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Ashmuqam holds high place among devotees in Kashmir

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Tousif Raza

Ashmuqam is situated on the left bank of the river Lidder near about 20 kms from Anantnag in the north east of the historical town of Martand. This is a saint’s place, where we see the cave of baba Zain Ud Din Reshi (RA) on a plateau, which is near about 200 meters high from the main road which leads to famous tourist destination Pahalgam. Zain ul Din, born to a Hindu family in Rangan Kishtwar was named Zisingh. He migrated from his birthplace after the death of his father and settled at this spot, which is today named as Ashmuqam. Born in a Hindu orthodox brahmin family, he embraced Islam under the guidance of Baba Bam-udin who was the followers of Sheikh Noor Ud Din Noorani (RA). It was the time when Kashmir was governed by Shahmeri dynasty, it was about 1339 AD.To reach over the cave of the Saint one has to climb through a flight of steps, which has 279 steps. The stones cave according to the reports of Reshi Nama had been founded by a Hindu Saint named Yashesani. But when Zain Ud Din Reshi reached at the spot, the former left the cave for Reshi. The cave internally measures 100 ft long and at the north end is the grave of the Zain Ud Din Reshi. The gate way of the cave originally is made of wooden logs and spaces are filled by local ruble stone. Exterior of the structure is covered over by Khatamband type dado: it is an quadrangular structure but only its three sides are visiblewhile the back is supported by the steep of the mountain itself. Its height is almost 100 feet and is covered over by a low pyramidal roof built in three tiers with size dimensioning in each successive tier. The roof has a rising steeple of Arahmi order the final of which is covered by a similar object. The roof is supported by walls and slanting brackets. Brackets are beautifully carved in different flowers and graphic design and shaped in a uniform bird figure.The structure is all over decorated with fine types of latticework, mostly designed in fish bone patterns: there we find the rare type of latticework, which is not common in other structures of this age. Traditionally foundation of this structure is being ascribed to Zain ul Abideen period. The structure had been repaired several times. It’s entrance now looks formed of concrete columns while the old Khatamband type dado has been restored in new form. On the left of the cave is seen another old structure. It is double story mosque founded on a plinth of rubble stone. The square chamber is made of wooden balks, spaces are filled by the local rubble stones. The whole structure is covered over by low pyramidal roof built in double tier. Locally its foundation is attributed to Hazrat Sultan ul Aarifeen (RA), a Mughal period sufi saint of this land.On the back of the cave and this mosque stands tomb of the saint but it’s only two sides are visible while other two sides are supported by the steep of the mountain. Inside the chamber there are two horizontally seen lines of the graves which are 23 in number. According to local reports these are the graves of the followers of Zain Ud Din Reshi (RA). The ceiling as well as the roof of the chamber is of Khatamband type, it’s ceiling as well as roof is supported by the columns imposed over the Varranda of the structure. The whole super structure is covered over by a low pyramidal roof built in three tiers, with size dimensioning in each successive tier. The roof has a rising square steeple, the final of which is covered by an ornamental object. The whole site is being looked after by a local committee. A number of attendants are serving the tomb daily.

The Ziyarat is been visited by hundreds of devotees every day. This shrine is considered as one of the most visited and prominent shrines in Kashmir, This Shrine was constructed in the honour of Shiekh Zain-ud-din (RA), who was one among chief disciples of  Nund Reshi.

This place is considered sacred by many people hailing from different religions. Zain-ud-din (RA) spent most of his time preaching about the oneness of God, For this purpose he decided to always restrict himself to this cave. Aishmuqam shrine is thronged by thousands of devotees during the annual Urs and Zool festival…..

(The author hails from Tangmarg in north Kashmir)

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