City Faith – Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine revisited

You realize that you are growing old when people, places and objects that you are familiar with start disappearing, or getting modified, modified beyond recognition. But they say that nostalgia is denial of progress. Progress which can turn Karachi into Dubai. There are not many specifics of this Dubai dream but Sky scrappers certainly are an integral part of it. Just like rest of the residents of the area I witnessed Park Towers chowrangi, Jehangir Kothari Parade, Jabees Playland and Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine get a makeover. They were integrated into this dream which promises to herald a new era of development for Karachi. There were doubts about stability of the shrine and Mahadev temple that predated pretty much all of Karachi but they have survived. I have been going to Kothari Parade regularly. A vast stretch of public space which was out of bounds for years and even now remains vastly underutilized. Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine however remains one of the most popular landmark in Karachi despite modifications.

I finally find myself back at the shrine after several years. There is a separate parking lot for the visitors now which will lead to the gate directly. It is still early in the morning so I take the liberty of parking it out in the street opposite the shrine. There are few roadside stalls at the entrance and just like elsewhere, authorities don’t seem to acknowledge them and they run their business out in the open without any shade. Their skin tone testifies long hours that they put in everyday. We walk past first check post and find ourselves in an open ground. There are some stalls on the right and several people sitting who can take care of your shoes for ten rupees. There is very little shade and we find our feet burning as soon as we hand over the shoes. The long staircase leads us up to the hill but instead of approaching from the center, it goes further to the right of shrine. The staircase has a shade installed on the top which allows us time to absorb our surroundings. I notice remains of old staircase but that’s pretty much the only sign of old compound. Also it is impossible to make sense of original hillock on which the shrine was established. The staircase leads us to the first level where there are few graves. A notice announces that qawwali has been resumed but upon confirmation a caretaker tells me that it has been suspended again. A little further another staircase takes us to upper most compound where Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine is situated. Suddenly we find the old charm of the shrine. It’s a big square hall but even at hourly hours we find it crowded. We fight for space and offer fateha before drifting to the far corners of the hall. There are people sitting there quietly doing nothing in particular. An opening leads us to the exit route where we find groups of people stretching themselves on the wall, taking panoramic view of Ibn-qasim park and beyond. You can also see Jabees Play land on the footsteps of Icon Tower.

We make our next stop at the cave under the hillock where a miraculous natural water spring has been providing water for the visitors for centuries. It has been plastered with the tiles and you can see original hillock stone only at the far corner, beyond the grill which has been installed to stop people from falling into the spring. Outside the cave, few kids are providing water to the visitors. We see a family sitting eating biryani that they have brought in plastic bags.

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Categories: City Faith

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One Comment on “City Faith – Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine revisited”

  1. Anonymous
    August 15, 2019 at 10:38 pm #

    Excellent write up & photos! Thanks!

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