City Faith – Hazrat Qutub Shah Chishti’s Sufi Shrine, Outside the Election Commission of India Headquarters
A pilgrimage by an office block.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
No one’s here. It’s all as quiet as a graveyard. The very air is suffused with a profound essence of utmost peacefulness. This can be the tip of the universe.
But this is in the city’s heart.
This little Sufi shrine to Hazrat Baba Khwaja Qutub Shah Chishti is above earthly concerns. Tucked just beside the headquarters of the busy Election Commission of India on Ashoka Road, a vase of plastic flowers is its only extravagant decoration. Otherwise, an earthen lamp glows steadily, honouring this barelyknown saint: cocooned from the glaring sun under a leafy neem tree and shielded by a roof of black cloth.
This afternoon, at least, the shrine is conveying an ambiance so very peaceful, so undisturbed, that one is almost tempted to lie down for a little nap alongside the grave.
But virtually nothing is known about the saint. Not when he lived, nor why he was sainted, except that his grave has lain here long before the building of the Election Commission turned up on the scene. Delhi itself has many now-obscure Sufi shrines alongside office buildings and busy highways.
For now, one can simply cherish the solitude of this old Sufi shrine, while marvelling at the survival of a fragile refuge still untouched in the constantly expanding metropolis—a city all too accustomed to losing historic and sacred landmarks.
An unknown shrine