Hazratbal Shrine

4.3 / 5 74 votes


Weather:

Time Required: 1-2 hrs

Timings:

9:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Entry Fee:

No entry fee
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Hazratbal Shrine, Srinagar Overview

Considered to be the holiest Muslim shrine in the Kashmir Valley, the Hazratbal Shrine is a Muslim shrine that is located on the banks of the spectacular Dal Lake. Situated in Hazratbal in Srinagar, India, the shrine takes its name from the Kashmiri language, where Hazrat means 'holy', and the word bal stands for 'place'. Hazratbal thus literally means the 'Majestic Place' and is particularly famous since it houses a relic known as the Moi-e-Muqqadas, which is believed by many Muslims of Kashmir to be a sacred hair of Prophet Muhammad's beard. The hair has been preserved safely in the shrine and is brought before the general public only on specific occasions.

The shrine is thus considered to be sacred amongst the Muslims and attracts thousands of tourists to it from all across the country. In fact, the shrine is a symbol of the love and respect that the Muslims have for their Prophet Muhammad.

The Hazratbal Shrine was initially constructed as a pleasure house by Sadiq Khan. Later on, the place became a house of prayers and ultimately came to be used as a shrine. 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.

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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.

According to popular legends, the relic was first brought into the country 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.

The Hazratbal Shrine is a unique and admirable blend of the Mughal and Kashmiri styles of planning and construction, which goes back to the 17th century. The Hazratbal Shrine is also remarked as being the only domed mosque that exists in Srinagar, unlike the other mosques that have distinct pagoda-like roofs. The strategic location of the shrine also offers a grand view of the Dal Lake, as well as of the mountain ranges beyond.

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 requester the robber to bring back the holy relic. The relic was finally restored on 4 January in 1964.

The weekly prayer at the Hazratbal Shrine takes place on every Friday and attracts Muslims in large numbers. Also, colourful and vibrant fairs are held at the shrine every year, the most famous of which is the Shab-e-Meraj Fair. On certain sacred and holy days, the Moi-e-Muqqadus is also put on public display inside a glass casket.

1. Bear in mind that women are allowed only till the first part of the mosque.
2. Avoid visiting the shrine on Fridays as it is particularly crowded on those days on account of the weekly prayer.

Located near the Dal Lake in Srinagar, the Hazratbal Shrine is pretty easy to spot. It is just 10 kilometres away from the city, and one can quickly reach there by auto, taxi or minibus.

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