Location: Nagore, Nagapattinam District, and Tamil Nadu
Fine Example Have: Harmonious Co-Existence Of Hindu - Muslim Communities
Spiritual Shrine Of: Meeran Sahib Abdul Qadir Shahul Hamid Badshah
Important Festivals Celebrated: Kandhuri Urs
The Nagore Dargah of Meeran Sahib Abdul Qadir Shahul Hamid Badshah is a spiritual shrine in South India. It is one of the popular pilgrimage centers for Muslims in Tamil Nadu. A short drive from Nagapattinam, Nagore makes for a busy pilgrimage, with busloads of tourists arriving from all over the state. The Dargah features beautiful domed arches and lovely minarets. The Dargah is visited by Hindus also and is a fine example of the harmonious co-existence of Hindu - Muslim communities.
About The Dargah: The Nagore Dargah shrines are situated at three locations, Nagore, Vanjur and Silladi. The main campus is at Nagore, spread over an area of about five acres, which is enclosed by a compound wall, with four impressive entrances, one each on the north, south, east and west. In front of the western gate, just outside the compound, is a large tower, 131 feet tall, called 'Periya Minara'. Nagore Dargah literature discloses that Tanjore King Pratap Singh built 'Periya Minara' around 1760 AD, about 200 years after the death of Meeran Sahib. He is said to have built it in appreciation of having received the grace of Meeran Sahib.
The Main Compound: Inside the compound of the main campus, the golden dome building houses three tombs in three separate chambers. The doors of these chambers are made of silver. In the tombs lay buried the mortal remains of Meeran Sahib, his son Syed Mohammed Yusuf and his daughter-in-law Saeeda Sultana Biwi.
Aside the tomb of Meeran Sahib is placed a golden box. The contents of the golden box unexpectedly are a pair of wooden slippers, believed to have been used by Meeran Sahib. The legend says that, once a carpenter suffering from disease approached Meeran Sahib requesting him to cure him, which Meeran Sahib reportedly did by the grace of Allah. The gratified carpenter made from the finest wood a pair of slippers.
Adjacent to the golden dome building is the 'Peer Mandap' where the 'Peer of the Dargah' stays fasting for three days during festive season of the Dargah. Further away is a mosque where prayers are held regularly. Friday congregations in this Mosque are massive. About 2-km away due north from the main campus is the Vanjur Shrine where Meeran Sahib reportedly stayed in meditation for 40 days inside an underground cave. About a kilometre east of the main campus is located the Silladi Shrine, overlooking the Bay of Bengal.
Hindu Rituals Followed At The Dargah: The Nagore shrine is interesting, with strong Hindu influences in both architecture and rituals. Many rituals, like applying sandal wood paste, holy water, prasadam (blessed items collected after worship) and tonsuring the head are borrowed from the Hindu tradition. This is also apparent in the playing of 'Nadashwaram' and 'Shehnai' (Indian wind instruments) music.
The Festival: Every year, during the lunar month of Jumada al-Thani, the Nagore Dargah Shrines celebrate a festive season known as 'Kandhuri Urs'. Pilgrims, including non-Muslims, from far and wide come for 'Ziyarat'. It is obnoxiously painful to note that the votaries worship him, instead of respecting and revering him. Kandhuri Urs marks the death anniversary of Meeran Sahib.
The Urs commences on the first of Jumada-al-Akhira' when pilgrims assemble at Meera Pally (17th century mosque) in Nagapattinam. They proceed towards Nagore in procession with a Rath that carries flags of the Dargah. On reaching Nagore Dargah Complex, the flags are hoisted marking the inauguration of Kandhuri Urs.
Votaries of Meeran Sahib start performing their troth (pledged word). On the tenth day a grand procession again starts at Nagapattinam; this time from 'Koottadi', an open ground solely retained for this festivity. The procession carries Koodu, a pot containing Sandalwood paste. The procession ends at the tomb of Meeran Sahib and the sandal paste is spread over his tomb. On the fourteenth day the flags are quietly pulled down marking the end of the festive season.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is at Trichy, at a distance of 150-km.
Rail: The nearest railway station is at Nagapattinam, at a distance of 4-km from the Dargah.
Road: There are regular buses to Nagore from Nagapattinam (4-km), Karaikal (12-km), Thanjavur (78-km), Chennai (90-km) and other neighbouring cities and towns.