Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed stupa (chorten) on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district, Ladakh, in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu, Gyomyo Nakamura and part of the Peace Pagoda mission. The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
The Hazratbal Shrine is a Muslim shrine in Hazratbal, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India. It contains a relic, the Moi-e-Muqqadas, believed by many Muslims of Kashmir to be a hair of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The name of the shrine comes from the Urdu word Hazrat, meaning “respected”, and the Kashmiri word bal, meaning “place”. Thus it means the place which is given high regards and is respected among the people. The shrine is situated on the left bank of the Dal Lake, Srinagar and is considered to be Kashmir’s holiest Muslim shrine.
History of the relic
According to legend, the relic was first brought to India by Syed AbdUllah, a descendant of the Holy Prophet Muhammad who left Medina and settled in Bijapur, near Hyderabad in 1635. When Syed AbdUllah died, his son, Syed Hamid, inherited the relic.Following the Mughal conquest of the region, Syed Hamid was stripped of his family estates. Finding himself unable to care for the relic, he sold it to a wealthy Kashmiri businessman, Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai.
However, when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb came to know of what had transpired, he had the relic seized and sent to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer, and had Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai imprisoned in Delhi for possessing the relic.Later, realizing his mistake, Aurangzeb decided to restore the relic to Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai and allowed him to take it to Kashmir.However, by that point, Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai had already died in imprisonment. In the year 1700, the relic finally reached Kashmir, along with the body of Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai. There, Inayat Begum, daughter of Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Eshai, became a custodian of the relic and established the shrine. Inayat Begum was married into the prominent Kashmiri Banday family of Srinagar, and since then, her descendants from the Banday family have been the keepers of the relic.
The relic was reported disappeared on 26 December 1963. There were mass protests all over the state on the disappearance of the Moi-e-Muqaddas (the Hair of the Prophet) with hundreds of thousands out in the streets. The Awami Action Committee was formed to recover the relic. On 31 December the Prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru made a broadcast to the nation on the disappearence of the sacred relic. The relic was recovered on 4 January 1964.
Hazratbal is the notified area situated about 10 km from city center of Srinagar. The early settlements in the area occurred on the banks of Dal Lake and majority of population of area are Hangis (fishermen). The area became famous after the construction of Hazratbal Shrine where hundreds of thousands of people visit every year because many relics related to Prophet Muhammad are believed to be there. The word Hazrat in Urdu gives indication of respect and bal in Kasmiri means place. Thus the word Hazratbal means the place which is highly respected among the people. Due to the presence of Dal Lake and its house boats in vicinity, the area became the famous tourist spot in the city. The economy of the people living here greatly depends on tourism. Also the grave of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah is situated in the area. The postal code of the area is 190006.
The areas which come under the constituency of Hazratbal are as under:
Lal Bazar etc.
There are two big institutions in the area which provide education facilities to the students of Jammu and Kashmir.
College of Engineering – University of Kashmir also known as “Zukura Campus”
National Institute of Technology, Srinagar
Due to this reason it is considered as higher education centre in Kashmir Valley. Students from different parts of the state study Art, Humanities, Science, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Engineering in these institutions.
Lal Chowk is a city square in Srinagar in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Lal Chowk was named so by Left-wing activists inspired by the Russian Revolution as they fought Maharaja Hari Singh. It is a traditional place for political meetings with Jawaharlal Nehru, Jammu & kashmir first Prime Minister, Sheikh Abdullah, Kashmir’s first premier and various other Kashmiri leaders having addressed people from it.
It was at Lal chowk that Jawaharalal Nehru unfurled the national flag in 1948. It was here that he promised Kashmiris a referendum to choose their political future. It was in Lal Chowk that Sheikh Abdullah announced his love for Jawaharlal Nehru and India in a Persian couplet saying “Man Tu Shudi, Tu Man Shudi, Ta Kas Na Goyed, Man Degram Tu Degri (I became you and You became I; so none can say we are separate)”.
On 2 November 1947 that Nehru,standing beside Abdullah, addressed thousands and said “The fate of Kashmir will ultimately be decided by the people. We have given that pledge and Maharaja (Hari Singh) had supported it. It is not only a pledge to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not, and cannot back out of it,” promised Nehru. Although this is conditional to Pakistan withdrawing troops from the then-Princely state.
Lal Chowk fire
The 1993 Lal Chowk fire refers to the arson attack on the main commercial center of downtown Srinagar, Kashmir that took place on 10 April 1993. The fire is alleged to be started by a crowd incited by militants, while civilians and police officials interviewed by Human Rights Watch and other organisations allege that the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) didn’t provide enough protection to the building and did not allow the police to rescue of people, apparently in retaliation for the burning of an abandoned BSF building by local residents.
The Clock Tower gained political significance in 1992 when the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Murli Manohar Joshi came to hoist the Tricolour atop the tower on Republic Day. Joshi’s move brought several militant groups together, uniting them against India. Joshi hoisted the flag in the company of soldiers. He was whisked away when a rocket fired by Pakistani-backed militants landed some metres away from the tower. Since then, the BSF and the CRPF undertook the hoisting ceremony until 2009 when they announced it was unnecessary to continue the ritual because the tower “had no political significance” and an official function was held at the nearby Bakshi Stadium on Republic day and Independence day anyway.
The Shanti Stupa was built by both Japanese Buddhists and Ladakh Buddhists. Original idea was stated by Nichidatsu Fujii (Fujii Guruji) in 1914. The mission of Nichidatsu Fujii was to build Peace Pagodas and temples over the world and try to resurrect Buddhism back in India. Construction of the Shanti Stupa began in April 1983 under the supervision of Bhikshu Gyomyo Nakamura and Kushok Bakula, a lama of Ladakh from New Delhi, member of the Minority commission of Govt of India, former statesman and former international diplomat of the Republic of India. The project was built with the help of Ladakhi Buddhists, who offered voluntary labour, and Japanese Buddhists, who consider India as the “sacred” birthplace of the Buddha. Then prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, sanctioned the construction of a vehicular road to the stupa in 1984. The state government also provided some financial assistance for the construction of the Shanti Stupa. The 14th and current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso inaugurated the Shanti Stupa in August 1991.
Description and significance
The Shanti Stupa features the photograph of the current Dalai Lama with the relics of the Buddha at its base. The stupa is built as a two-level structure. The first level features the central relief of Dharmacakra with deer on each side. A central golden Buddha image sits on a platform depicting the “turning wheel of Dharma” (Dharmacakra). The second level has reliefs depicting the “birth” of Buddha, the death of Buddha (mahanirvana) and Buddha “defeating the devils” while meditating. Both levels feature a series of smaller meditating Buddha reliefs. The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace and prosperity and to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism. It is considered a symbol of the ties between the people of Japan and Ladakh.
Since its inauguration, Shanti Stupa has become a popular tourist attraction. According to The Hindu it is the “most famous tourist attraction” around Leh, though its architectural style is different from the Ladakhi style. The Shanti Stupa overlooks the city of Leh, providing panoramic views of the city, the village of Changspa, Namgyal Tsemo in the distance and the surrounding mountains. Sunrise and sunset are considered to provide the best views from Shanti Stupa. The stupa is illuminated with lights at night. The stupa is open for tourists between 5:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Situated at a height of 3,609 metres (11,841 ft), the stupa is located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Leh – the former capital of Ladakh – on a steep hill facing the Leh Palace. The stupa can be reached by a drivable road or on foot using a series of 500 steep steps to the hilltop.