Hundreds of threads are tied on the lattice windows, carrying worshippers’ prayers.
The air is heavy with the scent of rosewater and incense. And the sound of qawwali is ringing in the background.
It’s Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Nizamuddin and a pilgrimage site for Sufi devotees from around the world.
Qawwali: The sacred music
Qawwali is a popular musical form associated with Sufi music in India.
It’s a fusion of devotional poetry and Hindustani music and was developed by the great Indian scholar, poet and mystic Amir Khusrow.
And the shrine is home to one of the most famous Qawwali families, the Nizami Bandhu, who have been singing at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah for hundreds of years.
“This is one of my favorite places in Delhi,” Amit Kilam, drummer and singer in rock band Indian Ocean band, tells CNN Travel. “This place transports me to some other time zone altogether. It’s like an oasis without being extremely in-your-face religious. This place gives you great peace.”
In Qawwali, words are more important than music, with a repetition of verses.
“The musician will start with a certain set of notes and will keep repeating them, repeating them over and over again in any form over a small melody. He is creating an atmosphere.”
Great tourist destination
The surrounding Nizamuddin Basti neighborhood is a destination in its own right.
“It still ticks all the boxes of being a great tourist place. The place is beautiful architecturally. It has a sense of history. The food around the place is spectacularly good,” says Kilam.
“So you have everybody from everywhere and from every walk of life here.”
“There’s something about faith and the beauty of faith — and this place transcends normal religion and goes towards spirituality.”
Thursday and Friday evenings are a sure bet for experiencing qawwali at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah. Performance times are 6 to 7:30 p.m. and 9 to 10:30 p.m. Read more on kunzum.com.