Kashmir Diary: Tomb of the Mother of Akbar of Kashmir, Zain-Ul-Abidin

Tomb of the Mother of Zain-ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

Tomb of the Mother of Zain-ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

I faced so much of issues rather harassed during my Srinagar tour because I visited those places surrounded with so much of controversies. I didn’t face any such issues in this place, the way I harassed in Roza Bal or during the visit to Pathar Masjid and some other places in Kashmir. However, I went there twice. First time, I went there with a separate set of ideas about the place. My thought process and perspective about this place changed after the visit to the Temples of Awantipora. So, I went there one more time to clear some doubts. Soon after the second visit, I understood this place was also a controversial place. But fortunately, I didn’t face any resistance or harassed. Either locals had no idea about the controversy or I was fortunate enough.

I have visited a place called, Mazar-I-Salateen, a graveyard in Srinagar. The tomb of Empress Miran (Jonaraja’s Meradevi), the mother of Budshah Zain-Ul-Abidin is there, known to all as Budshah’s tomb, located in the fussy lanes of Shahr-e-Khaas near Old Zaina Kadal area of Srinagar. I have never seen such a magnificent tomb before and this monument looks more as a mosque instead of a tomb.

Mazar-I-Salateen Islamic Graveyard in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

Mazaar-I-Salateen
The mausoleum is a bulbous brick masonry structure decorated with blue tiles, built in 15th century (1465 AD) by Zain-Ul-Abidin. The structure is influenced by Persian architecture, which is quite similar to the architecture found in Central Asia. I am no one to comment about the architecture, still, I found it very unusual in South Asian architecture. The main tomb chamber is domed shaped and flanked by four auxiliary domed rooms. There are two entrances for the graveyard, one is little far from this grand tomb and is a normal iron gate. The other one is just next to the tomb and interestingly the architecture is quite similar to the tomb. The boundary wall is also made of stone, similar, I have witnessed in Awantipora temples.

Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

After my visit to Awantipora, couldn’t sleep that night and I spent the whole night with referring books and searching the net extensively. Next day early morning, I went to the cemetery for one more time. I noticed, (may be) the tomb was erected on the basement of an ancient Hindu temple. The layer of bricks and the basement made of stone has followed completely two different architectures. Even, the entrance attached to the tomb and the boundary wall were also a part (My interpretation, Not sure) of the ancient Hindu temple. Although, the temples architecture of Awantipora influenced by Gandhara School of art (The Gandhara School of art developed and patronized during the reign of Emperor Kanishka in the first century AD. This art was primarily Mahayana and influenced by Greco-Roman.) and same I have noticed on the basement of the tomb. The main gate of the tomb was closed during my visit. But on the second time, I peeped through the main door and saw an iron chain hangs in the central dome. What is the significance of the iron chain in an Islamic monument? Seriously, I have no idea. Similarities between the Awantipora temples and the basement of the tomb, boundary wall and the entrance of the cemetery, importantly the chain made me confused. Please don’t think that my intention is to provoke controversy.

Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Mazar-I-Salateen Islamic Graveyard in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Tomb of the Mother of Zain-Ul-Abidin in Mazar-I-Salateen, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

Here I would like to mention some historical facts. Zain-Ul-Abidin or Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin (1418–1419 and 1420–1470) ruled Kashmir for fifty years and before him Sultan Sikandar Bhutshikan (1389 -1413 AD) was the ruler. Zain-Ul-Abidin, the eighth Sultan of Kashmir, was known for his liberal religious policy, promoted learning, interests in art, architecture and he promoted Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic languages in Kashmir. He withdraws all the orders issued by Sultan Sikandar Bhutshikan. He appointed Hindus to high posts and also abolished Jizya. He was the first man who forbade cow slaughter in Kashmir. People of Kashmir still remember him as Akbar of Kashmir. But during the reign of Sultan Sikandar Bhutshikan, stone temples of Hindu in Kashmir suffered destruction, some were modified and some converted into mosques. On the other hand, wooden temples suffered natural decay or were converted into tombs or mosques. It is understandable, what was the situation of Hindus during his rule.

The tomb adjoins a small graveyard, containing royal graves, including Sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin’s grave, and his wives and children. The grave of famous the Tartar invader Mirza Haidar Dughlat, the cousin of Babar is there. Many important persons were buried in this cemetery. But unfortunately, I couldn’t locate those graves as all tombstones were written, either in Persian or in Arabic languages.

Mazar-I-Salateen Islamic Graveyard in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

I want to share something with you all. I read books or some articles on the same but suddenly I noticed that nobody mentioned the name of Zain-Ul-Abidin’s mother in their Articles/Books. I thought, I have skipped her name and go through one more time, but no, no nobody mentioned her name. Again I started searching for her name and was completely frustrated. I searched in Wikipedia and found a step ahead information. They referred this tomb as a tomb of Budshah Zain-Ul-Abidin and even they didn’t mention her name. I intimated the same to Wiki with proper references and they rectified it. Searching for over two months, finally, I learned the name from a book written by P. Pal. One more thing, during my visit to this place, I was also in search for a house called “Bamzai” or “Bamjai”, it is said that Rabindranath Tagore stayed in this house during his visit to Kashmir in 1915. I have tried so much to locate the house but couldn’t.

References

  1. “Jammu and Kashmir Guide” by M. Saraf
  2. “Arts of Kashmir” by P. Pal
  3. “Archeological Monuments” by A. Iqbal.
  4. “Temple Architecture of the Kashmir”
  5. “The Shrines and Temples in Kashmir” by K. L Butt
  6. “Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Ancient Kashmir”

 

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Greek Cemetery Kolkata

Greek Cemetery Kolkata -Calcutta India

Few days back we went to Greek Cemetery in Kolkata. Burial starts here since late 1800s and before that there was Amratollah st. Church(Calcutta,India), when it was abandoned, earlier gravestones have been brought here. It is still functioning and two year back one Greek lady has been buried here. We went there on the occasion of Good Friday this year and inside the cemetery, there is a small Church, so it was opened for the occasion.

Greek Cemetery Kolkata (Calcutta)
Greek Cemetery Kolkata (Calcutta)
Greek Cemetery Kolkata (Calcutta)

It is located near Phoolbagan, Kolkata area and surrounded by residential buildings. At first, It is very hard for someone to locate the cemetery and the present condition of the cemetery is very poor, one reason that I have noticed, due to ongoing expansion work of Kolkata Metro railway, it badly affected the surrounding area. The caretaker of the cemetery is Mr. Basanta Das and without his help it was really hard for us to explore the cemetery. I would like to Thanks Basanta Da for the hospitality he shown to us and after we left the cemetery he accompanied us till we reached the Jewish cemetery. We got to know from Basanta Da that renovation work of Greek Cemetery will start soon. This is indeed a good news.

Garave of Alexander Argeery or Hadjee Alexios Argyree -Greek Cemetery Kolkata (Calcutta)
Garave of Alexander Argeery
Greek Church - Greek Cemetery Kolkata (Calcutta)
Church

Greek or Hellenic Presence – Calcutta was the major commercial Capital not only for British East India Company , like other community it also allured Greeks . Two Greek tombstones, dated 1713 and 1728, it is preserved in the Catholic Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Rosary in Murgihatta, Kolkata (Calcutta) Commonly known as Portuguese Church, major prove of presence of Greeks in Calcutta in early 18th Century.
Although, the first eminent Grecian, who settled in Kolkata(Calcutta) was Alexander Argeery or Hadjee Alexios Argyree from Philippoupolis (According to some documents, Hadjee is a Turkish word and subsequently not to be found in Greek Lexicon) and he came to Bengal in the year of 1750. Greek merchants settled here in Bengal , mostly from Thracian cities of  Philippoupolis (Now Plovdiv in Bulgaria) and Adrianoupolis, during the Turko-Russian war, there was huge destruction of their properties and significant number of Greek families migrated here.
There are around 120 graves, named gravestone is 108 and remaining 12 gravestone is unnamed. Oldest grave is 1777 of Alexander Argeery, who died in Decca (Now Dhaka in Bangladesh) subsequently brought here and newest 1949 but according to Basanta Das, caretaker of the cemetery, the newest one is 2013, grave of a Greek Lady.

Location Of Greek Cemetery:- Near Phoolbagan Crossing, North Kolkata.

Address Of Greek Cemetery:- 105, Moulana Abul Kalam Azad Sarani, Kolkata.

Source – Ulysses in the Raj by P. B. Norris

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Maniktalla Christian Cemetery & Toru Dutt

Maniktalla Christian Cemetery!! Lost Cemetery

I was little astonished during my visit to Maniktalla Christian Cemetery, in every square inch of graveyard there is impression of negligence and surprisingly cemetery is still in use. People those who stays within approximate 2/3 minute walking distance they even not aware that there is a graveyard. A family stayed in the graveyard compound but as per their statement they are not officially related to the Maniktalla Christian Cemetery. Only one person is appointed officially to look after the graves, but it seems, no take care is taken place by the person. The whole area overgrown with shrubs, weeds, trees and almost all the graves are broken. As it seems to me tombs are vandalized and most of the walls are broken, it needs real attention to restore the graves and for beatification of the area so that visitors can visit the place and. It was really tough for me to go inside and search for graves.

Tried a lot to find out the year of establishment of the Maniktalla Christian Cemetery, could not find as nobody is aware of it.

 

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