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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Fire damages 14th century shrine in Srinagar

Khanqah-e-Moula, a shrine in honour of an 11th century Sufi saint has been damaged several times in fires.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2017 20:25 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
A man reacts after a fire damaged a portion of the shrine of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, a Sufi saint, in Srinagar early Wednesday.
A man reacts after a fire damaged a portion of the shrine of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, a Sufi saint, in Srinagar early Wednesday.(REUTERS)

Fire damaged the shrine of Mir Syed Ali Hamadani, a 14 century Sufi saint who spread Islam in Kashmir, sending shock waves across the valley on Wednesday.

Residents say that the spire of Khanqah-e-Moula, situated on eastern bank of the Jhelum river in Srinagar’s old city area was hit by lightning around 1 a.m. which sparked the fire in the top portion of the shrine. The two-storey structure, with gentle sloping pyramidal roofs, is completely wooden with intricate carved designs and papier-mache work on its inner walls.

“We were sleeping when a sudden lightning and thunder woke us up. Suddenly we saw our courtyards were illuminated. When we looked out, the shrine was on fire,” said an elderly man who lives close to the shrine.

There has been no official comment on the cause of the fire.

Locals and firefighters immediately rushed to the shrine and managed to contain the fire at the top floor only.

Khanqah-e-Moula, one of the oldest Muslim shrines, was first built by Shah Sikandar in 1395 AD in memory of saint Mir Syed Ali Hamadani, an Iranian, who visited Kashmir between 1372 and 1383 AD through the historic silk route. The saint, also known as Amir-i-Kabir is not buried in the shrine.

It is said that the saint brought hundreds of missionaries with him to spread Islam and teach people handicrafts for which Kashmir has become famous world over.

As the images of the shrine in flames went viral on social media, they left Kashmiris shocked. Among them was London-based Kashmiri author and journalist, Mirza Waheed who took to Facebook to write about his anguish.

The shrine was an integral part of his last book - The Book of Gold Leaves.

As day broke, wailing women and men flooded the shrine complex kissing the wet wooden walls and washing the rock floor.

“You know the secrets of ours which even our children don’t know. How could we live without you?” sobbed an elderly woman in one corner of the shrine.

Since its first construction, fire has damaged the shrine a number of times. The current structure is said to be built in 1732.

Separatists Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Javaid Mir visited the shrine in the morning while chief minister Mehbooba Mufti flew in from Jammu after hearing the news of the fire.

A government spokesman said that Mufti cancelled all her engagements and went round various areas of the shrine complex to assess the quantum of damage.

“The shrine of Hazrat Amir i Kabir symbolizes the pluralistic ethos of Kashmir society from which every citizen of the State draws spiritual solace,” Mufti said.

The spokesman said that the CM appreciated the local youth who came forward and prevented the fire from spreading.

First Published: Nov 15, 2017 18:35 IST

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