Amidst several little-known historical treasure troves that the beautiful city of Shahjahanabad has to offer, is the quiet shrine a 13th century Sufi saint, the Dargah of Hazrat Shah. The shrine is regarded as the oldest shrine in the whole of Old Delhi, and is centuries older than Shahjahanabad. Located to the east of Turkman Gate, which forms the southern gate of the old walled city, this is the dargah (shrine) of Hazrat Shah Turkman Bayabani. No prizes for guessing, the Gate (although built in the late 1650s) itself is named after the pious Saint who died in 1240 CE.
Now I won’t blame you if you haven’t seen one of the 14 gateways to what was known as Shahjahanabad, amidst all the phat-phat sevas, rickshaws and cattle ambling along the narrow road. And in such a scenario, having spotted the shrine itself is out of question!
But once you do manage to reach the Turkman Gate, right next to it you will find the shrine of the man himself- Turkman Bayabani. It is not one of those grand shrines- say like that of Nizamuddin, but a very simple one. The saint belonged to a special sect known as Bayabani, believing in praying and living alone in a secluded place, close to nature, away from inhabited areas.
It is a little disheartening to see the oldest shrine in our city forgotten like this, without even a board that would inform you of its immense historical significance. But now that you know quite a lot about it, be sure to include it in your list of ‘must-visit places’ of Old Delhi the next time you decide to go sight-seeing!
P.S. Once you are done with the Gate and the dargah, do make it a point to see the beautiful Holy Trinity Church right near the shrine. The old dilapidated tomb of Raziya Sultan and the Kalan Masjid are other historic places to be seen in the vicinity.
See map for Turkman Gate here.
(This piece has been researched and contributed by Sanchita Srivastava, a history student at Delhi University and an avid writer)