The old city also boasts of Kashmir's many
ancient shrines and mosques among which the
shrine of Shah-i-Hamdan, situated between Habba
Kadal and Fateh Kadal, is probably the most
important. Shah-i-Hamdan, who came from Persia
in the 13th century, was responsible for the
spread of Islam in Kashmir.
Old City attractions
Hazratbal Mosque is the most
important Muslim Religious place, situated on
the western shore of Dal Lake. Its pristine
white marble elegance is reflected in the waters
of the lake.
Hazratbal's special significance is derived from the fact that it houses a hair of the prophet Muhammad. This is displayed to the public on religious occasions, usually accompanied by fairs. Apart from these occasions, Friday prayers are offered at Hazratbal and attended by throngs of people. Hazratbal is remarkable for being the only domed mosque in Srinagar; the others having distinct pagoda like roofs. The shrine- mosque complex is situated on the western shore of the Dal Lake opposite Nishat Bagh and commands a grand view of the lake and the mountain beyond.
The Jamia Masjid at Nowhatta, in
the heart of the old city, is the other
important mosque in Srinagar where thousands of
people congregate for the Friday prayers. Of
imposing proportions, the mosque is built around
a courtyard and is supported by 370 wooden
The hushed quiet of the mosque counterpoints the bustle of the old bazaars surrounding it. Originally built by Sultan Sikandar in 1400 AD, and enlarged by his son, Zain-ul- Abidin, it is a typical example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Destroyed thrice by fire and rebuilt each time, the mosque, as it now stands, was repaired during the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh.
Shankaracharya Temple occupies the top of the hills known as Takht-I-Sulaiman in the south-east of Srinagar. The site dates back to 250BC. The philosopher Shankaracharya stayed at this place when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive Sanatan Dharma.
Before this date, the temple was
known as Gopadri, as an earlier edifice on the
same site was built by king Lalitaditya in the
6th century AD. In fact, the road below the
hill, with residences of high- ranking State
Government officials, is still known as Gupkar
road. Built on a high octagonal plinth and
approached by a flight of steps with side walls
that once bore inscriptions, the main surviving
shrine consists of a circular cell. It overlooks
the Valley and can be approached by a motorable
road. A modern ceiling covers the inner sanctum
and an inscription in Persian traces its origin
to the reign of Emperor Shah Jehan. The original
ceiling was dome- shaped and the brick roof, it
appears, is not more than a century old.
The Mughal emperor's fort crowns the top of Hari Parbat hill. There is little left of its former glory, but the ramparts are still impressive and the old apartments within the fort, even though in a state of ruin, still convey at least a little of the grandeur of the Mughals' summer retreat in 'paradise'. The fort was later developed in 18th century by an Afghan governor, Ata Mohammad Khan. The hill is considered sacred to the Hindus due to the presence of temple of Sharika, which is believed to be a form of goddess Durga or Shakti. The wall around the hill was built by Akbar in 1592-98 AD. The hill is surrounded by almond orchards, which make a lovely sight during April when the trees blossom, heralding the advent of spring in Kashmir.