Charar-i-Sharief, located at a distance of around 40 km from Srinagar, is amongst the most sacrosanct Muslim shrines in the country. Popularly known as the Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Wali, this shrine is around 600 years old. The shrine was constructed to commemorate Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani, a Sufi saint.
He was born in 1377 and was named as Nund Reshi or Sahazanand. It is said, when he was born, he refused to drink milk till the third day after his birth. However, he was fed by a Yogini (female saint), Lal Ded. Later, when she left the house, she said that the child would be her spiritual heir.
Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani was the first one to start Rishism in the Kashmir valley. The saint preached tolerance, communal harmony, non-violence and vegetarianism to the people. Sheikh-ul-Alam, Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani, are some of the other names of this saint. Besides preaching, he also made several contributions in the field of philosophy in the form of verses and his poetry.
Charar-i-Sharief served as the final resting place of this saint, where his mortal remains were buried. The place has been destroyed twice, once when a battle took place between the Indian and the Pakistani Army. However, after the battle, the shrine was reconstructed on the architectural lines of central Asian architecture. Again it was destroyed in 1995, when Islamic militants destroyed a major part in a fire.