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The beginnings of the Sufi tradition in India date back over a thousand years ago. The syncretic heart of Sufism imbibes spirituality and mindfulness. A trip along India’s Sufi circuit promises to be a transformative journey of a lifetime. By Manya Saini

Sufism is believed to be the inward dimension of Islam which imbibes its mystical practices. The believers of the tradition known as Sufis, are revered across the Middle East and South Asia as men of God that created a syncretic culture. Influenced by a myriad of religions and spiritual faiths, Sufism is built on tolerance and syncretic values.

If you are looking to find wellness and peace in times of stress or are searching for tranquillity to unwind from the worries of the pandemic, this journey through India’s Sufi circuit will help you find mental and physical calmness.

1. Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer

 

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The tomb of Sufi saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, who came to Ajmer from Persia in 1192, is called Dargah Sharif or Ajmer Sharif. Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti possesses a conspicuous spot among the profound healers of the world. Built with white marble, it has 11 pillars and a Persian engraving going through the full length of the structure. The tomb draws millions of pilgrims each year to commemorate the holy saint. Deemed Gharib Nawaz, the shrine is a site that encompasses unmatched charity and kindness. People from every religion, station, ideology come here and offer a conventional chaddar. Nothing can beat the qawali at Khwaja Garib Nawaz Dargah, which has an enchanting power that leaves the pilgrims in a trance of god.

Getting There

Visit the holy site between November to February to avoid heatwaves typical in Rajasthan and move around the Dargah on foot. Ajmer city does not have an airport of its own, with the closest one located in Jaipur approximately 132 kilometres away. The city is well connected by train and bus to all major cities of the country. Stay at the Hotel LN Courtyard for a seamless experience throughout your travel.

2. Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, New Delhi

 

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The marble Dargah or mausoleum of the Sufi saint, Khwaja Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya is tucked away in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area offering an unparalleled experience of the Sufi traditions. The dargah is concealed away in a knot of bazaars selling flower petals, attars (scents), and contributions, and on certain nights you can hear the qawali (Sufi reverential singing), amid hordes of pilgrims. Later rulers and nobles wanted to be buried near the auspicious site and different tombs in the compound incorporate the graves of Jahanara (little girl of Shah Jahan) and the prestigious Urdu writer Amir Khusrau. Spread around the encompassing rear entryways are more tombs and an immense baoli (step-well).

Getting There

Delhi is best seen between October to December when the weather allows travellers to move around freely. With a range of five-star hotels, luxury in the capital is available in abundance. Choose to stay at The Oberoi New Delhi, a hotel offering a view of the historic Mughal monument, Humayun’s tomb. Arrive in the city at the Indira Gandhi International Airport by air or by train at the New Delhi Railway station.

3. Salim Chishti Dargah, Fatehpur Sikri

 

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According to legend, a Mughal Emperor went to Sufi saint Salim Chisti to pray for a child on foot. The holy saint blessed the king, and later a boy was born to the Mughal emperor who was named Salim. Fatehpur Sikri has been built into a stunning tomb of red sandstone by Emperor Akbar, which was later turned to white marble by his son Salim. It is believed that offering prayers at the Dargah will help a pilgrim get his wishes fulfilled. Visitors tie a thread on the window cage of the shrine to have their prayers fulfilled.

Getting There

Fatehpur Sikri is located almost 40 kilometres away from Agra, and most travellers choose to stay in Agra itself as accommodation options in the former are limited. If you would like to book your stay close to the Dargah then the best option is the Goverdhan Tourist Complex. Be sure to plan your trip when the weather is cool and dry between November to February.

4. Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai

 

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The Haji Ali Dargah was built in the 15th century in the memory of Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. The saint was a merchant who gave up all worldly possessions before starting his pilgrimage to Mecca. The Dargah rests in the middle of the sea above a small dune of rocks as wished by the Saint who had not wanted a traditional burial. Designed as a testimonial of the syncretic Indo-Islamic architecture, the site attracts pilgrims and tourists in search of god and spirituality from across the world. On Fridays, Sufi musicians perform qawali at the Dargah attracting people in large numbers across faiths.

Getting There

Arrive at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport and make your way to The Taj Mahal Palace hotel. When booking your travels, avoid monsoon months to avoid getting drenched as the coastal city sees constant showers till the end of September. The best time to see this historic Dargah, a landmark of Mumbai, is between October to February.

5. Khwaja Bande Nawaz, Gulbarga, Delhi

 

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Syed Muhammad bin Yousuf Al Hussaini was a Sufi saint from the Chisti order famed for his teachings on understanding and tolerance among all religions and schools of thought. The tomb of the saint is a place of Ziyaarat and the site where millions of pilgrims hope to find clarity and freedom from worldly woes. The saint’s final resting site is a dome of unmatched beauty with intricate Urdu cravings, glass art, and ornate wall work. Sufi’s from around the world gather every year to commemorate the urs that is the death anniversary of the saint.

Getting There

Delhi is a city of historic wonders, best visited between October to December when the weather is pleasant for travellers to explore it. Stay at The Leela Palace New Delhi to immerse yourself in a five-star luxury experience. The capital has a dedicated international airport and two railway stations. The city also has plenty of options when it comes to travelling between destinations with a sophisticated public transport network.

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