<<I have been to the Taj Mahal twice before and could easily go again. There is so much to marvel at. There is a Chisti Shrine at Fatehpur Sikri, which is about 15 miles from Agra. They have the same tradition of quawali singing there as well.>> 

If you saw the movie 'Garamhawa' (directed by M.Sathyu and featuring Balraj Sahani), it showed Salim Chashti's 'dargah' at Fatehpur Sikri where the boy and the girl pay a visit to seek 'minnat', and a heartrending 'kawalli' follows. Personally i'd visited the 'dargah' twice and was ritually made to tie the thread to the shrine. Also on both the occasions we'd the 'qawals' render the 'Garamhawa' kawalli. 

<< I did an Internet search on Indian Sufism. Not surprisingly, there is a vast amount of material available on the topic - although specific studies of particular shrines in Delhi or Ajmer I have not come across. >> 

I regret not having visited the shrine at Ajmer whilst in Delhi at the time of the festivities. Many at the Gujarat Samaj where we were putting up suggested that it was the right time to visit Ajmer but our schedule did not permit us. 

By the way, have you visited Gujarat Samaj? I don't know if it is still operational. It was in the vicinity of Kashmir Gate in Old Delhi. It used to be so inexpensive in the 60s when compared to other hotels in Delhi.  Downstairs was the dining hall where delicious Gujarati meals were served for pennies. The best part of Gujarat Samaj was that they had their own bus services and conducted various tours on daily basis. One such tour was the City Tour which for a mere one rupee would take you sight seeing all around Delhi. It included Red Fort, Juma Masjid, Gandhiji Samadhi, Bhirla Hall, Bhirla temple, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, Kutub Minar, Jantar Mantar, Ashoka Pillar etc. A further tour costing mere 3 to 4 rupees would take you to Bhrindavan, Mathura, Fatehpur Sikri and Agra. It was during this tour that we visited the Salim Chishti Dargah at Fatehpur Sikri. 

For just 45 rupees Gujarat Samaj also offered a 3 day package to Kashmir. It covered the bus journey to Pathankot and 3 days stay in the houseboat. I very much regret not having taken that tour. Kashmir then unlike today was heaven on earth and one of India's biggest tourist attractions. In comparison to today's times India then was much cheaper. 

<<With regard to your enquiry about mosque at Amritsar, Yes there is Mosque at Fatehabad : and the other one is at Kapurthala. It may be of interest to you or others; I went to pay homage to K.L. Siagal in Jullandar. In Saigal's hometown Jalandhar, the K.L. Saigal Memorial Trust has a house dedicated to the maestro. Sadly, the younger generation have no interest in him.>> 

Your posts enlighten about so many things and come as a revelation to us. It's intriguing to read about the various mosques and the display of tabeez for sale. In Lahore the Badshahi Masjid, Jahangir's Makbara and Shalimar Garden are worthy of a visit when you go there. 

The Punjabi culture is beautiful and displays lots of sentiments. The TV serial 'Buniad' directed by Ramesh Sippy and the films 'Ek chadar melisi' directed by Rajindersingh Bedi and Heer Ranja directed by Chetan Anand amply testify to the rich heritage of the Punjabis. The plot of Buniad was exceptionally good, and Ramesh Sippy's (a Sindhi) direction a masterpiece and the down to earth realism of the pre and post partition phase. Yes Karam,

Ah Kundanlal Saigal! The name evokes old memories. His 'ek bangla bane nyara', 'babul mora...' and those songs of Shahjahan composed by Maestro Naushad are so tuneful. I don't blame the present day generation, even in the sixties (the era of Rafi & Mukesh) those of us who had liking for the songs by Saigal and Pankaj Malik were considered old fashioned. 

Back to the border, if the border near Amritsar is Vaga then where is Attari (or i'm unnecessarily bogged down in Attari which may not even exist, but i've this vague memory which keeps creeping into my mind)? 

<<I had audience with the charming and beautiful Maharani of Kuch. A wide selection of domestic and foreign wines and spirits(Patiala pegs) were served along with delectable tandoori hors d'oeuvre, appetizers preceded a great performance by Abida Pravin, a great treat for this pardesi!>> 

In the ordinariness of my small room I read and reread your post, and marvelled at its mastery and the enchantment of your experience. It is sensuous as aptly termed by Ramnik, just like traversing through one of those Naipaul's oriental adventures. 

That was an exquisite evening, can't even dream of it. While the 'Shame Nasim', Abida Pravin, Maharani of Kuch and all those relishing attractions put you in an exclusive class of your own, the ordinary and lesser privileged visualize its splendour through your classic writing. 

Coming over to the westward transformation of India, the point of fact is that India, despite its flourish and prosperity, has its eastern facet fading away. India's beauty lies in its culture and traditions. 



Last updated November 2007 Copyright Abdulrazak Fazal 2007 - All Rights Reserved