A fortress crumbling. Part 1

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So here’s from my most recent visit to the fort Tughlaqabad.

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Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s mausoleum

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It was this last week, taking a long stroll across Delhi, lamenting for the short time I’m left with that I’ll get to spend in this very fine city, that I finally visited Nizamuddin Auliya’s Dargah or Mausoleum. It was an accident of chance. I found a friend willing to go there with me and thus we ended up at the antique milestone in Indian history, where the greatest of the Sufi saints of the Chisti wilayat was laid to rest under waves and waves of timeless prayer offerings and ‘duwa’s.

I wrote earlier about Hazrat Nizamuddin’s curse on the abandoned city of Tughlaqabad, and it only seems justified to write about the Saint’s lifetime that steeped in love for the Creator and Humanity.

The saint was born in Barayun now a part of Uttar Pradesh in the early 13th century. He came to live in Delhi, still a child, with his mother Zulekha Bibi after the death of his father Ahmad Barayuni. His life is chronicled by the Royal Mughal scribe of the court of Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar in his most famous 16th century literary work, The Ain-i-Akbari.

At the age of twenty, Nizāmuddīn went to Ajodhan (the present Pakpattan Sharif in Pakistan) and became a disciple of the Sufi saint Fariduddin Ganjshakar, commonly known as Baba Farid. Nizāmuddīn did not take up residence in Ajodhan but continued with his theological studies in Delhi while simultaneously starting the Sufi devotional practices and the prescribed litanies. He visited Ajodhan each year to spend the month of Ramadan in the presence of Baba Farid. It was on his third visit to Ajodhan that Baba Farid made him his successor. Shortly after that, when Nizāmuddīn returned to Delhi, he received news that Baba Farid had died.

Chilla Nizamuddin Auliya, residence of Nizamuddin Auliya, towards the north-east from Humayun’s tomb, Delhi. Nizāmuddīn lived at various places in Delhi, before finally settling down in Ghiyaspur, a neighbourhood in Delhi undisturbed by the noise and hustle of city life. He built his Khanqah here, a place where people from all walks of life were fed, where he imparted spiritual education to others and he had his own quarters. Before long, the Khanqah became a place thronged with all kinds of people, rich and poor alike.

Many of his disciples achieved spiritual height, including Shaikh Nasiruddin Muhammad Chirag-e-Delhi, and Amir Khusro, noted scholar/musician, and the royal poet of the Delhi Sultanate.

He died on the morning of 3 April 1325. His shrine, the Nizamuddin Dargah, is located in Delhi and the present structure was built in 1562. The shrine is visited by people of all faiths, through the year, though it becomes a place for special congregation during the death anniversaries, or Urs, of Nizamuddin Auliya and Amīr Khusro, who is also buried at the Nizāmuddīn Dargāh.

The tomb of the Mughal Shahzadi, Jahan Ara Begum, the eldest daughter of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz also lies next to the Dargah. It is only justifiable for anyone to lie down to rest, for it is the only place in Delhi where one can find a spiritual wholeness with the centuries of love and peace hanging in its air.

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Hauz Khas Fort

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Part of the Hauz Khas Fort, in the old village of Hauz Khas, New Delhi, this is a beautiful local/foreign tourist spot. Used for several photo shoots, and turned into occasional film sets this fort is a very popular place to be in Hauz Khas. Not situated very far from the Hauz Khas metro station, in South Delhi, this is a portal that leads Delhi’s cosmopolitan present into it’s rich and monopolized royal past. These are some photographs I took when I recently visited it, in May this year. There is this irresistible and charming enticement about the antiquity about this place that binds one to it. The pillars behind which lovers huddle close to each other, utter words of bliss and exchange tokens, words of promises resonate the music of long ages, that hums faintly in the ears ask we walk through the corridors taking the steps of the great Maharajas of the ancient days and the past comes alive when we breathe in the cool air that blows in from the amazing lake that stretches on forever below the fortress. I for once again felt proud when I took in so much history all at once.

hostel

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the iron gates close on your face,

by the hour, takes no explanation.

not even beads of sweat,

or the four five bags slung on your arm.

the stairs outside can become your bed,

until the dawn of the morning,

or the dews flick your eyes open.

condemns you for the illegal activities,

you had been doing out so late,

to twenty-five year olds,

in uniforms.

even if it’s us youngsters,

won’t believe if we said we’re virgins!

friendship, it doesn’t accept.

just coolers blaring alarms everywhere,

the gate stands like a tombstone,

made of cold hard steel.

not like the sacred metal,

real iron is supposed to be.

ohoh, hadn’t I been talking about the gate?

mistake, the gate is made of iron,

that could be soldered away.

the coldness is in the mind,

who keeps the steel key,

who keeps it.

illiterate, and shut.

I have an answer now.

Next time, I’ll just sneak into the matron’s

Icy prison she mistook for a lavish manor.

Before the witch is back, I’ll copy her weapon,

Her upper hand during our battles,

And leave quietly.

Tonight the lock will be free,

To let whoever deserves to get past it.

And a few of their lovers as well.