“Almighty tested the faith of his believers”
Apart from its mystical & heavenly scenic beauty, the Kashmir valley is equally famous for its distinct cultural heritage. The culture of Kashmir that emanates from Kashmiriyat, enjoys the reverence & allegiances of saints professing varied faiths & beliefs. Resultantly, the valley has had a lineage of religious wealth in the form of Holy Shrines called Ziyarats, Temples & Buddhist monasteries. While visiting these holy shrines & sepulchers of saints having enchanting environs, one feels to be in close proximity to the Almighty.
The 15th Century witnessed the arrival of the Sufi order, viz Suharivordi, Kubravi & Quadri from the distant lands of the Middle-East. Most of the Sufi saints were so influenced by the tolerant cultural envt prevalent in those times, that they made this paradise on earth as their permanent abode. Several of these Shrines of Kashmir are revered worldwide. One such shrine is that of Hazrat Noor Shah Bagdadi located in a small hamlet called Waltingu of Dist Kulgam in South Kashmir.
The Ziyarat of this holy saint forms the primary source for millions of believers to draw strength, solace & spiritual learning from the teachings & inexhaustible blessings of Syed Shah Noor Baghdadi. The annual Urs organized at the Ziyarat attracts immeasurable crowds. It till date remains the most admired & grandiose event of Kashmir with very few parallels.
It was on the ill-starred day of 10 Oct 11 when in the early hours of the morning the Almighty tested the faith of his believers. An electric short circuit triggered a devastating fire in most venerated Ziyarat of Hazrat Noor Shah Bagdadi. The wooden structure went ablaze instantaneously & the magnificent dome was completely damaged. The incident left locals devastated and longing for assistance. The changing spells of weather were indicative of snowfall shortly, a natural transformation which could have threatened the sanctity of the
‘Tabaruqat’, if snow touched the same.
It was taken as a personal loss by the hapless locals. The sight of the ruins of the once imposing Ziyart structure, sent waves of resentment amongst the locals. It was plainly apparent that an integral part of the locals’ life & faith was severely damaged. The decision to assist the locals in re-building the Ziyarat was thus taken in consultation with the religious heads of the region. It was poignantly, not simply rebuilding a structure but a simultaneous rebuilding of the unflinching faith of the local populace in the abilities of the Army to set things right for them and live upto the expectations and deliver flawlessly.
The troops of the Victor Force stepped in and the work commenced with a lot of exuberance & the plan of renovation was finalized in consultation with the local artisans. The initiative & enthusiasm shown by the troops for timely accomplishment of the project was highly appreciated by one & all. The local artisans, Sarpanch & Maulvis stepped forward to extend unquestioned support. The old design was studied & fresh layout of the structure was finalised. Accordingly, the entire stores reqd to create the iron frame alongwith the CGI sheets and related dome construction material were purchased & dumped by the Army speedily.
The re-construction of the structure commenced after offering of prayers to the Almighty and taking his divine blessings. The religious sentiments attached to the place were well appreciated & incorporated during the execution phase. In turn, the locals responded by way of extending their gratitude & gestures towards the Army’s initiative. The re-construction commenced with the laying of a strong foundation while the structure proper was made mostly of steel pillars & concrete to sp the hy dome that would come up, subsequently. The dome was designed in a manner to give it an artistic look. By mid-Nov 2011, the re-construction of the upper half of Ziyarat, including that of the dome, was achieved by the Army team. This was followed by the doing up of the Ziyart’s ambience, which was also accomplished by third week of Nov 2011 despite constant bad weather spells. The finishing touches were given to including painting, electrical fitments & general beautification of the entire Ziyart premises.
The end result was such that it would last imposingly for posterity & would remind generations of the joint efforts by the Awam & the Jawan who worked selflessly towards achieving the singular objective. The day when the work culminated, was one to be remembered, as remarked by the troops working at the site. The expression of happiness by the humble villagers was beyond imagination. The elated devotees hugged the troops and thanked them whole heartedly, as though something very precious had been reinstated in their vicinity. The dome of the Ziyarat now glitters proudly in the plenitude of its splendor & gives new lease of life to the area all around, thanks to the efforts of the Army especially the local unit in the area.
A grand ceremony was organised on 29 Nov 2011 to mark the culmination of the restoration work & hand over what rightfully belonged to the villagers. Blessings & good wishes from village elders and especially from the Maulvis were showered upon those who had toiled zealously for the noble cause.
At the ceremony, the newly repaired Ziyarat was dedicated to the people by Major General Gurdeep Singh, GOC, CIF(V), alongwith Cdr, 2 Sect RR. In order to negate the possibilities of recurrence of such unfortunate incidents in future, Fire Fighting equipment was also installed at the Shrine. The General officer offered prayers alongwith the Imam & re-assured the locals of Army’s unflinching commitment towards the local causes & re-iterated the resolve to spread happiness by such small, humane but concrete gestures. The event was attended by Mr Farooq Ahmad Khan, DC Kulgam & numerous other civil dignitaries from District Administration Kulgam, JKP & CRPF apart from the religious heads of the district. At the end of the ceremony, the devotees showered their gratitude for the noble deed done by the Army who have always remained in the forefront of helping the people.