Srinagar: When Sultan Sikandar built the first mosque of Srinagar in 1395 it was named mosque of Shah-e-Hamdan in memory of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, who stayed here and was instrumental in the spread of Islam in the valley. Seventy-five years later in 1480 the mosque was ravaged by fire and Sultan Hassan Shah took it to himself to rebuilt it. Shah completed the construction of the mosque in 1493.
The Khanqah-e-Moulla or Shah-e-Hamdan shrine was today partially destroyed in fire incident. The shrine is one of the oldest Muslim shrines located on the banks of the river Jhelum in Srinagar city.
An important religious destination in Srinagar, it is believed to contain “the secret of Allah” – the Khanqah-e-Molla is an excellent example of wood architecture that draws inspiration from Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic styles, says Mohibbul Hasan, author of Kashmir under the Sultans
Khanqah-e-Molla has a history of fires as it was devastated many times by the fires. The fire claimed the mosque several times in the following centuries and the current structure, as seen today (except for the more recent cloisters), was sponsored by Abul Barkat Khan in 1732. It stood 38 meters tall before the night a cloudburst damaged it completely.
According to S L Shali, Kashmir, History and Archaeology through the Ages, the shrine was destroyed by fire, once in 1479 and the second time in 1731. Sultan Hassan Shah (1472-84) repaired it on the first occasion and the second time Abul Barkat Khan, Deputy Governor of Mughals repaired the mosque in 1733 when he took up his post for the fourth time (1733-37).
However, noted historian and poet Zareef Ahmad Zareef says that the shrine was destroyed four times since it was built by Sultan Sikandar.
Zareef says that latest blaze in Khanqa-i-Maula happened during the reign of Chak dynasty. “When the mosque was destroyed due to fire, Shams Chak had no money to build the mosque. It was when his wife offered to sell his jewellery to build the mosque,” says Zareef.
Zareef says that the architectural marvel has wooden logs boiled in oil to prevent their decay.