WHERE IS ALI HUJWERI BURIED?
A SEARCH FOR DATA DARBAR
Concealed facts about Lahore
The ride to our school was in a Lahori Tonga, and the tonga-wala Barkat used to drive it. There was a group of students all headed for Saint Anthony’s School and Cathedral Sacred Heart School, Lahore. Shahbaz Shareef was in Cathedral Sacred Heart and Nawaz Shareef was in Saint Anthonys. The eldest of our lot included two brothers Sultan and Khaleel. And it was a carriage full of students of all ages. Sultan and Khaleel were discussing a news that had come in the national newspaper then. Animal remains had been discovered in the grave of Ali Hujweri, known as Data Darbar. And scholars were talking about it. And the ultimate reference came to the Safinat-ul-Aulia, a manuscript book of Prince Dara Shikoh, in which he writes about many Saints, and in reference to Ali Hujweri, he says that Ali Hujweri is buried in the corner of the Lahore Fort, and he contributed a brand new sarcophagus to the Saint’s grave, made of chaste marble and exquisite workmanship. Then from where has come the present burial location of the Saint?
What do we get from history? Of the many books written by Ali Hujweri, only one has come down to us. In this book Ali Hujweri himself tells us that he was brought in Lahore in chains, under the instructions of Sultan Masood Ghaznavi, and he was a prisoner here. This is not second hand information, this is a statement of Ali Hujweri himself. For many centuries we find no reference to Ali Hujweri. It is Dara Shikoh who spotlighted many of the Saints of Lahore, and re-kindled interest in Ali Hujweri himself. Then we have the writings of Nur Ahmad Chisti and Ghulam Sarwar Lahori. Nur Ahmad Chisti speaks of the two festivals at the Mazar of Ali Hujweri, all celebrated in Lahore. But does not specify the location. Interestingly he says that the Mazar is near the Takia of Qutub Shah, and that all sort of dancing girls and prostitutes assemble here for the festivity, and there are Mujras of the Dancing girls of Lahore there.
It is Muhammed Lateef in his ‘History of Lahore’ who specifies the present location of the Mazar in 1896. We do not have any specifics before that, although we are told that there was hardly anything there. The new domed mausoleum over Data Darbar was constructed in 1861 by Nur Muhanmmed Sadoo and the inscription to the same is still there. A mosque was built in 1878 on older models of architecture and it is not known who built it, although claims are made by the grandson of philanthropist Rasool Baksh Tarrar, that he attached this mosque to the mausoleum. . To search for truth is a must and we know that few are bothered about it.
My cousin Ejaz Sarwar is a brave person. I am not that reckless. He can jump in the deepest well, without even thinking how he will get out of it. We are world apart in our thoughts, but have things in common. I asked him to search the Fort for clues. With a journalist card from ‘Jhang’ group it was easy for him to do many things. First he had to gain access to the storey below the present storey level of the Lahore Fort, and then he had to use a ladder to get down a deserted well of the past. In the middle of the well and obviously pitch dark, there was a ventilator, and he had to slip the ladder to the other side of the well, to get even more down the same storey. Then through a window, into other rooms, he came across the hidden grave of a Saint there. I got invitation from him again and again to traverse the journey with him, but I politely declined. He took a lot of photographs and showed them to me too. My research was not limited to foolhardiness, in the dark nooks and corners of a forgotten time. But everything pointed out to the correctness of the grave. A thousand years is equal to about thirty feet of Lahore, as assessed by us in more places than one. We have found relics of the Ghaznavid period at thirty feet below Lahore. The thirty feet is also very evident in the Lahore Fort. The Saint buried in the Lahore Fort is no less than a 1000 years old.
Of course we are not the official research wing of anybody. We do things for we love Lahore, and that is our only reason. But the question we kept on asking to ourselves. How can the grave of Ali Hujweri move from the Lahore Fort to the present site? The answer was obvious. The grave was frequented by thousands of followers of the ICON OF PUNJAB, and posed a serious threat to the security of the British troops stationed here in Lahore. How could British allow unfettered access to the grave to hordes of people? Yes the coffin could have been transported, but they would not risk that. That kind of thing was done with SAINT BILAWAL. When floods threatened his mazar, the grave was dug and his remains transferred to a new site, and that is on everybody’s record. Even Muhammed Lateef has a story about it. The same happened with the Mazar of Shah Sharaf. Around 1839, this Mazar was also brought down, and the coffin was removed from the grave and transported to another area of Lahore, Dulla wari, where it is still there in existence. So they promoted a new site and the people caught up with it. And the Mazar of Ali Hujweri came into a new site. Wrong! Perhaps. Right! Perhaps. Our job is not to prove or even disprove things. Our job is to research. The conclusions are there for anyone who wants them. It may be interesting for people to know that in the 1950s, all text books of Punjab, mentioned the burial site of Ali Hujweri in the Lahore Fort. Now that is proof for everyone.
The Mazar of Ali Hujwerei has been dug many times. When the new complex was being built, it was dug down many feet, probably even 40 feet or more. We passed it every day and were sure things would be found there. But nothing of that sort happened. There were no residues there, no pottery, no old skeletons, nothing at all. In fact near Bhatti gate, in a digging for Siemens drainage project, a host of skeletons were discovered, buried together from olden times. This was just outside the city wall. A result of either disease or dead soldiers buried together. The residents got all kind of creeps there due to them. In fact the nearby Mazar of Masoom (Bholay) Shah is indeed very below the surface of the road, and is probably even older than the same period. But the Mazar of Data Darbar did not have remains of olden times. In fact the burial place should have been 30 feet down. It was not. It was near the surface. People can obviously do research on same to discover the truth. Who knows? The truth is not self evident.