The 5 Sufi shrines you must visit

culture   Dec 27, 2019

Shrines in Pakistan are not just memorials built for saints – they are holy places that are visited by thousands of people every year. This is because these mausoleums are considered places of healing as well as sacred spaces that can spiritually enlighten disciples.

However, apart from being religiously relevant, shrines are also bursting with culture, history, and exquisite architecture.

Here are five shrines from Sindh that you must visit…

Shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, Karachi

Abdullah Shah Ghazi was an eighth-century Sufi mystic whose shrine is located in Clifton, Karachi. According to folklore, Shah Ghazi was an Arab merchant who settled in Sindh with his brother, Syed Misri Shah. He soon became a follower of the Sufi Islam and gained popularity due to his powers of healing. When he was killed by his enemies, Shah Ghazi was buried on top of a hill – the same place where his shrine is built today.

The shrine remained a small hut till it was beautified in the 1960s. Today, it’s a huge monument decorated with exquisite tiles and marbles.

Visited by people from all walks of life, the shrine is a holy ground that is here to stay for centuries. This is because many people believe the shrine protects the city from numerous natural calamities.

Shrine of Sachal Sarmast, Khairpur

Sachal Sarmast was a Sufi poet who wrote in seven languages including Sindhi and Seraiki during the Talpur era of Sindh. He gained popularity because his poetry focused on spreading the divine love of God. Sarmast also strongly believed in tolerance among races, caste and genders.

When he passed away on Ramazan 1829 AD, he was buried in the mausoleum built for him. Every year, a three-day urs is held at the shrine where a large number of devotees’ throng to the monument in order to honour the divine saint. The Urs at the shrine also includes a mehfil-e-sama and mushaira.

Why should you visit the shrine? Because it’s one of the most beautiful architectural wonders of Sindh with colourful tiles and intricate patterns.

Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Sehwan Sharif

With disciples visiting the shrine from all over the world, the memorial of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is the reason Sehwan is so well known within the country. Qalandar was a great mystic and scholar who has Hindu as well as Muslim followers due to the message of peace he was spreading.

When he passed away, a small shrine was built in 1356, and was further expanded as years went by. In the 1970s, the Shah of Iran donated a gold-plated main door to the tomb. The shrine itself is a glorious sight to see as its covered in white marble, glazed tiles, mirror work and gold-plated tiles.

If you don’t want to travel to Sehwan to see the stunning shrine, you should definitely visit the place to experience the mystical dhamaal that takes place on the premises every Thursday.

Shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Bhit Shah

Located in Bhitshah, the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai attracts up to 500,000 visitors on its yearly urs festival. Built in 1772 to honour the Sindhi Sufi scholar, mystic, saint, and poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, the structure also includes a mosque, a mausoleum, and a small courtyard where qawwali is performed every night.

The spiritual qawwali is also popular for putting audience members in a trance, hence, the shrine is a must visit if you want to experience the sufi culture.

Pir Mangho, Karachi

Pir Mangho is the popular name for Sufi Pir Haji Syed Khawaja Hassan Sakhi Sultan who was a disciple of Baba Farid.

According to sources, in 1264 AD, Pir Mangho was admitted as a disciple in the Chistiah order, and he became the 40th Caliph of Baba Farid. He then travelled to many places in pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and finally settled down in Manghopir – the place where his shrine exists today.

The unique bit about this centuries-old shrine is a vast pond, a sulphur spring, and dozens of crocodiles. Yes, you read it right. The crocodiles are an important part of the history of the shrine as it is believed that Baba Farid gave them to Pir Mangho. The shrine is also mentioned in ancient texts from the area and in the writings of 19th century British colonialists.