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Charar-e-Sharief: The spiritual abode

Charar-e-Sharief: The spiritual abode
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Tousif Raza
At the holy town of Charar-e-sharief, lies one of the most divine Muslim shrines of Jammu and Kashmir. Known as Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali, this is a sacred Muslim destination dedicated to Sufi Saint Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani (RA.
He was a benefactor saint of the Muslims in Kashmir. During his lifetime, the sheikh witnessed a religious and ethnic transmission around him from Hinduism to Islam. Thus, he produced a number of philosophy works in poetry, prose and verses after getting inspiration from historical events.
Charar-e-Sharief is a beautiful town in Badgam District. The tomb of Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani here is famously called Alamdar-e-Kashmir. This shrine is situated 28km to the south-western side of Srinagar and its land belonged to Sangram Dar. Dar was a follower of Alamdar-e-Kashmir who built a mosque here. This is also where Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani offered his Friday Namaz.
Char-Sharief is a sufi Muslim shrine and mosque situated in the town of Char e Sharif in Budgam district. It is one of the oldest and sacrosanct shrines of the Kashmir valley dedicated to a Kashmiri Sufi saint Nund Reshi.
On 11 May 1995, during a fierce encounter in the area, the shrine built of square shaped wooden structure caught fire and was heavily damaged. It has religious significance in the cultural heritage of Kashmir and is considered tone of the most sacred place of Kashmiris.
“Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani” and by the honorary title “Alamdar-e-Kashmir”, was a Kashmiri Sufi saint, mystic, poet and Islamic Preacher. Nund Reshi was among the founders of the Rishi order, a Sufi tradition of the region. He influenced many spiritual teachers and saints, including Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom(RA) , Resh Mir Saeb, and Shamas Faqir.
Noor-ud-Din was born in modern-day village Qaimoh in Kulgam district in 1377 AD to “Salar Sanz” and “Sadra”, also called “Sadra Moji” or ” Sadra Deddi”. His grandfather “Sheikh Salah-Ud-Din” hailed from Kishtwar.
The legend has it that he refused to be breast-fed by his mother after birth and it was Lalleshwari (Lal Ded) who breastfed him. Charari Sharief has an average elevation of 1,933 metres (6,345 feet) above mean sea lavel. As per the population census in a decade ago Charar i Sharief had a population of 15,000. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Charar i Sharief has an average literacy rate of 59%, lower than the national average of 59.5%; with male literacy of 58% and female literacy of 38%. 12% of the population is under 6 years of age.
As per one legend, after the sad demise of Alamdar-e-Kashmir, his coffin flew for some distance and got laid at the site exactly where the shrine lies and this is where the great Muslim patron has been laid to rest.
Charar-e-Sharief is regarded as one of the best sacrosanct shrines of Muslims in India. This shrine is approximately 600 years old. So I feel it an honor to have a look over the history and architecture of the shrine.
As we all know beauty does not lie in the physical existing things only but the actual beauty lies in metaphysical and spiritual things. The beauty which is invisible is always incredible as well as precious. Kashmir Valley is very rich in having spiritual asset, spiritual places of guidance and tombs of unity.
One such place to discuss in this episode is Char-Sharief. It is worthy, Holy as well as a beautiful destination to visit. Char-Sharief the holy and historical town of Kashmir in Budgam district caries in its lap many marvelous structures of sultanate period. One such structure of Muslim Kashmir is the tomb of Hazrat Sheikh Noor Ud Din Noorani (RA) constructed by Zain ul Abideen in 1460 AD.
The shrine plinth is raised in well finished stones. The chamber over the plinth measures 4 square ft. The windows of the chamber were filled with trilles, formed of fine latticework. These are now restored in large glass sheets. The ceiling of the chamber is of Khatamband type. The central chamber both internally and externally is painted in multicolored designs. It also carries the Persian and Kashmiri writings. Inside the chamber lies the grave of the Saint (RA) covered over by a cenotaph, formed of lovely latticework. There are also other eight graves around.
The roof was originally laid in earth and birch bark but later it was restored and is now laid in GI sheets. An ectagonal rising steeple surmounted over the top edge of the roof is of ahramic order. The edifice, unique in its grandeur and style had passed through long interesting historical carrier.
The other structures named after the Sheikh Noor Ud Din (RA) at Char e Sharif is the wooden Khanqah. The wooden Khanqah founded by Zain ul Abideen (1420-1470 AD) symbolises the wooden architecture of Kashmir. This lovely structure plinth is formed of bricks while as the rectangular double storey is completely raised in wooden balks of a particular measurement. The super structure consists of a central chamber measuring 60 multiplied by 80 ft. The Khanqah is covered over by a low pyramidal roof built in three tiers. The Khanqah has Roshan Dans which are filled with fine small wooden strips. In the south of the Khanqah lies a concrete water tank.
The architect of shrine at Char e Sharif has a long history. It has faced many ups and downs as mentioned above. It is a well known fact that the shrine is built by Zain ul Abideen. During his tenure he beautified it because it is believed that he was one of the great architects of that time.
But unfortunately the lovely structure was damaged several times either by fire or any other natural disaster. During Chak period the two structures were partially damaged. They were restored in 1586. The structures then had to face another disaster in the Mughal period, when a large conflagration reduced the structures to ashes. They were then again restored in 1724 AD by Mohammad Shah Gazi.
During the time of Afghan Governor Atta Mohammad Khan beautiful structures were reconstructed in 1808 AD. He had a great regard of Reshis in Kashmir. It is evident by the fact that he wrote Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom (RA) name instead of his own on the coins that were used as currency those days. Multiple times the shrine got damaged and was restored. Last time it was damaged in 1994. The shrine is still very rich spiritual place to visit………….. Let’s have a Journey……..
(The author hails from Tangmarg and can be reached at [email protected])

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