HOLY PLACES / SHRINES
SAINTS, ascetics and the sages have always been attracted to district Budgam that is home to many renowned shrines, including that of Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani (RA) at Chrar-e-Sharief. The secluded yet enchanting environs of the district have been favourite spots for these men of God to meditate and be one with Him. Indifferent to the world of materialism and away from the noise of the cities, various Sufis and saints have attained spiritual enlightenment in Budgam, which is swarming with tombs, shrines and other sacred places belonging to these great men. Some of these places with religious and historical significance include:
TOMB OF SHEIKH NOOR-UD-DIN
The Tomb of Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (RA), popularly known as Alamdar-e-Kashmir (flag-bearer of Kashmir), is situated 28 kms in the southwest of Srinagar at Chrar-e-Sharief. The land where the shrine is situated belonged to Sangram Dar, a disciple of Alamdar-e-Kashmir, who had constructed a mosque there. It was here where Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani (RA) would say his Friday prayers. According to a legend, following the death of Alamdar-e-Kashmir, his Coffin, after flying some distance, descended at the site where the shrine lies and where the great sufi saint has been laid to rest.
THE SHRINE OF KHAN SAHIB
Situated in the Khan Sahib block of district Budgam, the shrine is associated with a famous saint - Hazrat Salen Khan - who belonged to Pakhla village (now in Pakistan) and came here in the sixteenth century along with his father, Ismail Sahib. On the day of the birth of his son, it is believed, 99 saints visited the house of Ismail Sahab to see the new-born child. At age 5, his uncle, an influential man in the area, wanted to adopt Salen Khan but Ismail Sahib would not agree. When the former exerted pressure, Ismail Sahib took his son along and travelled on foot to Kashmir. On way, Syed Salen Khan met a famous saint - Bu Ali. Syed Salen's father took his son to Baba Naseeb-ud-Din Gazi, a well- known saint of Kashmir, where the two stayed for over a year. Later, the Baba granted Ismail Sahib permission to leave and Syed Salen Khan stayed back and took religious and spiritual guidance from the Baba for 13 years. Syed Salen Khan also meditated for almost a dozen years in a cave and also stayed for some time in the Srinagar city. Later, he chose a place in a jungle for prayers and meditation. The cave, where he meditated, still exists. During his stay in the cave, people began to visit Syed Salen Khan and soon he was widely known to be a saint of high order. The place came to be known as Khan Sahib after him. Hazrat Syed Saleh Khan passed away on Zeelqad 17, 1019 Hijri. He was a fine calligrapher and a copy of the Holy Quran calligraphed by him is available at Watal Kadal, Srinagar. In the month of Zeelqad, a week-long urs (festival) is held at the tomb of Syed Saleh Khan Sahib.
IMAMBARA, Budgam is a major religious place for the Shi'ate Muslims of the Valley.
The building of the Imambara was originally constructed in 1857, under the supervision of Aga Syed Mohammad,
on the place where famous Shi'ate religious leader Aga Syed Mehdi used to offer prayers. Inside
the building was designed by Asgar Ali of Mirgund, Budgam. In 1924, extensions where
carried out on the existing structure by Aga Syed Sahib and paper machie work was also under
taken. In 1955, another extension was carried out by the Anjuman-e-Shari Shian under Aga
Syed Yusuf Al- Mosavi Al-Safvi.
Sheikh Noor-ud-Din (RA) had widely travelled throughout Kashmir. The shrines connected with great sufi saint are found all over the Valley. The distant block of Khag also had the good fortune of receiving the saint and there would hardly be any place here not visited by him during his meditation. The village of Hamchapora also provided him a place to meditate. When Alamdar-e-Kashmir arrived at Khag, he selected a rock for his meditation which bore still bear imprints of his feet. The rock, known as Shah Kean (the king- stone). During his stay at Poshkar, Sheikh-ul-Aalam met a pious lady, Sham Ded, who under his guidance, attained spiritual heights. As the great sufi saint stayed at Hamchapora for long, the place became revered and people started flocking the village which steadily attained the status of a ziarat. The devotees visit the shrine in large numbers to pay their respects.
TOMB OF MIR SHAMAS-UD-DIN IRAQI
The shrine of widely revered Shiete theologist, Mir Shams-ud-Din Araqi is also situated in Chadoora Shamsuddin Iraqi first came to Kashmir towards the close of the15th century. He left Kashmir only to return back in 1502 along with the number of followers. His father was a Mosvi Syed and his mother too was from a Syed family of Qazvin in Iran.
Ayatullah Aga Syed Mehdi Al Mausvi Al Najfi
Prominent Aga family of Budgam is the descendent of Mir Syed Shamsuddin Iraqi (RA)
AYATOLLAH AGA SYED MEHDI (RA)
Ayatollah Aga Syed Mehdi, who after staying for 27 long years in Iraq, during which he was awarded the rank of jurisconsult (Mujtahid), returned to his native land in 1880 and started preaching and propagation of Islam. Aga Syed Mehdi was a great scholar and he has left behind number of books dealing on various subjects like Islamic history, jurisprudence etc. Aga Syed Mehdi breathed his last on 21 Ramazan, 1892A.D. and is buried in Budgam.
AGA SYED MOMAMMAD ALMOSAVI
Aga Syed Mehdi was succeeded by his son, Aga Syed Mohammed, who himself was an eminent scholar and theologian of his time. He laid the early foundation of Imam Bara Budgam. He too wrote many books and most popular among them is a book on jurisprudence (Minajus Salah wa Merajul Falah). This was one of the first books of its kind written in Kashmiri language during that period. The book is considered a magnum opus in Kashmiri literature. The book speaks volumes about the intellectual insight of Aga Syed Mohammed. Even today, one would hardy come across a home in the Valley, particularly in rural areas, where this book has not been treasured. Aga Syed Mohammad established an organization, Hamiyul Islam, which ran a chain of Madrasas in different villages and towns of Kashmir. Aga Syed Mohammed after spending his entire life spreading the teaching of Islam left for the eternal abode on March 07, 1931A.D. After Aga Syed Mohammed, his elder son Aga Syed Ahmed shouldered the responsibility and dedicated himself to carry forward the mission of his ancestors. Prominent among his contributions is that he rebuilt the tomb of Mir Shamsuddin Iraqi in 1352 Hijri and also got the Imam Bara of Hasanabad reconstructed in 1354Hijri. He died on 21 Zil'hajja, 1364Hijri24.
AYATOLLAH YOUSUF KASHMIRI (RA)
The life of Ayatollah Yousuf Kashmri perfectly attested the truth in Allama Iqbal's one of the most inspirational Urdu couplets. Aga sb., as he was popularly known, was a charismatic leader, a social reformer, a revolutionist, a visionary, an eminent educationist, a great scholar - all the rear qualities consolidated in one person. Aga Syed Yousuf is ranked one of the greatest scholars Shia community has ever had after the Late Ayatollah Aga Syed Mehdi. Ayatollah Yousuf Kashmri was born in Budgam in 1322 AH and completed his education in jurisprudence and Islamic law from Najaf in Iraq, and after the demise of his elder brother, Aga Syed Ahmed Al-mosavi, shouldered the responsibility of spreading the message of truth.
Aga sahab went beyond the conventional duty of his family vis-a-vis propagation of Islam, he not only brought a revolution in the field of education but a social renaissance among Shias. Aga sb. established an educational institution for Islamic learning, namely 'Madras-e Babul Ilem' (Gateway of Knowledge) in Budgam. The doors of the institute were thrown open for all those who wanted to acquire knowledge irrespective of the school of thought they belonged to. Aga sahab was well aware that it won't be convenient enough for the people living in far flung areas of Kashmir to come to Budgam therefore he started a number of branches of Babul Ilem in the remotest of villages in Kashmir and Ladakh. Madasa-e Babul Ilem is the alma-mater of many big names who dominate the literary field in Kashmir today. Some of the students of the first batch of Jamia Babul Ilem were:
Widening of Imambara Budgam:
Taking notice of the growing crowd and persistent demands, Aga Sahab undertook the large scale construction of Imam Bara Budgam, which till date is one of the best models of the Anglo-Iranian art in the entire subcontinent. People across the globe still flock to see the mesmerizing beauty and the architecture of the 20th century monument. He also got Imam Bara Hassanabad widened, which is a replica of the one in Budgam, although smaller in area.
It has been a norm among Shias of Kashmir that whenever there would be any dispute they would prefer to go to their religious heads (Moulvis or Agas) instead wasting time in going to the courts. Such courts are known as Sharie Adalat (Religious Court) where justice is delivered according to the Islamic doctrine. During the period of Aga sahab, Sharie Adalat became very popular. Aga Sahab was famous for his sense of justice. The landmark verdicts of Aga sahab became so popular that Sunnis, Shias, Pandits and Sikhs would come with their cases to Aga sahib. There have been number of occasions when the District Court too followed the suit and sent some extremely complex cases to the court of Aga Sahab. These instances speak volumes about the intellectual competence of the man whom every one trusted and revered, who was a people's leader in a true sense of the word.
Setting up of Anjumane Sharie Shian:
One of the biggest achievements of Aga Sahab was establishing an organization, namely Anjumane Sharie Shian, which during his lifetime, virtually ran parallel to the govt. The organization gave new identity to the Shias of Kashmir and became a platform for them to address their grievances.
Contributions and Achievements:
There is no escaping the fact that Budgam was accorded a status of a district only because of Aga sb. After his death, the district hospital of Budgam was named after him. Aga was a very close associate of Ayatollah Ruhullah Khomeini, the father of Islamic Revolution of Iran.
In accordance with the Quranic saying that "all that lives must taste death" passed to the everlasting world on August 31, 1982 and left thousands of well wishers sobbing and lamenting. People from all parts of the state and guests and representatives of different nations offered their last respect to the leader who was instrumental enough to bring a cultural and educational renaissance among Shias in Kashmir. The then Prime Minister of India Ms. Indira Gandhi also visited the bereaved family and offered her condolence.
TOMB OF SHAM DED
SHAM Ded, daughter of an ironsmith of Poshker village, was introduced to spirituality by Sheikh-ul-Alam, Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani (RA). Around the same time, Alamdar-e-Kashmir had another disciple - Baba Latif-ud-Din Qazi. It is said that Sham Ded informed Baba Latif-ud-Din about the departure to the heavenly abode of Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani (RA). It was evening (Sham) when the lady broke the news to the Baba, hence the name Sham Ded, who after her death, was laid to rest at Poshker village.
POSHKER village is also home to the tomb of Hazrat Baba Latif-ud-din Qazi, a worthy disciple of the Sheikh-ul-Alam (RA). He was a man of great qualities. The Baba, in search of employment, had to come to Kashmir from Kishtwar and when he arrived here, he began his quest for a spiritual guide. Some people believe that this search led him to Poshker where he had an audience with Sheikh-ul-Alam (RA). Known then as Ludo Raina, the Baba asked for the spiritual cure to his ailments. The spiritual power of the Sheikh influenced Raina and he became his disciple after which he was known as Hazrat Baba Latif-ud-Din. The company of Alamdar-e-Kashmir taught him to ameliorate the condition of the downtrodden besides striving for his own spiritual attainment. By orders Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani (RA), the Baba left Poshker and meditated for years together in a cave known as Baba Marg, situated far away from Poshker, where he later also passed away. The disciples of the Baba were anxious as to how their other colleagues in remote areas would reach this farflung cave to perform his last rites. Their anxiety, however, proved short-lived as the coffin carrying the body of the Baba, miraculously took off and flew to Poshker village where the saint was later buried. On the 7th of Phaguna every year, an urs is held on the tomb where relics, including a sword of the Baba are displayed.
THE SHRINE OF SYED MOHAMMAD SAMRI
SEVEN kms from Habir village, in Khag block, at Lassapora, is situated the shrine of Hazrat Syed Mohammad Samri. On the 12th of Phaguna the devotees throng the shrine to pay obeisance to the spiritual leader. The saint had arrived here from Shopian, in Pulwama, several hundred years ago and chose to meditate in the dense forests for years where, he later passed away. He is buried at Laspora.
THE SHRINE OF HAZRAT GANGA BABA RISHI
HAZRAT Ganga Baba Rishi is one of the prominent saints buried at Palapora Poshker where he spent his entire life in material poverty. But with his meditation and prayers, Baba Rishi attained enormous spiritual wealth. In and around Palapora, 3 kms from Khag, the Baba is believed to have constructed 360 mosques and an equal number of culverts. He had migrated from Maraz and lived in Palapora, where he breathed his last and was laid to rest. His tomb is thronged by a large number of devotees every year. The Baba, had a tremendous environmental temperament and was responsible for planting thousands of saplings during his life time. One tree is believed to have reached the girth of around 40 ft.
TOMB OF ZIA-UD-DIN BUKHARI
SOME three centuries back, it is believed, Hazrat Zia-ud-din Bukhari reached the Valley from Bukhara along with 360 Syeds. During his stay here, he came to Kanihama and preached Islam. The saint performed many miracles one of whom is related to a blind girl. It is said that he asked the girl to fetch some fire for his Kangri(an earthenware firepot). Since the girl was blind, she expressed her inability to do the required. Upon this, the saint touched her eyes with his hand and the girl's eyesight was restored. Hazrat Bukhari died at Kanihama where he was laid to rest. On 26th, in the Muslim month of Rajab, an Urs is held at the shrine where people in large gather to pay their respects.
TOMB OF SYED TAJ-UD-DIN AND SYED ALLA-UD-DIN
ACCORDING to a legend, when Syed Taj-ud-Din arrived in Khag, the Mala Kol silently followed him from Sukh Nag to Skinderpora. Syed Taj-ud-Din first arrived in Sukh Nag where he stayed for long, and later, crossing various villages, reached Skinderpora, where he spend the rest of his life. Following his death, the mantle of spiritual guidance of people fell on his son, Syed Alla-ud-Din, who was equally a pious soul. The tombs of both the father and son, are situated in Skinderpora and attract a large number of devotees.