The Bold Voice of J&K

Shahdra Sharief is a revered shrine of Peer Panjal region

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ARIF QURESHI

Jammu and Kashmir is a veritable heaven of spiritualism for millions of believers who proceed on pilgrimage to the numerous shrines and holy sites in which the State abounds.
There is hardly any town or city which does not have a shrine of its own, many among these being the State’s living heritage and symbols of secularism Ziarat Shahdara Sharief is about 35 Kms in the north of Rajauri and 5 Kms from Thannamandi.
The famous Ziarat is surrounded by beautiful high mountain peaks, thick belt of forests, green pastures, springs and strings.
The village was in ancient time known as Simha Dwara in Sanskrit. Later on the name changed from Simha Dwara to Shindhara meaning the place of lions. In 1765 AD, when a great Sant and religious preacher Hazrat Sayeed Ghulam Shah Badshah. RA reached this place and started meditation, the people renamed this place after the name of great Sant as Shahdara.
Thousands of people from all religions visit the Shrine every year and offer prayers. Presently, three to four thousand people took meal from Langar every day while the Kashmiri tea (saltish tea) in Samawar is served to the pilgrims all the times.
Five thousand people can be accommodated in the Ziarat, while 1,000 people can be provided beds also. Ten thousand people can offer prayer in Jamia Masjid Shahdara Shrief.
The Urs of Hazrat Syeed Ghulam Shah Badshah RA
is celebratd on 10th of Muharram every year. Normally, villagers bring with them Atta, rice and other goods apart from cash to offer on the Shrine.
There is a legendary tree near the Shrine which is called Sadabhar (evergreen). It bears fruit throughout the year which does not rot with time. Infact, it is said that the fruit of this tree can be stored for years even without refrigeration. Various beliefs are associated with this tree. Many couples, who desire for a male child, pluck two and a half leaves from this tree and roll them into ten tiny balls. Both husband and wife eat five of these balls and offer prayers to bless them with a son. It is said that their wish definitely get fulfilled. Legend associated with this tree is that once Baba Ghulam Shah RA was cooking food for the langar on a traditional stove called ‘Chullah’ when one of the twigs was not catching fire as it was green and wet. So Babaji pull that twig out of the fire and buried it in the compound of the Shrine and blessed it by saying ‘stay here and be green forever.’ Some people believe that the tree has grown from a sapling that Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah RA had brought with him.
In 1978 AD, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah took over the Ziarat under Auqaf Trust and appointed Abdul Khaliq, retired S.P as Administrator who remained working up to 1983 AD. Between 1982 and 85, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and his successor, then Chief Minister G. M Shah, allotted Rs.3 crore for the Shrine, from the funds of the Auqaf. The Tourism Department built guest houses and some other facilities. The power and water supply is properly available here. Shahdara Sharief is the last inhabited village in the northern side of the Rajouri. 24 hour community Langer, established by Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah RA is being run by the trust at Shrine which feeds between four and ten thousand pilgrims a day.
Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University has come into existence by an Act of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly called the Jammu and Kashmir Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University Act No. XVI of 2002. The motto of the university is “Iqra bismi Rabbik alladi Khalaq” which means, “Read in the name of God who has created all that exists”. It reflects the vision and idealism for which the university stands. The objective identified for the university in the Act is to impart quality education and undertake research in basic and job oriented fields. Accordingly, the university has launched teaching programmes in MBA, MCA, MSc IT, MSc Computer Sciences, MA Arabic, MSc Biotechnology, MSc Botany, MSc Zoology, MSc Applied Mathematics, MSc Mathematics, MA Economics, MA English, MA Economics, BA Arabic (Hons), B.Tech Electronics and Communication Engineering, B.Tech Computer Science and Engineering, B.Tech Information Technology Engineering, B.Tech Civil Engineering, B.Tech Electrical and Renewable Energy Engineering, Diploma Engineering (Electronics & Communications), Diploma Engineering (Electrical), Diploma Engineering (Mechanical), Diploma Engineering (Civil) and research programmes in M.Phil and PhD
The shrine of Shahdra-Sharief in Rajouri District, 177 kms from Jammu, is one of the most popular Muslim Shrines of Jammu region, visited by thousand of devotees every day.
Built in the 19th century on a beautiful hillock in Thanna Mandi area, 29 kms from Rajouri town, it has great historical significance in the context of the origin of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to historical report, in 1820 AD Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab sent his Army General Gulab Singh to defeat an adversary.
Out of the 150 companies of troops taken on this expedition, only 25 soldiers could stay with the General. At last he camped at Thanna-Mandi and went to call on a local recluse named Baba Ghulam Shah ‘Badshah’, RA who lived in the nearby locality of Shah-dara and was known as a wise and pious person.
When Gulab Singh approached the saint, he found him sitting under a tree with an apricot twig in hand and in deep devotion. (According to some legends it was the saint who had sent one of his disciples to invite the general).
The saint looked at him and smiled. When asked about the reason for his mysterious smile, the saint said, “I smile on the miracle of the infallible Almighty who has committed to the charge of your exalted personality the performance of so many expeditions of government and the management of affairs of sovereignty.
Climb atop this mountain and cast a glance around, and whatever countries you see, the eagle of your prosperity will some day spread its wings of sway over these places”. Gulab Singh climbed the mountain to cast his glance in the direction of Jammu, Kashmir, Kishtwar and Tibet. He was highly pleased with the recluse and expressed his intention to grant a ‘Jagir’ to him But the recluse said, “I have a piece of land granted to me since long, if the Shah-dara locality is added to it, it will suffice”. Consequently, the ‘Sanad’ for both the land and the locality were issued to him, which continue to be in the possession of his offspring to this day. Later, when the saint’s prophesy became true and Gulab Sigh became Maharaja of the Jammu and Kashmir State, he visited Shah-dara to express his devotion to the saint.
Today, thousands of devotees of all faiths, irrespective of caste, colour and creed, visit the Shrine every day in deep faith and with great devotion. And it is strongly believed by the multitude of the Baba’s devotees that their cherished desires are invariably fulfilled. Interestingly, the pilgrims and visitors to the Shrine are provided free accommodation, food and other facilities by the Shrine management. Now large-scale infrastructure development carried out by the Shrine management as well as the State Government has made this Holy heritage site easily accessible to everyone and the Shrine now attracts large number of pilgrims every year.

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