The dargah of Hazrat Baba Payamuddin, more popularly known as Baba Rishi, near Tangmarg in the Baramulla district, is one of the major Sufi shrines of Kashmir. Baba Payamuddin Rishi is said to have been born in 1411 C.E. and to have been the son of a nobleman in the court of the ruler of the principality of Chander Naugaon in Lar in Ganderbal, in northern Kashmir. As a young man he joined the court of the prince as a minister. One day, while riding a horse, he came across an army of ants busily carrying tiny specks of grain in their mouths to their home to store for the oncoming winter months. The scene struck the Baba most forcefully, suggesting to him that while these little creatures were making such preparations and were taking such pains for their future, he himself had not given the life to come after death any thought. So moved was he by the sight of the ants that he gave up his post in the prince’s court and came to Baba Shukruddin’skhanqahat Wular, staying in his company for two years, training on the Sufi path. Later, in 845/6 A.H., Baba Shukruddin sent him to Baba Zainuddin Rishi at Aishmuqam.
As Baba Zainuddin Rishi’s disciple, Baba Payamuddin Rishi underwent a long period of training in the Rishi-Sufi path, after which his master instructed him to travel to thevillageofRanbuh, in the Bangal pargana. This area is said to have been thickly populated by devils and ghouls who would harass the local people. Baba Payamuddin Rishi, it is said, drove them all away and spread Islam in the area. After staying here for many years, he shifted to thevillageofHaji Balnear Tangmarg to propagate Islam there. Baba Payamuddin Rishi spent the rest of his life in the thickly forested area of Tangmarg, dying there at the ripe old age of seventy-seven in 1472 C.E..
Sheikh Alam Noor Uddin Noorani impressed upon the Kashmiri intellectuals, powerful men, and rulers, the reality and importance of Islam. He employed discourses, discussions, debates, revelations and miracles for the purpose. He initiated a new system Rishiyat bearing a strong impression of the country. With the passage of time from Sheikh-Ul-Alam Noor Uddin to Baba Payam Uddin Baba Rishi via Baba Zain Uddin grew stronger. There were many sages (Rishis) but the word Rishi simply refers to Baba Payam Uddin. Many places are related to him such as: Khanqah-e-Rishi, Islamabad, Ziariat-e-Rishi (Shrine) Habba Kadal, and a shrine, of the Rishi by the side of the road, on the reaches of Gulmarg hill. The Gulmarg monastery appears to be a place of solitude and peace from a distance. The poet describes it:
ROZA SHARIF HAZRAT BABA RISHI (TANMARG,KASHMIR)
This is a land of flowers, of hills, of beautiful scenes, of sweet smelling shrubs, where the colorful lala flowers bloom in abundance and the bounties of God drop in plenty. The place is no less than the supreme paradise because the shrine of Hazrat Payam Uddin stands here. The shrine and tomb are built in the pagoda style and placed amid wondrous scenic beauty. It has the Jama Majid on one side and a market on the other. One reaches the shrine through a flight of stairs. The langar (public, free eating place) adjoins the tomb. It has a tradition. The king had no male offspring. He went to the sage and requested him for it. The sage prayed to God and the king was bestowed with a male child. The father and the son became his followers. Even today the seekers of offspring’s plaster the oven of the langar and receive God’s grace.
Most of the chroniclers are silent about him. A short mention has been made in the pamphlet issued by the Department of Information and Publicity of the Aqua of the Jammu and Kashmir does not satiate the seekers.
Baba Payam Uddin was born to a noble and a minister of the contemporary ruler, at Chander-nau-gaon in the region of Lar. It is also said that Baba Payam Uddin was himself a noble of high rank and a trusted man of the king and lived a life of ease and luxury. Still he liked the company of the saints and sages and sought their blessings.
One day he rode a horse. On the way he saw a train of ants carrying grains. He descended and observed them. If God wills, He directs him with small things. He thought that the small ants were working hard to gather grains for winter. He was there entrapped in the glamour of the world unmindful of his next life. (A’khirat), Anxiety of the life after death sat so heavily on his mind that he resigned his job, renounced his home, and came to Baba Zain Uddin who put him to prayers and meditation. On completion of the internal training he asked his permission to retire in solitude at Tang-Marg in Rabnoh village. There lived men ill of nature and low of character that objected to his stay but finally he won them over and improved them.
At the time of leaving his house, his wife was expecting a child. A son was born in his absence, grew up, and saw his father, and started serving him. He ordered him to move to a village. There he committed an act not according to Sunni. This so much infuriated Baba Payam Uddin that he cursed him to death. Eventually he died.
Baba Payam Uddin died on 3, Zil Haj 889 Hijri and interned at a place, 3 miles from Tang-Marg, by the side of Gulmarg. People from all corners of Kashmir; visit the Shrine in large numbers. It is believed whenever a fire breaks out in the Shrine some severe calamity befalls on the people of Kashmir.