There was once a city called Atlantis, a Utopia which was both highly advanced and its people beautiful and wise. But then these very people became corrupted with their own might. Angered by this, the gods made the city disappear forever, never again to reappear.
Much like Plato’s fabled Atlantis, there was once a paradisaical Utopia nestled in the fertile Punjab plains in northern India. Strategically located halfway between Delhi and Lahore, it was wealthy and beautiful, decorated with some 360 mosques, gardens, tombs, caravansarais, and wells. It minted its own gold and copper coins, trade and industry flourished, and Sufi saints, artists and surgeons converged in its lanes, calling the city their home.
Rose essence from Hinduism’s holy city of Pushkar fills the air of Sufi Islam’s sacred dargah in Ajmer. The courtyard reverberates with qawwalis in praise of the 13th Century saint from Iran, as the faithful shuffle past his grave in deep reverence, heads bowed, eyes lowered, a prayer or two on their lips.
It is 9ish in the morning and I am at the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah deep in the heart of Ajmer’s Muslim quarter. As far back as I can remember, I had wanted to visit the tomb-shrine. Now actually standing here, it feels unreal. Surreal.
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Just 15 kilometres from Pushkar, separated by Nag Pahar an ancient hill in the Aravalli range, is Ajmer—Pushkar’s antithesis. Continue reading →
“… Spirit of Guidance,
Source of all beauty, and Creator of harmony,
Love, Lover, and Beloved Lord.
Thou art our divine ideal.”
~ Ameen (Rasul)
The above verse is from the third evening prayer in Sufism, Rasul.
Sufism in India goes back a 1,000 years, both as part of Islam and woven into the Bhakti Movement. Today, the country is an epicentre for Sufi culture; its dargahs a devout space for connecting with the divine.
One such dargah stands across the Haji Ali Dargah in Mahalaxmi, on the other side of the coastline hugging the Arabian Sea. Lesser known, but no less revered, the Saint Ma Hajiani Dargah is a place of worship for women and their dreams of finding love and having offspring. Continue reading →