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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Kashmir Diary: Story of A Desecrate Mosque – Pathar Masjid

Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

Pathar Masjid in Srinagar - Jammu & Kashmir, India

After so much of drama at Roza Bal, I was tensed but not scared. Also, I got an overall idea about the place and thereafter planned my trip accordingly. That day I reached the bank of Jhelum and standing on a small bridge on the River. On my left was Khanqah Shahi Hamadan and on the right was Pathar Masjid. I deeply felt as if I am Robert Kincaid but It was an another mistake. Robert went there in a beautiful place called Madison and I was standing in a beautiful but controversial place called Srinagar. A beautiful lady didn’t come out but a group of locals gathered behind me. Before I could understand anything they snatched my camera. My dream to be like Robert was shattered and I came into the reality. This was for the second time I got into trouble. Although, It was a separate episode.

Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Somehow I managed the situation and reached Pathar Masjid. But I couldn’t find the entrance of the mosque. The outer wall of the mosque was surrounded by shops and was closed during that time. The entire locality was also completely empty. I started loosing my confidence and felt lonely. The Old Zaina Kadal police station was just opposite side of the mosque and I went there to know the location of the entrance of the mosque. Basically, I was in search for some mental support. I found an Indian Military outpost in front of the police station. A tall and handsome Military came out from the bunker. We exchanged smiles and after that, I started gaining confidence. I asked him about the entrance and also the reason for the curfew-like situation. Then I learned from him that the situation of the valley is not well and he suggested me not to roam in the remote areas.

The mosque was not very impressive from the outside. But I was eager to see the mosque as because It was built by Mughal Empress Nur Jahan. Few months before the trip, I don’t know what happened to me I was so obsessed about Nur Jahan. By the way, this was not the only reason for the visit.

Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Pathar Masjid – This mosque is locally known as Naev Masjid and built by Mughal Empress Nur Jahan the wife of Emperor Jahangir, in 1623 AD, constructed under the supervision of Mughal historian and architect Malik Hyder Chaudhary. Generally, mosques in the valley were built with wood while this mosque built with stone, as most of the Mughal edifices were built with Marble. Pathar masjid was built with locally available grey limestone and the style is practically the same as edifices found in Delhi and Agra. The grey limestone was generally used in Kashmir for face work and this stone is an excellent material for carving and for moldings. Also, high grade of polish is possible on this stone and same testified in the pavilion of Shalimar Bagh. The facade of Pathar Masjid, “The Stone Mosque” consists of nine arches including a large arched portico in the middle. The arched openings are enclosed in shallow decorative, cusped arches and horizontal construction of these arches is outstanding. If this mosque compared with the other Mughal architectures in India, certainly it is not as grand like other but it is really unique in Kashmir. The plinth of the mosque is very impressive, as lotus leaf coping on it and looks excellent. Also, this mosque does not have the traditional pyramidal roof that visually separates this mosque from other mosques in the valley.

Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India Pathar Masjid in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The mosque is unique in many sense, especially for the atmosphere. Although, why this beautiful mosque never used as a place of prayer, there is a very interesting story. Once a Mullah questioned to Empress Nur Jahan regarding the costs of its construction and instead of a proper answer, she pointed to her bejeweled shoe and replied: “As much as that”. The mockery was reported to Mullahs and this remark reached to all highly respected religious leaders of Kashmir. They unanimously decreed by the sacrilegious pointing this mosque was unfit for any religious use. Henceforth, the mosque has never been used. It is a fact, comparison a religious place with a shoe was really unacceptable. I am really astonished, how a woman of seventeen century from Islamic clan passed such comment publicly.

There are other interesting stories behind this Masjid. (It is said), this was actually a site of an ancient Buddha Vihara. During the rule of Fateh Khan (1510-1517), a Sunni mosque was erected on (demolishing) the place of Buddha Vihara. It is said Shia Empress of India Nur Jahan rebuilt it as a Shia mosque. In around 1819, Akali Baba Phula Singh defeated Jabbar Khan and Ranjit Singh captured Kashmir. Phula Singh was the military general of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. During this time Pathar Masjid was taken over by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and used as a storehouse. The military of Maharaja installed a cannon on the roof of Pathar Masjid to blown up Khanaq Shahi Hamadan which is situated across the Jhilam. Pandit Birbal Dhar intervened into the matter and saved the shrine.

Entry – Free
Location – Zaina Kadal

How to reach
Mosque is situated 9Km away from Srinagar. There are several ways to reach the place.

By Road
Pathar Masjid is very well connected to Srinagar main town. You will get Rental Car/Bus from Srinagar. If you opt for rental car, in that case, you have to hire the car for a day trip and will cost you 1500 – 2000 (NonAC) approx. Bus will cost you only Rs 10 for one side or opt for shared car which is available from Dal Gate, cost you Rs 30.

By Air

The nearest airport is Srinagar International airport known as Sheikh Ul Alam International Airport. It is located at Aerodrome Road, Srinagar, approx 12Km from the city, Srinagar.

By Train
Nearest railway station is Srinagar.

 

Reference

  1. “Archeological Monuments” by A. Iqbal.
  2. “Jammu and Kashmir Guide” by M. Saraf
  3. “The Shrines and Temples in Kashmir” by K. L Butt

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Kashmir Diary: Ruins of Ancient Temples of Awantipora

Awantiswami Temple in Awantipura, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Awantiswami Temple in Awantipura, Jammu and Kashmir, India

June this year, I went to Kashmir and this was my second visit. The first time, I went there along with my wife and this time I traveled solo. The experience I gathered altogether from both the trips is wondrous. But whenever I have been there, never felt like that I am touring in India. Maybe the reasons are situations of Kashmir over the few decades, ambience, people, culture and some other reasons can be there. Probably, I could not connect myself with the place, this can be another reason. However, the local people were so nice to me but sometimes the behavior of the Indian Army was disheartening. I discussed the same with my friends. According to them, I preoccupied with the thought that Hindus are a minority over there that can be the reason. Seriously, I could not come to any conclusion. It’s a fact, it is very difficult to travel solo like me in the entire region and as I have faced so many issues.

I went to Awantipora twice and for the first time, I felt connected with the place. On the first look, I was mesmerized watching those marvelous architectures. Still I regret, the situation was not in my favor during both the time of my visit. On my first visit, I went there with my tiny camera and that’s why I could not capture the place as I wished to. Second time, the situation of the place was under threat. The entire place was cordoned by the Army and they suggested me not to go in the surrounding area of the temples.

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Avantiswamin Temple
– This temple was built by King Avanti Varman before he ascended to the throne of Kashmir. The temple is small but more ornate and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple was destroyed by the earthquake and reclaimed after removal of debris. This temple was neglected more than thousand years…………………………

Sculpture in Avantiswamin Temple in Awantipora, Jammu and Kashmir, India Avantiswamin Temple in Awantipora, Jammu and Kashmir, India Sculpture in Avantiswamin Temple in Awantipora, Jammu and Kashmir, India

 

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Kashmir Diary:History of Holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad, Moi-E-Muqqadas

Hazrat Bal (Muhammad, Moi-E-Muqqadas )Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Hazrat Bal (Muhammad, Moi-E-Muqqadas )Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India

There are many hidden truths with the history of “Moi-E-Muqqadas”. There are mysteries, fantasies, and betrayal, still engrossed with. “Moi-E-Muqqadas” or Beard hair of Holy Prophet Mohammad is also associated with faith and to some extent linked to mysteries. Although, people believe that the holy relic keeps in Hazrat Bal Mosque in Srinagar. How Beard hair of Holy Prophet Mohammad came to India far away from Medina? How it traveled to in Bijapur, near Hyderabad to Kashmir? There is an abundant history behind this. What was there in the place before Hazrat Bal was erected? Where it stands now…………………………

Ziyarat Naqshband Sahab – Ziyarat Naqshband Sahab, also known as Hazrat Khawaja Naqshbandh Sahib or Khanquahi Naqashbandia or Khanqah of Khwaja Moinuddin Naqshbandi is a Muslim Shrine (Ziyarat). It is situated in the center of Srinagar and very significant religious place for the Muslims because the “Moi-E-Muqqadas” was kept…………………………….

Hazrat Bal Mosque – Sadiq Khan was Subedar during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. He built a pleasure house called Ishrat Mahal along with a huge garden in the year of 1623 in Kashmir. Emperor Shah Jahan visited Ishrat Mahal in 1634 and he ordered Sadiq Khan to convert the place into…………………………………………..

 

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