City Faith – Nane Mian’s Sufi Shrine, Mandi House Traffic Circle
The charms of a roadside shrine.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s easier than you think to experience genuine peace amid urban chaos.
Just pausing at a Sufi shrine in Central Delhi does its magic. Pedestrians at the busy Mandi House traffic circle automatically stop in their tracks — to contemplate at the grave of Sufi saint Syyed Nanhe Mian Chishti or “Little Gentleman”.
Like many other mandirs and dargahs spread along the city lanes, the disarming beauty of this grave, lying in a corner under a lush peepal, conveys a simple sacredness that pulls people from across faiths.
This afternoon, a number of passers-by are pausing by the dargah, most of them reverently closing their eyes. A few remove their shoes, walk right up to the shrine, and kneel on the tiled floor out of respect. Covered by a green tin roof, the grave is draped in a green cloth.
Not much is known about this popular patron saint, oddly enough. One anthropologist Anand Vivek Taneja links Nanhe Mian to a djinn-saint revered by worshipers in the ruins of Feroze Shah Kotla.
The ideal time to visit the shrine is quite possibly at the peak of the evening rush hour when the traffic circle is clogged with cars and autos.
The shrine then seems steeped in meaningful tranquility. As a visitor you may feel a bit wiser and clear-headed than all those unfortunates stuck in jam. Even if you’re only experiencing an illusion.
Peace in chaos