A journey from Visual Archives
Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, a famous sufi scholar of 13th century India was born at Sistan (now in modern Iran) in 1143 CE in family of Sayyid Ghyiath al Din. From his ancestral affiliations, this family was among the descendants of Hazrat Hasan & Hussain. At the young age, he lost his parents. Since then he devoted himself on the mystical path to serve his creator. During his travels in Nishapur, he found his spiritual guide, Hazrat Khwaja Uthman Harooni. After engaged in a deep learning from his spiritual guide for almost two decades, he then travelled all across the Islamic world from Central Asia to the cities of Makkah & Madinah in Hijaz province of Arabia. By the end of the 12th century, he travelled to Indian subcontinent, first visiting Lahore at the shrine of 11th century Sufi scholar, Hazrat Ali Hujwiri. Then finally came to Ajmer. Here he served his entire life for preaching the values of religion & serving the needy masses. In his life, he preached & reflected the Prophetic tradition of feeding the hungry & quenching the thirst by providing the water. By the time, he became popular as Gharib Nawaz, the benefactor of the poor. On 06th of the Rajab, that corresponds with 15th March 1236 in Gregorian, he left for the heavenly abode leaving behind his teaching & successors. Hazrat Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki was one of the most prominent successors from whom the Chistiya order spread all across the subcontinent in subsequent centuries. This year marked the 809th Urs of the great siant. Here are some of the archival paintings & clicks.
Description of the painting
Shah-Jahan visits shrine (plate 41) Mughal emperors had long patronised this shrine. Shah-Jahan first stopped there in 1627 on his way to Agra to claim the throne after the death of his father Jahangir. This illustration is placed alongside text describing an imperial visit to Ajmer in 1636 on the Emperor’s return from Daulatabad, when he would have been forty-five years old. His elderly appearance must refer instead to his visit in 1654 with his son Prince Dara-Shikoh, the heir apparent. The Emperor is shown magnificently haloed by shimmering gold, meeting an apparition of the mythological Sufi holy man, Khizr, who presents him with a globe, the symbol of universal kingship. (This pictorial allegory is also seen in the darbar scene recording the reception of the future Emperor Shah-Jahan by his father Jahangir, at Ajmer in 1616). From the reaction of the horses closest to the apparition, evident in the flattening of their ears, they are frightened of the figure who has appeared before them. Khizr is symbolic of fertility and immortality and is associated with life-giving waters. He is shown wearing green, the colour of new plant life, and stands within a river-bed. Although Ajmer is set among hills, the depiction of the city and landscape is far from accurate. The countryside depicted allows the eye to feast on a myriad of tiny toy-like figures engaged in activities of daily life.
This archival painting showed a buland darwaza, a historic heritage gateway that leads to the dargah complex of Hazrat Khwaja Muinudin Shrine & mosque. Also one can find an amazing street view of the road that lead to the dargah complex.
Muin-ud-Din Chisti (1143-1235) was a Persian Sufi saint who came to Ajmer in 1192. After his death a dargah (a Muslim shrine or tomb) was erected in the south-west corner of the city by Iltutmish (r.1211-1236), Sultan of Delhi, and later enlarged by the Mughal Emperor Humayun (r.1530-40; r.1555-56). Further renovations and additions were made by his successors. The tomb is a square white marble structure with a domed roof and two entrances, one with a silver arch. It stands in the centre of an inner court of the dargah complex, which also contains two white marble mosques and an assembly hall for the poor. The entrance to the complex is a high white gateway, shown in the distance in this view. The dargah has remains a place of pilgrimage for both Muslims and Hindus and is now considered the second holiest Muslim site after Mecca.
An early nineteenth Century C 1800 painting of Ajmer Dargah showing gateway & two big deghs (Pot). One was fixed by Mughal Emperor Akbar & other one by Jahangir. Down the centuries it offered free food for all to visitors & needy people keeping the tradition of Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (Patron of the poor).
An archival click of Gateway Ajmer Sharif Dargah c 1900 by Hugh Fisher showing courtyard & iron pot (Deg) for langar with descriptive foot note. Title “Sacred both to Hindus & Mohammedan: A Persian shrine”