Sufism, an offshoot of Islam, attracts many non Muslims, due to its openness, its vibrancy and the love of its teachers- like Rumi, for God. The language of love, of surrender, of oneness with the Beloved (God), the main tenants of this branch of Islam. The Lost Sufis of Mehruli, was the name of the walk conducted by Syed Yusuf Shahab. Though, we couldn’t visit all the shrines in Mehrauli, as we walked around for four kilometres visiting the hidden gems, only Yusuf knew, it was a wonderful couple of hours spent in great company.
I’ve been told that when I write about the walks, I give away too much information, that’s why one has stopped being too descriptive about them. To know more, purchase the book written by the walk leader- The Lost Sufis of Delhi.
This Sunday, I left a couple hours early from work to participate in a heritage walk, led by Aman Tomer. Since one has taken a break from oneself, there are no solo dates, I take myself on, these days. Though, technically, hanging out with strangers, could be considered solo dating. Anyhow, what do you do when you’re working like everything is hunky dory and most of your friends are still not venturing out? Explore the city.
Aman, who led the walk, is the co- founder of Sair e Dilli and a graduate from the prestigious Jamia Millia Islamia. He lead us through the lush green plantations of Sanjay Van, towards the walls of Lal Kot/ Qila Rai Pithora to the Dargah of Khwaja Shihabiddin (which we only saw from the outside). He spoke in Hindi and very casually interspersed into the historical fables, stories about Chudails and Snakes, that run rampant in this area. His manner was easy going and friendly, something that was much appreciated, trekking up and down the rocky terrain.
Since, it was a Sunday, one saw couples and families everywhere, soaking up the sun. The participants seemed to enjoy the experience, as did I. Don’t know about the kid in the pictures below, though, who kept telling her dad, ‘ yeh bacho ke liye jagah nahi he!’ and he kept trying to convince her, that she’s not a kid anymore. Of course, that led to clinging to the mother. Aren’t mum’s so comforting? I would have paid money, just to see that very cute father, daughter banter. Not to take away from the fabulousness of the walk and the leader, at all.
Just received my copy of The Lost Sufis of Delhi, Syed Yusuf’s book, about the saints buried in Delhi, which is an abode of Sufism. Yusuf who is graduate in Political Science and has a Post Graduate’s degree in Tourism and Travel from Jamia, has dedicated the book to Late Eshan Alam.
I spent the weekend, walking around Delhi with this direct descendant of a Sufi Saint, belonging to the Chishti order. Of course, his knowledge of Sufism, was on point but that only an expert can verify. With my limited understanding of the topic, my occasional flirtation with the Sufi way of life, I found the walks to Qudsia Bagh and Nizamuddin quite interesting.The bagh and the cemetery, one had never visited neither had I been to the Chilla and Patti Sahab’s Dargah but Chausath Kambha, the Nizammudin Dargah, Ghalib’s tomb and Sunder Nursery, I took my students to last year. On a Sunday afternoon, these were packed so I refused to walk towards the Dargah, during this pandemic, hence I left early.
Each heritage walk leader, has his own distinct style. Syed Yusuf, began by saying, ‘ I’m more a storyteller than a historian‘. That just means, you have to discount them factual discrepancies, if there are any. Though, he spoke in Hindustani, his language was more casual and his mannerism a bit stern. But the information seemed on point, plus there were a number of team members, who kept an eye on everyone, to make sure no one got lost in the crowd. What I did like though was, they seem quite driven and organised. The walks are conducted quite frequently (which considering they only have six months a year to have these events, should be the case) and in various parts of Delhi. If money is a constraint, they are lighter on the pocket. I would recommend Sair- e- Dilli’s walks on or about Sufism. Somebody should start doing a fifteen minute zikr session before or after the walks ( but unfortunately men and women aren’t encouraged to do so together. They are made to sit separately, therefore, only non Muslims, I find, organise the mixed sessions) I would definitely go for all of those.