazratbal Shrine in large numbers and offer weekly prayer. Several fairs are held at the shrine throughout the year, of which the Shab-e-Meraj Fair is the most popular. The Moi-e-Muqqadus is also displayed within a glass casket on certain auspicious days and visitors are allowed to see it.
Tips For Visiting Hazratbal Shrine
- Women are not allowed in the entire shrine. They are forbidden after the first part.
- Fridays are particularly crowded because a huge number of Muslims gather to offer prayers.
How to Reach Hazratbal Shrine
The location of the Hazratbal Shrine is very serene. It is near the beautiful Dal Lake. Since it is only 10 kms away from the city of Srinagar, there are autos, taxis, and minibusses available throughout the day.