Thursday, July 4, 2013





I must have seen this imposing  Monument in down town srinagar  at least 100 times . .My Massi ( Mother’s sister  ) and my Mamees( wives of my mother’s brothers ) , One from Razdan family of Raghunath Mandir Habba kadal and the other from Zarabis in Gurgari Mohalla Zainakadal , were practically like mothers to us( My brothers and sisters ) .Sharing everything between us and their own children , these simple but great ladies still continue to be selfless in their dealings and attention. We were attached to them like their own children and obviously enjoyed some level of comfort with   their relations as well . That made us to visit Zarabis and Razdans . That made me familiar with the Geography of Habba kadal and Zainakadal.

Sometimes in my youth , i would go to buy Dry fish ( Hoggaad ) from traders who had set up their khokhas  around this monument. Quite often I would also go to this area to see my maternal relations . My Matamaals ( Mother's parents ) lived in Gada kocha Zaina kadal .My maternal uncle ( Mama ) had married in Zarabi family . Zarabis lived in Gurgari Mohalla just opposite this monument on the other side of Jhelum.As and when i would go to Zarabis , I would also see people paying respects at the  Ziyarat of Yaqoob sahib sarfi at Zainakadal. Yaqoob sahib sarfi also known as Ishan sahib was a sufi poet , Islamic scholar and a compassionate leader of kashmiris. He was the son of a kashmiri noble Mirza Hassan Ganai and a widely travelled man who had performed Haj twice. . As per advice of Makhdoom sahib , this learned Sheikh met king  Akbar in Delhi and invited him to Kashmir  to  free kashmiris from the tyrant rule of Chaks  .

We visited Zainakadal area  four times during   2011 and 2012.  and clicked some  photographs inside the Monument . .  Here goes the story of this  Monument.

( A water colour of Artist Masood Hussain showing the Tomb)

During the reign of king Sahdeva in early 14th centuary two important visitors came to Kashmir . One being Shah Mir from Swadgir ( Swat at present ) and the other Rinchen from Tibet. As events unfolded later , Shah Mir came to be known as Sultan Shams Ud Din and ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1345AD. He had two sons Sultan Jamshed and Sultan Ala ud din . Sultan Ala Ud din had two sons Shahab ud din and Qutub ud din . Syeds from central arrived in kashmir during the reign of sultan Qutub Ud din . Sultan Qutub Ud din had a son named Sultan Sikander who ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1393.AD. King Zain ul Abdin was son of Sultan Sikander . That traces the lineage of sultan Zain Ul Abdin known as Budshah in Kashmir.

As per Baharistani Shahi ( Chapter 10 page 10-38), Sultan Skander laid a burial ground for the royal dead on the banks of river Jhelum to be known by the name of *MAZARE- SALATIN.   The Tomb is a master piece of  central Asian architecture . The brick tomb has been built on some old existing stone plinth as  a super structure .The main tomb is octagonal with five domes over its roof .Sultan Sikander Butshikan ,Sultan Zain ul Abdin , Mother of Sultan Zain ul Abdin , Mirza Hyder Dughlat Kashgari  ( author of Tarilkh i Rashidi ) and the last king of Shah Mir dynasty sultan Habib Shah are buried inside this royal grave yard. The central dome of this tomb is biggest one while the other four domes are smaller but of same size. Presently this Mazar is a common graveyard in the area . The monument is  partly eclipsed by encroachments around it .

 Sultan Zain Ul Abdin was a tolerant , Just and liberal king. He reversed all the oppressive policies of his father ( Sultan Sikander ) towards Brahmans  of Kashmir and won their hearts. He sent emissaries to  Plains of India to bring back kashmiri Brahmans who had migrated out during the dark rule of his father sultan sikander .Many of the temples which had been demolished in the previous reign were rebuilt and permission was granted to erect new temples. Killing of cows was made a punishable offence.

Chronicler Jonaraja goes to the extent of calling him an Avtaara ( Incarnation ) of Vishnu . As per Jonaraja,  SultanZain Ul Abdin appointed Brahmans to many high posts . The sultan was a lover of music and other fine Arts. He patronised Sanskrit scholars like Jonaraja, Srivara, Soma Pandit, and Bodhi Bhatt. Among the Persian and Arabic scholars names of Maulana Kabir, Mulla Hafiz Baghdadi, Mulla Jamal-ud-din, and Qazi Ali Mir are very prominent. 
Sultan Zain Ul Abdin is also  responsible for bringing artisans , craftsmen  and engineers from central Asia and some of the handicrafts introduced during his rule  include carpet weaving, papier mache, silk, paper making and silver work  etc. His rule is considered as the golden period in the history of  kashmir for its  development in all spheres .The sultan also tried to grow sugarcane on Martand plateau  to make it  available at cheaper rates in valley.Sugar had to be imported and stocked for six months in kashmir. 

I end this post with  a poem of sherko Bekas noted Kurdish poet .

(comparison )

History came
and compared its greatness
to the magnitude of your sufferings.
your sufferings surpassed it by a few  fingerbreadths.
When the ocean wanted to compare
Its depth to that of your wounds,
It screamed for fear of
Being drowned in them.

( Sherko Bekas )

( Autar Mota   04.07.2013.. Good night  11.10 PM  )


* The author of Persian chronicle  BAHARISTAAN  I  SHAHI ( Chapter 10.16 Mazar e Salatin ) calls this monument as Mazar e Salatin and  credits  Sultan Sikander Butshikan for conversion of this place to a royal burial ground . Prior to that it was a temple . Inside the brick tomb ,  lies the   burial chamber of   mother of  Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin   or the favourite wife of Sultan Sikander Butshikan.
The English  translator of Baharistan I Shahi in his foot notes adds  that the place was the famous Maha Shri Temple built by King Praverasena II of Kashmir ( 110AD  to 170 AD ). Kalhan’s Rajataringani writes about  the existence of  Maha Shri  and  Kali shri temples in this area .  The compound of this  Mazaar e Salatin or Zain ul Abdin’s Tomb  is enclosed on three sides by stone walls with trefoil arches sculptured images  .  I have photographed  this monument extensively  .The Hindu TRIAD ( Triangle representing Brahma Vishnu and Maheshwara  ) is  visible on the massive  stone pillar at   entry ..This monument is to be understood in two parts.  Part one the  old temple  stone plinth , arched stone entrance of the tomb , stone boundary wall , stone gates of the complex  etc and  part two the brick dome superimposed on the demolished  temple plinth  .This stone  structure is very old and believed to have been  built in 2nd century AD or later . The brick tomb was built over the stone plinth lying on right side corner as you enter the monument. The brick tomb was built  sometime  during 15th century by Sultan Zain ul Abdin. The monument represents two periods of history .

Walter Lawrence in his book Valley of Kashmir writes ( page 167  chapter VI Archeology) :

" The tomb of his own queen in Srinagar is built upon the foundation ,and with the materials of a  Hindu temple ; likewise the wall which surrounds the tomb of his son ,Zain UL Abdin ,was once the enclosure of a Hindu temple."

RC Kak in his book Ancient Monuments of Kashmir ( 4-23) writes:

" The wall is a real Hindu one, as its materials and massiveness amply prove, though it is undoubtedly later than the fifth century A.D. A further proof of its Hindu origin is the number of carved stones still found round the site, which bear sculptured reliefs of Hindu deities. The whole group is enclosed in a massive stone wall with a ridged coping. This outer wall, as well as its two entrances, one on the riverside and the other opening on the road, likewise date back to Hindu times. . "

ARCHEOLOGICAL REMAINS IN KASHMIR  ” (Page 49 MAHA SHRI  TEMPLE   ) a book published in 2005 by Gulshan Books Residency Road srinagar also confirms the existence of MAHA SHRI TEMPLE   at this site currently known as Zain Ul Abdin Tomb or Mazar e Salatin.

Faisel Alkazi in his Book " Srinagar an Architectural legacy"   writes  that Mazaar e Salatin has been built over an existing Hindu site dating back to fourth or fifth century AD..

* Historian Mohibbul Hassan  in his Book KASHMIR  UNDER  SULTANS hold Suha Bhat or saif ud din equally and to an extent more responsible  for the sufferings of Brahmans  during Sultan Sikander's rule. He adds

“Sultan Sikander joined by his powerful  Chief  Minister and commander in chief  Saif Ud Din ( Suha Bhat , A Brahmin  who  embraced Islam  ) unleashed  innumerable miseries upon Brahmans of kashmir which included destruction of their Temples ,  Imposition Jaziya and prohibition on application of qashka ( Tilak ) to forehead etc.  Suha Bhat or Saif Ud Din turned an evil genius in persecuting Brahmans possibly due to a misplaced zeal of a neo convert.”

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