Bari Imam Sarkar: the Sufi Saint of Islamabad

Bari Imam shrine was built by Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658-1707AD) the Mughal, in reverence to the Sufi saint Abdul Latif Kazmi (Bari Imam), at Nurpur Shahan village near present-day Islamabad.

Sarkar Bari Imam history 

In 1617, a child was born into a spiritual family of Chakwal, who since his early times spent several hours meditating in the surrounding jungles. The child would sometimes forget about his cattle grazing close by – being so immersed in mediation.

bari imamBari Sarkar’s Father

This child had all the makings of a Sufi saint and therefore was walked through all the stages of Sufi learning Iranian theological schools in Mashhad, by his father Syed Mehmood Shah.

This child grew up to be Hazrat Shah Abdul Lateef Kazmi Mashadi – locals call him ‘Bari Imam’ of Noor Pur Shahaan.

Bari Imam’s parents migrated to the current Aabpara area from Chakwal in the 17th century, but the ascetic hermit chose the foothills of Margalla as the site of his meditation and preaching place, which is now known as Bari Imam Chillah Gah.

Shrine Bari Imam map and location

The current Bari Imam shrine is at the foothills of Margalla Hills in Islamabad. It is located behind the red zone and can be approached from the highway going toward Murree and Quaid-e-Azam University.

Bari Sarkar Urs festival

The Bari Imam shrine transforms into mini Bari city during Urs every year on May 24th or June. Bari Imam’s Urs (Annual Fair) is complete with dhol, dance, qawwali, Dhamaal & weed — it’s worth a visit.

Bari Imam Shrine Pictures

House of Bari Imam and Bari Imam map pictures and images are posted below. 

Sarkar Bari Shrine is a Brilliant Imitation Architecture of Cordoba Mosque

Driving through a stream of garbage-strewn lanes and filthy roadside eateries, I forced myself to walk into the Saint’s complex.

Then magic happened!

I saw an imposing, well-designed mosque-like complex looking majestic in the backdrop of Margalla hills.

This renovated Saints complex and religious school is styled on Masjid e Nabvi on the outside and like Cordoba mosque on the inside.

Towards left from the main entrance is the resting place of Bari Imam’s disciples and companions – four in total. The glass work inside this tomb is the finest I’ve seen to date.

On the right is the Saint’s heart that keeps a flame alight for the devotees — till this day.

Walking into Bari Imam’s complex through the massive, brass embroidered doors, I saw wide corridors surrounding the Saint’s shrine on all four sides. The corridors had arches with boxed patterns like the Cordoba mosque.

The roofs were painted with a unique art form that I haven’t seen elsewhere in Pakistan.

Bari Sarkar Grave

Dead in the center of the marbled courtyard is the glass room containing Bari Imam’s grave.

Lots of devotees were crying out loud for the dead saint as if wailing to be heard by him. Lots of educated men and women thronged to the place and prayed for inner peace.

Then I saw the most exquisite geometrical patterns on the inner side of the top dome, just over the Banyan Tree.

Why do devotees come to Saint Bari Sarkar’s Shrine?

People look for any hope of gaining solace and grab on to it tightly, expecting a miracle.

I am all for things that give peace and solace to the tormented, but I wonder wouldn’t have been a better tribute to the ascetic, to build a university & medical facility in this massive complex too?

Bari Imam Chilla Gah

An hour’s hike behind this complex, a little higher on the Margalla hills, is the meditation retreat of Bari Imam – Lohi Dandi.

Story of Bari Imam Chilla Gah

Legend has it that Bari Sahib’s mediation at Lohi Dandi was disturbed by Jinns & witches, which the saint turned into stone – the image of which is still there to see.

Height of Bari Chilla Gah

The Chilla Gah is about 100 meters height in total but it takes 2 hours to get there on a easy incline and cemented steps

Steps to Bari Imam Chilla Gah

there are more than 100 steps to reach the meditation site  of Bari Imam in the Margalla Hills

Gaddi Nashin of Bari Imam Sarkar

Pir Haider Ali Shah is the Gaddi Nasheen of Bari Imam nowadays.

Further behind, right over the first ridge of Margalla hills, is the deeper mediation site of Nilan Bhotu; a peaceful place, with fishes in the stream.

Here too is a ‘Sanda pathar’ (Oxen Rock) that is said to be the remains of an animal disturbing the Saint’s peace. The fish seemed tasty but no one seems to touch them.

Oh in case I forget, the monkeys on the way to Lohi Dandi are very aggressive in snatching food from unsuspecting kids.


Conservative religion in Pakistan has served a great purpose till now in giving contentment and patience to masses that have been robbed of their rights for generations. I don’t know if this kind of Saintly devotion has the strength to maintain the same order.

I hope our leaders get the idea and start delivering.

 Also see

Sufi Pir Mehr Ali shrine Golra Rawalpindi Pakistan

Sufi Meditation site Nilan Bhotu Islamabad

Hazir Pir Shrine Margalla Islamabad

Shah Allah Ditta Meditation Caves, Islamabad

Shah Chan Chiragh Sufi Shrine Rawalpindi

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