Shahnagri, a village in Kupwara district, is not only famous for the holy shrine of Hazrat Shiekh Syed Abdul Wahab (RA) but also for the first underground cave-khankah of Kashmir.
The early history of this historical and spiritual cave-khankh of Kashmir is unknown, but there are several assumptions associated with its formation. The locals agree on the point that this historical and spiritual marvel of Kashmir is 700 years old.
The site is located in the evergreen conifer woods of Shahnagari. Shahnagar means the city of kings in Kashmiri language. This village falls within the jurisdiction of Qalamabad in Kupwara district of J&K.
Shahnagari was given the name by Hazrat Shiekh Syed Abdul Wahab after he settled in the village. The village represents triumph of faith.
The Holy Shrine of Hazrat Shiekh Syed Wahab, having devotional linkage to Hazrat Abdul Qadir Jeelani, is surrounded by thousands of Devdaar trees. This mysterious under ground Khankah has definitely given a spiritual status to mountain of Shahnagri.
If you want to see the cool sweet springs, the murmuring waters, and the waterfalls from the heights, there is hardly a better place than this in the valley. The capital of this valley is Shahnagri where the shrine of Hazrat Sheikh Sayed Abdul Wahab stands for centuries. The 700 years old first underground seven room cave Khankah is just a few hundred meters away from the holy shrine of Hazrat Shiekh Syed Abdul Wahab (RA). From its internal structure and style of construction, it is clear that the dervishes used to meditate and had chilla there. There is also a spring at a short distance from the cave, which has now dried up. The approximate length of this cave is 30 ft., it's 2.5 ft wide, and its height is 6 feet approximately. Although the cave is crumbling yet a corridor and 7 strange rooms can be seen. When we enter the cave there are two small rooms, one on left side and the second on right side. The last portion of the cave is down.
This underground cave-khankah was discovered last year by a research team headed by this author. This is believed to be 700 years old, as we know the arrival of Hazrat Bulbul Shah (RA), the renowned sufi saint of the highest spiritual order, witnessed an era of cave meditation in Kashmir from 1321-1371AD. The indigenous sufi saints of Kashmir practiced cave meditation to chant 99 names of Allah and the prophet (SAW). Mention may be made of Hazrat Shiekh Noorud Din Wali, Hazrat Zainud Din Wali (RA), Hazrat Baba Shakoor ud Din (RA) and many others who are reported to have meditated inside the caves.
A cave provided an ideal environ to focus on one creator in submission. I have visited a number of caves in Kashmir but the underground cave of Shahnagari has a peculiarity, and features which are not found elsewhere in Kashmir. Renowned Sufi saints of our bygone era have meditated in this cave-khankah.
Jehlum river which iforms the bedrock of Jehlum Civilization is not only starting from Verinag Spring but this Spritual mountain of Shahnagri through underneath springs of this Khankah enrich Jehlum through Mawar Nallah, one of the main tributaries to the Jhelum. On the shores of which Hazrat Bulbulshah, Amir Kabir, Naamatullah Qadiri and hundreds of Muslim saints, as well as Pandit saints, preached love and unity.
This unique spiritual marvel is crumbling. Snow and rain have caused huge damage to its outer portion. The caretakers of the holy shrine of Shiekh Syed Abdul Wahab are doing their best to preserve this 700 year old historic and spiritual marvel. The recent reopening of this underground cave-khankah is a reminder of harmony that is deep rooted in the Kashmiri civilization.