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City Faith – Unknown Sufi, Zakir Hussain Marg

A roadside mystery.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Most of central Delhi used to be a jungle. Dacoits roamed between Mehrauli in the south and Shahjahanabad (aka Old Delhi) in the north. The forest was also home to Muslim ascetics who lived there to avoid the crowds. When such a holy man died, he was usually buried in the same place he had lived. Some of these memorials became famous Sufi shrines; most were lost with time.

However, a few graves have miraculously continued to survive.

One such piece of the past is an unknown person’s tombstone along Zakir Hussain Marg. Actually, Zakir Hussain Marg was built past it.

Today, the grave finds itself on a leaf-strewn footpath; with its gleaming green and white tiles, it is obviously a recently-built structure. On every Thursday evening when dargahs across the capital teem with pilgrims, this roadside tomb too is lit up with candles. In fact, there are many Sufi shrines in the area – the dargah of Hazrat Bibi Fatima is a 10-minute walk away.

One rainy afternoon a white Volkswagen was parked beside the shrine. There was no one around. Some devotee had left behind marigold garlands on the grave. An earthen lamp flickered weakly in the cold wind. The secular traffic rode on unconcernedly. Not a single car slowed. The shrine lay unseen, as if it were still in the jungle of the old days.

Where Zakir Hussain Marg Nearest Metro Station Jangpura

Almost unseen





One thought on “City Faith – Unknown Sufi, Zakir Hussain Marg

  1. In India, religion is a very good business. Do forgive me if I sound cynical or offensive. A mandir or a masjid or any other place of workshop usually comes up silently and unobtrusively in a corner and after some time the believers start praying around it, showering flowers and coins on it. The tiles, stonework, idols, framed photographs follow and lo and behold, you have a full-fledged place of worship with a fully operational team of caretakers to take care of the business! I have lived in A Block Vikaspuri, opposite Aakash Institute, for almost 30 years now. The temple near my home also started in the same manner. A very thin sadhu with a very dark complexion wearing just an orange colored dhoti suddenly turned up around the time we settled here in 1984. We used to see him sleeping under a tree while the hot summer sun raged on. People took pity on him and gave him food and water. But when several undesirable elements also started sitting there, the welfare association tried to have him evicted. But for some strange reason, he managed to survive and stay on. The same place now houses a Shiv temple under that very tree. The last time I saw this sadhu was about about 5 years ago; he looked well-fed and even had a paunch! Last year, this mandir was robbed of quite a lot of money; the pujari is now a new guy and I have heard that he bought this mandir from the original sadhu for quite a good amount of money!Do I sound like PK?

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