The land of the Indian sub-continent has the honor of being the dwelling place of many great personalities. Many prominent religious scholars & Sufi saints are also buried in the dimensions of the Indo-Pak region. Pakistan has the privilege of being one of the few Islamic countries where a lot of shrines & tombs of Muslim scholars & Sufi saints are present.
In this article, we have gathered information on some of the most notable shrines in Pakistan, their historical background & some interesting facts related to them which will surely make you curious and ultimately compel you to visit them.
Here is the list of the 5 most prominent Sufi shrines in Pakistan:
- Bari Imam Sarkar – Islamabad
- Golra Sharif Darbar – Islamabad
- Data Darbar – Lahore
- Dargah Baba Farid Ganj Shakkar – Pakpattan
- Ghamkol Sharif Darbar – Kohat
Famous Sufi Shrines in Pakistan – A Brief Historical Background & Important Terminologies
The arrival of Muslims in the Indian sub-continent was the forerunner of a great revolution. Their appearance affected everything everywhere. A significant change took place in every field of human life. The natural abilities of the primitive and non-primitive inhabitants here, which remained hidden for centuries due to superstition, and sectarian narrow-mindedness, shone with the arrival of Muslims. A new philosophy of life, the idea of untouchable worship, and lively thoughts came into existence in the culture of Pakistan and India.
Who are Sufis?
Those special servants of Allah Ta’ala, who sacrifice their lives for the love of Allah and His Beloved, Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (peace be upon him) and walk on the path of true love, are called “Awliya-e-Allah”.
Not only great conquerors, rulers, and experienced soldiers had a part in establishing Islam in the Indian subcontinent with national & spiritual revolution, but the scholars and Sufis also worked in the same way. Rather, the truth is that Sufis were the foremost in these kinds of great goals and pure ideas. The Sufis are not only familiar with the worldly sciences but also rich in knowledge and deeds. They are true sympathizers, sincere, and well-wishers of mankind in the form of good manners and morals.
What is a Dargah or the Holy shrine of the Sufi Saint?
A Dargah is a tomb over a Sufi saint’s grave, often referred to as Dervish, Fakir, or Awliya-e-Allah. This is also the holy shrine of the Sufi Saint.
How to define Urs?
Urs is a death anniversary of the Sufi saint usually held at the saint’s shrine. This event occurs annually, in the form of a public gathering on the specified date of the Islamic month. The believers always celebrate Urs like a wedding ceremony. According to believers, it is the time to rejoice as the demise of a Sufi saint ultimately results in union with the Divine.
What is Langer?
At every Sufi shrine in Pakistan, the custodians or organizers distribute free food – Langer. Every visitor irrespective of age, gender, race, caste, color, or class gets the eatables. In most of the shrines, they serve meals 3 times daily while in some shrines people can eat 24 hours a day.
5 Most Famous Sufi Shrines in Pakistan
Even the great emperors could not do the work of promotion and propagation of Islam in Indian Subcontinent. While destitute fakirs and dervishes did great efforts for this mission. So, Pakistani land is blessed as every part of it has the influence of famous Sufi saints.
Sufi Shrines in Islamabad Capital Territory
Bari Imam Sarkar
The most notable shrine at the heart of the Capital of Pakistan is Darbar Bari Sarkar. He is the 17th-century Sufi saint locally known as Bari Imam. The full name of the Sufi saint is Syed Abdul Latif Kazmi Qadri R.A. The Government of Pakistan maintains the shrine of Bari Sarkar. The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb paid tribute to this great personality. He built the shrine with a silver mirror. New construction removed the old design. Bari Imam died in 1705 and was buried at Nurpur Shahan, a village in Islamabad.
Mela Bari Imam Sarkar
Every year millions of people come to celebrate the Urs of Bari Imam, known as Mela. Visitors often group together and carry a special basket full of red roses called Dali and walk barefoot all the way to the shrine.
Cave of Loh-e-Dandi
Hazrat Bari Imam spent 12 years of Hermite life in this cave where wild animals often visited him. This cave is near Margalla Hills, Islamabad.
The story of Giant, snake, and Bari Imam Sahib:
In the cave of Loh-e-Dandi, a stoned huge leg cut in half attracts the tourist’s attention. Folk stories narrate that it’s the Giant’s leg that continued to disturb Hazrat Bari Imam during his time of worship. He also turned the snake due to the same reason.
In almost every Sufi shrine, only men can enter the tomb of these great Islamic personalities.
Darbar Golra Sharif
The second most acknowledged shrine in Islamabad. It is at E-11 Markaz. The most esteemed personality of Golra Sharif is Pir Mehr Ali Shah. He was born on the 1st of Ramadan 1275 A.H. in Golra District in 1859. The shrine’s custodians take care of the system and the Government of Pakistan does not maintain it.
Custodians organize urs annually which attracts thousands of devotees every year. Every Urs is usually 2-3 days long. It ends with “Chadar Poshi” – a huge number of red roses spread over the grave of the Sufi Saint. The custodians organize a mehfil daily where a team of devoted Qawwal recites famous kalam in a melodious voice.
Famous Sufi Shrines in Punjab, Pakistan
Data Darbar in Lahore – The Famous City for Shrines
The shrine of the greatest Sufi Saint of all times, the advocate of peace & harmony – Shaykh Syed ʿAlī al-Hujwīrī, or as Dātā Ganj Bakhsh is situated West of Bhatti Gate near Old City in Lahore which is also known as “Data Di Nagri. The shrine of this 11th-century Sufi saint is the oldest and the largest Sufi shrine in South Asia. His real name was Syed Ali Abul Hasan bin Usman Hajveri. He was born in Hajver in Ghazni (Afghanistan).
Hazrat Ali Hajveri is commonly known as Data Sahib (The one who gives). Another famous name is Ganj Bakhsh (the Bestower of Treasures) because of his generosity towards the less privileged. Data Sahib converted thousands of atheists & non-Muslims to Islam and is the author of the famous book on mysticism “ Kashaf-ul- Mahjboob”. The Urs of Data Sahib is celebrated annually on the 18th-20th Safar, the Islamic month.
Prior to the start of Urs at Data Darbar, the organizers arrange a “Rose-water Ghusl” ceremony. Notable figures from the Government wash the grave of the Sufi saint properly with several liters of pure rose water. After the shrine-washing ritual/ Ghusl ceremony, the Urs begins officially.
Dargah Baba Farid Ganj Shakkar – Pakpattan
Hazrat Baba Farid al-Din Mas’ud Ganj-e-Shakar was born on the 29th Shaban in 569 A.H. in Khotwal, a village near Lahore. Baba Farid R.A.’s Khanqah is a well-known moral and spiritual institution. Many aspirants, scholars, dervishes, and Sufis benefited from this spiritual institution.
Pak Pattan was a well-known center of Sufi thoughts because of Baba Farid’s efforts. He was well-educated and well-versed in Arabic, Persian, and other languages. But he only used Punjabi, the language of common people. His all couplets are in Punjabi with Persian script. He usually rejected cash whenever any emperor presented gifts. He only thought about the welfare of the poor so always accepted food and other gift items for the public kitchen.
Devotees come to the shrine daily from within the country and abroad. Many people commemorate his Urs (death anniversary) on the fifth, sixth, and seventh of Muharram. Guru Nanak Dev Ji includes Farid’s Sayings in Guru Granth Sahib as part of the chapter.
There are two gates on the Mazar, named Noori Darwaza and Bahishti Darwaza. Bahishti Darwaza opens only once a year, and thousands of people visit it during the Urs. Famous folk tales narrate the reason why millions of devotees come here. According to believers, the one who passes through Bahishti Darwaza comes under Divine protection and gains peace & harmony. On this gate/door, there are silver and gold decorations in floral patterns.
Darbar Ghamkol Sharif – Kohat
This is the famous Sufi Shrine of Hazrat Zinda Peer R.A and situated in Kohat, KPK. He was born in 1912 in Jungle-Khail, Kohat. Khawaja Syed Zinda Pir Khan Saab devoted himself to religious studies from a very tender age and used to fast daily. During his first Hajj in 1952, he was instructed by Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) to go toward the mountains in Kohat where he spent the rest of his life while sitting.
It is the most largest Sufi shrine in Pakistan between mountains and covers almost thousands of acres. It accommodates more than 2.5 lac, people at a single time during the annual Urs held by the custodians of the shrine. Every facility from free food to free health & medical services is available to everyone.
Famous Sufi Shrines in Pakistan – FAQs
How can I make a trip to visit Sufi Shrines in Pakistan?
Learn Sufism & plan the Sufi Shrines of Pakistan tour with Crossroads Adventure. With Crossroad Adventures, you’ll have access to the best of the best when it comes to guides and destinations.
Can I see them all during my trip or do I need to make multiple trips to different cities?
We offer a variety of tours to different destinations. There are different packages. You can pick & choose according to your convenience.
Are there any restrictions on traveling to Sufi shrines in Pakistan?
The simple answer is no. At Crossroads Adventures, we take world-class measures to keep you safe during your trip with us. We also follow Covid-19 guidelines. So, if you are passionate about travel and adventure – come together for an unforgettable experience. See the world in a whole new way.
What should I bring with me to a shrine when I go there?
We at Crossroads Adventure take care of everything on your behalf. Get the inside scoop on what to see and do before you even get there – with experienced guides by your side.