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Nikita Rudra May 16 2014

What is the history of Khanqah of Shah-e-Hamdan in Srinagar?

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The most beautiful and photogenic of Srinagar’s old buildings, the Khanqah (a holy place associated with a Sufi saint as well as a place for gathering, praying
and studying Islam) perches on the right bank of the Jhelum. The much venerated Mir Sayyad Ali Hamdani was a 14th-century sage who left his native Iran to avoid Timur’s oppressive reign and visited Kashmir thrice. He was such an energetic proselytizer that many credit him with the spread of Islam in Kashmir — it is said that he converted 37,000 locals in a few days. Many miracles are attributed to him as well. This spot commemorates his first visit to Srinagar in 1372.



Photo of Khanqah of Shah-e-Hamdan (by Shaurya)

The building you see is a wonderful melange of wood carving, colourful green-and yellow painting on the walls and a dominant spire on top. Note the stone plinth on which the structurestands — it belongs to a temple that stood here whose priest became Shah Hamdani’s first disciple. Non-Muslims (and women) cannot enter the main hall but can walk up to the door and look in from a window at the ornate
painted interiors. Since women aren’t allowed inside, they go to the back and pray facing the gorgeous back walls of the building, where the river meandering past, the rich sunset, and the typically Kashmiri wall painting can add up to a sublime
experience. This khanqah was built by Shah Hamdani’s son Mir Muhammad Hamdani, and the sale deed between him and the sultan, written on deer hide, is kept here, as is Shah Hamdani’s walking stick.

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