Lahore - A City Of Qalandars
Lahore enjoys a rich history and identity, and part of this is the city’s identity as the city of saints – also known in Urdu as qalandars. To understand how this came to be we have to look no further than the city’s history. Lahore has been home to countless kings and rulers who resided in the city center with their establishment. This includes a vast array of ministers, cavalry and councilors who helped their rulers. This was also a time when Sufism and Spiritualism was on a rise and hence many of these rulers also found council in Sufis and renowned saints of the time.
Many of these saints and qalandars gained widespread recognition amongst the rulers as well as the masses to an extent that their identity is etched as legends. Their legend lives on to this day as a shrine culture developed in Lahore and south Asia in general. Famous saints and qalandars from the city include Hazrat Shah Inayat Qadri, Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh, Hazrat Mian Qadri, Madho Laal Hussain and Shah Jamal Qadri who’s places of burial are also located in the city.
The shrine culture is widely prevalent across Pakistan, particularly in the cities of Lahore and Multan where people visit the shrines of famous qalandars in extraordinary numbers. A culture of offering respects and praying at the shrines has existed and continues to this day as people gather at these shrines in thousands every day. Another aspect is the element of food and shelter as many of these shrines have become a permanent home to shrine helpers and daily visitors who depend on these shrines for their daily meals.
Today as the city expands with an ever increasing population count, the qalandars and their legend continue to be a symbol of hope and a source of spiritual dependence to millions. Their shrines serve as a source of comfort and refuge to millions, and their names live on in the hearts of countless. The qalandars of Lahore have come to represent something bigger than their legends. To a nation and its people struggling to make ends meet, the qalandars represent hope against all odds.