Mian Mir's Shrine and Mosque

To reach the shrine and mosque of one of the most celebrated saints of Lahore, Hazrat Mian Mir, after whom the whole area was named, you have to walk your way through a set of winding streets from Allama Iqbal Road.  Cruising south past Mayo Gardens and approximately in the centre of the two railway crossings, the road leads off Allama Iqbal Road. The winding street leads to a large open ground, opposite which is situated the mausoleum of the great saint. Although a little out of the way, it is worth the trek to view one of the most celebrated mazars, the original building of which has fortunately escaped the large-scale restoration/reconstruction seen in many of Lahore shrines.

As you enter the doorway, you enter a world pregnant with spiritual energy, the hushed atmosphere of the enclosure overpowering you with its effect. It is a large compound, the beautiful mausoleum with its unusual architectural character presenting itself in its full glory.

Across the road to the east of tomb of Hazrat Mian Mir, is a large chahar bagh (four-quartered garden or paradisiacal garden) in the centre of which stands the serene tomb of Nadira Begam.

The whole area is known as Mian Mir after the saint, and in fact the cantonment close by established by the British in 1852 was originally given the name of Mian Mir Cantonment—a tradition of naming after historic structures of the Mughal period when the first British cantonment was established as Anarkali Cantonment named after the famous Mughal tomb of Anarkali.

The 16th century saint Mir Mohammad or Hazrat Mian Mir Sindhi Qadri (1531 - 1635), sometimes also referred to as Mian Mir Bala Fir Lahori, hailed from Siwistan, with a distinguished lineage traced back to Hazrat Umar, the second caliph of Islam.

The impressive doorway of soft pink stone embellished with ceramic tiles leads into an enormous courtyard, dominated by a large tree, through the foliage of which the Mughal tomb carrying an unusual roof is visible. The sepulcher itself is placed on a raised white marble platform carrying delicate inlay patterns. The steps lead up to the square structure, with overhanging chajja (eaves), which carries the remains of the celebrated saint. Although, some renovation is in evidence, the tomb surfaces are beautifully embellished with the fine Mughal fresco and ceramic tile work with fretwork screens spanning the openings.

On the west of the enclosure stands a 5-bay mosque roofed with comparatively shallow cupolas, rendered in a combination of pink and white—this is the historic mosque said to be of the same ancient vintage as the tomb. Several cloisters line the western and southern boundary of the enclosure, and enormous trees and a multitude of pigeons creating a hushed and secluded world.

The saint arrived in Lahore at the age of 25 during the reign of Emperor Akbar. He went through a long period of self-denial—which, it is said, extended to 40 years—when he would not sleep the whole night and would fast for a whole week at a time, sometimes prolonging the fast to a whole month. His piety and practice of meditation and detachment endowed him with a legendary status and it was widely believed that in virtue, beneficence and learning he had no equal. He was fond of religious, devotional music—the sama'a—as well as the local ragas.

Among his most devout disciples was the poet-prince Dara Shikoh, who has narrated at length the extraordinary powers of the saint, and his habit of shunning the world to engage himself in meditation in seclusion and wilderness.

Dara Shikoh's father Shah Jahan also held the saint in great esteem. The emperor twice paid his respects to the saint when on his royal tour of Lahore, and being conscious of the saint's indifference to worldly wealth, presented him with simple gifts of a rosary and turban of white cloth.

Hazrat Mian Mir died in the reign of Shah Jahan, in Mohallah Khawafipura. It was Prince Dara Shikoh who buried him in the present tomb and began its construction, in an area which at that time was known as Darapur established by the prince himself and named after him.

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