The Sacredscapes of Delhi — An Overview Of An Exhibition On Sufi Shrines

Dargah of Sufi Saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia in New Delhi

“Khusrau darya prem ka, ulti wa ki dhaar,
Jo utra so doob gaya, jo dooba so paar”

SADIQ ZAFAR | Caravan Daily

SHRINES in India have had a dominant role to play in educating the masses while promoting the culture of harmony and peace at the same time. Thus the diversified, pluralistic, cultural ethos of a shrine superseded the physical form or the architecture of the built sacred space. The Sufi shrines covered through DSLR lenses exhibited at the Rabindra Bhawan near bureaucrats’ den in Delhi, stated that the built forms of sacred spaces are not only artifacts but they also define the urban morphology, the skyline and the spatial setting of Delhi

Shrines are the epicenter of cultural mix and a space where faith and belief is celebrated. The sacred space, being an extrovert piece on the spatial setting, offers the pilgrims, visitors and peace seekers to assemble and pay a visit to the shrine with their own stories of attachment and belief. This transforms a shrine into a shared resource where spirituality interacts with the society. 

When a space gets attached to a Sufi saint, it becomes lively and acts as a source of attraction even for inert souls. There is no place in Delhi where such variant and contrasting canvases can be traced. Thesacredscapes of Delhi under the Sufi shrines celebrate cultural diversity in the architectural built form. These spiritual spaces from history act as faith centric where communities interact and connect physically to the past of Delhi and Sufism. 

Dargah Hazrat Bakhtiyar Khaki in New Delhi

The culture of mysticism looking inward provides saints to celebrate the religion in its own distinct form. The exhibition had opened with the image of the center of Sufism in Delhi, shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya tracing the mysticism through the architectural spaces. The man behind the lens exploring the Sufi spaces ofDelhi is a professor of Architecture at Jamia Millia Islamia and has been researching the Sufi spaces since his early days at the Aga Khan Trust in Delhi working for the urban renewal of the residential area of Hazrat Nizamuddin and Humayun’s tomb.

The presence of such spaces where eminent Sufis like Chiragh-e-Dilli, Bakhtiar Kaki, Hazrat Nizamuddin etc are resting, a society based on intolerance and hatred needs to be advocated and propagated in order to focus the need to study such personalities. Their influence and the outreach of their messages in the diversified pluralistic society can let us learn how to propagate peace and dwell with harmony in this divided society. 

A tree at Matka Peer Shah shrine in New Delhi

The spaces where even the celebrities of our time come like ordinary people and where everyone present in congregation is equal, reflect the position and the stature of the Sufi saints and the spaces where they’re resting. In this sea of humanity the space which represents each sector of the society and displays inclusion, harmony and peace through its built form and architectural beauty covered through the lenses, was a marvelous job done by the professor who is invited at the Jahangir Art Gallery in Mumbai to display his work on Sufism and the spaces of mysticism.


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