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A place with cultural richness

Post by on Sunday, June 26, 2022

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Baba Reshi Shrine in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, located some 35 kilometres away from Srinagar city, is a famous shrine and revered place for Kashmiris in many aspects from ceremonial tonsuring to the preferred picnic spot.
The Shrine - a three-storey monument - is situated at an altitude of about 7,000 feet and is surrounded by lush green meadows giving it a mesmerizing look.
Because of its cultural richness, the place is a preferred place not only for locals but for non-locals who throng shrine to explore it. Surrounded by lush green lawns, this shrine attracts lakhs of visitors each year both for its religious and historic significance. The place remains abuzz with people throughout the year.
A big square-shaped market near the shrine consisting of shops selling toys, crockery, pottery utensils and several small eateries and tea stalls.
Bilal Ahmad, a local shopkeeper said the market witnesses huge rush these days. Both local and non-local tourists visit there to have a look at the old market.
“This market has a cultural significance. Lot of schools come here for local picnics. I have been working here for a long time and we are connected to this place from our childhood,” he said.
On the other side people from several areas of Kashmir visit the shrine to perform the ritual of ceremonial tonsuring as they believe that these places hold special spiritual connection. And they want to have their children blessed by the Sufi saints.
When one visits Baba Reshi shrine, at the extreme left side is a special building kept for shaving off the hair of newborn babies when they turn two or three months. One can hear the cries that echo in the building with people waiting in queues with their babies for their turn. Cries and celebrations are making the ceremonial tonsuring an emotional moment for the families visiting the shrine from different parts of Kashmir.
“This practice is followed for a long time. Once a child is born, we plan to take to them to shrine for ceremonial tonsuring,” said Insha, from Srinagar, who visits the place every year.
The place is named after Baba Payam Ud-Din Reshi (RA) who born in 1441 CE, to a nobleman, a minister of the contemporary ruler at Chander-nau-gaon in Lar which is near the Ganderbal town of today. Payamuddin himself was a minister and a trusted man of Zain ul Abidin (Budshah) the 8th Sultan of Kashmir.
The saint built a kitchen with a daan (typical Kashmiri earthenware Chula) for cooking food in earthenware vessels. People from all over the valley used to go there and plaster the daan and offer sacrifices and cook food.
This was distributed to the Langar (free eating place for public) for people visiting the place. This practice is still followed. The community kitchen has two sections - one for men another for women.
“From poor to rich, everyone share their meals together. This is community kitchen has not stopped. It will continue to serve the people,” said an employee who works at the Langar.
The shrine on Baramulla-Gulmarg road is not only a cultural and historical hub but also a place for employment of hundreds of youth hailing from nearby Tangmarg and Kandi areas.
Baba Reshi market is also famous for eatables including Paratha Halwa. “Paratha Halwa is rich in taste and has its own significance among Kashmiri people. Each day people buy Paratha Halwa for evening nun chai which has its own flavour,” said Mudasir Ahmad, a shopkeeper.
“We have been running this shop for the past three decades. It was started by my grandfather who was a disciple of Baba Reshi. It is a peaceful place and people from every community visits here,” he said.
The place is also known for its Kulcha (bread) recipe. It is tea time snack in Kashmir, very crispy and lightly sweetie. The Kulcha has a unique taste and people love to take it for home.
The market is also rich for potato fries (Alu Monj) which are unique in taste and are famous locally. Visitors and tourists, who visit the shrine and who come back from Gulmarg via Baba Reshi road often stop here to taste the potato fries.
At the shrine there are low cost night stay facilities available. There are wooden huts constructed by the Waqaf Board. When people visit the shrine, they come in groups or with their all family members, neighbours and relatives which becomes a reason of get together at one place and sharing everything.
Baba Reshi shrine was built in 1480, in Mughal and Persian style. The shrine and its surrounding gardens are a tourist attraction as well as a destination for pilgrims visiting the shrine.
Although beginning his life as a trusted minister of Sultan Zain-Ul-Abidin, he spent the major part of the life serving people and spreading the message of love and purity of heart through Quranic verses and helping the people in the surrounding areas.
The shrine of Baba Reshi is a very popular pilgrimage for Kashmiri people, who come in large numbers and seek his blessings in getting their wishes granted. It being a very scenic place in proximity to Gulmarg, the trip is often combined with a picnic.
He lived and meditated at this location, which became the site of his tomb and a shrine for his disciples. This shrine has a big minaret and inside the shrine is the Noor Khwan where the Grave of the Sufi Saint lies.
It is covered with cloth with Quran embroideries. The Noor Khwan is made of glass and wood carvings. The Urs or the anniversary of Hazrat Baba Payam ud din Reshi is celebrated annually and people from far off places visit the shrine on the occasion.
On September 02, 1989, the 300-year-old Baba Reshi shrine was gutted in a fire under mysterious circumstances. The place known as daan that Baba Reshi built in the village, Ramboh went ablaze and caused severe damage to several buildings surrounding the shrine causing a huge economic loss to the historic place.

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