Dargah of Baba Moluddin Chishti in the central ridge forest is one of the many shrines in Delhi. What sets it apart is the offering that devotees make here: cigarettes,beedis and hookahs. Visitors to this 800-year-old dargah include locals as well as foreigners.
The dargah houses the tomb of Sufi saint Moluddin Chishti,the 13th century disciple of saint Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. People say that Moluddin Chishti loved hookahs,and therefore devotees offer hookahs as well as cigarettes and beedis as a mark of respect.
Marlboro,Lambert & Butler and Gold Flake are some of the brands of cigarettes offered here. Since hookah is not commonly found today,they are offered mostly at the time of the Urs, says Ali Khan,the caretaker of the dargah. If a devotee does not carry cigarettes and wishes to light one,we have a large stock, says Dharmendra Paswan,who has been maintaining the dargah for the past four years.
Hidden in the dense foliage of the ridge forest in the Chanakyapuri area,the dargah is not easy to spot. Devotees have to walk down a narrow lane through the forest to the dargah,which is marked by a tattered green signboard. Located in proximity to a Tughlaq-era hunting lodge,the doors of the dargah are always open to devotees.
Decades ago,this area was called Malcha Sayyid Gaon,and there used to be a huge lake there. Baba was the headman of the village. Baba hated alcohol and meat. They are never offered here, says Ali Khan.
The saints healing powers draw devotees from all over the world. Devotees tie the sacred thread,make a wish and then light a cigarette, says Khan.
In the compound of the dargah is the grave of Munne Khan,a fortune-teller and grandfather of Ali Khan. Those who still believe in fortune,visit this place, says Gauri,a devotee who has been visiting the dargah for past two years. Every year,a huge gathering marks the Urs of the saint.