The Hazratbal Shrine (Kashmiri: हज़रतबल, حضرت بل; Hindi: हज़रतबल, Urdu: حضرت بل, literally: Majestic Place), is a Muslim shrine in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India. It contains a relic believed by many Muslims of kashmir to be a hair of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The name of the shrine comes from the Arabic word Hazrat, meaning holy or majestic, and the Kashmiri word bal, meaning place.
The shrine is situated on the left bank of the Dal Lake, Srinagar and is considered to be Kashmir's holiest Muslim shrine. The Moi-e-Muqqadas (the sacred hair) of Mohammed is believed to be preserved here. The shrine is known by many names including Hazratbal, Assar-e-Sharief, Madinat-us-Sani, or simply Dargah Sharif.
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 gave it as the most precious gift to his close Mureed and a wealthy Kashmiri businessman, Khwaja Nur-ud-Din Ishbari.
However, when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb came to know (due to some misinformation) 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 imprisoned in Lahore for possessing the relic.
Later, realizing his mistake, Aurangzeb decided to restore the relic to Khwaja Nur-ud-Din and allow him to take it to Jammu & Kashmir, but by that point, Khwaja Nur-ud-Din had already died in imprisonment. In the year 1700, the relic finally reached Jammu & Kashmir, along with the body of Khwaja Nur-ud-Din. There, Inayat Begum, daughter of Khwaja Nur-ud-Din, became a custodian of the relic and established the shrine.
Inayat Begum was married into the prominent Banday family in Kashmir, and since then, her descendants from the Banday family have been the keepers of the relic, known as Nishaandehs (literally: givers of the sign). The current Nishaandeh of the shrine is Khwaja Ghulam Hasan Banday.