Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah

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Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah

One of Delhi's greatest treats is hearing devout Sufis sing qawwalis, ecstatic devotional Muslim songs with a decidedly toe-tapping quality. Evenings from around 5 to 7, especially Thursday, the followers of the Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia often gather to sing in front of his dargah (tomb); this is one of the best places to catch a performance. To get here, follow the twisting lanes in the bazaar section of Nizamuddin West—you'll pass open-air restaurants serving simple meat-based meals, tiny shops selling Urdu-language books and CDs (some by famous qawwali singers), and probably a number of beggars appealing to the Muslim tradition of alms for the poor. When you see vendors selling flowers and garlands, you're getting close to the dargah. Nizamuddin, who was born in Bukhara (now in Uzbekistan) in 1238, later fled with his family to Delhi, where he became an important Sufi mystic and attracted a dedicated following. He died in 1325.

The tomb, built in 1562 in the center of a courtyard, is topped with an onion-shaped dome. It's also covered with intricate painting and inlay work, best viewed on the carved parapet above the verandas. Men can enter the shrine to pay their respects; women must peer in from outside. The tomb is flanked by a mosque and the graves of other important Muslims, including the great Sufi poet Amir Khusro and Jahanara, a daughter of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Crowds can be dense, and it's easy to have your wallet or purse stolen before you notice. Keep money and valuables secured when you're in and around the dargah.

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