Getting lost in Nizamuddin

The high point of Delhi this year was getting lost in the Nizamuddin quarter while looking for the tomb of the Sufi saint of the same name. We started walking down the same narrow street where we had been last year, past Karim's Restaurant and on through numerous narrow lanes, sometimes shaded beneath cloth canopies. At first we tried mumbling the name of the saint to ask for directions. One butcher seemed happy to have us in his shop, but spoke no more English than we do Urdu. (This is a Muslim area.) He pointed at our cameras and then at himself and smiled, so we recorded him as a nice souvenir. After a while, Siv had the idea of showing a picture of the tomb from our guidebook as a way of indicating what we were looking for. We approached a young man clad all in white, gown and cap, and showed him the picture and he replied in excellent English, directing us successively to the right, then to the right again. And that got us to the "entrance". In fact, that's just where you have to leave your shoes. From there, we were led along covered corridors with frequent turns in both directions. The walls were lined by mendicants, mostly women and small children. Unfortunately, such sites are common in India, especially in cities like Delhi.

Finally, we emerged into a squarish courtyard about 50 meters across, with the saint's tomb in the middle. It was actually quite intimate in a way and absolutely fascinating. I took in a garland I had been sold and placed it as directed on the saint's coffin, as women are not allowed inside the tomb.

Nizamuddin lane Helpful butcher
A narrow Nizamuddin street Helpful butcher
Water source Nizamuddin mosque
Public water source Jama't Khana Mosque
Tomb of Nizamuddin Tomb of Nizamuddin
Tomb of the Sufi mystic and saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya

It would be great to go there on Thursday evening to listen to the qawwali singers (the devotional music of the Chishti Sufis of the Indian subcontinent). But we weren't there on a Thursday. After re-negociating the winding corridors and returning to the street, we took what we thought would be a shorter way back to our waiting car and driver. It was perhaps no shorter, but much easier to find, leading out to an entirely different part of the main street, far north of where the car was waiting. We'll try to remember that if there's a next time.

In any case, we highly recommend getting lost in Nizamuddin!

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