Maner Sharif… A hidden sufi destination in Patna

Abhishek

Surrounded by trees and lush greenery,  Maner Sharif is an important sufi destination in Patna. This place has been neglected for many years by local administration.However,it has always been very famous among the locals.Every new year day, This is a famous point for having a picnic. An annual fair called Shohbat mela is organised once a year here and is very popular in the region.Many people from far away places come here to seek blessings and get their wishes fullfilled.The Sone and Ganga River meeting point ( Sangam) is very near to this point at a place called Haldi-Chhapra.

Chhoti Dargah

I have visited this place many times as it is very near to my native place, at different phases of my life right from my childhood to being a professional architect. Every time, I got a unique experience on visiting this place. In fact, when I was a child, my curiosity had increased when I had heard many stories about this place from my elder relatives. Most notable among them was the presence of a tunnel in the structure. It was said that whoever has gone inside this tunnel has never returned. Some people proudly claimed that they had gone inside a few steps in the tunnel to have a look. The pride they felt was directly proportional to the number of steps they had gone inside. Nowadays, the entrance to this tunnel is locked and everyone is prohibited to go inside.

How to reach…

Maner sharif can be reached easily via road.It is about 30 km from Patna junction Railway station. The nearest railway station is however, Bihta, at just a distance of about 10 km. From both the railway stations, one can easily ride to this place via National highway 30.This is just about 1.5 km from the Maner police station towards Bihta side.You have to take a right cut and travel for few hundred metres if you are coming from Patna and left if coming from Bihta.

The structures inside the compound…

There are two structures at this place. One is called the Badi dargah ( Big Mausoleum) while the other is called chhoti dargah (Small Mausoleum).Inside the Badi Dargah is the grave of Sufi saint Hazrat Makhdum Yahiya Maneri while the Chhoti Dargah has the grave of Shah Daulat with Ibrahim Khan nearby.

Makhdoom Shah Daulat died in Maner Sharif in 1608 and Ibrahim Khan, Governor of Bihar, built a mausoleum to him that was completed in 1616.

Hazrat Makhdum was the grandchild of Hazrat Taz Fakih and used to be a very popular Sufi Saint of Bihar.He died in 1291 AD.

South of Badi Dargah is the Mausoleum of Tajuddin Khandgah Sahab who was the nephew of Mahmud Ghazni.

Chhoti Dargah

Architecture…

On entering the Maner sharif compund , you will come across a relic with a lion like figure.It is similar to the shardul of Jaunpur.The shardul is a lion like figure grabbing an elephant in its claws.It is beleived that the Chandel kings first started the creation of Sharduls.

The tomb of Yahia Maneri or Badi Dargah lies in a white colored mosque with walls and and pillared porticos.Near this dargah you will also find some ruins.

A marble plate put up just outside the Chhoti Dargah tells us a lot about its architecture.Chhoti Dargah , in its centre, houses the grave of famous saint Makhdum Shah Daulat who died in 1608 AD and of Ibrahim Khan who was buried near the feet of the saint.

The Chhoti Dargah is built of chunar sandstone on a low height square platform.It consists of a main chamber,9.44 metre square internally and 10.44 metre square externally.It is surrounded by a verandah of 3.55 metre wide.The stone ceilings on the verandah are carved with floral and geometrical carvings with calligraphic patterns containing the Quranic verses.At the corners of the verandah are open side rooms with small domed cupolas, each resting on twelve pillars.The roof of the main chamber is supported on four lofty stone pillars on each side with curtain walls in between them and decorated with horizontal mouldings and rows of niches and arches.

The structure consists of a brick walled enclosure of about three metre high covering an area of approximately 78 metres x 76 metres having a twelve sided tower at each corner and with two extra towers on southern side.A gallery on northern and eastern side is also constructed with a mosque at the central portion of the western gallery.The tomb is approached through an entrance gate towards the north which has got an arabic inscription refering to its construction in 1613 AD while the persian inscription in the mosque records its completion in 1619 AD by Ibrahim Khan.The mysterious tunnel as mentioned above lies here.A large pond with fishes oversees the tomb.

This place was neglected by the administration for many years,although known to many.Recently, the government has started showing interest in developing this place as a tourist hub.

Maner ka Laddoo…

Maner is also famous for it’s unique sweet of Motichoor Laddoo made up of desi ghee popularly known as ‘Maner ka Laddoo’.You can taste it by visiting a famous shop nearby at about 1 km from Maner sharif in Maner market called ‘Maner Sweets.’ ‘Maner ka laddu’ was also featured in the Bollywood movie ‘Khudgarz’.

Way to Maner Sharif from Patna Junction Railway Station.

(All pictures courtesy:- My friend Ar. Rakesh Kumar)

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