Khanqah Shah-i-Hamadan

Top choice in Srinagar

SRINAGAR, KASHMIR, JAMMU & KASHMIR, INDIA - 2013/06/01: The Shah Hamdan Mosque, or Shrine, is situated on the right bank of the Jhelum River, is dedicated to the memory of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani, a Muslim saint from Hamadan, Persia. It is an excellent example of indigenous wooden architecture that draws influence from Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic architecture. Constructed by San Sikandar and dedicated to the memory of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani, a Muslim saint from Hamadan, Persia, this mosque also serves as a khanqah.  (Photo by Jeremy Horner/LightRocket via Getty Images)

LightRocket via Getty Images

This distinctively spired 1730s Muslim pilgrim hall is Srinagar’s most beautiful mosque. It was constructed without any nails, and both frontage and interiors are covered in exuberantly painted paper mache reliefs and elaborately coloured khatamband (faceted wood panelling). Non-Muslim visitors can peek through the door but may not enter.

The building stands on the site of one of Kashmir’s first mosques, founded by Persian saint Mir Sayed Ali Hamadani, who arrived in 1372, one of 700 refugees fleeing Timur’s (Tamerlane) conquest of Iran. He is said to have converted 37,000 people to Sufi Islam, and it’s likely that his retinue introduced Kashmiris to the Persian art of fine carpet-making.