Article 2

UNESCO recently enlists chamba-The heritage city

The Panoramic view of Chamba Heritage City UNESCO – LED IHCN(F) in the Lap of Shah Madar Hill

A Syrian sufi behind the formation of a over 1000 years old former princely state of Indian empire.

Nestling between a mystic conical Banoo hill and slanting semi circular ridge of Shah Madar hill the captivating Chamba town can be visited for all reasons. The latter hill was named after a traveler Sufi saint Shah Madar. Shah Madar was born in Chunar Village of Halab city now Aleppo of Syria in the late 9th century. His father name was Hazrat Sayyad Idrees Halbi and mother name Fatima Saniya. In 821 AD it was a pleasant Monday morning of Eid festival and the rays of sun had not yet touched the skies. The twilight was about to share the beauty in the city and the darkness of the night was about to vanish. The cool wind was blowing as if singing with charm and atmosphere was enlightened with the fragrance of the blossom. Hazrat Halbi house was expecting a heir in the arms of Fatima Saniya. Hazrat Sayyed Idrees says that when Shah Madar was born there was a light every where in the house and chanting of Quranic Verses in the atmosphere. Everyone who looked at the child said that the child is a gift of Almighty. His body seems to be made of light as if the rays are coming out of the body. With great charm Hazrat Halbi named the child Baddi–u–Deen Ahmed.

It was time when Sayyed Baddi–u–Deen Zinda Shah Madar had reached the age of four years four month four days and his father handed him to that time of scholar Hazrat Huzaifa Shami who started teaching Shah Madar. When he was taught to say “ALEEF” (the first alphabet of Arabic). The teacher was so amazed with the student as he used to ask each and every mean of alphabet when it is used? where it is used? How it is pronounced? At the age of 14 Shah Madar completed his Islamic studies. Shah Madar carried out his further studies for another 24 year under his spiritual master Hazrat Baayzeed Bustami and achieved the highest stage of sainthood by the blessing of Almighty. He was ordered to spread Sufism and teaching of sainthood especially in India where social evils were at its peak.

At the age of 38 years he started his sea journey from Eden port of yaman on a boat and arrived Khambat port in district Anand of Gujarat in India. Shah Madar reached in India in 859 AD to spread the massage of peace to all the human kind after visiting Syria, Hijaj, Iraq, China, Egypt, Persia, Maracas, Japan, Colombo, Sarandeep, Indonesia and other remote places of the world. He was a great saint having miraculous power within him. He had a magical flying seat for travel bestowed by the Almighty. He wore only one outfit which never got dirty and ate nothing in his life thinking his life as one day fast. He attained the age of 596 years. His face was dazzled with lights so brightly that many people got faint on having his single glance hence Shah Madar always concealed his face under seven veils. Wherever he visited, stayed and offered prayer the place became holy and known as Shah Madar Chillah or takiya. It is believed that there are 3 lacs Chillahs in the seven continents and 1442 existed in India only. Shah Madar stayed in India from 859 AD till his last travel in 1397 AD. During the period he traveled Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Sindh, Multan, Samarkand, Tashkant, Bukhara, Khurasan, Kabul, Kashmir, Badrinath Girnar, Nepal, where his chillahghah still exist and worshipped by millions of his devotees Hindu and Muslim alike.

During the first phase of his travel in the beginning of tenth century he happened to come to the erstwhile Chamba state and camped near a pond. The place is now near Jama Masjid in Mohalla Kashmiri Chamba. Thereafter Shah Madar went the uphill of Chifnaal ridge later named Shah Madar hill. A ravine from the chifnaal and its sandy land had caused soil erosion and land slides to the entire hillock which was a danger signal to the residents of Chamba downhill. Shah Madar with his miraculous power dried the flowing water and soil erosion stopped immediately and upper old township Srinagar now known as Mohalla Surara in the back drop of Pichh Naal came in to being. A European traveler Vigne Godfrey Thomos visited Chamba in 1835 and referred the advent of Shah Madar in his book on Chamba. “Shah Madar who was a traveler. A Musalman fakir and shrine upon a hill in the north of India chanced to arrived at Chamba.” Before the formation of Chamba by Sahil Verman in 920 AD. The place was inhabited by a Head Demon, ghosts and evil spirits. There was a great unrest among the local resident especially the newly married couple were the victim of Demon’s curse. The resident went to Shah Madar and implored his interference Shah Madar prayed to the Almighty and imprisoned the head Demon strangling him with help of iron Chains and Transfixed him for ever. Hence era of evil spirits ended. Shah Madar prayed for the peace and prosperity of the local folks and for the establishment of a lively township. Later on when Champa the daughter of Raja Sahil Verman came to valley from an ancient capital Brahampur (550AD) she found the place more captivating and fit for human living. Thus the charm of Chamba led the princess to force the Raja Sahil Verman to establish his capital from Brahmpura to Chamba which his father gladly accepted. Raja Sahil Verman ruled the town in 920 AD. The antiquity of this princely state dates back to 550 AD when Dr. Alexander Cunningham visited Chamba in 1839 and explored the old capital of Chamba known as Brahmpura now Bharmour. Since then the Raja family was indebted to the blessings of Shah Madar. Thus the royal family members used to visit the Chillaghah with utmost reverence and offerings. Raja Gopal Singh left the worldly life after handing over the kingdom to his elder son Sham Singh and led a life of a ascetic in a near by village Manjeer famous for sufism. Raja Sham Singh was a great devotee of Shah madar. Raja Sham Singh was empowered with the blessings of Saint. On being happy with the services of Raja Sham Singh Shah Madar endowed the king with many spiritual gifts and blessing which he utilized for the service of people of Chamba by constructing Hospitals Post offices, School, Courts, Roads, Dak Bungalow Residency. This was the Golden period of the Millennium history of erstwhile state of Chamba. During this period he got command from Shah Madar for the construction of Jama Masjid near first visiting camping site of Shah Madar. Raja Sham Singh carried out the construction of Sham Singh Jama Masjid in Mohalla Kashmiri.

Shah Madar was always fascinated with the beauty of this town which nature has endowed to it. His liking for Chamba was due his native land Halab that resembles the topography with this beautiful town. Shah Madar preformed seven journeys to visit Arab from India following different itinerary each time. Once He was coming to India from Baghdad via Samarkand a Sufi Abdul Qadir Jeelani met him on the way and appealed Madar Shaheb for his nephew Meer Sayyed Ahmed Badappa to be his disciple. Shah Madar agreed and directed Badappa to join the journey. Enroute Badappa felt hungry. Shah Madar through his divine power knew Badappa was hungry. Shah Madar ordered Badappa to go to a place where he would find a Darvesh sitting under a tree near a waterfall and Darvesh will offer him adequate food but in turn he have to pray for the Darvesh. Badappa followed the command of his master and soon after a journey of few hours he found a fakir in the directed site who offered him seven loaves of bread. In turn Badappa said that he had fed him with food for seven persons Allah would give him kingdom for his seven generations. The fakir was Timur Lang whose generation of Mughal empires ruled India. Shah Madar was spiritual master of Mughal Badshahs. Auranjeb was a great follower of Shah Madar. In 1678 when Alamgir ordered Raja Chattar Singh of Chamba to demolish all the temples of erstwhile state of Chamba but Raja refused to do so. Instead Chattar Singh faced his wrath, all of sudden Alamgir changed his mind and proceeded to south for invasion.

Since Almgir was also a sufi of high order in Madaria Sufism school of thought and how he dropped the idea of invasion on Chamba was a miracle of Shah Madar. The intangible cultural heritage of Chamba grew during the empire of Shahjahan who extended all the favours to the royal court of Raja Prithi Singh of Chamba. Today’s social cultural heritage of Chamba is indebted to the Mughal court which reflects the impressions till date.

Shah Madar completed his travel in Makanpur near Kannauj in 1397 AD and settled down there for 20 years. He passed away in 1417 AD. He was buried at Makanpur and a tomb was erected by King Ibrahim Sharki of Jaunpur in 1418 AD where thousand if devotees visit the Mazar offering their prayer and they get the blessings of the Sufi saint. During Mughal empire Akbar, Shahjahan and Alamgir carried out the construction work of Dargah Sharif. At the end of his life Shah Madar handed over his spiritual seat to his nephew Khwaja Mohammed Argoon. Sayyed Mohammed Mujeebul Baqi and his son Sayyed Mohammed Zafer Mujeeb have 16th genealogical record from Shah Madar and they are the chief Sajjadah Nashin of the Khankah-e-Madaria where an annual urs is celebrated with great fervor and gaiety on every 15th, 16th, 17th of Arabic lunar month Jamaid-ul-Awwal of Hizri year where lacs of people gather from all over the world to pay their homage to the great sufi saint Shah Madar for getting his blessings. 

At Chamba Shah Madar chillah rusted Iron Danka of Raja Sham Singh period and damaged roof top of chillahghah built by former Raja family and Holy foot prints of Shah Madar are in a very deplorable condition. The place is popular among the residents of Chamba district as a picnic spot. It can be developed as a tourist destination by Department of Tourism through carrying out the camping site, Rain shelter and Victoria Benches with amarkali railing and and also other civic amenities for attracting domestic as well foreigner tourist. Al-Madar Heritage Foundation have prepared architechral plan for the future reconstruction of this Chillah ghah.