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Nagore Dargah

The Nagore Dargah is a place of worship that is constructed over the tomb of the famous Sufi saint, Hazrat Nagore Shahul Hamid who lived between 1490 and 1579CE. Located in the tiny town of Nagore in Tamil Nadu, this dargah is the perfect place of manifestation of unity among Hindu and Muslim devotees. Saint Shahul Hamid performed many miracles in this town and this included curing the ailment of Achutappa Nayak, who ruled over Thanjavur in the 16th century. The dargah that can be seen now is a result of contribution of the saint’s devotees who were predominantly Hindus. He is still revered by the people of the town as “Nagore Andavar” or the “God of Nagore”. There are five minarets in the temple, out of which the tallest one was constructed from the contribution of Pratap Singh (1739-1763CE), the Hindu Maratha ruler of Thanjavur.

Though there are many festivals celebrated here, the most common among them is the Kanduri festival, which is celebrated for over 14 days during the death anniversary of Shahul Hamid. During this time, devotees flock to the dargah in large numbers and present offerings at the tomb of the saint. Nadaswaram, an important musical instrument used during Hindu festivals, is played during this festival at this dargah. There is a pool known as Shifa Gunta inside the dargah. Devotees believe that taking a holy dip in this sacred pool washes away all their sins. The Khalifa of the dargah is selected from one of saint Yusuf’s (Saint Shahul Hamid’s son) descendants and it is he who performs the rituals here. Maintenance of the dargah is taken care of a committee that is governed by the Madras High Court.


The Sufi saint Shahul Hamid cured the illness of the 16th century ruler of Thanjavur, Achutappa Nayak. As a token of gratitude, the ruler granted around 200 acres of land for the construction of the dargah. Shahul Hamid, being the great saint he is, had a premonition of his death and instructed his son Yusuf to construct the site for his burial. Yusuf followed his father’s instructions and performed the rites accordingly and remained here till his last breath. A dargah was constructed over this burial and even today devotees come here to offer their prayers as they believe that the saint has magical powers many centuries even after his death. One of the famous Hindu Maratha rulers of Thanjavur, Pratap Singh came to the dargah and prayed for a son. Once his wish was fulfilled, he donated a huge sum of money for the construction of one of the five minarets, which is also the tallest. Later on, his descendants became ardent devotees of the Sufi saint. Pratap Singh’s son, Thuljaji, another famous Maratha ruler, donated a whopping 4000 acres to the dargah for agricultural purposes. Towards the end of 18th century, lots of wars were conducted among the Marathas, Tipu Sultan, Nawabs of Arcot and the Europeans over the control of Thanjavur, but the only common thread among all of them was that they all considered the Nagore Dargah equally significant and paid their respects here dutifully during their reigns.


The Nagore Dargah is constructed over an area of 5 acres and there is a bug compound wall surrounding this. Four entrance lead to the main complex. The construction of the dargah was done by the devotees of Shahul Hamid and it is believed that 60% of them were Hindus. There are totally five minarets here and the tallest of them is of 131ft. of height, known as Periya Minara. It was installed during the 195th death anniversary of the saint. The dome towards the west side of the entrance is made out of gold and this is this is where the main tomb is. Just close to this are the tombs of Yusuf, Shahul Hamid’s son and Saeeda Sultana Biwi, Shahul Hamid’s daughter-in-law. The remaining four minarets of the dargah are Thalaimattu Minara (93.5ft. tall), Sahib Minara (77ft. tall), Ottu Minara (80ft. tall) and Muthubaq Minara (93.25ft. tall). All these are constructed over four cardinal points. Inside the shrine of the dargah, the sandals of the Sufi saint and devotees pay their respects towards them. The tomb of Shahul Hamid is located right at the centre of the dargah and there are seven doorways that lead into the same. Out of these, four are made of silver and three are made of gold. AS we move towards the adjacent of this tomb, we can come across two more tombs of Hassan Alaihis Salam and Abdel Khader Gilani, who were the grandsons of Saint Shahul Hamid. Close to this, the Peer Mandap is located and this is the place where the Khalifa observes his annual fasting. Just near the Peer Mandap, a mosque is constructed and prayers are offered here daily.

The holy tank of Shifa Gunta is located right inside the dargah complex. An iron chain to which Shahul Hamid used to bind himself to during severe punishments, is still available over the tomb of saint Yusuf, hanging from the ceiling there. As we come outside the main complex of the dargah, there are two shrines, one is the Vanjur Shrine and the other is the Shiladi shrine. The Vanjur Shrine, located underground is believed to be the place where the saint meditated for 40 days. This cave shrine is located towards 2km north of the Nagore Dargah complex. Shiladi shrine, located at around 1km towards the east of the dargah complex has an excellent view of the Bay of Bengal and this was where the saint offered his daily prayers.

Shahul Hamid has many Hindu and Muslim devotees all over India, Penang (Malaysia) and Singapore. It was during 1827 that the Shahul Hamid dargah was constructed in Singapore. This later on, was regarded as a national monument. These dargahs in Penang and Singapore, Masjid Jamae of Chulia, Singapore and Keramat Data Koya of Penang, Malaysia, resemble the architectures of the Nagore Dargah.


One of the most important festivals in the Nagore Dargah is the Kanduri festival, which is celebrated for 14 days on the occasion of the death anniversary or urs of the Sufi saint, Shahul Hamid. During this festival there are lots of rituals conducted here. Kanduri means tablecloth in the Persian language. In some areas, this festival is also known as Qadir Wali Ke Fande. Devotees carry a saffron flag from their house to the dargah in a procession, to hoist the flag on the Fande ka Fahad tree. These saffron flags are hoisted on this tree by one of the trustees, known as Sirang and around 20 assistants witness this event.

During this festival, devotees read verses from the Quran regularly and observe the Fatiha and the Durood. A host of Fakhir Janas, known as mendicant priests and the direct disciples of the Sufi saint, known as Qalandars participate in this festival that attracts lots of Muslim and Hindu devotees to Nagore. At 10 o’clock in the night, on the 9th day of the Islamic month of Jamathul Akhir, a peer, who is one of the disciples, is chosen to offer prayers to the saint. During this exercise, he throws lemons at the devotees gathered in the dargah, these lemons are believed to have immense healing effects.

This is one festival that attracts both Hindus and Muslims equally from the state of Tamil Nadu, from neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka and Burma and from as far as the Gulf. After the prayers are offered, a chariot containing sandal paste is pulled along the streets of Nagore amid loud chants of prayers, celebrations and a band of musical instruments. This paste is considered to be very holy because the descendants of the Sufi saint or the Khalifa used this paste to anoint the sanctum sanctorum of Saint Shahul Hamid. During this particular time, the entire coastal town of Nagore is abuzz with the sounds of the devotees and pilgrims who have come in large numbers to take part in the Kanduri festival.

Rituals in the Dargah

Nagore Dargah is one of the few places in the world where Hindus and Muslims offer prayers jointly in perfect harmony with each other. Officials from the dargah management committee agree that around 70% of the devotees, who visit the dargah every day, are Hindus. They follow the Hindu customs of worship here as well. This includes offering flowers to the tombs, offering sweets and playing of the nadaswaram on important occasions. Nadaswaram is one of the main musical instruments played in almost every auspicious occasion of the Hindus. Today, we find many devotees doing head tonsures close to the temple tank. They also offer metal, tin or silver facsimiles of their body parts as they believe that ailments are cured this way. Ghee lamps and flags too are offered as part of prayers here.

At Shahul Hamid’s tomb, devotees offer head dresses and not flowers as the saint was a celibate. Legend has it that a couple who didn’t have children visited the saint and asked for his blessings. The saint blessed them and told that they would have many children and asked them to give him their first son for adoption. Since then, many couples come here and worship, to be blessed with parenthood. The dargah is open all through the day and the shrine of the saint is open during the early morning and evening hours.

The holy water tank within the dargah is the Shifa Gunta. It is believed that devotees, who take a holy dip in this, are cured of all their sins and ailments. A Khalifa, who is chosen from the descendants of saint Yusuf, performs religious activities in the dargah. A central parliamentary committee was formed to check if all dargahs are functioning as per the laws mentioned in the Wakf Act of 1995. In 2008, the committee found that the Nagore Dargah was not being managed properly. Hence the Madras High Court took control over the proceedings of the dargah from then on.

Many famous works of Tamil Literature have spoken volumes about the Nagore Dargah and about the miracles performed by the saint. Tirukurana Puranam, written by Ceyk Aptul Kaathiru Nayanar in 1812, details the life history of the saint. Nakur Puranam, written by Kulam Katiru Navilar in 1893 speaks about the miracles done by the saint in the dargah after his death. Other works that have explained in detail about the dargah are the prose biography, Kanjul Karamattu and Nakaiyanthathi. In the latter, the temple tank is defined as heavenly and comfortable place adorned with the sacred lotus.

Best time to Visit

The period between October and March is the best time to visit the Nagore Dargah as the climate is very pleasant then. People also come here during April and May, but it can get very hot during this time. During June to September, the climate is very humid and suitable only for short visits to the dargah and sightseeing.

How to Reach

By Air

Tiruchirapalli, also known as Trichy is the nearest airport to the dargah, located at a distance of 150km from Nagore.

By Rail

Nagapattinam railway junction, at a distance of around 4km from the dargah, is the nearest railhead to get to this place.

By Road

Lots of state-run and private buses from Chennai (90km away), Thanjavur (78km away), Karaikkal (12km away) and Nagapattinam (4km away) are available to reach the Nagore Dargah.


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