Amid Community Hatred, Bandipora’s Peer Baba Shrine Serves as a Symbol of Brotherhood

Bandipora on June 10: With disbelievers trying to create communal divisions and hatred among people, the Peer Baba shrine in Bandipora district in North Kashmir presents the inimitable symbol of shared faith and serves as a pathway for brotherhood.

Located four kilometers from Razdhan Pass on the way to Gurez Valley in Bandipora District, Peer Baba Shrine is a spiritual place where people of different religions seek their motivations under one roof, reflecting a perfect example of religious unity and community brotherhood.

According to Abdul Satar, a frequent Bandipora visitor to this shrine, “Saint Peer Baba is believed to have established himself in a cave here in 1933, when he was 35 years old.”

“Peer Baba’s religion was unknown. Therefore, people of all religions visit the shrine and pray for the fulfillment of their desires,” Satar said.

He revealed that after settling (Peer Baba) in a cave, Baba had no food for months, after which he contacted the Kanzalwan village of Gurez and asked the villagers for food.

Peer Baba never refused anything offered by the people of Kanzalwan village and accepted it with love.

“I heard that he was known to speak and hear less and was popularly known as ‘Nanga Baba’,” he said.

“In 1940, amid heavy snowfall in February, Peer Baba came to Razdan, where he breathed his last. Locals attempted to move his body to Bandipora; however, they were attacked by a clump of bees, and he was buried by his disciple Dilawer Malik and the inhabitants of the present place of Razdan,” Satar said.

In 1950, the Indian Army established Ziyarat in Peer Baba, believing that they would always be safe with Peer Baba and his miracles would be with them forever.

A small temple built by the army shares the space with a dargah, which harmonizes the spiritual radiance of the Creator. Symbols and images of all religions adorn the pedestal in its premises.

Also, the image of Jesus Christ in thorns next to Baba Nanak with a special halo along with symbols of Muslim faith and Hindu deities collectively adorn the house of God in these high mountains.

Nisar Ahmad who came to the shrine to pray for his needs, told Rising Kashmir that the Peer Baba shrine is a symbol of the harmonious culture of Kashmir in which symbols and figures of every religion are housed under the same roof.

“While sectarian hatred has engulfed people and ended human love between them, on the other hand, Peer Baba Mazar has set a perfect example of communal brotherhood where people of all religions pray for their needs under one same roof,” Nisar added.

The Indian army maintains the shrine with the help of a detachment which offers tea and prasad to the pilgrims, and the money donated to the shrine by the faithful is used for the well-being of the inhabitants and the education of the children.

With tourism growing in Gurez, tourists visiting Gurez religiously visit Peer Baba to offer their prayers and pay their respects.

James V. Hayes