27 December, 2014

Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple

Mythological significance

Trimbakeshwar is considered as one of the most sacred towns in India. There are many reasons for this belief. Trimbakeshwar is believed to be the birth place of Lord Ganesha. It is also believed that Trimbakeshwar was the abode of revered sage Gautama. The sage in order to be relieved of the sin of ‘gohatya’ worshipped Lord Shiva at Brahmagiri Mountain for River Ganges to flow down to earth. The wish was granted and Goddess Ganges took the form of River Godavari and originated from Kushavarta (Teertharaj) of Brahmagiri mountain at Trimbakeshwar. Hindus believe that those who visit Trimbakeshwar attain salvation or Moksha and it is the most ideal place for Shraaddha ceremony (a Hindu ritual for the salvation of the soul). As per the legends, Lord Rama made his yatra to Trimbakeshwar to perform shraaddha. Also, as per the legend, a drop of amrita (immortal nectar) from Amritakumbha spilt at Trimbak.

Trimbakeshwar temple built in Nagara style enshrines one of the 12 Jyotirlingas dedicated to Shiva. The extraordinary feature of the Jyotirlinga located here is the Linga is three faced embodying Tridev - Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. All other Jyotirlingas have Shiva as the main deity. The Linga is crowned with a jewel studded crown believed to be from Pandavas. The crown is adorned with diamonds, emeralds, and many other types of precious stones.

Legend has it that Guatam Rishi performed a rigorous ritual of prayer and penance or tapasya to Shiva on Brahmagiri Hill which rises above the present-day temple. Pleased with this devotion, Shiva is said to have blessed him and brought down to earth from heaven the sacred rivers of Ganga, Gautami and Godavari.

The work of constructing the present temple of Trimbakeshwar was begun by Shrimant Balaji Bajirao alias Nanasahib Peshawe in 1755 in the first half of the Margashirsha month (around December) and was completed in 1786. It took 31 years to construct the temple and the cost of 16 lakhs then.

It has been built as per the Nagara style and has been beautifully adorned with idols and sculptures, comprising the figures of humans, animals as well as yakshas. Encircling the Trimbakeshwar Temple is a colossal wall, made out of stone. In the path that leads to the temple is a large statue of a bull and one enters the sanctum sanctorum, the marble idol of Nandi Bull, the vehicle of Lord Shiva, comes into view.

Kumbha Mela
According to Shiv Maha Purana, it is because of the earnest request of Godavari River, Gautam Rishi and other gods that Lord Shiva agreed to reside here and assumed the famous name Trimbakeshwar.

All the heavenly Gods promised to come down to Nasik, once in twelve years, when Jupiter resides in the zodiac sign of Leo. On this day a grand fair is organized at this place. Devotees take holy bath in Gautami Ganga and then seek the blessings of Trimbakeshwar.

26 December, 2014

Bhoganandishwara and Arunachaleshwara temples - nandigrama

Nestled at the base of the more frequently visited Nandi hills are the twin temples dedicated to Bhoganandishwara and Arunachleshwara.

1000 years old Bhoganandeeshwara temple dedicated to Shiva and Parvati is a marvel of sorts, a testament to the intricate Dravidian architecture. The temple contains essential elements of a typical Dravidian temple which include the sanctum or ‘vimana’,the ‘mantapa’ or hall, the towers or ‘gopuras’ and a 'kalyani' or temple tank. Intricate sculptures and beautiful carvings cover most parts of the temple.

Copper plates found at Chikkaballapur state that the temple was built by Ratnavali consort of Bana King Vidhyadhara and records a grant to it in 810 AD. The temple then underwent many additions and modifications, spread over the rule of around five dynasties. The Chola kings in the 11th century added the roof; the Hoysalas added the marriage hall to the temple structure and the outer wall and buildings were added by the Vijayanagar kings in the 13th century.

For centuries it was impregnable until the British stormed it in October 1791 and defeated Tipu Sultan.

Bhoganandeeshwara temple complex houses three temples, Arunachaleshwara, Uma Maheshwara and Bhoganandeeshwara.

Traditionally Arunachaleshwara is said to represent the childhood of Shiva, Bhoganandeeshwara the Youth, and Yoga Nandeeshwara on the Hill top, the final renunciation stage.

The Bhoganandeeshwara temple depicts the youthful phase of Lord Shiva. As youth is the time to rejoice and enjoy life, many festivals are celebrated in this temple throughout the year. Uma Maheswara temple depicts the wedding scenes of Shiva and Parvathi. The Yoganandeeshwara temple located atop Nandi hills, by contrast has no festivals at all as it signifies Shiva in his renunciation stage. There are significant carvings in and around these temples.

Each consists of a garbhagriha, a sukanasi and a navaranga. They have two pierced windows opposite to each other in both the sukanasi and the navaranga. The four pillars of navaranga in Bhoganandishwara shrine has intricately carved figures on all sides. The ceiling has ashtadikpalakas with Shiva and Parvati on the central panel. The base has a frieze of elephants, yaalis and lions intercepting with each other. Both the shrines have fine stone shikharas that are almost similar in design.

Between the two shrines is a small intervening shrine dedicated to Umamaheshwara. In front of this is a Kalyanamantapa built of black stone very interestingly carved with creepers and birds. The prakara has two Devi shrines, Kalyana mantapa, Tulabharamantapa and a square stepped shringi thirtha pond.

Arunachaleshwara Temple

The Arunachaleshwara temple, built by the Gangas, has a unique form of Lord Ganesha called Simha Ganapathi or Ugra Ganapathi or Herambha Ganapati. There is a granite idol of Nandi idol in front of the temple.

Uma Maheshwara Temple

Built by the Hoysalas, this temple has the presiding deities Uma and Maheshwara in the Sanctum. The Kalyana Mantapa is surrounded by four pillars each of which have a divine couple depicted on them – Shiva and Parvati, Brahma and Saraswathi, Vishnu and Lakshmi and Agni Deva and Swaha Devi.

The pillars and walls are covered with intricate carvings typical of the Hoysalas. The structures are covered in figures of parrots, animals, creepers and divine figures.



The main Bhoganandeeshwara temple has a majestic Shiva Linga in the sanctum sanctorum. There is a sculpture in the temple that the locals believe is that of Raja Raja Chola. But it could be an idol of a devotee.

The historical records state that during tenth century, Raja Raja Chola invaded this temple and helped himself to the sculptures in the temple. However, he felt guilty and took the sculptures back, after which he built a statue of himself in the temple complex,” said a historian.

The pillars are covered in beautiful carvings. The Nandi idol in front of the Sanctum of this temple is even more attractive than the one in front of Arunachaleshwara temple.

Vijayanagara rulers added the Kalyana Mantapa and Tulabhara Mantapa.

Shringi Theertha

Shringi Theertha or the temple pond is surrounded on all four sides by a walkway and a running mantapa. It has steps leading down to it on all four sides. As per a popular legend, the divine bull Nandi plunged his horn into the ground to draw out water from the divine Ganga and created the pond. The pond is said to be the source of South Pinakini (South Pennar) River.

24 December, 2014

Kalaram Mandir - Nashik

Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman stayed at 'Panchavati' on the northern banks of river Godavari for sometime during their 14 years of exile. Kalaram Temple stands at the place that has become sacred with the footsteps and the presence of Lord Ram.

The temple was built in 1788 by late Sardar Rangarao Odhekar. According to a local legend, it is said that Sardar Rangarao Odhekar dreamt that a black statue of Lord Rama was lying in river Godavari. Odhekar found the idol in the river and the place where statue the was found was named ‘Ramkund’. The temple derives its name from the statue of Lord Rama that is black in colour. The literal translation of Kalaram means black Rama. The sanctum sanctorum also houses the statues of goddess Sita and Lakshman.


Sardar Rangrao Odhekar, under the consultation with Late Sawaee Madhavrao Peshwa Started the construction of present temple in the year 1780. The main temple was completed by the year 1792 and thereafter the sabhamandapa, the stilt round the temple and the fencing by the year 1799. The temple built of beautiful black stone has about 96 pillars. It is said that the expert masons brought best quality stones from Ramshej Hills near Nashik, tested each block in boiling milk before using it in construction work.The ‘Kalash’ inside the temple is made of pure gold. It took 12 years, 20000 workers and 23 lakhs INR to build this incredibly artistic temple.

Kalaram Satyagraha
The 1920s and the 1930s saw a series of agitations led by Dr. Ambedkar to get public wells, tanks and Hindu temples opened to “untouchables.” Kalaram Temple is the very site in the old city where Ambedkar led and later abandoned a temple-entry movement in the early 1930s.

Dr. Ambedkar said:
"I didn’t launch the temple entry movement because I wanted the Depressed Classes to become worshipers of idols which they were prevented from worshiping or because I believed temple entry would make them equal members in and an integral part of the Society."

Organized by Ambedkar and the local Mahar leaders, the Kalaram Satyagraha involved thousands of untouchables in intermittent efforts to enter the temple and to participate in the annual temple procession. The agitation for entry into the Kalaram temple went on for four years, from 1930 to 1934. Opposition came not only from the orthodox Hindus but also from some local congressmen. The outcome of the Kalaram Satyagraha, however, was not only further disillusionment with the Satyagraha, with the satyagraha method and the attitude of the congress, but also a rejection of Hinduism and a strengthening of the separatist political stance then developing among Untouchables.

Ambedkar discontinued the agitation in 1934 following opposition by priests, notwithstanding the support extended by Gandhiji. But he fought a legal battle, along with a peaceful agitation, for the next four years, and in 1939 ultimately secured entry to the temple for “untouchables.”

Wandering in the temple courtyard and on the narrow streets around its precincts, with their small houses, latticed wooden balconies, gnarled pipal trees, and clay-tiled sloping roofs, it is hard to imagine a time when access to this temple was so fraught an issue as to become the watershed after which Ambedkar could never allow himself or his community to be reconciled with the Hindu mainstream.

26 April, 2014

Umaid Bhawan - Jodhpur

The last of India's great palaces, Umaid Bhawan, perched high above the desert capital of Jodhpur is a stunning example of a bygone royal era. It is one of the largest palaces in the world set in 26 acres, of which 15 are garden. It took half a million donkey loads of earth for the garden beds, a 100 wagon loads of Makrana marble, 2.5 million quintals of ice, a million meters of steel conduits, 15,000 running feet of copper and lead were weighing 200 tons, an electric network of 2500 KW for the main palace alone and a 300 ton compressor for the air-conditioning plant. It took more than 5,000 workers 15 years to build the palace, and is unusual in that it does not use mortar or cement to bind the stones together. When finished, it was the largest private residence in the world, with almost 350 rooms. The Maharaja's family still live in one wing of the palace, and another part of the palace is open to the public as a museum. Umaid Bhawan Palace sits on Chittar Hill overlooking Jodhpur and faces the city's other great palace, the Meherangarh Fort.

The furniture and fittings were originally designed by Maples of London, (who had decorated the viceroy Lodge in Simla, as early as 1892) in the Art Deco style that was the pinnacle of fashion in Europe and America in the thirties. They were dispatched to Bombay in 1942 but, tragically, the ship carrying them was sunk enroute by the Germans. Frantic efforts were then made in Jodhpur to manufacture the interiors in the style required. Fortunately, the Maharaja had in Stephan Norblin, a Polish artist who had fled war-torn Europe, an amateur interior designer well acquainted with the work of Art Deco masters like - Emile Ruhlmann. The Maharaja asked Norblin to paint too, and his spectacular and imaginative murals in the Maharaja and Maharani suites superbly complement his decoration, while in the Oriental Throne room, his scenes from the Hindu epic, Ramayana could not have been better chosen for, as we know, the Rathores claim descent from Lord Rama, the ideal Hindu king.

Though the Art Deco vogue has lapsed elsewhere, in Umaid Bhawan Palace, it is perfectly preserved. Occidental in it symmetrical planning and integration not flawless maintain many Indian architectural styles. Like medieval Rajput palaces, it is divided into 2 sections, the "Zenana" or ladies' wing and the "Mardana" or male wing, both with separate entrances, the former with and enclosed private garden and hidden passages to the swimming pool and public rooms. Like their predecessors, the ladies could watch ceremonies, durbars and parties unobserved. The durbar and banquet halls, the auditorium and the ballroom have galleries on the first floor where screens were draped for the zenana.

Its central cupola is 105 feet high. With 347 rooms, a throne room for private auditorium, a ballroom, a library, an indoor swimming pool, a billiards room, 4 tennis courts, 2 (unique) marble squash courts, croquet lawns, a marble pavilion, a nursery and garages for 20 motor cars, the palace is unabashedly magnificent.

The many stylized sculpture and carvings on its caves, parapets and towers have been thoughtfully chosen. Those of horses speak of the Rathores' centuries old equestrian tradition, armorial helmets, of their martial skills, the eagle, their spiritual power and the peacock their majesty. Sculpture of boar, heads capture the excitement of the sport of the day pig-stacking and carved airplanes on parapets and railings celebrate Maharaja Umaid Singh's passion for flying "the latest" as he used to say "of our recreations".

Above all, it is the presence of the "Monarch's imperial medals carved on 4'X6' slabs on each side of the cupola, facing Meherangarh in the west, that makes this palace so uniquely his.

The Monarch

There is about Maharaja Umaid Singh something uniquely exciting, an extravagance of vision, power not only to dream but even to realize; in many ways, albeit on a smaller scale, not unlike that of the Mughals. He enjoyed polo, so he took his own team to England with an army of ponies and syces and Jodhpur emerged a world polo power. He loved flying so the Jodhpur aerodrome became an international airport before Delhi, with 3 trans-continental airlines stopping here.

His famine relief policy, which shames many a modern day development project, gave rise to one of the largest and most magnificent royal residences in the world and a dam that remained, half a century later, Jodhpur's main source of water.

Yet there was in him an astonishing simplicity, a grace he was born with and carried always, whether playing polo at Hurlingham or big-game hunting in Africa, Salmon-fishing in Scotland or fox hunting at his sumptuous estate "Arranmore" in Ootacamund (South India). Feted in the most fashionable of salons the world over he was, as Chief Scout of the Marwar State Scouts Association, equally at home at a boy scout's camp on the dusty grounds of his palace! It was this simplicity and humility, together with his stature and style that earned for the 36th Rathore rule of Marwar the nickname "The Monarch" and it was always used with affection and respect.

Jodhpur Polo

The Jodhpur Royal Family first played polo with the Mughals but it did not become a passion with them till much later, in the 19th C. It was in 1889 that Sir Pratap Sing Regent of Jodhpur invited Col. Stuart Beatson to help raise the Jodhpur Lancers and with him came the modern version of the sport. The Rathores took to it as fish to water: here was a splendid substitute for war. The changes, the riding-off, the frantic change of horses, it was all there and only 4 years later the Jodhpur team brought home its first trophy, the Rajputana Challenge Cup of 1893. In 1897, Sir Pratap traveled to London for the Diamond Jubilee: he took his team along, amongst the earliest of foreign teams to invade England. They won many matches there, at Hurlingham and Ranelagh, and returned with their reputation enhanced, the finest Indian team during those years.

By the turn of the centry Jodhpur had become an important polo center, and it would remain so till 1949 (when the city boasted no less than 6 polo fields) rivaling Calcutta, the oldest polo club in the world, by the sheer number of players.

In 1921 Jodhopur beat Patiala to become champions of all India. That victory was only the beginning.

In early 1925 Maharaja Umaid Singh visited England with his polo team mounted by an extremely talented team, which included Rao Raja Hanut Singh, Thhakur Prithi Singh, Ram Singh, Thakur Dalpat Singh and an Englishman, Capt. Bill Williams. The Jodhpur team had a wonderful season, beating every team there was to beat, including the US Army, and winning hte Hurlingham Champion Polo Cup and the Rochampton Open Polo Cup. At the end of the season Umaid Singh was pleased to donate a new pavilion to the West Somerset Polo Club, which boasted one of the prettiest polo fields in England.

31 March, 2014

Kalgudi (stone temple) at Degulahalli

The Kalgudi at DegulahaLLi believed to be built by Halasi kings is in an utterly dilapidated condition and is in dire need of repair work. The various Shiva and Jaina stone sculptures scattered around the temple ruins bear testimony to the fact that Halasi was a centre of confluence of Jainism, Vaishnavism and Shaivism during early Kadambas.

"Every subatomic particle not only performs an energy dance, but also is an energy dance; a pulsating process of creation and destruction…without end…For the modern physicists, then Shiva's dance is the dance of subatomic matter. As in Hindu mythology, it is a continual dance of creation and destruction involving the whole cosmos; the basis of all existence and of all natural phenomena."

- Fritzof Capra (The Dance of Shiva: The Hindu View of Matter in the Light of Modern Physics )

The cosmic dance of Shiva is called 'Anandatandava,' meaning the Dance of Bliss, and symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy — creation, destruction, preservation, salvation, and illusion.

According to Kumara Swamy, the dance of Shiva represents:

'Shrishti' (creation, evolution) - symbolized by the drum
'Sthiti' (preservation, support) - symbolized by abhaya-hastha
'Samhara' (destruction, evolution) - symbolized by fire
'Tirobhava' (illusion) and
'Anugraha' (release, emancipation, grace) - symbolized by foot held aloft

Following paragraphs borrowed from "Sacred Animals of India By Nanditha Krishna"

Nandikeshwara, lord of happiness, was one of Shiva's ganas. He was also fond of music and dance. He was born to the divine progenitor Kashyapa and divine cow Surabhi. He married Suyasha, the daughter of the Maruts. As his life was coming to an end, he prayed to Shiva to lengthen his life. Shiva granted him both immortality and the chief position over his ganas. He was given the title "Adhikara Nandi" (or 'authoritarive Nandi'), for it is only with Nandi's grace and permission that one can enter the temple of Shiva. Adhikara Nandi took on a human form as a bull-headed human standing on two legs, or even a bull standing erect on his rear legs.

Nandi's attributes were taken over by Shiva as Nataraja, the lord of dance. Nandi ceased, thereafter, to be a deity and became the companion and, later, the vehicle of Shiva. When Shiva dance the tandava, Nandi accompanied him on the mridangam (a percussion instrument).

There are several other stories about Nandi's origin. According to one, Nandi was a rishi (sage) who performed such severe austerities that Shiva granted him the wish of becoming the head of his Ganas.

According to another legend, Nandi was born from Vishnu's right side as a gift to the Brahmin Salankayana. This was Nandi's forty-ninth rebirth.

Nandi is more than Shiva's vahana or vehicle. As the chief of Shiva's attendants, he is also the guardian of all four-legged animals. Nandi is essential to every Shiva temple - the sanctum sanctorum of each temple, where the deity may be in human or linga form, has an image of Nandi facing the shrine. The devotee will first touch the Nandi image and ask for his blessings before entering. Sometimes, Nandi may be as big as or even bigger than the image within.

Following paragraphs have been borrowed from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ganesha

Historically, Ganesha appeared as a distinct deity in recognizable form beginning in the fourth to fifth centuries C.E., during the Gupta Period (c. 320-600 C.E.) of Indian history. His popularity rose quickly, and he was formally included among the five primary deities of Smartism, an influential stream of Hinduism that began in the ninth century C.E. Ganesha appears as a distinct deity in clearly-recognizable form beginning in the fourth to fifth centuries C.E., suggesting the emergence of the Ganapatya (Ganesh-worshipping) sect (probably an offshoot of mainstream Shaivism). The earliest cult image of Ganesha so far known is found in the niche of the Shiva temple at Bhumra, which has been dated to the Gupta period. By about the tenth century C.E., Ganesha's independent cult had come into existence.

Despite these fragments of information, questions as to Ganesha's historical origin are still largely unanswered, and many theories persist as to how he came into being. One theory of Ganesha's origin states that he gradually came to prominence in connection with the four Vināyakas, from whom he gains one of his epithets. In Hindu mythology, the Vināyakas were a group of four troublesome demons who created obstacles and difficulties, but who were easily propitiated. Krishan is among the academics who accept this view, and states flatly that Ganesha "is a non-vedic god. His origin is to be traced to the four Vināyakas, evil spirits, of the Mānavagŗhyasūtra (seventh–fourth century B.C.E.) who cause various types of evil and suffering." While none of these gods are conceived to be elephant-headed, they are held to be responsible for the creation of obstacles.

Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshvari, Indrani, Kaumari, Varahi and Chamunda or Narasimhi - Saptamtrikas

Following information has been referred from wikipedia -

Matrikas were existent as early as the Vedic period and the Indus Valley civilization. Matrikas may be non-Aryan or at least non-Brahmanical (orthodox Hinduism), local village goddesses, who were being assimilated in the mainstream. Matrikas maybe inspired by the concept of Yakshas, who are associated with Skanda and Kubera – both are often portrayed with the Matrikas. The Sapta-Matrikas were earlier connected with Skanda (Kumara) and in later times, associated with the sect of Shiva himself. During the Kushana period (1st to 3rd century), the sculptural images of the matrikas first appear in stone. In the Gupta period (3rd to 6th century A.D.), folk images of Matrikas became important in villages. The Western Ganga Dynasty (350–1000 CE) kings of Karnataka built many Hindu temples along with saptamatrika carvings and memorials, containing sculptural details of saptamatrikas.

The inconsistency in the number of Matrikas found in the valley [Indus] today (seven, eight, or nine) possibly reflects the localization of goddesses. Although the Matrikas are mostly grouped as seven goddesses over the rest of the Indian Subcontinent, an eighth Matrikas has sometimes been added in Nepal to represent the eight cardinal directions. In Bhaktapur, a city in the Kathmandu Valley, a ninth Matrika is added to the set to represent the centre.

28 March, 2014

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia (R.A.) Dargah

O breeze! turn towards Medina (and) from this well-wisher recite the Salaam.
Turn round the king of the prophets (and) with the utmost humility recite the Salaam.
Sometimes pass the gate of mercy (and) with the gate of Gabriel rule the forehead.
Salaam to the prophet of God (and) sometimes recite Salaam at the gate of peace.
Put with all respect the head of faith on the dust there.
Be one with the sweet melody of David and be acquainted with the cry of anguish.
In the assembly of the prophets recite verses from the humble being 'Nizam'.

- Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia (R.A)

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia's ancestors were from Bukhara (now in Uzbekistan). After leaving their homeland, the paternal grandfather of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia -- Khwaja Ali -- and the maternal grandfather of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia -- Khwaja Arab -- along with their family, came to India. At first they lived in Lahore, but later they took up their residence in Badayun (East of Delhi). Khwaja Arab married his daughter Bibi Zulaitaikha to Khwaja Ali's son Khwaja Ahmad.

Shaikh Nizamu'd-Din was born at Budaun in 1236. He lost his father at the age of five and came to Ghiyaspur near Delhi, with his mother. Young Nizamu'd-Din mastered the seven ways of reciting the holy Qur'an. Then he studied Arabic grammar, commentary of the Qur'an and logic. At the age of twelve, he received the "turban of excellency." He was so sharp-witted, wise and understanding that he was given the title "Debater, capable of defeating the congregation." He became distinguished in mathematics and astronomy. Later he became the disciple of the famous saint Shaikh Farid Shakarganj, who introduced him into the world of Sufism. Later, Sheikh Farid Shakarganj appointed Nizamuddin as his successor and he was conferred as Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia.

In his lifetime, Nizamu'd-Din was frequently at loggerheads with the Delhi rulers but was also sought after for advice and blessing. He had many followers which include the ferocious ruler named Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji and Muhammad Bin Tughlaq as well as Hazrat Amir Khusrau, who is known as one of the most renowned poets of all times.

"He was not a miracle-monger of the ordinary sort. He never flew in the air or walked on water with dry and motionless feet. His greatness was the greatness of a loving heart; his miracles were the miracles of a deeply sympathetic soul. He could read a man's inner heart by a glance at his face and spoke the words that brought consolation to a tortured heart."

In the early period of his Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia experienced great poverty. Although in Sultan Ghyasuddin Balban's time one could buy melons for very little money, the greater part of the season would pass without Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia eating a single slice. One day a pious woman brought some barley flour and presented it to him. He asked Sheikh Kamaluddin Yaqub to boil it in a cauldron. At that moment a faqir with a patched frock arrived and with a loud voice said: "O, Nizamuddin! bring whatever is present." Then Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia gave all the food to him. The faqir ate it all and then broke the cauldron. Hereafter he said: "O, Nizamuddin! You have received the bounties of the invisible world from Baba Farid and the bowl of visible poverty I have broken. Now you have become the sultan of both the visible and invisible world." From that day on, countless gifts started coming and free food was distributed to hundreds of visitors every day.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia was very generous as can be seen in the following narration, which can be found in Jami's "Nafhatul Uns". A merchant of Multan lost all his possessions to a band of thieves. He told Sheikh Sadruddin, the son of the famous Suhrawardy saint (Shaikh Bahauddin Zakaria of Multan), that he intended to go to Delhi and asked for a letter of recommendation to Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. Then he was told by the great saint that he would receive all the gifts that would be given from the morning to the chasht (forenoon) prayers. About 12,000 golden and silver coins were received. All these were given to the merchant. Every day large numbers of gifts used to be received, but they were distributed before the evening. More than three thousand needy people used to live on the langar (free feeding).

"In Allah's garden you gather roses,
Being drunk with divine mysteries:
Hazrat Mehboob-e-Elahi -- the beloved of Allah,
O, how I long for the attar of your company

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia represents in many ways the pinnacle of the Chishti Order of the Sufis. Hazrat Baba Farid, his spiritual guide, said to him on appointing him as his successor: "Be like a big tree, so that Allah's creation, the human beings in their vast multitudes, may find rest and solace under your shadow." This partly explains why he admitted so many (according to some, including Barani, too many) men into the Chishti order as his disciples. Another reason has been clearly formulated in this way: "History, nonetheless, bears out the wisdom of his open-ended policy . . . To far-flung areas of Uttar Pradesh, Rajastan, Gujarat, Bihar, Bengal and the Deccan, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia sent able disciples well versed in the Chishti practices, yet sensitive to the needs of the local populace."

Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia lived in a small village called Ghiyaspur on the outskirts of Delhi. He lived there for 60 years. He is also referred to as Mehboob-e-Elahi, the beloved of Allah. He died in 1325 and is buried here. Today, Ghiyaspur is better known as Nizamuddin. Muhammad Tughluq built the tomb and to this day, the place is one of the sacred places of pilgrimage. Though the original Tomb of Hazrat Nizamuddin does not exist, a nobleman and follower of the Saint named Faridun Khan constructed this present Tomb structure sometime during the mid 15th Century AD. This was later renovated and re-decorated by Feroz Shah Tughlaq and his following successors as well as the following rulers. The present structure was built between 1562-63 by Faridu'n Khan, a nobleman with a high rank, and has been added to or repaired later by several persons.

Hazrat Nizamuddin was so popular that while travelling through this place, Mughal Emperors like Babar, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan would ensure to halt at the Shrine of this Mystic Saint and duly pay their respect at the Dargah. He was mainly known for his Doctrine of Sacrifice and Surrendering to the Almighty as well as tolerance towards other religious sects which greatly influenced people from all cultural backgrounds and hence had a huge number of devotees following. He also prophesized that Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq (name also spelled as Ghiyath Al-Din Tughluq and real name was Ghazi Malik) would never return to Delhi from his campaign and that is what exactly happened. Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq died on his way to Delhi in February 1325 AD. He ruled for a short span of 5 years only between 1320 AD and 1325 AD and was succeeded by his son, Muhammad Bin Tughluq.

The Courtyard is paved with marble where the sacred Shrine, Dargah or Tomb of Hazrat Nizamuddin sits and the grandiose pavilion that you see today decked with lattice screens or 'Jalis' and arches made of marble was later added to the shrine by Emperor Shah Jahan. Most of the devotees and worshippers tie a red thread around these lattice screens in hope of getting their wishes fulfilled. The imposing dome, ornate with vertical stripes of black marble with lotus ornamentation was later added by Mughal Emperor Akbar II.

The Tomb of Hazrat Nizamuddin is surrounded by a Mosque and several Tombs of famous people as it was their dying wish to be buried next to the Sufi Saint. Other tombs situated inside the complex of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliyaa Dargah belong to Begum Jahan Ara, Shah Jahan's favorite daughter, and Mirza Ghalib.

Seven hundred odd years later, the dargah still retains the essence of what it must have been like all those years ago.

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