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On a golden trail

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HERITAGE A glorious past and forgotten in the present — that's the saga of a dargah

STANDING TALL Sone kalas ka makaan PHOTO: LAKSHMI SHARATH
STANDING TALL Sone kalas ka makaan PHOTO: LAKSHMI SHARATH

I t was almost noon as we drove through the dusty bylanes of Sira, looking for a sone kalas ka makaan. I had no idea what to expect, and the locals were not helpful either. “Sona who?” asked one while another wondered if it was an ashram.

As we entered the market street, jostling past cycles, autorickshaws and bullock carts, our queries were met with a blank stare. One local nodded as if he comprehended what we meant, only to take us to another road side vendor who shook his head. Finally, a shopkeeper said: “Oh, that building with chinna (gold), keep going straight, take the third left, go straight again.” And, we still hit a dead end!

Sira, once the capital of the Mughal province, had a rather glorious past and a tryst with various dynasties. A town founded and fortified by Rangappa Nayak more than 400 years ago, it had passed on to Bijapur sultans, the Mughals and the Marathas, besides Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Once a town with 50,000 houses, besides palaces, forts, mosques, dargas and gardens, it is today calling for attention, lost somewhere on the highway beyond Tumkur.

Away from the city's bustle

Our quest for sone kalas ka makaan continued as we drove through narrow village streets, cutting through some wilderness, and finally entered a slum. There were no roads further, but the locals said there was a monument further away, with some chinna in it. We walked through thatched huts and thorny bushes, and saw a dargah that was locked. The sun beat down on us as we finally saw a stone building with a dome and minarets. And, we did spot a gold kalasa or finial in the dome of the dargah. We sat there for a while, looking for the caretaker and found no one around.

On my return to Bangalore, I got a copy of the Mysore Gazetteer and gathered that the makaan was actually a tomb of Faridulla Shah Huseini, a revered fakir who had come to Sira from Bijapur during the Mughal era. He was worshipped by the locals, and it was believed that he had performed penance here as anthills grew around him. The gold in the dome was said to have been gifted by the local governor, and the locals began referring to it as chinnadagori.

A number of grants and deeds given to the makaan from the Mughals, including Aurangzeb and other local rulers were said to have been found here as well. Reading a little more about the town, I tried to put together a picture of the golden past of the province, seen in the ruins of monuments scattered around the place.

The makaan was a tomb of Faridulla Shah Huseini, a revered fakir, believed to have performed penance here as anthills grew around him

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