Delhi Dweller

The Place Where Nizamuddin Auliya Performed His Miracles: Chilla Nizamuddin In Delhi

More than 700 years after Nizamuddin Auliya lived and died, the serene grounds of his Chilla-khanqah are still akin to a spot of retreat, repose, undisturbed tranquillity and quiet bird-watching. This is not an overtly religious place, but more of a spiritual one. Let’s take you through now, shall we?!

A Page Out Of History

Famed far and wide for his extraordinary abilities to perform miraculous deeds, the caretaker mendicant here has a different explanation to offer about the Sufi saint’s spiritual prowess. He would perform his chilla-kashi here, going without food and water for forty days. The ‘miracles’ he is said to perform, were not pure magic, the caretaker explains. 

They were the result of an untainted connection with the deepest powers and potentials lying at the core of his mind. Shorn of every shred of worldliness and material accoutrements, Nizamuddin Auliya lived with nothing but his own spiritual mind and a body exposed to the wild untamed forest that this spot used to be when he was alive. 

Churning Your Spirituality

Even now, this stretch of road, from Humayun’s Tomb to Gurudwara Damdama Sahib (between which the Chilla lies), is like a page of pristine ancient history thrown into the lap of urbanity. All around, there is a quietness to be found. This is the first time you may actually feel the grainy texture of the wind caressing the back of your ears, setting your hair loose and leaving your flesh cold, with a tingling sensation. 

It’s no wonder, then, that you feel spiritually roused. You bow your head and close your eyes of your own accord, wanting to feel nothing else for a moment or two - except the cold marble flooring at your feet, the soothing wafts of wind, the hypnotic chants of the mendicant, and the primordial wilderness. When you open your eyes again, you feel dazed. Your mind feels quietened, and your faith restored.

The Compound

This is not the place where Nizamuddin Auliya lies buried. His mazaar is at the heart of the nearby basti, named fondly after him. The Chilla is where he lived - secluded yet complete, in the wild but one with the Holy Spirit. The small, bare room where he sat and meditated is now barricaded by a green door. Namaazis come and pray on the shaded veranda. Others come and meditate, write poetry and make music in the open courtyard. The caretaker eggs you on to make a wish. 

“Muraadein mukkammal hongi”’ he reassures. You might kneel on the cold floor just to humour him, but you do not wish to ask for anything. You just want to enjoy your moment of blissful, unquestioning contentment. Here the saint met his murids and khidmatgars, here the daily langar was doled out generously, and here all spiritual appetites were satiated. Behind the personal quarters of Nizamuddin Auliya are a number of graves of some such khidmatgars who literally found a resting place here.

The Tale Of Ziauddin Waqueel

His grave is right opposite the Chilla quarters. He was one of the most steady and pious believers of the Hazrat and wanted to build another khanqah room for him. He was warned by the Hazrat that the person who undertook this job would have his days numbered. Waqueel proceeded anyway and the structure was completed in thirty days. On the last day, he danced himself to a state of frenzied ecstasy, and dropped dead in the lap of his Hazrat. He now rests peacefully where his personal saint once lived.

You spend a few more moments at the khanqah, absorbing every speck of inspiration, feeling every pore of your mind open up again, conscious of the mystic air around. Then, in contented silence, you walk back on to the solitary road ahead.

Come here when you get weary of the world’s cacophony and just want to spend some quiet time introspecting within yourself!

Location | Near Humayun’s Tomb, Nizamuddin