Monument fails to draw visitors

Monument fails to draw visitors

Monument fails  to draw visitors

Gunjan Kumar, 50, had been working with the aviation sector in Patna for the last three decades.

For years, he has heard in Hindi movies about the “Maner laddoos”, the sweet delicacy made with pure ghee, and which gave the nondescript place like Maner the national fame. But he never got an opportunity to visit Maner Sharif, barely 35 km from Patna.

This is the unexplored tourist spot in Maner where the then Mughal Governor of Bihar Ibrahim Khan built a mausoleum in memory of Sufi saint Makhdoom Shah Daulat in 1616. The mausoleum, one of the exemplary displays of grand style of Afghan and Mughal architecture, is known as Maner Sharif.

So eventually, when Gunjan drove with his family members on the state highway, which connects Patna with Ararah, he was awe-struck on reaching Maner. The exquisite tomb of Shah Daulat, also called Choti Dargah, was one of the finest specimen of architecture of medieval times.

A popular Sufi site, Maner Sharif enjoys the position of one of the chief spiritual centres in India. It is one of two main centres of the Kubrawiya-Firdausiya sect in India, the other being Biharsharif.

The historic site contains tombs of Makhdum Yahiya Maneri, a 13th century Sufi saint of Suhra­wardi order and Makhdum Shah Daulat, a Sufi saint of Firdausi order. While the “mazaar” of Makhdum Yahiya Maneri is known as Bari Dargah, the tomb of Makhdum Shah Daulat is called Choti Dargah.

During Jehangir’s regime, Maner was believed to be quite famous for courteous people, Sufi saints and Khanquahs (Islamic schools imparting religious education). In those days, the scholars, the Sufis and Rais (landlords) visited Maner Sharif to take lessons from great scholars. One such scholar-cum-saint was Makhdum Shah Daulat.

Chunar sandstone

The well-preserved mausoleum was built over the tomb of Shah Daulat by Ibrahim Khan, who was then the Governor of Bihar province during Jehan­gir’s reign. When Ibrahim passed away, he was buried near the feet of the Sufi saint, as per his last wish.

The Shah Daulat’s “mazaar” is built in the Mughal style with extensive Chunar sandstone. With its central dome and four cupolas on the four corners, the two-storey Choti Dargah is constructed within a large walled courtyard and garden. Empe­ror Jehangir added gateway on the north of the mausoleum and the three-bay mosque on the west in the later years.

The stone ceiling in the verandah is carved with floral geometrical patterns and calligraphic devices containing the Quranic verses. At the corners of the verandah are open side rooms with small domed cupolas each resting on 12 pillars. The roof of the main chamber is supported on four lofty stone pillars on each side with curtain walls in between them. Decorated with horizontal mouldings and rows of niches and arches, the building consists of a brick enclosure of about three metre high, covering an area of approx 5,000 sq m.

Apart from the 12-sided tower each corner, there are two extra covers on the southern side in addition to this gallery. The tomb is approached through an entrance gate towards the north which has got an inscription referring to its construction.

Babar’s visit

Unfortunately, the dargah has not yet drawn much of the national media attention even though there is evidence that different Sultans of Hindustan had paid their visit during their reign. Babur, the founder of Mughal dynasty in the country, had visited the dargah during his rule. There is a reference to Babar’s visit to the dargah in his autobiography “Babarnamah.”

Other visitors to this place had been Sher Shah, the Afghan ruler, who later became the Sultan of Delhi. Besides, Shahjehan, the Mughal emperor who spent a few days in Bihar along with his wife Mumtaz, too had been to this Dargah. “The shawl offered by Shahjehan during his visit to the Dargah to the then head priest is still with us,” said Tarique Enayatullah, the head priest at Maner Sharif.

“The holy shrine has a rare collection of the holy cap and hair of the Prophet Mohammad. It was brought to Maner several hundred years ago by Hazrat Imam Taj Faquih Hashmi, who was one among the descendants of Prophet Mohammad. We put this collection on display on special occasions,” said Enayatullah.

The Khanquah near the Dargah has a rich library, which includes “padmavat” by Malik Mohammad Jaysi and the firmans of Mughal emperors.

The priest rued that the VVIPs from India and Pakistan, including celebrities from film industry, paid regular visit and offered chadar at Dargah in Ajmer Sharif, but never did so in Maner Shairf, even though it has a history of Mughal rulers coming to this place. “Such is its importance that the two navratans of Emperor Akbar – Raja Man Singh and Tansen – too had visited Maner Sharif. But the former Pakistan President, who recently went to Ajmer Sharif to seek “dua and mannat”, or, for that matter, other celebrities never cared to do so at Maner Sharif,” he lamented.

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