Thousands of devotees throng the mausoleum of 14th century Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya every day. However, it is ironical that his chilla or khankah (monastery), where he would spend a significant part of the day, hardly receives any visitors. All it’s left with now are the echoes of the past.
It shares its rubble masonry boundary walls with Humayun’s Tomb on one side and Gurudwara Damdama Sahib on the other. A white-green structure, the khankah, is where Nizamuddin Auliya lived and meditated for almost 65 years. He also breathed his last here. The monument has witnessed many physical changes, but the domed chamber still exists.
Spread over 500 square yards, there are many unknown graves, believed to be of the saint’s disciples, in the complex. Constructed on a raised platform, the rubble masonry has been painted white partially and the mosque adjacent to the room is where prayers are offered on Urs every year. During his time, there would be many congregations when people lined up to meet him and to seek his blessings. Custodians say that in those days river Yamuna flowed in the vicinity. It was one of the principles of this Sufi saint to serve food to all, so that no one goes hungry. Even the people who lived in the area were looked after by Hazrat Nizamuddin.
The domed chamber remains locked and is opened only when someone requests the caretaker. According to the custodian of Nizamuddin Dargah, Farid Ahmed Nizami, who is writing a book on the life of Hazrat Nizamuddin, said, “The khankah was raised by Ziauddeen Wakil, Hazrat Nizamuddin’s disciple and his grave lies in the courtyard. The saint had warned him that if a person initiates any construction work in the complex, he would die. So he stopped Wakeel many a time from taking up the project. He initially didn’t allow him to go ahead with his plan, but after his repeated requests he gave him a go ahead.”
After the construction was completed, Wakil died on the night of its inauguration.
On Fridays, people line up outside the mosque which has some niches that show the direction towards Mecca. There is a belief that if one makes a wish while facing these niches, it comes true.
Hazrat Nizamuddin stressed on keeping religion and state separate and said that his monastery had two doors and if a sultan (king) entered through one, he exited from the other.
“People don’t know much about this place which is why there are no visitors. As it is located past Humayun’s Tomb, people don’t really come here.We want people to know about it and its historical relevance,” said Nizami.