Hari Parbat: The Myths, the Legends, the Beauty
Amidst the chaotic yet serene city of Srinagar, stands the hill overlooking the city. The hill named 'Hari Parbat' has religious, cultural and historical importance to many communities in the country. It has various legends associated with it, which explain how it came into existence.
Hari Parbat Fort
The first legend about the Hari Parbat has it the place was initially covered with water where resided a demon named Jalobhava. The demon harassed the villagers living nearby who decided that it was about time, the disturbance ended. The villagers summoned and prayed to Goddess Parvati. While demon Jalobhava was busy tormenting the villagers, Goddess Parvati took the form of a bird and picked a pebble in its beak. She flew over Jalobhava and dropped the pebble. As it fell onto the ground, it became bigger and grew enough in size to crush Jalobhava under it, forming the hill as we see it today.
The View Atop
The second story regarding the hill, though similar have certain differences. According to this one (Kaul, 2017), there were two demons one living by a huge lake that was present in the place while the other lived near the Dal lake. The demons were Tsond and Mond. With the torture becoming unbearable, the villagers prayed to goddess Parvati, who took the form of a Myna bird. She then dropped the pebble which crushed Tsond beneath it and saved the villagers. The hill formed where the rock fell and was named Hari Parbat, which some believe come from the term, "haer" meaning Myna in Kashmiri.
Maqdoom Sahab Shrine
In the 15th century, the area and the hill was noticed by Mughal ruler Akbar, who decided to built a fort at the hill beyond which he would create his new capital, which would be called 'Nager Nagor". However, this vision remained short lived as the plan was dropped and the project was left halfway. it was then under the Durrani empire in the 18th century that the fort was in highlight. Atta Mohammad Khan, in 1808, developed the fort walls further and to this day, the strong walls of the fort stand tall on the hill providing visitors a splendid view from atop the hill.
Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara
The place has three important sites relevant to the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim community. Named after Sheikh Muhammad Maqdoom, the shrine was dedicated to the sufi saint who helped spread Islam in the valley. The hill also has a Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara. The sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind has visited the place to visit a devotee named Mai Bhagwanti, and spread the virtues of Sikhism. The place has langar and serves food to everyone irrespective of their religion. Another important location is the Sharika Devi temple that is located along the western slope. Dedicated to Devi Jagadamba Sharika Bhagwati who is a incarnation of Devi Parvati. The offering here, especially on a special day, is pretty different from usual temple offerings. It consists of either turmeric rice or cooked goat livers, there's no in between. The three beautifully designed and constructed sites are a proof of the secular nature of the valley since early times.
The site of the fort has been earlier closed on several occasions for indefinite times, so if Srinagar is on your travel list, checking with a local source would be recommended before travelling to Hari Parbat. However, a trip to Srinagar would be incomplete without visiting the magnificent location.