India has always been an extremely vibrant nation not only in terms of different cultures but also religions. India has been the home to more than 12 major religions since the pre medieval days. People have followed their faiths in different forms with complete freedom, tolerance and a high level of dignity.
Over the years many religions have prospered in this vast country of infinite hopes and aspirations with harmony and mutual respect. The state of Jammu and Kashmir in itself is a symbol of this harmony. It is a culturally vibrant state with a large number of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.
The Hari Parbat is a picturesque location in Srinagar which is prominently visible from the Dal Lake. This beautiful hill top is a great place for sightseeing, photography and family recreation. It is not only a beautiful looking tourist spot; to the eyes of a history lover like me the importance of the Hari Parbat is much more.
This location has several references in Hindu mythology. This is also a home to a holy Peeth or holy institution which was built to worship the goddess Parvati. Goddess Parvati or Shakti is assumed to be the source of all energy in the universe. Many versions of mythological episodes describing the formation of the Hari Parbat are popular and each of them is uniquely interesting.
The Hari Parbat is also home to very important places of worship of all three major religions in the region. The Shakti Peeth and the Sharika Temple on the Western Slope, the Hamza Makhdum Shrine on the Southern Slope and the Guru Har Gobind Gurudwara outside the southern wall of the Durrani Fort surround the Hari Parbat.
The Durrani Fort is not only a remarkable building but also has a rich and unique history. The Durrani Fort’s construction began initially under Akbar in 1590 but was never concluded. The Emperor Shuja Shah Durrani’s leadership allowed the completion of this beautiful fort by the year 1808. Exploring it with my children was a great experience and a very apt beginning to my trip to Jammu and Kashmir.