“Sardar ji, welcome. After a long time a Sikh has visited this mausoleum. Here Baba Nanak had spent some time,” a mystic, dressed in an all-black attire stated at the shrine of Hazrat Shah Shams Tabrez in Multan.

Paying my respects at the inner sanctum, as I viewed the frescos on the walls, I was pleasantly surprised to find scribbles in Gurmukhi. The mystic told me that these dated back to the pre-1947 era. I scorn people who deface such heritage but these scribbles being in Gurmukhi, offered a clue that the Sikhs revered and visited this muslim shrine in the past.

In 1530, when Guru Nanak visited Multan, the Sufis collectively sent a bowl of milk, signifying that the city was brimming over with spiritual teachers. Nanak placed a jasmine flower on top, symbolising that just like a flower floats without spilling the milk, all could live in harmony. Nanak thereafter stayed at the mausoleum of Hazrat Shah Shams Tabrez.

Photographed in Oct 2014, during the research for the book “LOST HERITAGE The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan”