Saturday, March 27, 2010
Tourists flock to 'Jesus's tomb' in Kashmir , India
In the backstreets of downtown Srinagar is an old building known as the Rozabal shrine.
It's in a part of the city where the Indian security forces are on regular patrol, or peering out from behind check-posts made of sandbags.
There are still occasional clashes with militants or stone-throwing children, but the security situation has improved in recent times and the tourists are returning.
When I first searched for Rozabal two years ago, the taxi circled around a minor Muslim tomb in a city of many mosques and mausoleums, the driver asking directions several times before we found it.
The shrine, on a street corner, is a modest stone building with a traditional Kashmiri multi-tiered sloping roof.
A watchman led me in and encouraged me to inspect the smaller wooden chamber within, with its trellis-like, perforated screen.
Through the gaps I could see a gravestone covered with a green cloth.
When I returned to the shrine recently though, it was shut - its gate padlocked because it had attracted too many visitors.
The reason? Well, according to an eclectic combination of New Age Christians, unorthodox Muslims and fans of the Da Vinci Code, the grave contains the mortal remains of a candidate for the most important visitor of all time to India.