2000 Tibetan Muslims Have Made Srinagar Their Home

Nasir Qazi, a successful young businessman, showed me around. He’s the head of the Tibetan Muslim Youth Federation, which oversees what is clearly a well-run school . In the corridors, photos of the Dalai Lama’s visit are on prominent display. Tibetan Muslims don’t regard the Dalai Lama as their religious leader. “But we do honour and respect him,” Mr Qazi said, “and he loves us a lot.”

The community traces its origin to merchants who travelled along the old silk routes. They were Muslim traders from Kashmir and the adjoining area of Ladakh. Four hundred or so years ago, the then Dalai Lama granted them land in the Tibetan capital.

But These Tibetan Muslims who have moved away from ladakh and made srinagar Kashmir their home.

On his latest visit to Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, Andrew Whitehead came across a little-known community which has returned home after centuries away. Sometimes when you think you know a place, you come across a fresh aspect of it, which reminds you how little you know.

Two thousand or more Tibetans have made their home in Srinagar. These are Tibetan Muslims. A few Muslim families remain in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa; some live in border hill towns; but most of them have now settled in Indian Kashmir. Because they are, or were, Kashmiris.

“Tibet-ian colony”, close to the almond gardens and just within Srinagar’s old city walls. I found a food stall selling Tibetan-style dumplings by groups of women gossiping – old men ambling along to the mosque – all distinctively Tibetan in appearance.