Aishmuqaam

The shrine of Hazrat Azin-ud-Din Wali is situated on a hill lock, about 20 Kms. short of the famous hill resort of Pahalgam overlooking the bewitching Lidder Valley. The road to the shrine branches off to the right from main Anantnag-Pahalgam road. A few hundred metres walk or drive takes one to the foot of the stone stair leading to the shrine. The mausoleum is located inside a deep cave atop the hill, about 100 meters high than the main road. Village Aishmuqam is very well known in every part of Kashmir on account of the historical shrine of sheikh Zain-ud-din who lived in the 15th century A.D. and was one of the principal disciples of Sheikh Nur-ud-din, the leading Rehsi of Kashmir.

It is commonly known in Kashmir that Sheikh Zain-ud-din, who was known by the name of Zia Singh before his conversion was a prince and belonged to the ruling Rajas of Kishtwar. His father Yesh Singh, the then Kishtwar ruler, is said to have been assassinated when Zia Singh was only 13 years old. Zia Singh is believed to have been suffering from some disease which took a serious turn leaving no aspect of his recovery. Sheikh Nur-ud-din is said to have passed through Kishtwar just at that time and having heard of his miraculous performances, Zia Singh’s mother begged of the Sheikh to visit the patients and to pray for his recovery. The Sheikh agreed to pray on the understanding that Zia Singh would meet him in Kashmir after the recovered. Zia Singh did not however keep his promise and after sometime he was agsin confined to bed. His mother kept on crying day and night until she had a vision in which the Sheikh Zia Singh’s mother promised that she would fulfil her obligation this time if her son would recover again. With the restoration of his normal health, Zia Singh proceeded to Kashmir to meet his benedictor. The mother and the son undertook the hazardous journey from Kishtwar to Bumzua, a village about 8 miles south of Aishmuqam, where Sheikh Nur-ud-din was staying at that time. It was at this place that both Zia Singh and his mother embraced Islam under the maens of zain-ud-din and Zoon Ded respectively.

Among the local inhabitants the legend has it that Zain-ud-din medicated for a long time in village Mandjan of Tehsil Sopore where he attained spiritual perfection, It was at this stage that Sheikh Nur-ud-din advised him to migrate to the cave at Aishmuqam and to meditate there for the remaining period of his life. On his arrival, sheikh Zain-ud-din found the entrance to the cave blocked by snakes, cobras and reptiles, It is said that the saint carried with him a club which he had received from his master. Seeing the serpents he placed the club on the ground and it was instantaneously transformed into a dreadful cobra. The snakes in the cave got awestricken and not only surrendered to the Sheikh but also vacated it and migrated to the village Phuurpujan which is about 16 miles to the east of Aishmuqam.

The exact date of the death of the saint is not known. His urs or anniversary is, however , being celebration on the 13th day of Basakh corresponding to 25th of April. Two mosques on unknown as Khankah are also attached to the shrine. The Khankah besides being used for prayers is also a repository of the relics of the saint which are held in high esteem.These consist of a bow, a patten, a wooden bread, a rosary, a wooden club and a copy of Quran. It is said that the saint observed fasts frequently and whenever he felt hungry he licked th wooden bread to satisfy his appetite. These relics are publicly displayed whenever the village meets with some catastrophy, such as a femine, epidemic, etc. The shrine attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all parts of the valley every year. On the date of anniversary of the saint congregational prayers are held which are attended to by no less than 20,000 people.

According to the legend, the festival continues to be celebrated from pre-Islamic times and dates back to about 2,000 years. The shrine of Zain-ud-din is respected by all communities and they actively participate in the celebration of the anniversary. There is no restriction to the entry into the shrine which is open to visits by persons of either sex and of any community.

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