Shah Shams Tabrez is one of the thousands of saints buried in Multan, Pakistan. There are quite a few legends and/or miracles associated with him, the most popular being him requesting the sun to come down and roast a raw fish he held in his palms. To this day, many natives relate the insanely temperate summers in Multan with this legend, but only God knows better.
His shrine was built around 1330 AD by his grandson and renovated around 1710 AD. Keeping in tradition with the exquisite Islamic architecture prevalent in that era, his shrine has a very distinct style. The use of color glazed tiles all over the dome and the exterior is note-worthy and awe-inspiring. Unfortunately when I went there though, the inside of the mausoleum was under construction and I couldn’t take any shots of the interior. Here are some photos I did manage to take and I hope you like them.
Hazrat Bahauddin Zakaria is perhaps the most famous saint in all of Multan. He is the grandfather of the famous Shah Rukn-e-Alam and they are both buried just a couple of hundred meters from each other. The shrine is designed as a perfect square, and holds around 50+ graves of the Hazrat’s descendants. Even though his shrine is not as spectacularly designed as his grandson’s, it is a sight to behold. The exquisite blue tile-work is mesmerizing and I couldn’t help myself from staring at it for a long time.
As with Shah Rukn-e-Alam’s shrine, people paying homage to the great Hazrat believe that he is capable of hearing and answering their prayers, even after death. Be it the tying of empty plastic bags on the shrine’s grills or the burning of diyas (small oil lanterns made of clay) and rubbing their oil on one’s face or feeding the pigeons, there are several ways (supposedly) to get the Hazrat’s attention. Then again, I do not believe in any of this, but Allah knows better. I was astonished to see brides and grooms visiting the shrine for the Hazrat’s blessing before embarking on their new journey together, as well as barefooted people walking to the Hazrat’s Darbar (another word for shrine) as a sign of their devotion and respect; seems like taking things a bit to far. I even heard one of my local colleagues claiming that people going for the holy pilgrimage to Makkah (hajj and umrah) come to the darbar before actually leaving on their journey; WOW!
Here are some glimpses of the mausoleum for your viewing pleasure.
Tying an empty plastic bag
Quranic Verses on the grave
Quranic Verses on the grave
The masjid in the yard
Grave – beautiful
Ghost caught on tape (NOT – just a long exposure shot)
A grave in the yard
The final resting place
The final resting place of Hazrat Bahauddin Zakaria
Shah Rukn-e-Alam (translating to ‘pillar of the world‘) is a famous Sufi Saint buried within in the Multan Fort. The 700-year-old building, which serves as his shrine, is a phenomenal piece of Islamic architecture. It never ceases to amaze me how these artisans, these architects of the past were able to put in such precise details into their buildings. From the intricate tiling to the exquisite woodwork, this shrine is a must-see attraction when visiting Multan.
Some people believe that saints like the Shah are still around (even after being dead for so long) and have the power to grant them their wishes. You can see people bringing in rose petals in plastic bags to put onto the Shah’s grave as an offering. The empty bags are then tied onto a tree in the yard along with a wish to be fulfilled (think of it as a wishing well of sorts). Similarly, people offer bajra seeds (a.k.a.pearl millet) to the thousands of pigeons all over the mausoleum, so as to please the Shah and get his blessings in return.
Even though I may not agree with this belief system, I have to agree that there is a certain degree of serenity surrounding the shrine. It was almost sunset when I first visited the shrine, but I couldn’t help myself from going back there early next day. Here are some photos of the place and I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I did taking them.
Hand-carved Wooden Door
A tree in the yard
A Rose-petal vendor
The Shah’s final resting place
No need for bathrooms when you can pee all over the walls