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Jammu & Kashmir Pilgrimage

The state is a popular pilgrimage destination with major pilgrimage centers at Amarnath, Charar-e-sharif, Hazratbal mosque, Khanqah-e-moulah, Kheer Bhawani, the Shankaracharya temple and the Gompas in Ladakh.There are a number of places of worship in the Srinagar area, the most frequented and popular Hindu place of worship, is Mata Vaishno Devi, which is located at a height of 5, 300 feet above the sea level.

Shankaracharya Temple

It is located at 1100 ft. above surface level of the main city on the Shankaracharya hill. The Shiva temple, as Kalhana believes, was constructed by Raja Gopadatya in 371 B.C. and, as such, is the oldest shrine in Kashmir, though it is not certain if the temple exists in the same form as it had been built more than two thousands years ago. The first repair of the temple is believed to have been undertaken during the reign of Lalitaditya in the eighth century A.D. According to the historian Shrivara, Zain-ul-Abideen conducted

second repairs of the temple after it had been damaged in an earthquake. The third time repair was undertaken during the Governorship of Sheikh Mohi-ud-Din when the temple is believed to have been named as Shankaracharya. Dogra ruler, Maharaja Gulab Singh, constructed stone stairs upto the temple. In 1925, the temple was electrified. The temple, besides a prominent Hindu religious place, is of great archaeological importance. The temple commands a magnificient panoramic view of the Srinagar City.


Hazratbal Shrine

The most important muslim shrine of Kashmir, that commands the reverence of the people beyond measure,is undoubetedly the Hazratbal Shrine, which is situated on the left bank of the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar This unmatched reverence is anchored in the love and respect for the Prophet. Mohammad (peace be upon him), whose Moi-e-Muqqadus, (the sacred hair) is preserves here. The shrine is known by many names including Hazratbal, Assar-e-Sharief, Madinat-us-Sani, Dargah Sharief & Dargah.

The history of the shrine goes back to the early seventeenth century when the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan's Subedar, Sadiq Khan, laid out a garden here & constructed a palacial building, Ishrat Mahal or 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 & alterations. During the time of Aurangzeb, when MOI-e-Muqqadus arrived in Kashmir in 1699, it was first kept in the shrine of Naqashbad Sahib in the heart of the city. Since the place was found to be insufficient in view of the unprecedented rush of people who thronged the place to have a glimpse of the Moi-e-Muqqades, it was decided to shift the it to Hazratbal, then known as Sadiqabad. The construction of the present marble structure was started by the Muslim Auqaf Trust headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1968 and completed in 1979. The Moi-e-Muqqadas is displayed on Various occassions related with the life of Prophet & his four holy companions.

Hazratbal lies in Srinagar District and the nearest Airport is approx. 25 Kms away in Badgam Distt. This Airport is connected with major cities of India. The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu which is 300 Kms away and from there National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with India. Every sort of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxis ply on this Highway. It Takes around 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountaineous road which crosses some beautiful spots and the famous Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir Valley with India. Regular transport is available from various points in the Srinagar city with nominal charges. Route from Dal Lake can also be undertaken.


Charar-e-sharief

The pilgrimage destination of Charar-e-sharief has one of the most sacred Muslim shrines, which is popularly known as the Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali. This Muslim pilgrimage is dedicated to the memory of the Sufi saint Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani, who was the patron saint of the Muslims in Kashmir. During the Sheikh's lifetime, he witnessed a cultural and religious transformation of those around him, from Hinduism to Islam. A number of historical events prompted the Sheikh to produce some valuable works of philosophy, in verses and poetry.


Khangah-e-Moula

The shrine of Shah-e-Hamdan or Khanqah e Moulla is one of the oldest muslim shrines in Kashmir situ ated on the banks of river Jehlum in the old city. The shrine was originally constructed by Sultan Sikander (1389-1413 AD) in the memory of muslim preacher Mir Syed Ali Hamdani who had visited Kashmir and stayed there for meditation and preaching. In 1480 the shrine was gutted in a devastating fire and the then ruler Sultan Hassan Shah reconstructed the shrine on old edifice at a larger area. The shrine was later demolished and reconstruted in two storyed form in 1493 AD. In 1731 AD the shrine again was destroyed in fire and was reconstruted by Abul Barkat Khan.


Khir Bhawani Temple

Situated at Tullamula in the Srinagar district, it is an important Hindu Shrine. The temple is associated with the hindu godess, Ragnya Devi. An Annual festival is held here on Jesht Ashtami ( May-June) when Hindus visit the place in large numbers to offer prayers to seek the blessings of the diety. Devotees also throng on every Shukla Paksh Ashtami round the year & perform HAWANS to please the Mother. The Historic Temple of Kheer Bhiwani was built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1912 & later renovated by Maharaja Hari Singh.

Surrounded by steams, the place abounds in Chinar tree in-and-around the compound Complex within which is a hexagonal Spring wherein diety of Godess Ragyna is decorated in a small white Marble Temple. The legend goes that Lord Rama worshipped Mother Ragyna during his exile & desired Hanuman ji to shift the seat of Mother after the expiry of exile period, who bought it to Shadipora and was latter shifted to present to present site as per the wish of devine MotherRagnya conveyed in dream to one Pandit Rugnath Gadroo, it is believed.


Mata Vaishno Devi
The abode of the Goddess Vaishno Devi is in the Moutains of Trikuta Hills, in the Jammu and Kashmir State of Northern India. The Goddess resides in a beautiful cave in the form of 3 'Pindis' namely, “Maha Kali”, “Maha Laxmi” and “Maha Sarawati”. The Goddess Durga is said to have killed the demon Bhairon here. Vaishno Devi is 61-km north of Jammu and 14-km from Katra. The cave is at an elevation of 1,700m (5,100ft) and is 30m (93 ft) long and just 1.5m (5ft) high.
Amarnath
There is famous Rigvedic Verse that says "Ekam Sat " that is "There is one Being ,the sages call Him by many names." The God (Parmeshwar) has three deities who carry on the world .This is Known as Holy Trinity. Brahma- the creator, Vishnu - the perpetuator of life and Shiva (Mahesh ) -the purifier and perpetuator of good and destroyer of evil. Rig Veda refer Shiva as Rudra as in its following verse . "We Worship Tryambaka (Rudra) , Who spread Fragrance and Increases Nourishment , May He release me ,like the cucumber from its stem , From Mortal Life , But not From Immorality . "(Rig Veda Mandal VII Sukta 59 and Mantra 12)

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