Zainul Lank: Refuge to Many

Kashmir Magazine

The Wular Lake in Jammu and Kashmir is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia, covering an area of 189 square kilometers. Apart from its pristine beauty that attracts visitors, what makes Wular Lake unique is the floating island that lies at its heart – Zainul Lank.
Zainul Lank is a small piece of land that floats on the surface of the lake and is known for its religious importance and its ability to save lives during natural disasters.
This natural wonder has captured the imagination of people for centuries, with local myths and legends telling stories of its creation and religious significance. From its role as a savior during natural disasters to its scientific explanation, Zainul Lank has many fascinating aspects that make it an important part of the cultural and ecological heritage of the region.
According to local myths, the island came into existence due to the divine intervention of Zain-ul-Aabideen, a 15th-century Sufi saint. It is said that the saint prayed for a place to meditate and connect with the divine, and as a result, a small piece of land rose from the depths of the lake. The locals believe that the island is a divine creation and is blessed with miraculous powers.
The island is home to a small mosque and a grave, which is believed to be the final resting place of a disciple of saint. The mosque attracts a large number of devotees, especially during the summers, where pilgrims offer prayers and seek blessings. The island is considered a holy site by Muslims in the region, and its religious significance draws devotees from far and wide.
But what makes Zainul Lank truly unique is its ability to save lives during natural disasters. In 2014, Kashmir witnessed one of the worst floods in its history, and the village of Banyari, located on the banks of Wular Lake, was one of the worst affected. As the water levels rose, people scrambled to save their lives, and many found refuge on Zainul Lank. The island proved to be a savior for the locals, as it stayed afloat and provided a safe haven until the water receded.
The formation of the island has puzzled everyone for years. Some believe that it is a natural phenomenon caused by the accumulation of decomposing organic matter, while others argue that it is a man-made structure. However, the floating nature of the island has intrigued everyone. The island does not move from its position and floats on the surface of the lake, rising and falling with the water levels.
The locals firmly believe that the island is a divine creation and is blessed with miracles. The island has become an integral part of the local culture and heritage, and its religious and cultural significance draws visitors from all over the country.
For visitors, Zainul Lank is a fascinating and unique natural wonder. It provides a sense of calm and peace that is hard to find in the hustle and bustle of modern life.
One such visitor is Shakir Ahmad, a devotee, who visits the island every year, he said, “The island is a symbol of faith and devotion. The stories of its miraculous powers have been passed down through generations, and I come here to seek blessings and connect with the divine.”
The island holds a special place in the hearts of the locals, especially for those who witnessed the 2014 floods. Among them are Mohammad and Shabnam, from Banyari village who survived on the island with their families and livestock. They recall the harrowing experience, saying, “The island was our only hope. We went to it with all our belongings and prayed for our lives. We are grateful to God and the island for saving us.”
The island has also proven to be a life-saving shelter for local fishermen during storms as according to them when strong winds and high waves threaten the safety of the fishermen, they seek refuge on the island until the storm subsides.
“Whenever there is a storm, we rush towards Zainul Lank. It is like our guardian angel that protects us from the wrath of the lake”, Mohammad Yousuf Kaloo, a local fisherman told, adding that the island is like a fortress in the middle of the lake and gives them a sense of security when they are out in the open water.
“Zainul Lank is a symbol of hope for us. It reminds us that even in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, there is something solid and dependable to hold onto”, Mohammad Asif another fisherman said.
“Zainul Lank is a natural wonder that we are lucky to have. It’s a reminder of the beauty and power of nature”, he added.
There is also a long-standing belief that next to the mosque on Zainul Lank, was once a temple that is not in its original shape now however its ruins are still there.
Despite the historical significance of Zainul Lank, the island is facing threats from human activity. In recent years, the island has become a popular grazing ground for cattle and sheep, which has led to damage to its vegetation.
Local residents are calling for greater efforts to protect Zainul Lank and preserve its cultural and ecological heritage. As one devotee stated, “This island is a part of our history and culture. We need to take steps to protect it and ensure that it remains intact for future generations.” Another devotee echoed this sentiment, saying, “The destruction of this island would be a loss not just for us, but for all of humanity. We need to take responsibility for its preservation.”
Zainul Lank is a site of both historical and ecological importance that is in need of protection. Despite its potential significance, the island is facing threats from human activity, and it is up to local communities and authorities to take action to preserve this unique natural and cultural resource.