Hazratbal-the most revered Muslim shrine and an extraordinary spiritual monument of the Kashmir Valley will soon surpass Taj Mahal of Agra in its aesthetic ambience, with sprawling lawns on its sides and the shimmering waters of Dal lake reflecting the glory of the white marbled shrine.
The shrine houses a relic of Prophet Mohammad. Tens of thousands of devotees offer prayers on Fridays, and a multitude of humanity descends to view the relic-a hair of Prophet Mohmmad–displayed on 10 holy days of the Islamic calendar.
Unsightly structures around the shrine—which was built on the pattern of Madina—one of the two holiest Muslim shrines in the world, located in Saudi Arabia—by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah—would be removed and relocated elsewhere.
The lake waters would be cleaned to have a perfect ambience around the shrine.
Steps have been initiated to have expanded lawns right from the banks of Dal Lake to Naseem Bagh on one side and upto Kashmir University and Engineering College from the other side.
There would be new pathways and paved roads leading to the shrine. The lawns would be enriched with landscaping, rows of fountains and cascading waterfalls.
"My effort is to have the best possible ambience around the shrine. More than what it is around Taj Mahal," Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has undertaken this mission told Hindustan Times.
Azad is also chairman of the Waqf Board that manages the affairs of the shrines in Kashmir.
"The clean environs are a must for the spiritual shrine that Hazratbal is," says Bashir Ahmad Farooqi, Imam or priest of Hazratbal shrine. "This is a spiritual monument and much different from Taj Mahal. But there is a need to improve upon the surroundings and have an atmosphere that whiffs the air with spirituality and aesthetic fragrance."
The chief minister is aiming to have lawns which would accommodate at least 700,000 devotees at a time almost the double the present capacity.
He has instructed that the process for removal of structures on the north and south sides should be initiated and earth filling and surfacing of lawns started.
The cluster of structures on the two sides have hampered not only the view of "Dargah Hazratbal"—as the shrine is popularly called in Kashmir—but also caused hindrance when a large number of people assemble to offer their prayers.
Bashir Farooq said that this is a great thing to happen. "We are waiting for it to happen."