A walk to Hazratbal Shrine by Umaira Hassan
Situated just 10 kilometres from heart of the city Lal chowk, Hazratbal marks its own identity. This is the most revered, pious and mystic place for the people across the Kashmir. The fine-looking white, elegant marbled religious place situated on the western shore of Dal lake makes it commendable.
Hazratbal’s special significance is derived from the fact that it houses a hair of PROPHET MUHAMMAD (P.B.U.H). This holy relic is displayed to the public on religious occasions especially on the shab’s (the holy nights).
The history of the shrine goes back to the early seventeenth century when the Mugal emperor Shahjahan’s personal guard, sadiq khan laid out a garden here and constructed a lavish building known as Ishrat Mahal or also known as Pleasure House in 1623. However, the emperor, during his visit in 1634, ordered the building to be converted into a prayer house with some additions and alterations.
During the time of Aurangzeb, when Moi-e-Muqqades, the holy relic arrived in Kashmir in 1699, it was first kept in Naqashband Sahab Shrine in the heart of city. Due to insufficient space in Naqashband Sahab it was shifted to Hazratbal.
Due to the significance of Hazratbal masjid, every Friday a special market sets up. In this market one can befall in nostalgia. There are lots of things which are stalled to sell, everything is of traditional value.
Earthen items made with artistic zeal exist from the time immortal. But the demand has receded with changing life style but in this Friday market it is still breathing and adds an unending charm to the market with their attractive colours.
You will find a good number of local barbers, which are endangered entity now. But once upon a time a barber was the source of all information. In past the high class people of Kashmir used to pay them a good amount of money. Every rich man was supposed to have a personal barber at their service, which used to give them all latest information.
But now there place have been taken by modern day salons and parlours. Only you can see are the elderly people paying a visit to them. And here in the Friday market Hazratbal these barbers set stalls and only aged people love to have this customary way of shaving. These barbers said that they don’t encourage their children to take up this occupation as for now only committed customers pay a visit to them.
All one can see is the hard hand of a kashmiri labour, the handmade items of daily use are skilfully made and stalled in the market. These items will lead you to the nostalgia and will seem to you as an old tale of your nostalgic Kashmir.
Women are seen equally participating and has set there stalls next to men. With equal participation both at home and in the field, she has excelled very well and here in this market they can be seen with proud and swayed confidence. These women can be glimpsed holding the willow baskets, aluminium or plastic tubs carrying fresh Jhelum fishes, some selling spicy street food and some selling dried vegetables.
These women are traditionally dressed, wearing “pheran” (cloak, a type winter dress) having tilla work (a special golden or silver threaded embroidery) and “kasaba” (skull cap having silver jewellery intact), rarely seen as such.This market has really a feel of Kashmir.
Kashmiri snacks are a treat to eat, made and sold at the same place. Whosoever visits Dargah, Hazratbal definitely pack it for home, they consider it as blessing. The aroma of these snacks drags you from distance.
The mouth watering pickles are impossible to ignore, made with variety of vegetables, the spicy allure makes your mouth water. It is almost impossible to leave from Hazratbal bare handed. Next time if you pay a visit to Kashmir doesn’t forget to visit Dargah, Hazratbal especially on Fridays.
About the author
After doing her Master in Mass Communication and Journalism from Kashmir University, Umaira for a while tried her hand as a broadcast reporter in a private media company. Being a true Kashmiri, she is close to nature and loves to take pictures. For her photography is the best way to showcase what eye sees – but in her case, a bit differently. Her friends calls her a ‘photo freak’. A little bit of reading, a bit of writing – something serious and sometimes poetry, she at times like to cook. Very much involved in the social media vertical.