A testament to religious harmony

The shrine of Hazrat Zati Shah Wali is a symbol of syncretic sufi culture of Kashmir.
A testament to religious harmony
"Hazrat Zati Shah Wali was a military commander from influential chak family of Trahgam, Kupwara, and made Muqam e Shah Wali his home for life. That is why the village is named after this saint."Special arrangement

One of the most sacred destinations in Kupwara, the shrine o Hazrat Zati Shah Wali (RA) holds a prominent place in the sufi culture of Kashmir; it is revered by people of all faiths. It was built in 16th century AD in a beautiful village called Muqam e Shahwali. This village is at a distance of 5 kms from the southeastern direction of the district headquarters. The village is in the lap of a dense and lush green forest area. Being a student of history, visiting the anonymous sufi shrines of Kashmir, and writing the historical prospectives is my interest. Few years ago, I visited Muqam e Shah Wali, Drugmulla. My interaction with the caretakers of this shrine proved very helpful; they gave me some vital leads for this write-up.

Hazrat Zati Shah Wali was a military commander from influential chak family of Trahgam, Kupwara, and made Muqam e Shah Wali his home for life. That is why the village is named after this saint. This beautiful village is surrounded by lush green forests making it a crescent shaped valley. Its north and north east portion, which is occupied by a dense forest areas, connect it with the Lolab valley through Shumriyal, Sogam, and other villages of Lolab. The eastern part connects it with Anderhama and Chayapati villages and the southern part connects Drugmulla.

As per oral historical sources one day he was deputed to Uttermachipora, the present day Kupwara. On the top of Haidri hill, a dangerous lightning strike fell on his head from the sky, which caused him to lose consciousness. Then slowly his senses restored. He started walking barefooted. It is said that whatever came out of his mouth was happening. In this way he became a wandering Darvash. Nothing is known about his early life but it is believed that he was educated at Trahgam Kupwara, a seat of administration between 14th to 17th century.

His father, namely Rakum Din, had come from Bukhara with his followers. When reached the famous spring of Trehgam he enquired about the sickness and diseases of king's sister, who later became his wife. This saint's father took some water from shivnag at Trehgam and asked the king and king's sister to drink it for 7 days. After 7 days the signs of disease were no more and the king ordered to find the wandering dervish whom they found in another village, Gotangoo. The saint was brought to king's office at Trehgam and was married to his sister. The village of Gotangoo was given as Jagir to the newly married couple where they are rested in peace in the shrine located near the mound at local graveyard.

It is said that there was a severe famine in Kashmir in his time. Ali Shah Chak (1570-78), the ruler of Kashmir asked him about that famine. When the famine will end? Hazrat Zati Shah replied that when Ali Shah Chak will not be among us. It so happened that Ali Shah Chak died and the famine ended. It is said that one day Hazrat Zati Shah put a handful of dried fish in a spring which is outside his tomb. By the grace of Allah, the dry fish became alive and started swimming in the spring. The devotees still feed them. A number of miracles are attributed with this iconic mystic.

He used to have a long stick in his hand. what he called a horse and had named it Samad, he used to ride on it like little children. Hazrat Zati shah Wali used to say that this is his horse. One day, they entered paddy field of a village called Latti Shat, Sopore. He put the stick there and asked the villagers to put grass and straw for his horse to eat at night. People were busy with their work. They left. No one cared about the stick of Hazrat Zaiti Shah. What do they see in the morning that there is not even a trace of grass in the fields. There were piles of dung instead of piles of paddy. Now they remembered that this incident is the result of disregard for the horse. They came to Hazrat Zati Shah. They cried and pleaded before this towering saint. Finally the saint advised them to wash the dung of his horse. They did that and the problem was solved for them. His tomb is on a hill slope, north of Dargmulla. Now a large village has settled there. There is a beautiful Masjid and a spring near the shrine. Thousands of devotees pay visit to the shrine of this mystic daily.

There is an old mulberry tree besides the spiritual waters. When I asked the caretakers of the shrine about the background of this wonderful spring. They said that when Hazrat Zati Shah stayed at this place permanently he used the water of this spring for ablutions and baths. One day a fisherwoman passed there. She was selling dry fishes that we call “hukhguard” in Kashmiri language. The saint took a handful of these dry fish. He prayed to Allah and threw them into the spring. A miracle happened. These dry fish came to life. Since then these fish are there and people feed them.

It is said that Hazrat Zati Shah Wali planted there a half-burnt mulberry tree branch. It latter on grew into a tree. I have seen people taking the mulberries as “Tobruk” - a sacred gift. This beautiful spring is a spiritual marvel.

The shrine of Hazrat Zati Shah Wali is a symbol of syncretic sufi culture of Kashmir. This mystic spread the message of peace and brotherhood. The shrine is co-located with Jamai masjid and includes tombs of saint's sister and brother also. Every year, in the month of May, an Urs or annual fair is observed for three days which is attended by devotees from all faiths including Hindus and Sikhs.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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