About Dargah Shah-e-Mardan

Dargah Shah-e-Mardan is the oldest and holiest Shiite's (Shia Asna Asha'ri) shrine in India. It is probably 700 years old ‘Dargah', although the detail of its construction is unknown. It is located in the Aliganj, currently known as B. K. Dutt Colony in South Delhi neighborhood of Jor Bagh, just two kilometers away from Prime Minister House.   During the Mughal era the village here was then known as ‘Aliganj'. This area had been called Aliganj till recent. The name from Aliganj to B.K.Dutt colony was changed just two decades ago by the then Govt. This village was called 'Aliganj' on account of Imam Ali (as) ibn Abu Talib (as). The name Dargah Shah-e-Mardan is also derived from the same name. 'Dargah' means a court and 'Shah-e-Mardan' means the 'king of Heroes', a title of Maula Ali (as). Dargah Shah-e-Mardan means the 'court of the king of Heroes'.  A sacred white marble stone having a clear footprint of Maula Ali(as) ibn Abu Talib(as) known as 'Qadam-e-Mubarak' or Qadam Shareef, is also placed inside Dargah Shah-e-Mardan.

Originally the enclosure of Dargah Shah-e-Mardan was developed and secured by Qudsiya Begum Zamani, the mother of Mughal emperor Ahmad Shah Bahahdur and the grandmother of last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. An inscription on a marble slab set over the arch of the northern gateway reads as -

Translation "Muhammad(pbuh) the friend of God said  'I am  a city of learning and Ali(as) is its gateway" "In the auspicious reign of Ahmad Shah Bahadur, the king and champion of faith, the building of the fort, the Majlis Khana (the congregation house), the mosque and the tank, was completed  in one year, according to the orders of Her Highness Nawab  Qudsiya Sahiba  Zamani, under the supervision of  Nawab Bahadur Jawaid Khan Sahib, and under the control of  Lutf Ali Khan in 1164 A.H.(1750 A.D.)"

Nawab Qudsiya Begum professed 'Shia' faith. During the reign of her son Ahmad Shah, she possessed a 'mansab' (title) of 'Nawab' of 50,000. When her influence was at its peak, she had constructed a few religious buildings here in the vicinity of Qadam Shareef of Imam Ali (as), which already existed here.  She enclosed those structures with a massive parapetted wall. The enclosure had a bastain at each of its four corners and was furnished with four gateways and two posterns. The wall, all its bastions and posterns do not exist now. The northern gateway had an inscription referring to the buildings erected by Qudsiya Begum and alludes to the enclosure as a fort.

Enclosure of Dargah Shah-e Mardan includes Qadam Shareef,  Bibi ka Rauza or Bibi ki Chakki, Kazmain, Imam Bara also known as Baradari, Nawab Qudsia Mosque, Majlis Khana, Red Mosque and Dargah Arif Ali shah. Its surrounding waqf land includes Naqqar Khana, Zeenat ki Masjid, Baoli, Qanati Masjid, Karbala and Chotti Karbala.

It is also said that Enclosure of Dargah Shah-e-Mardan was founded by Nawab Qudsiya Begum. Mahabat Khan, a prominent Mughal general and statesman, who died in 'Deccan' (Hydrabad) in 1634 A.D. (1144 A.H.), has expressed a desire to be buried close to the Qadam Shareef in Dargah Shah-e-Mardan. Upon his death his corpse was brought to Delhi from 'Deccan' and was buried close to Qadam Shareef.

Timur Lang, a 'Mongol' conqueror had made the world's first 'Tazia' (replica of Shrine of Imam Hussain (as) and buried it in 1399 A.D. (800-01 A.H.) in the vicinity of Qadam Shareef. He called that portion of land as 'Karbala'.  (Ever first Karbala after the original Karbala in Iraq, in the world)

These two incidents indicates that Dargah Shah-e-Mardan has been standing here much longer and building Dargah Shah-e-Mardan by Qudsiya Begum cannot be accepted as true. Dargah Shah-e-Mardan was existed well beyond the time of Qudsiya Begum. Nawab Qudsiaya Zamani only developed it in an organized way with the resources at her command. An inscription on the northern gateway itself is a proof that the buildings constructed by her were only the additions to the latter.

In her last days Nawab Qudsiya Begum was imprisoned and blinded along with her son Ahmad Shah Bahadur. She spent the remaining years of her life in prison and died in 1765 A.D. (1178-79 A.H.)

Prior to the partition of India this area was inhabited by shia Muslims in a very small population, around the Dargah shah-e-Mardan including some members of the Royal family. However, in 1947 when Delhi suffered the pain of partition, this area was no exception and the complete Muslim population had to flee from the area. After the Shia community migrated from the vicinity, Govt. rehabilitated the 'non Muslim' migrants from Pakistan here on the waqf land. The big gates, boundary walls and properties of the Dargah Shah-e-Mardan and in its surrounding were brutally vandalized and encroached by the refugees.

It was during this time that Mr. Agha Mirza concerned about the safety of Qadam Shareef and shifted this sacred stone having the footprint of Maula Ali (as) to Dargah Panja Sharif at Kashmiri Gate, Old Delhi. However, when conditions became conducive, the Qadam Shareef was again put back in its original and rightful place at the Dargah shah-e-Mardan.

The area of Aliganj, and partially part of current Jorbagh was used as the Shia cemetery.  At one time this area was second in importance (in the whole Delhi) only to the Dargah Shah-e-Mardan, because of ‘Qadam Shareef'. Dr. Khaliq Anjum, a renowned scholar and a great litterateur once persuaded Mr. Lal Bahadur Shashtri, the Prime Minister of India to stop the car in which they both were travelling in, to inspect the damages. Shashtriji was very shocked and gave orders immediately for remedial steps. Thus, a great part of Dargah shah-e-Mardan and its surrounding waqf was saved, which enshrined the heritage of the Shias down the ages.

People from all walks of life belonging to all religions, castes and creeds come here as devotees for offering their prayers and getting their 'mannats' (wishes) fulfilled. Not only local Shia Muslims but Ministers, Members of Parliament, other Govt. officials, Foreign Diplomats from various Embassies especially from the various Muslim countries come to this Dargah on regular basis. Moreover, eminent personalities have addressed the gatherings on several occasions. These include Dr. Zakir Hussain, the President of India, Mr. Lal Bahadur Shashtri, the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Mahavir Tyagi, a prominent freedom fighter and famous parliamentarian,  Mr. Krishan Chander, a prolific writer, Mr. Jon Dayal, from Christian Council and Aacharye  Pramod Kirishnan to name a few.


Monuments of Delhi, compiled by Maulvi Zaffar Hassan, Vol.1 (2008 A.D.) Originally Published in 1916 A.D.

Fall of the Mughal Empire by Jadunath Sarkar, Vol. 1 (4th Edition, 1991) Originally Published in 1932.

Aasar-us-Sanadeed by Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan, (2014 A.D.) Originally Published in 1847 A.D.

Waaqiyaat-e-Darul Hukumat by Bashiruudin Ahmad Dehlvi, Vol. 3, Published in 1919 A.D.

Dilli ki Dargah Shah-e-Mardan by Dr. Khaliq Anjum, Published in 1988 A.D.

Archaeological survey of  India (ASI) reports.

National Archives of India, New Delhi.

British Council Library, New Delhi.

Encyclopaedia Britannica.


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Featured Views

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on Prophet Muhammad

(1869-1948) Indian thinker, statesman, and nationalist leader.Father of the Nation-India

q "....I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These, and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble."

[Young India (periodical), 1928, Volume X]