The story of how Sufism originated in Hyderabad often varies from legend to legend. According to the caretaker of Pahadi Shareef, the shrine of Hazrat Baba Sharfuddin Sohrawardi, near Hyderabad airport, Baba Sharfuddin was instrumental to its proliferation. He arrived in Hyderabad in 1190, years before the city was officially founded in 1591. Sufi saints have left their mark on Hyderabad, right from the conquest of the city by the Emperor Aurangzeb. Today, people can visit these shrines, dotted across the city, for free. The bigger ones sometimes host qawwali nights on Thursdays, which can go on till the wee hours of Friday morning. However, if you ask passers-by for directions, not all of them will be able to help. Luckily though, most dargahs can be mapped via Google Maps. While many of these markers have faded with time, the ones who look past the chrome of the city can still find themselves in thrall of the mystical Sufi legacy.
Ali Abbas Ahmadi is a Hyderabadi designer and photographer who is always looking for meaningful stories to tell. He travels in search of wonder and aims to break stereotypes and prejudice through his photographs.