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Hazratbal Shrine, Srinagar Overview

The Hazratbal Shrine in Srinagar is the holiest Muslim shrine and mosque in Kashmir, located on the banks of the Dal Lake. The silvery-white mosque houses a relic known as Moi-e-Muqqadas which is believed to be a sacred hair of Prophet Muhammad's beard. The hair is brought before the general public only on specific occasions.

The shrine takes its name from the Kashmiri language, where Hazrat means 'holy', and the word bal stands for 'place'. Known by multiple names such as Assar-e-Sharief, Madinat-us-Sani and Dargah Shari, the Hazratbal Shrine is a beautiful structure made of white marble and is the only domed mosque in Srinagar. 

Women are allowed only till the first part of the Hazratbal Shrine. Situated on the banks of Dal Lake facing the Nishat Bagh, it affords a picturesque view of the lake and surrounding mountains. The weekly prayer at the Hazratbal Shrine takes place every Friday.

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History of Hazratbal Shrine

The history of the Hazratbal Shrine begins in the early seventeenth century, when Sadiq Khan, who served as Mughal Emperor Shahjahan's Subedar; constructed an impressive building known as the Ishrat Mahal or Pleasure House in 1623. However, when Shah Jahan visited the Pleasure House in 1634, he ordered the building to be converted into a prayer House. He suggested some additions and alterations for the same.

During Aurangzeb's reign, when Moi-e-Muqqadus or the Holy Relic finally arrived in Kashmir in 1699, the relic was placed in the shrine of Naqashbad Sahib, in the heart of the city. The place was consequently found out to be inappropriate to house the relic since people thronged the shrine in large numbers to have a look at it. It was then decided to shift the relic to Hazratbal, which was known as Sadiqabad at that time.

The marble structure of the Hazratbal Shrine that exists today was constructed by the Muslim Auqaf Trust, which was headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. The construction began in the year 1968, and the shrine was ready after eleven years in 1979.

The Relic at Hazratbal Shrine

The relic was first brought to India by Syed Abdullah when he left Medina and settled near Hyderabad in 1635. Abdullah was a purported descendant of the Prophet. Following Abdullah's death, his son, Syed Hamid, became the custodian of the relic. When the Mughals conquered the region, Syed Hamid was stripped of all his estates, and consequently being unable to look after the relic, Syed Hamid sold it to a Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai, a wealthy Kashmiri businessman.

When the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb came to know about what had happened, he seised the relic and sent it to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer, and the businessman was imprisoned in Delhi on the charge of being in possession of the relic. Aurangzeb, however, later on, realised his mistake and decided to restore the relic to its former owner and allowed it to be taken back to Kashmir.

Unfortunately, the realisation came too late as Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai had died while he was in prison. The relic, nevertheless, reached Kashmir in 1700 along with the dead body of Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai. Finally, Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai’s daughter, Inayat Begum, became the custodian of the relic and established the shrine.

Theft of the Holy Relic from Hazratbal Shrine

The Hazratbal Shrine flooded the local as well as national newspapers when the Holy Relic that is the hair of the Prophet was stolen from the shrine on 26 December in 1963. There was a massive uproar and mass agitation. The then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, appealed to the national public and requested the robber to bring back the holy relic. The relic was finally restored on 4 January in 1964.

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