SHS Field Trip to Biharsharif: Understanding Sufism in Bihar

March 25, 2017

By Theresa Mangalath, School of Historical Studies, Class of 2017

On March 4, 2017, students from the School of Historical Studies (SHS) and the School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions enrolled in the elective Understanding Sufism, offered by Dr. Kashshaf Ghani,  Assistant Professor at SHS, went for a field trip to Biharsharif. The purpose of the trip was to enhance the knowledge of Sufism in Bihar by examining the major sites that are associated with the life and times of the famous Sufi, Shaikh Sharafuddin Maneri.

SHS Field Trip to Biharsharif 2017
Students from Nalanda’s School of Historical Studies during their field trip to Biharsharif
– Pic Credit:Theresa Mangalath

The first stop during the field visit was at the Baridargah where the tomb of Shaikh Sharafuddin Maneri is located. What makes this dargah unique is the presence of women within the sanctum which is not allowed in most dargahs of the country. Two kinds of people access the dargah complex. The first set of people visit the shrine for praying to the saint and healing purposes while the second set are the caretakers who manage the rituals and other activities of the complex.

The next stop was the Khanqah which is located a few kilometers away from the Dargah complex. There were fewer people here as compared to the Dargah, which showed that it is not as important as the Dargah for Sufi gatherings. Both Dargah and Khanqah have similar architectural patterns as they were patronized by the same Sultan. After visiting the Khanqah the group moved to the Amber Dargah of Ahmad Chiramposh, which is again located a few kilometers away from the Baridargah. This site does not have too many distinguishable architectural features. However, during the visit the group noted that it has many more women residents and pilgrims than the Baridargah. 

The final stop during this trip was the tomb of Ibrahim Malik ‘Bayya’ , who served as the general in the army of the Tughlaqs. It is located at the top of Pir Pahari hill and is completely isolated from the town below, unlike the other sites. The monument is made up of bricks and shows a minimal architectural style compared to the other monuments. Within the inner dome where the tomb of the general is located, there is a facility to offer ones respect. This dome is surrounded by many other smaller structures together with a watch tower like platform which give a perfect view of the Biharsharif town. 

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