Ramisha Asif, Word For Peace
Recently, I visited Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah where I met a beggar who has been living at this Dargah for years. The beggar’s name is Mohammed Yusuf Khan. He is very old and his age must be around 60, I guess. When I talked to him, he enumerated a lot of interesting stories and facts about this Dargah which were new to me.
First of all, he told me that Nizamuddin Dargah is the dargah of the Sufi saint Khwaja Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia which is situated in the Nizamuddin West slum area (Nizamuddin Basti) area of New Delhi. Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Sahab is also known as Mahbub-e-ilahi (Beloved of the Divine). The dargah is looked after by the descendants of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia (also known as peerzada). And the Dargah in Hazrat Nizamuddin is one of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Sahab and the other of Amir Khusrau Sahab.
The tomb of Hazrat Amir Khusro is on the left hand and the tomb of Nizamuddin Auliya Sahab is on the right hand and the Jamaat Khana Masjid is behind both the tombs. There are 70 graves inside Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah. The tombs of Amir Khusro, Nizamuddin Auliya Sahab, Jehan Ara Begum and Shah Jahan’s daughter is absolutely at the entrance of the complex. And the renovation and restoration of Nizamuddin Dargah are seen by the Aga Khan Trust Culture.
Nizamuddin tomb has a white dome. The main part of the dargah was made by Mohammed Bin Tughlaq in 1325. After that Firoz Shah Tughlaq repaired the structure and suspended four Golden cups from the dome’s recesses. Khurshid Jah of Hyderabad was gifted a marble whose name was Balustrade which is around the grave.
Then I saw a mosque just next to the dargah which is known as Jama’at Khana Masjid. Mohammad Yusuf Khan told me this mosque is made up of red-coloured sandstone and I have also seen that the verses of the Quran are written on the stone which is placed on mosque walls.
The main interesting thing Mohammad Yusuf Khan (Beggar) tells me about is the stepwell which is known as BAOLI. There is a stepwell just behind the dargah and this baoli was commissioned by Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Sahab himself and completed in 1321. This stepwell (baoli) is always full of water, no one has found the depth of its water to date, and it is said that there are seven wells under the water of the stepwell (Baoli). The colour of the water of this stepwell (Baoli) changes 7 times. In the end, it becomes the green colour of this baoli and after that, it is said by the local people that this baoli demands the life of a person. The people who live in Nizamuddin Basti also swim there. It is said that there is a Shifa in the water of this stepwell (baoli), due to which the health of the people gets cured if they fall ill, people also ask for vows.
It is said that Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq had commissioned the Tughlaqabad Fort at the same time when the baoli was being built. Because he forbade all workers from working on the baoli, they would work on it at night. After knowing all this, he restricted giving oil, then Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya had lit all the lamps with the water of this baoli. He asked his mureed Naseeruddin Mehmood, popularly known as ‘Chiragh Dilli’, to lighten up the lamps with water instead of oil.
Nasiruddin Mehmood Nasiruddin Mahmud Chiragh Dehlavi, popularly known as “Chiragh Dilli” whose Dargah is located in Chirag Dilli village. Dehlavi was Nizamuddin Auliya’s successor. A a flock of pigeons takes to the air in his Dargah, and the flutter of their wings seems to be audible. He was the most prominent Sufi saint in Delhi after his Murshid Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Sahab who bestwoed him the beautiful title of ‘Chiragh Dilli’, as he lightened up the lamps with water instead of oil.
Mohammad Yusuf Khan told me about Qawwali nights. Qawwali takes place here on the 17th and 18th day in the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal of the Islamic calendar. Thousands of people attend the URS (death anniversary) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and Amir Khusrau Sahab every year. Thousands of people come to this dargah throughout the year and pray here and give respect to the saint. The dargah has a tradition of Qawwali, especially the one on every Thursday night attracting about 1500 visitors. Every day Qawwali is held here after Maghrib’s Azaan and many Darbari Qawwals are called to conduct the Qawwali session.
He also told me that in this Dargah, Langar (food) is also distributed to needy people every day. In the dargah, there is not only food but also blankets, clothes, sheets are distributed. He told me he also eats the same food, wears the same clothes which are distributed in the dargah. Apart from this, he tells that Lamps are lit every evening which is called “Dua-e-Roshni” and it is an important ritual of this dargah. Pilgrims gather around the khadim, the caretaker, who prays for the wishes of all those gathered to be granted and fulfilled.
Mohammad Yusuf Khan told me about Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Sahab’s Murshid (spiritual master) Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki. He learned all this from him. His grave is in Mehrauli. Every kind of people comes to this dargah, followers of every religion come, there is no restriction on anyone. People tie colourful threads on the jails and make vows (mannat) to the saints. Each thread symbolizes a wish. Plates of roses and petals and sweets are offered to the tomb and fragrant sheets (chaddars) are draped on them. It is not allowed to wear slippers inside the dargah. There are historical buildings all around Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah such as Humayun Tomb, Khan Khana Tomb, Isa Khan Tomb, Sabz Burj which is also known as Gol Gumbad, Chausath khamba.
Women are restricted to going inside the grave of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Sahab and Amir Khusrau Sahab. The walls of the lattice have been made that no woman can go beyond it, only men can go. Women can only see the grave from beyond the lattice wall.
Mohammad Yusuf Khan told me that this dargah is the property of the Delhi Waqf board. Offerings are collected under the baridari system through pirzadaas, who are the custodians of the Sufi dargahs. The committee, Anjuman Peerzadan Nizamiyan Khusravu, looks after the dargah. In this dargah, many big film stars also come to pray. And many movie songs have also been shot in this dargah such as “Arziyan” a Qawwali in the 2009 film Delhi 6 composed by A.R. Rahman and this song is dedicated to Nizamuddin Auliya Sahab. “Kun Faya Kun”, a song in the 2011 movie Rockstar and again composed by Rahman, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” featuring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor and many more. The festival of Basant Panchami is also celebrated at the dargah.
At last, Mohammad Yusuf Khan said that he is very happy in this dargah. He has no shortage of food and drinks and the people of the dargah take care of him.
The author is an intern at Word For Peace, and is also pursuing graduation in Journalism and Mass Communication from Jamia Hamdard University.