Pakpattan: The Home of Baba Farid Ganj Shakar

Posted on January 27, 2009
Filed Under >S.A.J. Shirazi, History, Travel
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S.A.J. Shirazi

Pakpattan – the name is enough to start the travelers, cautiously curious and devoted faithful dreaming. Already the magic words like sultans and saints are stirring in the head. Let your gaze slip over the dhaki – original citadel of Pakpattan – and the town will suddenly appear. The antiquity is its own message: the town is heritage, and heritage permeates the town.

Enter the once walled inner-city through one of the existing gates and you will find yourself in archetypal form of an ancient town – crooked and narrow streets, dense housing, intricate woodwork on Jharokas, bay windows and doors. So many historic cities have developed losing much of their original character in the process during modern times, but Pakpattan has survived remarkably in tact.

It is the entire urban fabric of the place that is historic. Though, the major portion of the fortification wall has disappeared. At places, the wall has even been utilized as a part of the residences. Four gates (Shahedi, Rehimun, Abu and Mori) have survived out of six but they are all crumbling. Now extensive suburbs stretch from the foot of the wall all around. Thin red bricks from centuries old wall are seen used in the new houses all over the town. The portion of the settlement that sits on the mound can be compared with walled part of Multan City.

The remains of peripheral wall with ancient mystique define the inner portion that is totally pedestrian, vehicular traffic and modern development contained out of the wall. Homes have also retained their essential trait despite renovations to make them comfortable for modern living or to create additional space for more families. You can see the mythical woodwork, murals as well as tiled facades and colorful patterns in old havelies.

General Alexander Cunningham has recognized Pakpattan, anciently known as Ajudhan, as a town that appears in the work of Hellenic historians and other classic writers under the names of Ohydrakae, Sydrakae, Sudraykae and or Hydaekae. Two strategic roads of the past – one from Dera Ghazi Khan and other from Dera Ismail Khan – used to meet here. Great conquerors like Mahmud Ghaznavi, Taimur and traveler like Ibn-e-Batuta crossed Sutlaj from Pakpattan that had been principal ferry on River Sutlaj for centuries.

Medieval history of the town started when Amir Subuktagin subdued Pakpattan in 980 (AD) followed by Ibrahim Ghaznavi in 1080. Even today, the thought that Taimur during his invasion in 1398 spared the lives of those who had not fled the place, out of respect for the shrine of saint Baba Farid, inspire reverence.

The soul of the city is famous saint Farid-ud-Din Masud Ganj Shakar commonly known as Baba Farid. The saint was born in a village Kothewal (near Multan) in 1173 in a family that had migrated from Afghanistan. Saint, scholar and poet, Baba Farid traveled to Khurasan, Kirman, Badakhshan, Baghdad, Mecca Muazzma, Madina Munawara, Kufa, Basra, Damascus, Nishapur, Bukhara, Dehli and Multan before he finally settled in Pakpattan. Here he spent his life in spreading the light of divine Islam.

It was due to the religious services and personal example of the saint that Islam spread in this part of the Subcontinent and many people including Hindu Jogi Birnath along with his followers came into the folds of Islam. The saint died in 1265 and his shrine was constructed by Khwaja Nizam ud Din Auleya in 1267.

Splendors of the ‘Farid Complex’ fire the imagination. The shrine – simple and destitute of ornament – stands next to the bigger shrine of his grandson Ala ud Din Mouj Darya, which was built by Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq. The main chamber of the shrine of Baba Farid has two doors – one in the East is called Noori Darwaza and the other in South in famous Baheshti Darwaza. Besides the principal grave of the saint, there is another grave in the chamber where his son Badr ud Din Suleman is buried. The ample, pure and unadorned architecture is very inspiring. Urs of the saint is celebrated in the month of Muharram but large of devotes stream into the shrine everyday. You can also see Qawwal groups performing and malangs falling in state of trance mostly on Thursdays.

Both the principal shrines are in good condition but the adjoining ancient mosque has decayed. Auqaf is constructing a new mosque nearby as a part of Farid Complex. Besides the shrines of Baba Farid and Mouj Darya, there are over twenty shrines of saintly persons in the town. Most eminent out of these is the shrine of Baba Aziz Makki.

There is a whole different world outside the shrine parameters. Cubbyhole shops selling deathbed spreads, flowers, big bangles and sweets (for niaz) known as Makhane and eating joints are lined up in both the streets leading to the shrine. Business in the streets is thriving because devotees ‘must’ take something home from the shrine. Sleazy sounding and persistent beggars flock around devotees heading for the shrine. People are seen distributing free food: cooked food is available for sale in large quantity round the clock. A philanthropist from Karachi is running a separate Lunger Khana at his own expense since 1995. Bustling with activity, the place seems to have its own culture.

How the name Ajudhan was changed to Pakpattan? It is a fact that name Pakpattan (meaning pure ferry) distinguished due to the home and last resting-place of Baba Farid. According to a local lore, Mughal King Akbar on the eve of his visit to the shrine to pay homage to the saint declared Pakpattan as an official name of the town. The thought that so many people including Ibn-e-Batuta, Guru Nanik Dev Jee and Waris Shah had visited the shrine evokes awe and aura of eternity.

Wandering about in the older part of town near the relics of Kacha Burj - defensive tower that was erected by Haibat Khan during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, you can think about the strategic importance of this town in the bygone era. But, during Mughal time when danger from the North reduced, the town lost its defensive significance.

Pakpattan was first declared district headquarters in 1849 when British rule established in the Subcontinent. The headquarters were later moved to Gugera in 1852 and then to Sahiwal in 1856. British also instituted Pakpattan Municipal Committee in 1868. Kasur-Lodhran section of Railway line was laid in 1910 and Pakpattan became an important station on the Railway map because of railway divisional headquarters and loco sheds. Though this section of railway line was torn apart and sent to Mesopotamia during Second World War and the town could not prosper as an agricultural market in those days. On July 1, 1990, Pakpattan was again declared district headquarters. This became the only district of the country without any tehsil until Arifwala tehsil was included in the district in 1995.

In order to preserve the bits and pieces of history lying under the layers of time, the experts could carry out a survey to record the places having essential significance. The living heritage should be declared as ‘protected area’ – A concept that presently is not there in Pakistan.

This post first appeared in S.A.J. Shirazi’s blog Light Within.

20 Comments on “Pakpattan: The Home of Baba Farid Ganj Shakar”

  1. ASAD says:
    January 27th, 2009 11:05 pm

    Excellent post. Very well written. Have never been to Pakpattan Sharif and after reading this would really love to visit it.

  2. Fakhar says:
    January 28th, 2009 12:45 am

    great post written with a great command on the topic and the history.

    My friend lives there but he has never told such things about pakpattan.

  3. PMA says:
    January 28th, 2009 10:13 am

    An excellent post Sirazi Sahab. The bigger shrine of Hazrat Ala-ud-din Mouj Darya, the grandson of Hazrat Farid-ud-din Masud Ganj Shakar, built by Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq is an excellent piece of Islamic Architecture. While most of the historic structures in Pakistan have been looted away and ultimately allowed to decay, the shrines continue to flourish and prosper. The good side of the Shrine Culture is that at least in the name of religion some of our heritage continues to be preserved; only if we would extend same care to our non-religious and non-Islamic heritage as well.

  4. Junaid says:
    January 28th, 2009 2:47 pm

    Thank you for such an informative post. Learnt so much.

    Please keep writing more pieces that introduce there places and gems that so many of us do not know about.

    By the way, what is the building in the first photograph.

  5. Usama Zia says:
    January 28th, 2009 3:44 pm

    Informative post. Kash main Pakptan ja sakoon.

  6. ikhlaque chan says:
    January 28th, 2009 4:18 pm

    Nice post. I try to visit Pakpattan every time when I am in Pakistan. The legend says that those who enters the Baheshti darwaza (gate), in one paticular day during Babas urs will get paradise as reward. I remeber my gradfather taking me to the urs that special day, when I was a kid!

    I like the atmospere in Pakpattan. It is like the time have never changed within the walls. Its like entering a time machine and going back some centuries…

  7. Tazeen says:
    January 29th, 2009 12:55 am

    Pakpattan is an experience. Anyone who can visit this place must do it.

  8. shah hassan says:
    February 24th, 2009 10:08 am

    Beautiful post. Can you please post more pictures of the inside of the Baba Farid Mazar. Thanks and may Allah bless you.

  9. Zaki Faridi says:
    June 10th, 2009 4:08 am

    As salam alikum,
    Janab Shirazi Sahab I m really thankfull to you for such a wounderfull note over Baba Farid his & his spouce shrine, discribing their architectural & realted history .
    Janab if u dont mind i would like to have a silsillah of Baba farid abt his next genaration if u had.
    Hope you will furnish the information i will be highly obliged
    allah hafiz

  10. Zaki Faridi says:
    June 10th, 2009 4:10 am

    Janab My email idd is

  11. December 2nd, 2009 2:57 pm

    thanks your website baba farid gang shakar

  12. Rana Shoaib says:
    March 6th, 2010 3:14 am



  13. mahendra pratap bubbar says:
    June 15th, 2010 4:13 pm


    my parents were citizens of pakpattan before the unfortunate partition. all my three elder brothers were born there, i was born in india in december, 1948. i heard and learnt such a lot about this lovely place from my parents that i feel as if i belong there.

    i desire to visit pakpattan just once before i visit the hereafter.

    i would request all who can read this, to find someone who can help me trace my roots. please contact me by e-mail at:

    or, give me a missed call/sms on:


    and i will gratefully call back to gather necessary information. i hope i will not be disappointed in my search.

    warm regards n best wishes.


    September 4th, 2010 4:55 am


    September 4th, 2010 5:00 am

    please email me if there are any hotels near the shrine
    as my wife and i want to come foe the urs in december
    we do not know anybody in pakpattan

  16. Nazeer Ansari says:
    September 8th, 2010 10:36 am

    i know for sure that among the cities that Baba Farid have visited is القدس الشريف Jerusalem and the place he stayed at still exists today.

  17. Muhammad Mansha says:
    September 12th, 2010 3:18 am

    Message For ISMAIL SULAIMAN Sahib.

    AOA Dear
    1. From which city u belongs.

    2. Why u r tracing hotel. You may stay at my little home alongwith ur family members during Urs Mubarik.

    3. If u wish you may contact me on mob number: 03026947821

    Mansha from Pakpattan

  18. Yahya says:
    October 25th, 2010 12:32 am

    The news of a terrorist attack by fundamentalists on Pak Pattan Sharif has added to the wave of attacks on the shrines of the saints. This adds to such attacks in Lahore, Karachi and elsewhere. It has broken the hearts of all Pakistanis.

  19. ATMANI says:
    October 25th, 2010 4:21 pm

    Salamou ALLAH a tous,
    Par la grâce d’ALLAH, j’ai découvert votre SITE que je ne connaissais pas. J’ai appris par les journaux en France que la tombe de notre maître Baba Farid Shakar Ganj, a était attaquée par des gens sans “IMAN”, ces gens ne savent pas ce qu’ils auront comme chatiments de la part d’ALLAH, ils ont attaqués leurs âmes et voulu détruire le esprits pour nuire à leurs corps, qu’ils reconnaissent leurs fautes et erreurs et reviennent vers le chemin droit et la sagesse, ALLAH est le TOUT PUISSANT, CLEMENT ET MISERICORDIEUX…

    Que la PAIX d’ALLAH soit avec vous tous et ceux qui recherchent les bonnes voies des bienfaits qui sont éternelles.



  20. mira says:
    October 26th, 2010 7:30 am

    I send you the feelings of a sister from afar. I did not know about your great and holy saint Farid, but it is a calamity that once again a place of great peace has been targeted by extremists whose minds are filled with confusion and hate. on another website I found the quote:

    “Farid return thou good for evil; In thy heart bear no revenge.
    Thus thy body will be free of maladies, And thy life have all blessings.”

    May these thoughts be born equally in the minds of victims and perpetrators. May the Holy Minds throughout the universe send down blessings to stop the senseless killing in the name of religion.

    in sympathy,


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