There are many facades to Kashmir which cannot be overlooked while visiting this place for sure. And of the aspect is the mystical and spiritual vibe that surrounds the whole valley and binds different religions together. To experience such soul healing experience you should visit some centuries old shrines that adorn this heaven on earth.
1. Kheer Bhawani Temple:
This temple is situated on a spring which is also called “Kheer Bhawani” as many devotees offer kheer and milk. The Kheer Bhawani Temple is associated with Ragnya Devi and located in Tula-mula in Srinagar. Being an important Hindu shrine, it is visited by a number of Hindu pilgrims on Jesht Ashtami when the annual festival is held. It was built under by Raja Maharaja Pratap Singh in the year 1912, one of the historical monuments of Srinagar. The spring present here changes its colour to black at times of any approaching disaster. It is also said that lord Ram and Ravana used to worship Ragnya Devi goddess and offer her kheer and that’s why the name reminds of the same.
2. Jamia Masjid:
Situated in nowhatta, and considered one of the biggest mosques in Kashmir, this shrine is unique in every-way. This shrine has 370 pillars made of wood with really high ceiling. In the reign of Maharana Pratap Singh, the mosque was re-constructed and retrofitted and he enthusiastically encouraged it. This shrine reflects the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture which is a treat to the eyes.
A shrine set on the left bank of the Dal Lake which attracts a huge crowd. The shrine is considered one of the holiest Muslim shrine in Kashmir valley. In historical records goes that the shrine was actually built as a pleasure house by Sadiq Khan, Subedar of Shah Jahan. Later, the pleasure house was converted into a house of prayer with the orders of Shah Jahan. Nowadays, the place is a well-known shrine which is visited thousands of people every year. The Hazratbal Shrine takes its name from the Kashmiri language where the word ‘Hazrat’ stands for holy and ‘bal’ stands for a place. The shrine is considered extremely sacred among the Muslims
The Khanqah-e-Molla or Shah-e-Hamdan is one of the oldest Muslim shrines located on the banks of the river Jhelum in Srinagar city. An important religious destination in Srinagar, this shrine was originally built in 1395 and later reconstructed in 1732. Believed to contain “the secret of Allah” – the Khanqah-e-Molla is an excellent example of wood architecture that draws inspiration from Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic styles. Khanqah-e-Molla was originally constructed by Sultan Sikander (1389-1413 AD) in memory of Sufi saint Mir Syed Ali Hamdan, who stayed in Kashmir and was instrumental in the spread of Islam in Kashmir. It is believed that Syed Ali Hamadani not only uplifted Kashmiri nation morally and spiritually but also socially and economically.
5. Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara:
Situated on the southern gate of Hari Parbat Fort this is an important Gurudwara of the Sikh community. There are also a number of Sikh Gurudwaras in Jammu and Kashmir but devotees mostly visit Chatti Padshahi. In Srinagar, it is one of the famous Gurudwara which is not only one of the major tourist attractions of Srinagar but also an important place of worship for the Sikhs. Located in Rainawari in Srinagar this is an important site for the Sikh devotees who assemble here to offer their prayers. It is believed that the sixth Guru of Sikhs travelled throughout Kashmir and wherever he preached and guided his disciples and the sanctum has been built in remembrance of that era.
Charar-i-Sharief is considered one of the most sacrosanct Muslim shrines in Kashmir valley. It is situated approximately 28 km from Srinagar, en route to Yusmarg. The Shrine is approximately 600 years old and popularly known as the “Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali”. This wooden shrine was built to commemorate Sheikh Noor-Ud-Din Noorani, a Sufi saint. Devotees of all faiths throng the place throughout the year to pay homage to the saint.
7. Durga Nag Temple:
Located prominently in Rainawari, this temple is very old and is dedicated to Guru Shankaracharya. Temple complex at the foot of Shankarcharya Hill and has a quiet a soulful and peaceful atmosphere. This temple has a holy spring and it is called Durga nag. It is believed that Shri Guru Shankaracharya visited this temple and this was built in paying homage to his holiness. Though small in space but it has some really interesting historic and religious tales attached to its very being.
8. Makhdoom Sahib Shrine:
Located at the foothills of Hari Parbat, this shrine rests below a magnificent Mughal fort that’s spread out on the hill. This shrine’s beauty is truly enchanting and invites devotees on a large scale irrespective of their religion. Named after Hazrat Sultan, who belonged to Syed dynasty and hailed from Tujar-Shareef which lies in Kashmir. Hazrat Sultan is said to have had divine powers. Personal experiences of people tell us that those who visit the shrine never return empty-handed. Unbelievable recoveries have increased the faith of people and their number of visits to this place.This double storied mosque is an invigorating structure and it’s designed with many pillars, high connecting false ceiling, and conical roofs. The exteriors of this mosque are a striking example of Mughal architectural design.
9. Pathar Masjid:
This masjid has been magnificently built with an impressive structural design. It was built in 1623 by Empress Nur Jahan and unlike any other mosque, this one is built with grey limestone. Pathar Masjid has been built with a distinctive Mughal style. Grey limestone was used because it was found locally and the Empress thought it would reduce the transportation of marble from far away. The mosque has nine arches and unlike Mughal architecture, has a sloping roof instead.
10. Dastgir Sahib Shrine:
Dastgeer Sahib is a 200-year-old shrine situated in khaniyar. It was built in honor of Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jelani even though he never stayed there. It was constructed in 1806 and expanded in 1877 by Khwaja Sanaullah Shawl. It is the center of the activity hub of the Khaniyar and is surrounded by a large market. There is also an interesting architectural value of this holy place as it made entirely of wood and pieces of wood are joined with interlocks not with any nail. The interior is decorated with paper mache artwork with really intricate details.
11. Roza Bal Shrine:
In the narrow alleys of Khanyar area of Old City, where the shrine is only open on the 13th day of every month according to the lunar calendar. The Roza Bal or Rauza Bal or Rozabal is the name of a shrine located in the Khanyaar quarter in the Downtown area of Srinagar in Kashmir. The word rauza means tomb, the word bal mean place. Locals believe a sage is buried here, Yuzasaf or Yuz Asaf (or Youza Asouph), alongside another Muslim holy man, Mir Sayyid Naseeruddin.
12. Baba Reshi:
The mausoleum of Baba Payamuddin (Pam Din) is also known as Baba Reshi. Located in Baramullah district in Rambodh Village, the shrine is revered highly by Muslims and Hindus alike. Anointed by Baba Zainuddin Rishi (disciple of Saint Nooruddin), Baba Reshi moved to Rambodh and performed miracles, helped people and preached Islam. A Daan (fireplace) was constructed by the saint in the village, which is reckoned to fulfill the wishes of people.. This 500-year-old shrine was constructed with the architectural style of that time and it was dominated by Persian and Mughal influences. Inside the tomb are beautifully-crafted wooden artworks reminiscent of the bygone era. Surrounded by lush green lawns, this shrine attracts hordes of visitors both for its religious and historic significance.
13. Holy Family Catholic church:
The British-era church, built in 1896, and located in the famous market of Lal chowk . This church is really famous for its 105kg bell and is ringing in the spirit of harmony after the previous one went silent half a century ago due to a fire accident. Though there is only 0.28% Christian population present in Kashmir but they are equally welcome among all religions and enjoy religious harmony. The bell, the largest of its kind in the State, was a gift from a Kashmiri Christian family. This church has a really beautiful architecture which is inspired by Europe.
14. Shankarcharya Temple :
This Temple is also known as the Jyesteshwara temple or Pas-Pahar by Buddhists. It is on top of the Shankaracharya Hill (also called Hill of Solomon) on the Zabarwan hill range, Srinagar.The temple is at a height of 300m above the plain and overlooks the city of Srinagar which does provide a fantastic view. Devoted to Lord Shiva , it is believed to have been built by Raja Gopadatya in 371 BC. The great saint Shankaracharya has meditated here when he visited Kashmir in the early part of the ninth century with the primary aim of spreading the philosophy of Vedanta. This perhaps led to the renaming of the temple as Shankaracharya Temple. Shankaracharya was also instrumental in popularizing the worship of Lord Shiva in Jammu and Kashmir.
Article by Mehreen Khan