Shrines and monuments in Kashmir
Kashmir Valley is still referred by its old attribute ‘Peer Vaer’, meaning the land of sufi peers. The mystic aspect of the valley is highlighted by folklore, traditional songs, culture and more importantly by the presence of revered sites. These sites exist as religious holy places and monuments in Kashmir. These holy sites consist of places revered by Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. Known among them are given below.
Hazratbal Shrine: The shrine of Hazratbal is located on the bank of Dal Lake, some 10 kms from Srinagar’s centre. The shrine is located in the city and the mosque that houses a single hair of Prophet’s beard, is visited by thousands of Muslim devotees. The holy relic is displayed on Urs celebrations. Every Friday, hundreds of resident devotees attend the mosque for prayers.
Shankaracharya Temple: The temple, earlier called Gopadari, is located on a hill top in Zabarwan Range. The temple and a television tower nearby are visible from most parts of Srinagar city. It overlooks both the Dal Lake that lies on one side and the Jhelum River that lies on the other side. It is a revered site for Hindus and is thronged by devotees throughout the year. Shakaracharya Temple is a 20 minutes drive from city centre. The road leading to the temple is winding and on occasions of heavy snowfall vehicles are not allowed to go up.
Jama Masjid: One of thelargest mosques in Kashmir Valley, Jama Masjid is also an important religious centre for Muslims. It is located in Srinagar city’s Nowhatta locality, and takes a little over 30 minutes to reach the mosque. The mosque has had somewhat a twisted past. The foundation is believed to have been laid in early 14th century. During its history, a series of devastating fires have razed the original structures, which were rebuilt from time to time. The masjid is supported on wooden columns with four minars towering over.
Amarnath: This popular pilgrim centre of Hindus is located on a mountain, 141 kms from Srinagar, that is accessible by treks and air lift. Every year the religious pilgrimage called Amarnath Yatra starts during the months July-August and continues for over a month. Hindu pilgrims visit the Shiva cave to pay obeisance. They either travel on ponies or recently with the help of chopper services.
Chrari Sharief: The shrine of Chrari Sharief lies towards the west of Srinagar, in Budgam district. The shrine was built as a ziarat of Sheikh Nur-ud-din, the famous Muslim saint. The shrine is visited by people of all sects. After being damaged by the fire in one episode during conflict, it has been rebuilt and restored. It is located about 30 kms from the capital centre.
Khanqah of Shah Hamdan: The Khanqah built in wood is named after famous saint Shah Hamadan or Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani. It is situated on river Jhelum.
Some other important monuments and shrines in Kashmir are Martand temple, ruins at Avantipur, Parimahal and Khir Bhawani temple.