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•   A BIANNUAL LITERARY MAGAZINE BROUGHT TO YOU BY DESI WRITERS' LOUNGE   •

Volume 15


Fables and Folklore - Fall 2015


Reportage

Hadi Khatri

Written by
Hadi Khatri

Hadi Khatri is a student living in Karachi. He is interested in literature, photography, and feminism.

        
      
       
            
              

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Photo Essay: The Legends of Noori Jam Tamachi and Lahut La Makaan – Part II


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Part II: The Caves of Lahut La Makaan

A cool sunrise wished us good morning as we got off our van to have breakfast at a local dhaaba on the way to Noorani mazaar.

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Also read: Part I: The Legends of Noori Jam Tamachi


With fresh, cold air gently waking us up — a pleasant change from Karachi’s weather — and the charpai we were sitting on surrounded by donkeys, we shared a few chats over chai, for the moment oblivious to what awaited us – hour- long walks, impossible caves; nobody had even mentioned them so far.

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After a drive of about 3-4 hours from Karachi, we finally reached the mazaar, or did we? Here was a path inaccessible by vehicle, a walk of about 2 hours to the actual location. Camels, jeeps and locals on foot often crossed our path, a display of the culture and tradition that had long resided in these mountains.

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Followers of Shah Noorani have settled in the areas surrounding the mazaar, and many visit regularly. Shops in these settlements sell ornaments, carved stones, tasbeehs and items symbolizing Maula Ali, an influence of Shi’ism that is prevalent here. There is a ‘Kadam Gaah’ near the mazaar, containing frames of glass with Hazrat Ali’s footprints set in sand, which are larger than a modern-day human foot, to which throngs of people come everyday to pay homage or say prayers.

Local stories claim that Hazrat Ali himself came here. Inside the mazaar were hundreds of people, some silently praying to their Shah around his grave, a few singing, while some slept peacefully in a corner on the bare floor. The locals too welcomed us warmly, and humorous conversations were exchanged with a few as they reminded us of the history and beliefs their lives were dedicated to. After taking a break at a pond behind the mazaar, we proceeded to the cave of Lahut La Makan, this time taking a jeep back to our van. The ride was kind of bumpy, but way faster.

Very close to Lahut La Makan, we could see the cave from a distance, obstructed by huge rocks we would later climb. The legends associated with it don’t get any bigger – one states that God created the first bit of sky in this exact spot, while another says that Hazrat Adam was sent down to this place. This is why so many people take the dangerous journey to make an annual pilgrimage to this site, and why it is significant for several religions.

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The way to Lahut La Makan is not easy; one has to cross seven mountains. Stamina is as important as physical strength.

But there is a second, shorter way, which we took. Although it is quicker, it isn’t the safest despite several metal ladders propped up along the way. If one loses grip or balance at any point, they could tumble down and hit sharp rocks, or fall over the cliff completely – risks we decided to run!

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The caves are said to contain a stove belonging to the Prophet’s daughter; a ‘lion’ carved into the rocks that protects the people of the region; and the spirit of an evil ruler who was trapped into the mountain’s rocks and therefore lost his human form. Our guide told us that he believes these rocks have magical powers that make them yield milk.

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The cave’s entrance requires the climber to twist their body in a complicated way, and bend themselves inside. One cannot enter standing straight up.

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Outside the cave is a community of Sufis who live there. At the entrance and outside, we met several trinket-sellers and water/soda sellers who said they had hauled all their stuff up the difficult trek.


Also read: Part I: The Legends of Noori Jam Tamachi


 

 

 

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