City Faith – Chirag Dilli Dargah, Near Greater Kailash
An ascetic’s world.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Naseeruddin Mahmud Roshan Chirag Dilli is bathed in fragile tranquility. Situated in South Delhi, the dargah is circled by a typically charming urban village consisting of shaving salons, gyms, groceries, corner temples and stray dogs. Yet, it has managed to shelter its enclosed world in a state of solemn seclusion.
The tomb is rarely crowded. The dome is painted white and the walls are green. The niches have earthen lamps. The foliage of a grand khirni tree (Manilkara hexandra) provides shade to a section of the courtyard. In summer, earthen water pots are kept around its trunk.
During the prayer hours, the devotees turn to the direction of Mecca. The rest of the time they sit quietly in front of the shrine – eyes closed. Sometimes, a khadim – the dargah’s traditional caretaker – is requested to liberate a man possessed by djinns. The khadim gently sways peacock’s feathers over the afflicted man’s head and orders the unseen spirits to go away.
The dargah has several tombs, some dating to the Lodhi-era (1451-1526). A few graves are covered with colored clothes. One domed enclosure showcases a wooden bed, said to be of the shrine’s patron saint. Hazrat Naseeruddin was born in the 13th century in Ayodhya, a Hindu pilgrimage town north-east of Delhi. Raised by his widowed mother, Naseeruddin drifted to solitude. He withdrew from society and started meditating in the forest. At 43, he arrived in Delhi and became a disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, who made him his spiritual successor.
In her book The Sufi Courtyard: Dargahs of Delhi, author Sadia Dehlvi writes:
Although extremely fond of mystic verse, Hazrat Naseeruddin never allowed the use of music instruments… (He) had a sense of humor and danced vigorously during poetic assemblies, often going into a state of spiritual ecstasy.
After miraculously lighting earthen lamps with water (instead of oil), Hazrat Naseeruddin acquired the title of ‘Roshan Chiarg Dilli’, the bright lamp of Delhi.
The Sufi died in 1356. He was buried in the chamber in which he lived. His master Hazrat Nizamuddin’s cloak and sandals were placed on his body. Today, his grave looks up to a chandelier.
Where Near Chirag Delhi flyover Time Morning to evening Nearest Metro Station Hauz Khas
A secluded world