I've been maintaining this blog (for better or for worse) over the last eight years. Over these years, its natural evolution has led it into becoming something of a niche place for discussion of music in general and Qawwali in particular. Rather than trying to return my existing blog to its pre-Qawwali eclectic roots, I decided I’d start anew on Tumblr. So if you’re interested in music, Qawwali and subcontinental culture, keep reading/listening/watching/commenting here. For all of the above and everything else under the sun, head on over to my Tumblr page .

Sunday, March 27, 2011

...Of A Truly Amazing Find


Apart from one perfectly horrible day, the month of March has been extraordinarily kind to me. An amazing birthday has been followed by a torrent of wish-fulfillment. I've found some extraordinary things, some of which I had been searching for, for almost five years. These include the phenominal 13-part documentary on American silent film directed by Kevin Brownlow and the rare Jafar Hussain Khan Badayuni album I didn't have in my collection. Yesterday however, I found something absolutely phenominal.

One of the most informative and enjoyable books I've read in the recent past has been Raza Ali Abidi's "Naghma Gar" A history of Popular songs in 20th Century India, it is a labour of love that is a masterwork of scholarship as well as a highly enjoyable read. It has given me a new appreciation of the literally hundreds of songs that I've loved for years and years, introduced me to the characters behind the genesis of those immortal melodies from the golden age of Indian cinema as well as introduced me to artists, lyricists and composers that I hadn't paid sufficient attention to in the past.For example, it was due to this book that I rediscovered the brilliant C. Ramchandra, who I now rank with Naushad and Salil Choudhary as one of my favorite film composers. It is my aim to one day look up all the obscure songs, composers, singers and lyricists that Abidi saheb mentions in his book, thereby exponentially expanding my appreciation of sub-continental film music.

On page 98 of said book, the author writes about the great Kashmiri singer Malika Pukhraj;

"Unn ki woh film ab tak ba-hifaazat mehfooz hai jo Maharaja ne Europe se aayi hui film-saazon ki ek team se banwaai aur jis main Malika Pukhraj ne mehel ke kisi aaraasta kamray main siyah saari pehen kar aur tehal tehal kar gaana gaya. Bartaanvi television par woh film dekh kar andaaza hua ke Malika Pukhraj Maharaja-e-Kashmir ki manzoor-e-nazar yun hi to nahi theen."

My curiosity was instantly piqued by this passage. A rare film of one of the greatest singers of the last century in her prime was something that had to be seen. However, finding it proved to be an almost impossible task. Googling a number of search terms proved fruitless, as did scouring the dozens of internet message-boards that specialize in sub-continental music. Dozens of emails were sent, none of which provided any leads. I resigned myself to using my imagination to recreate that almost mythical recording, losing any hope of finding it.

A few days ago however, on an obscure file sharing site, I chanced upon a video file titled "Malika Pukhraj Rare 1930's", eagerly downloaded it and voila!! There's Pukhraj, the set looks like a 'mehel ka araasta kamra', the dazzling sari is indeed black and she has sung 'tehel tehel ke'. I'm pretty sure I've found the clip Abidi saheb mentioned in hes book (I'll ask the author to corroborate as well).

A delightful little time capsule. the clip is a short film shown as part of a double bill in theatres. Such brief musical films were made in the prepartition era ,mostly by the famous studio Wadia Movietone, and showcased some of the greatest artists of the time, such as this one featuring Ustad Habib Khan and Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa (take a close look at the narrator at the start of the clip, for he appears again in this post). The Pukhraj clip begins with a spoken word introduction by a brilliantined, well attired gentleman which mentions the "super-film" that accompanied this short, 'Kahan Hai Manzil Teri'. The brief introduction is followed by a wide shot of a room with a figure in the corner, seated on a desk. Next we see Pukhraj in her beautiful black sari, writing something on a piece of paper with her back towards the camera. She puts down the pen, pushes away the paper, turns and then.....





The ghazal is typical Daagh, a light composition that would have been sung by the courtesans of the day. Pukhraj sings it in a beautiful, languid style which is terribly expressive. Her voice is clear as a bell, perfectly highlighted by the beautiful sarangi and clarinet accompaniment. The performance is phenomenal, elevating the rather commonplace kalaam to heights of great artistry. The picturization is also charming and seems unforced and very natural. At the time of the recording, she was at her prime, the court singer of Kashmir and a darling of the radio-listening public, and it's not hard to understand why. The Pukhraj we saw on PTV in her latter days ,complete with those trademark shades, had a unique style, adayegi and a peculiar 'pahaari' andaz that was a pleasure to listen to, but still felt somehow 'quaint'. Here though, we see the artiste as a young woman, and boy is she a sight to behold.

...Of Holiday Haikus

Written at sporadic intervals today, during duty that involved nothing more than sitting in a chair for ten straight hours..

Orange juice and tea 
In an air conditioned room 
Sarkaari breakfast.
.....................................
A weekend workday,
Borges and Tufail Niazi 
Might help pass the time.
......................................
The minutes tumble.
Cricket news on the telly 
Interspersed with cows.
......................................
Pleasant company 
Distracts me from my reading 
As I make small talk.
...................................
Anonymous text.
Embarrassed to ask their name 
Reply with a : )
....................................
His face was traversed 
By a vengeful scar, a grey 
Almost perfect arc.
(Borges)
.....................................
Abdul Karim Khan 
Sings Malkauns,his voice echoing
Across ninety years.
 ...................................... 
Perspicacity 
Pullullation, Pirilence. 
Borges loves his P's.
........................................
Fateh Ali Khan, 
Shaukat Hussain Khan's tabla. 
Khamaj in Teentaal.
.........................................
Eight hours in a chair, 
 with nothing to do. At last 
the cry goes forth, Lunch!
......................................
Ten hour duty ends. 
Wouldn't have survived but for 
Haikus and Borges.

.....................................................................................

Friday, March 18, 2011

...Of My Favorite Qawwali So Far 2.0

Two and a half years ago I was introduced to, rather re-introduced to what has since become an obsession of mine; Qawwali. My overarching fascination with this art has led me to become an ardent (albeit amateur) student of Sufism and spirituality as well as provided me with hours upon hours of pure listening pleasure. One of the positive effects of this has been to allow me to write about the various artists , recordings and kalaams that have touched me deeply. On the flip-side, my desire to express in words as well share this passion of mine has turned this into something of a niche blog with the result that I've managed to reduce my already slim readership even further. However, that is of no concern as long as I am able to express and share even a fraction of the joy that Qawwali has brought me.

A year and a half ago, I undertook an exercise whereby I listened to all the versions I had of what was my favorite Kalaam at that time, Hazrat Bu Ali Qalandar (R.A)'s "Manam Mehve Khayaale Oo" and attempted to compare and contrast the performance styles of some of the greatest Qawwals of our time. Over time I've discovered many new artists and new recordings that have reiterated my belief that Qawwali is mainly a performer's art. The repertoire is vast and the opportunities for modification and innovation limitless, hence like Jazz, it's the performer's style that ultimately moulds a performance and contributes to it's aural and spiritual impact. I've also realized that the term "favorite Qawwali" is an oxymoron. However, there are some pieces that are definitely closer to the heart than others, and currently, the kalaam I've been constantly listening to over the past month or so is that immortal Na'at of Maulana Jami (R.A)'s, Nasima, Jaanibe Bat'ha Guzar Kun.


نسیما ! جانب بطحا گزر کن
زا حوالم محمد را خبر کن 

 بہ حال مبتلاے غم  نظر کن
علاج درد دل اے چارہ گر کن 

توئی سلطان عالم یا محمد
  زروئے لطف سوئے من نظر کن


بہ برایں جان مشتاقم بہ آنجا
   فدائے روضہ خیر البشر کن


 مشرف گرچہ شد جامی زلطفش
خدایا ! ایں کرم با ر دگر کن


    
O morning breeze! set out towards Bat'haa,
Inform Muhammad (S.A.W) of my plight

Cast your eye towards one who is afflicted with sorrow
O healer, find a cure for this aching heart

 Muhammad (S.A.W); you, who are the Emperor of both worlds
Cast your graceful, blessed glance towards me

It is the desire of this eager soul of mine
To sacrifice itself upon your final abode

Although you have showered your grace on Jami
In God's name, grant him this favor once again.


Maulana Nur ad-Din Abd ar-Rahman Jami (R.A) was one of the foremost Persian mystics and poets. His works include the "Bahaaristan", the biographical treatise "Nafaahat-al-Uns", his masterpiece "Haft Aurang" and his version of the classical Persian romantic epic "Leili wa Majnun". He was an ardent lover of the Prophet (S.A.W) and expressed his love in some of the most beautiful Na'ats in the Persian language, among them Tanam Farsooda Jaanpara, Gul Az Rukhat Aamookhta , Ya Muhammad Ba Mane Be Saro Samaan Madaday, and of course, Nasima, Jaanibe Bat'haa Guzar Kun. An apocryphal Sufi tradition offers a stirring example of Jami's love for the Prophet (S.A.W) as follows,

"It so happened that once this ‘ishq' was at its peak and poor Jami became restless. He composed a wonderful naat in the praise of Allah’s Habib and in the agony of love made a vow to recite that very poem in front of the Prophet’s Mausoleum in Madina. So, gathering some of his many disciples with him, he set off on the long and arduous journey to fulfil his vow.

After many a month of travel, the caravan led by the Imam of Love, Abdul Rahman Jami, reached the outskirts of the City of the Prophet and Madina was only a few miles journey away. As they camped for the day, they saw a rider on a horse coming towards them at a galloping pace. The strange rider stopped in their midst and asked the group, “Which of you is Jami?” The disciples pointed out Jami and said, “That is our leader, Shaykh Imam Abdul Rahman Jami!” So the rider guided his horse towards Jami and, alighting, greeted Jami with the words, “Assalamu alaykum!”


  “Wa alaykum as-salam! Who are you? Where are you from and why are you here?” asked the venerable Sufi.   


“Jami, I have come here from Madina!”

At the mention of these words the lover of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam), Jami, took off his turban and placed it the feet of the stranger saying, “May I be sacrificed for these feet!  They have come from the city of my Prophet!”

 

Jami continued, “Good sir! Tell me, why have you come?”
 

The man went silent for a while and then answered, “Jami what I am going to tell you, you must promise to hear it with a stout heart.”

 “I will”, said a slightly bemused Jami, “but tell me!”   


“Jami”, continued the rider, “I have been sent to you by the Prophet (Sall’Allahu Ta’ala Alayhi Wa’alihi Wa’sallam) himself"

“Tell me! What does my Master say?” interjected Jami. 

“Jami, the Prophet (Sall’Allahu Ta’ala Alayhi Wa’alihi Wa’sallam) has sent me to tell you that he has forbidden you to enter Madina and visit him!”    

At these words Jami was thunderstruck, his head swam and his legs gave way beneath him and with an agonised shriek the Shaykh fell to the ground in a swoon. The disciples were terrified that their Shaykh had passed away but after many hours Jami came back to a state of consciousness and he wept copiously.    The messenger was still there and Jami asked him, “Tell me O’ bringer of such tidings! Why does my Master prevent me from entering Madina? What sin have I committed? Why is my Medinan Lord angry with me?” 

The messenger replied,”the Master is not upset with you. Indeed, he is very happy with you!”.

"Then why does my liege-lord prevent me from visiting him?” 

“Jami! The Prophet(Sall’Allahu Ta’ala Alayhi Wa’alihi Wa’sallam) said to me that tell Jami that if he comes to Madina with such love in his heart I will have no course but to come out of my tomb and greet him in person – such would be the recompense for his love! – so tell him not to enter Madina. I will visit him myself! Tell Jami not to come and visit me – I will visit him!”

                             ....................................................................................


Naseema was one of the first kalaams I heard on that wonderful evening two and a half years ago when I was re-introduced to Qawwali. I clearly remember sitting in my friend's dorm room. He had just played me one of Munshi Raziuddin's recordings and I hadn't recovered yet when he said, "Lain Musab bhai, yeh sunain" and played for me Manzoor Ahmed Niazi and Party's version of "Naseema". I listened intently to the initial doha, and the moment the "Kun" of the first verse hit what we call the tabla's 'summ', I was transported!
Manzoor Ahmed Niazi Qawwal

It was later that I found out that Naseema was one of the Manzoor Niazi Party's most famous Qawwalis, however it was the first time I was listening to Manzoor Niazi sahab and I was immediately struck by the unique mellowness and soft timbre of his voice. The ravages of age were apparent but it was still carrying the performance along beautifully. Abdullah Manzoor Niazi's powerful and very melodious voice perfectly complemented his father's. (In my opinion, Abdullah Manzoor Naizi's party, along with the Farid Ayaz ensemble are currently the two best Qawwali ensembles in Pakistan). I listened to the performance again and again over the coming days and weeks in my dorm room and constantly hummed the beautiful arrangement.

The Manzoor Niazi party's performance remains one of my most favorite Qawwalis because of it's stirring arrangement, the wonderful little takraars that the Qawwals interject at the end of each verse and the Qawwals' beautiful adayegi, Manzoor Niazi Sb's being especially appealing.





As I listened to more and more recordings and delved deeper into the Qawwali idiom, I found that Naseema was part of the repertoire of most Qawwal parties, with most following the same arrangement as the Manzoor Ahmed Niazi party. I also discovered that the kalaam had the greatest impact when it was performed at a gentle, stately tempo, almost like the gentle early morning breeze that was being addressed in it. Again, various Qawwals performed it in their own styles, using a variety of Girahs and Takraars to bring out the various emotional aspects of the kalaam, from gentle pleading to desperation to resignation to hope.

Haji Mehboob Ali Qawwal
A performance that takes the gentle and stately route is by Haji Mehboob Ali Qawwal and Haji Mushtaq Ali Qawwal at Golra Shareef. (A rare photograph of Haji sahab is attached, many thanks to the personage who allowed me to post it) A steady tempo, no girahs or takraars, just the two brothers accompanied by tabla and Haji saheb himself on Sitar. Mehboob Qawwal was known to perform two versions of Naseema, one unadorned and the other with "Tazmeen", where each verse is accompanied by a versified translation in Urdu and Seraiki in the same metre as the original. It served the purpose of Wa'az that Haji saheb was justly famous for. I have a recording of that version in my archives and might post it when I have the requisite permission. The unadorned version however, is beautiful in it's simplicity and the meandering, mellifluous arrangement with the Qawwals singing it with the utmost 'Ihteraam', bringing out the innate musicality of the kalaam.





Rasheed Ahmed Fareedi Qawwal
I have previously expressed my admiration of Rasheed Ahmed Fareedi, one of the greatest Qawwals of his age who remains undiscovered by a large audience largely because like Haji Mehboob Qawwal, he was primarily a Darbari Qawwal who didn't release any recordings commercially. A 'shagird' of Fateh Ali Khan, he was known for his emotive and powerful vocal style and his highly talented and disciplined party. He used girahs to great effect and his performances were known for their gradual increase in tempo, long, sustained takraars and complicated behlaawas and sargams. His version of Nasima contains brilliant examples of all these.Despite my best efforts however, the quality of the recording doesn't do justice to the performance that starts out slow, with a rather measured tempo. The first highlight is the takraar at the 3:20 minute mark that temporarily energizes the piece before gently ebbing back to the original tempo, followed immediately by another takraar. A number of apt girahs including  "Har kas vaseela daarad" and "Man Keestam" punctuate this takraar of the first verse. As the tempo gathers pace, Fareedi sahab and his Hamnavaas unleash a torrent of Girahs and Behlawaas before again slowing down at the 18:20 mark.

Each of the subsequent verses is similarly embellished, with the next major takraar coming near the end of the piece at the phrase "Tu-ee Sultaan". The last third of the performance is especially moving for it's use of some very beautiful Girahs from Punjabi Sufi poets including Bulleh Shah, Hazrat Sultan Bahu and Shah Ali Haider all inserted into a rousing takraar of "Ya Muhammad". The performance carries on at the same breakneck pace, each verse being repeatedly emphasized, with the final takraar a brief one at "Een Karam", after which the Qawwali culminates. Although the quality of the recording greatly hampers the enjoyment of this piece, it is a stirring rendition, and one of my favorites.





Ustad Fateh Ali-Mubarak Ali Qawwals And Party
A mention of the 'shagird' naturally leads to the ustaad, with the next recording being of those giants of Qawwali, Ustad Fateh Ali- Mubarak Ali Qawwal. The two brothers were pioneers, popularizers and innovators par excellence in the field of Qawwali. With Fateh Ali's higher register and emphatic delivery perfectly complemented by his brother's vocal dexterity, they were the pre-eminent Qawwal ensemble of the 40's, 50's and early '60s till Fateh Ali Khan's untimely death. Nusrat's style, as well as that of their many Shagirds, carries echoes of this power-house group's performance idiom.

In this very rare recording, the party is accompanied by Sarangi and flute and both brothers beautifully display their vocal dexterity. Mubarak Ali's taans punctuate the Qawwali at regular intervals while Fateh Ali emphasizes the text with choice Girahs. The beautiful girah at 'Dard-e-dil' is the first of these, quickly followed by beautiful improvisation by Mubarak Ali. The following verses are similarly embellished with alaaps, girahs and brief takraars with the sarangi and flute in the background proving a beautiful counterpoint to the vocalists. The tempo remains steady throughout each verse. Mubarak Ali performs one final feat of vocal virtuosity near the end and the performance ends without the tempo flagging for an instant.






Bakhshi, Salamat Qawwal And Party
The final performance in this piece is by another talented 'Shagird' of Fateh Ali-Mubarak Ali Qawwals, the preternaturally gifted party of  Bakhshi,Salamat Qawwal Party. In my opinion, the Qawwals most similar in style to Fateh Ali Mubarak Ali were the Bakhshi Salamat party, with an especially similar emphatic style.If I were to choose a current favorite among the various versions of 'Naseema", this would be it. It starts of with a beautiful Clarinet sazeena that is both mellow and full-bodied. the baaja next takes over with the main melody line and the vocals commence with an alaap.

Bakhshi Khan starts with a unique doha ; a verse each in Farsi and Urdu. The almost pleading, aching, lament-like delivery of these two verses is very beautiful. The first verse of the kalaam proper is punctuated in a similar style, with Salamat Khan's phrasing ( Jaaa- NIBE) eliciting the kalaam's poignant theme of longing for the land of the beloved Prophet (S.A.W). The next verse is embellished with brief takraars and alaaps, with the second hemistitch repeated over and over before Bakhshi Khan inserts two girahs, pausing before and emphasising the last words of each in such a way that the desperation and intense longing of the poet is apparent ('Jab dard diya tum ne, phir tum hi dawaa.......KARNA!', ' Ba haale mubtelaae man nazar.....KUN').

The second highlight comes at the takraar of the second hemistitch of the third verse where the Qawwals modify the original text into "Be raahe lutf" and launch into a beautiful takraar punctuated by Bakhshi Khan's cries of 'Aye Ji!'. The final verse sees a takraar of 'Een karam' as the poet pleads his case with growing desperation, before finally, resignedly entrusting the morning breeze, - the Naseem - his message in the hope that it will reach the land of the Prophet (S.A.W) and his pleas will one day be heard.




There are many other versions of this immortal kalaam, both by Qawwals as well as Naatkhwaans, however I've restricted myself to my five most favorite versions. What's obvious in all these performances is how each Qawwal's individual style highlights the various aspects of Jami's kalam and how a single piece of Sufi poetry, despite being moulded and adapted by different Qawwals, still retains it's original message that Jami entrusted to the morning breeze centuries ago.

P.S Apologies for the rather shoddy translation, my Farsi's still at a rather primitive stage.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cover Stories - Of Pir Adil, The Place That Started It All

One of the reasons I consider my one month flood relief duty in Dera Ghazi Khan the most exciting and probably most memorable one month of my life is that along with working my socks off in the relief efforts for most of the month, I also managed to squeeze in five or six days of hardcore exploration and travel. Most of this exploration was carried out in a four day whirlwind tour that had me covering 1500 kilomketres and visiting five or six cities in what has since come to be known as the "Great Road Trip". There were however one or two detours that I made before that, on what can be called 'company time'.

 On my way to DG Khan from Multan at the start of my duty, I looked up places of interest in and around DG Khan (a thoroughly fruitless and dispiriting exercise) One name kept popping up repeatedly, the village of Pir Adil. It was a village  to the north of DG Khan, around 12 km from our base camp. The village housed a Sufi shrine, there wasn't much more I could find out about the place however. It was obviously the shrine of a Sufi saint, but it wasn't obvious what distinguished it from the innumerable others that dotted the landscape. The shrine was of one Pir Adil Shah Bukhari , a 9th century Chishti saint. That, and a vague idea of it's location gleaned from Google Maps was all the information I had about this place.

Our daily ambulance trips to and from Medical camps were more or less a rambling caravan that pitched it's tents wherever we felt we were needed. We had no restrictions of distance or time and there was an almost limitless supply of fuel. This meant we travelled far and wide, covering a radius of almost ninety kilometers, spending eight or nine hours in the field everyday. Usually the trips were pretty straightforward; base camp to medical camp and then back again with no detours along the way. After a week or so, this spartan routine started becoming tedious. I was eager to get some exploring under my belt but wasn't able to get any time off. In addition, my routes usually took me away from the one or two places that were worth seeing, including the Pir Adil shrine.

Around the seventh day of our Medical camps however, we were told to pitch camp at the Dera Ghazi Khan Cement factory, around 14km North-west of the main city. Looking up the place on Google Maps (an app that more than earned it's Official Seal Of Awesomeness  over the course of my South Punjab adventure), I found that the route led me pretty close to the village of Pir Adil. I figured this was as good a chance as any to visit the place. After finishing up the day's camp at the Cement factory, I sent one of the ambulances ahead of me so it could take the remaining supplies and the less footloose of the support staff back to the basecamp while I set out in the other to find the village of Pir Adil.

It turned out to be a pretty straightforward path in the end. As the map shows, heading north from the Pakistan Chowk on the Indus Highway for a distance of 8 miles brings you to the Cement Factory chowk. A further 2 miles bring one to a crossroads with a direction pointer showing the way towards Pir Adil due East. A straight metalled track leads to the village a mile down the road.



View Pir Adil Shrine in a larger map

About half a mile before the shrine, as the magnificent white-and-blue tiled dome of the shrine emerged on the horizon,I finally understood what distinguished the place from the countless other shrines all over DG Khan. Driving into the village, all of us in the ambulance let out a collective gasp as we rounded a turn and the shrine came into view. I hadn't yet been to the magnificent shrines in Multan and Ucch Sharif yet, so this was my first exposure to the "Multani" style of architecture, and I was floored by what I saw. At the edge of a large graveyard, surrounded by four low walls, with an impromptu trinket market outside it, stood the tomb of Pir Adil Shah Bukhari. It was a magnificent building, at first sight very similar to the pictures I had seen of the Shah Rukn-e-Alam tomb in Multan.

A quadrangular building ,with a hexagonal second storey topped by a beautiful dome, it dominates the landscape of the surrounding village. The eastern edges are rounded off by cylindrical bastions topped by a small minaret each with a lotus pattern on top. The westerly bastions are more intricately designed, with hollow mehraab-like depressions along their lengths and a slightly larger lotus atop the minarets. The exterior walls are decorated by beautiful yet simple blue-glazed tiles in geometric patterns that vary on each wall. On some there is a crisscrossing brick lattice adorned with blue tiles in the centre of the lattice-work. On others there are groups of geometric patterns ascending the walls in ordered groups. The southern entrance - the one facing the graveyard - has a vertical row of three depressed arches on either side. The eastern entrance is larger and opens into the courtyard of the shrine. Topped by an overhanging ledge, with rows of mehraabs around it, it's a beautiful structure. Three horizontal filigrees circle the four walls on the first floor, with three more on the hexagonal drum that forms the second floor. The edges of the hexagon are topped with slender white minarets that encircle the large white central dome. It was a rather compact but extremely beautiful building and I spent a lot of time admiring it's various details from the outside before entering the shrine itself.



Entering the shrine from the direction of the graveyard, I was immediately struck by something that I'd later realize was characteristic of most of the shrines I'd visit - an overwhelming sense of calm. It was semi-dark and very cool, with a breeze blowing through the open doors. One or two gentlemen were sitting inside the shrine, praying, one of whom I struck up an entertaining conversation with. Sunk into one of the walls was a mehraab decorated in intricate glazed tile that probably served as a prayer spot. Above the mehraab were two quatrains painted on the walls. One was a chronogram that revealed that the interior of the shrine had been repaired in 1343 A.H. the other was a Persian couplet that was faded and thus couldn't be read properly. Between the two inscriptions was a simple floral pattern.

The final resting place of the Pir was right below the dome, which was simply in ornamented from the interior. There were one or two relics, including an inscription on a stone tablet written in Arabic. There was another inscription on a piece of ivory that was well nigh illegible, however the date 1053 A.H was clearly visible at the bottom left.A stone slab with the imprint of a foot was kept in a glass case. The custodians claimed that it was a footprint of the Prophet (S.A.W) that Hazrat Jalaluddin Bukhari, also known as Hazrat Jahanian Jahangasht (R.A) had brought with him from Makkah. the inscription above the print also claimed as such. The Pir's lady wife was buried right next to the main shrine in a smaller chamber which I found at the corner of the courtyard. It was a small domed building, the corner of which was jutting into the courtyard through the walls.Older photographs (rarer than hen's teeth) reveal that it was a small, simple square white structure topped with a dome

I stayed at the shrine for around an hour or so but the ambulance driver and the rest of the staff were getting testy about delaying their lunch, so I had to reluctantly leave. We all bought a few sweetmeats from the stalls outside the shrine as well as distributed some of the remaining medicines and then departed towards the base camp. I was genuinely moved by what was my first visit to a shrine since childhood, and I'm sure the experience of visiting Pir Adil was catalytic in my resurgent interest in and affection for Sufi Shrines. After that brief visit to Pir Adil, I've travelled all over Punjab, paying my respects at many other shrines and tombs, and everywhere I've felt the same ambience, the same feeling of spiritual serenity that I experienced for the first time at that tiny, hidden away tomb outside Dera Ghazi Khan- the tomb of Pir Adil.

P.S The account of my first exploratory trip should I think be soundtracked by what is the da-facto National anthem of the Seraiki belt. In my favorite version of this immortal folk melody; the late, great Pathanay Khan sings the Rohi.