DADU: Shrouded in mystery and secrets of an ethereal world lies Lahoot Lamakan, a spiritual destination next to the shrine of Hazrat Bilawal Shah Noorani in the Wadh area of Khuzdar district.

Legend has it that this is where Hazrat Adam descended and where Hazrat Nuh’s ark found solid ground to rest on. Hazrat Ali is said to have passed through here and Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif built a mosque here.

Each year in the month of Sha’aban, thousands of devotees make their way on foot across perilous terrain and seven mountains from Lal Baag in Sehwan to the Shah Bilawal Noorani shrine near Lahoot Lamakan. The devotees, known as Lahootis, rest at 14 destinations and spend a night at each of them. The journey of devotion must be completed within 14 nights.

Lahooti Asad Ali Rajput, a resident of Purano Chowk in Dadu city, has traversed the treacherous trail leading to the mystical destination five times so far. He shares the troubles and the spiritual gratification thousands of Lahootis embrace on their journey to the fabled shrine.

It starts with a meal at the kafi (enclosure) of Syed Hajan Shah Lakyari in Sehwan on Sha’aban 21, three days after the annual Urs of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The devotees partake in langar of Lal Ji Kishti (langar, or shared meal) at this enclosure and make their way to Lal Bag, around 2km away from the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

Lal Bag is the first destination where all Lahootis gather and spend the night before they begin the pilgrimage. The second destination is the shrine of Sain Ali Raza Shah in Jhangara, around 6km away from Lal Bag, from where the pilgrims move to Panjtan Ja Chashma, the fabled spring. They spend a night there and move on to a shrine in Naing Sharif — the fourth destination. Syed Ghulam Shah Jilani, the caretaker of this shrine, Mr Rajput explains, is a sajadah nasheen of Shah Bilawal Noorani.

After spending a night at the shrine, the pilgrims make their way to Baga Shir, some 6km away from Naing Sharif. Here they cook food and spend the night before they make their way to the sixth and one of the most important destinations on their journey — Haoot cave. Legend has it that Hazrat Ali had crossed the cave and so it is obligatory for every Lahooti to spend the night and pay their respects here.

At the foot of the mountainous Bhit Jabal lies Shah Ja Kanda, where the terrain takes a treacherous turn, Mr Rajput says. The pilgrims have to watch their step here as they make their way to Noor Wahi, the eighth destination. Once there, Lahootis consider themselves blessed and lucky to have managed to cross the dangerous mountain path. At Noor Wahi, they rest and cook food with water from a fountain spring.

When he made the journey around five years ago, Mr Rajput recalls, almost 200 devotees had perished after consuming the spring water, which had turned poisonous. He was a part of the procession and believes himself blessed to have survived.

The ninth destination is the famous Chung Mountain from where pilgrims make their way to Har Mori, the tenth destination. Mai Ji Kandri is the 11th destination in the pilgrimage — the place is named after a woman who is said to have helped Lahootis find water and rations several centuries ago.

The terrain is almost entirely rocky and perilous by this point. Most pilgrims encounter death-defying moments and help each other make it to the other side.

The weary devotees find rest at the Dargah Syed Bahlool Shah Dewano where they spend the night and perform rituals before heading towards Shinh Lak (lion’s crossing) where ritualistic mourning goes on throughout the night.

Finally, they reach the 14th destination — Khooi of Sarkar Shah Abdul Latif. Legend has it that the mystic had stayed here on his way to Lahoot Lamakan. He had dug a well and constructed a mosque — which stands to this day. The pilgrims say their prayers at the mosque before arriving at the Mohabbat Shah Faqir shrine. From here the journey to Dargah Shah Bilawal Noorani is smooth.

“It is only after a devotee spends the requisite 14 nights and pays respects at all these destinations can they call themselves a Lahooti,” Mr Rajput explains. From here, the pilgrims are free to return home via local transport. Here is where the journey ends.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2016


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