“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” – Rumi
A Sufi Trail to Nizammudin Village
What is Sufi-sm
If the Truth is what you seek, through selfless love and devotion, then yes you are a Sufi.
Sufism is that divine interaction between your soul and that of God
Sufism is the heart of Islam.
The practitioners or the Sufi’s of the old times, who deprived themselves of the worldly pleasures, wore simple and rugged wool cloaks, wool in Arabic is called “suf”, hence one of the origins of the word “Sufi”
Purity and love towards God are at the heart of Sufism, hence many famous Islamic Scholars, poets and singers are still famous and you often feel peaceful listening to their Sufi renditions or reading Rumi.
One such place in Delhi, where you can feel the pull of Sufism, is at the dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, who was the fourth spiritual successor of Moinuddin Chisti of Ajmer – Founder of the order of Chishti saints in our country.
Hidden Gems of the Nizamuddin Basti:
The most famous saint of India, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, after whom the Basti (village) was named, is believed to have seen many kingdoms rise and fall in Delhi. The basti itself is said to be older than 600 years, so you can imagine the amalgamation of times which has gone through its bylanes.
Crowded to the T, Nizamuddin basti is an area for no faint hearted. Its bustling with people and shopkeepers selling their wares, who will pursue you to buy either flowers or food coupons for the poor.
Amongst some delicious eateries the monuments hidden inside this small village, which are a must visit are:
- Chaunsath Khamba :
It’s a splendid tomb built with 64 pillars inside the Nizamuddin Basti, by Mirza Aziz Koka as a mausoleum for himself.
The Tomb is beautiful and well maintained. The best part is there is a Peacock and a Peahen who are permanent residents of the tomb and are often called the Guardians. The tomb is constructed entirely of White Marble from the Mughal period and has been granted a Heritage Structure Tag.
- Tombstone of Mirza Ghalib
In the same compound lies the Tomb Stone of the world famous Poet, Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan who wrote in Urdu and Persian. Ghalib, as the world knows him was the last great poet of the Mughal era who wrote several Ghazals and couplets, which over the period of time has been interpreted sung differently. Ghalib was not only highly influential but was famous for his rebellious nature. Unlike other Muslims, Ghalib would gamble, drink alcohol and was even put in Jail.
Ghalib’s poetry often inclines towards Sadness, maybe that’s because he had seven sons, who did not survive and somewhere in his poems the pain is evident.
Not only in India and Middle east, Ghalib’s shayari is famous the world over.
“Hazaroon khwaheeshen aise ki har khwahesh pay dum nikale,
Bahhut nikale meray armaan lekin phirr bhi kam nikale “
Translation: Though many of my desires were fulfilled, majority remained unfulfilled.
“Kitnaa khouff hota hai shaam kay andheroon mein,
Poonch un parindoo say jin kay gharr nahi hotay”
Translation: How much terrified does one feel in dark (on sunset ),
Go and ask the birds, who do not own a house!
- Urs Mehal
Just in front of the Chausanth Khamba, there is a courtyard, called Urs Mehal. This used to be a courtyard where Qawwali’s used to take place. These days children play cricket.
- Atgah Khan’s Tomb
Atgah Khan was the Prime Minister during Akbar’s reign. There are several other tombs nearby which are unidentified. It is believed that it was a Family’s final resting place.
- Baoli of Nizamuddin
One of the famous Baolis (Step well ) of Delhi, is situated adjacent to the Dargah. One of the ASI protected monuments is now in a deteriorating state, though conservation work is an ongoing process here. It has been dwarfed by the residential structures which have cropped up over the years. It’s water (still some remaining, but green in colour due to algae and what not) said to have magical properties.
You can read more about the Baolis of Delhi here.
- Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya
The Dargah is the final resting place of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya who was a world famous Sufi saint and has a huge following. It is visited by thousands of people every day and of all religion. There truly is no divide in his shrine. Infact if you are a Non-Muslim, you will be made to feel welcomed. Atleast I did every single time I have visited the place. You just have to respect their customs and uphold the sanctity of the place.
Hundreds of seekers are seen at the dargah in different stages of praying. There is sure a mysticism about this place which will hold you close.
Qawwalis happen every evening (devotional local songs) however Thursday evenings are especially dedicated to the qawwalis grand performance.
Expect Huge, soul, and foot crushing crowds, but all the same, this spectacle is not to be missed.
The tomb of the famous poet Amir Khusro is also situated inside the dargah. Many homeless and poor come to the shrine in search of food, alms, and shelter. True to its meaning, Nizamuddin Dargah has always had a place for those who seek it.
Famous Bollywood Sufi Songs
Famous Sufi songs (Very Bollywoody) and mind you the most famous Bollywood songs are a far cry from what original Sufi Qawwals sing. However, you cant blame Bollywood to have captured the theme and sell what audience look for, as long as the essence is intact, I guess we should be fine with these versions (No offense to Amir Khusro)
- Kun Faya Kun – Rockstar
- Arziyan – Delhi 6
- Ya Rabba – Salam-e-ishq
- Mann ki Lagan – Paap
- Maula mere Maula – Anwar
- Piya Haji Ali – Fiza
- Khwaja mere Khwaja – Jodha Akbar
- Bhar de Jholi – Bajrangi Bhaijaan
- Allah ke Bande – Kailash Kher
- Maula mere lele meri jaan – Chak De
A song is said to be a Sufi song, if it talks about the love of God. Well, Bollywood usually makes the lyrics according to “romantic love” and sell it as a Sufi song.
Qawwalis – When and How to attend
Amir Khusro, the famous Sufi Saint and an iconic figure in the cultural history of Indian Subcontinent, has been credited for making a fusion of Persian and Indian music, which we famously know today as Qawwali.
Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya dargah is one of the best places in Delhi, to witness the tradition.
Usually, every evening some singers sit together and perform but special arrangements are made for Thursday and Sundays.
There is no fees or reservation to attend. Just be present during the evening times from 7:00 pm onwards. Sometimes the qawwalis are interrupted due to the prayers but for sure they happen every Thursday.
Please Note: Respect the religious sentiments and do not wear clothes which bare your legs (shorts or skirts) arms (sleeveless, strappy tops, anything too revealing) and always keep your head covered with a scarf. Even the men need to adhere to these guidelines.
How to reach Nizamuddin(West):
It is situated off Mathura Road. You can take a Metro till Jor Bagh and then fetch an Auto rickshaw till the Humayun’s Tomb roundabout. There is a Police station nearby and from there on foot inside the village.