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Kaliyar Sharif

It's really surprising to find an Islamic shrine in the midst of countless Hindu temples and ashrams. But that is what India actually represents. Locally referred to as Piran Kaliyar, the Kaliyar Sharif (also spelled "Kalyar Sharif") is the site where sufi saint Makhdoom Sayed Alauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir lies buried. It is a small village where the shrine is located. A 30 minutes drive from Haridwar takes you here. There is more than one gateway to gain access to the shrine. Elaborate enamel work adorns the sides of the tomb wall. The front half of the shrine is the antechamber while the tomb lies in the back half.

Kaliyar Sharif

The shrine of Kaliyar Sharif has a history dating back 800 years. Baba Sabir, as locals call him, was a Muslim saint and was known for his miracles. Everyday, there are hundreds of people visiting the shrine to seek the saint's blessing. The tomb was built by Qutbe Alam, another saint. The religious head of the shrine is Shah Mansoor Aijaz Sabri, a descendant of Qutbe Alam. During the Urs Festival, devotees come here in hordes to pray and to seek favour from the saint. The Urs takes place every year during May-June.

If you like listening to Sufi music, you can attend the Qawwali sessions organised in the afternoons and evenings. The Qawwali singers are noted for their high-pitched voice. They sing praises of the saint as well as Allah. As soon as the Qawwali session begins, the atmosphere begins to acquire its true colour. A spiritual aura pervades all over. Devotees sit in circles around the singers to listen to them. Apart from devotees at the shrine, you will notice faqirs (meaning Muslim holy men) who have made the saint their ideal.

For the people of the town of Kaliyar, the shrine of Kaliyar Sharif is the only means of support. In fact, the town is just a collection of shops. These shopkeepers earn their bread by selling prayer commodities, food and offerings for the saint. During the Urs Festivals, they get very busy.