The shrine of Shah-e-Hamdan or Khanqah-e-Moula is one of the oldest Muslim shrines in Srinagar. It is situated on the bank of the river Jhelum in the old city. Built in the year 1395 by Sultan Sikander in memory of the great Sufi saint Mir Syed Ali Hamdan, it is said to have contained the “secret of Allah”. The shrine however was reconstructed by Sultan Hassan Shah in 1493 after being ravaged by fire in 1480. Again in 1731 it was Abul Barkat who reconstructed to restore it from its damages.

This magnificent Sufi shrine can be cited as an example of excellence in wooden architecture. The shrine is also said to have some of the most important relics of Prophet Mohammad that includes the standard flag of the Prophet that he used in his campaigns and the pole of Prophet’s tent.

The building you see is a wonderful melange of wood carving, colourful green-and-yellow painting on the walls and a dominant spire on top. Note the stone plinth on which the structure stands — it belongs to a temple that stood here whose priest became Shah Hamdani’s first disciple. Non-Muslims (and women) cannot enter the main hall but can walk up to the door and look in from a window at the ornate painted interiors. Since women aren’t allowed inside, they go to the back and pray facing the gorgeous back walls of the building, where the river meandering past, the rich sunset, and the typically Kashmiri wall painting can add up to a sublime experience.