Tuesday, December 1, 2009



By Dr. Babur Zahiruddin

In my life time I must have visited Karachi more then 30/ 40 times for the purpose of leisure, pleasure, work or to attend family functions. Hailing from an orthodox religious family I have always been inspired and attracted to visit Holy places and shrines for personal Nirvana and to pay my homage to the great Holy Sufi’s and Saints of the Indo Pakistan sub continent. I have visited most of the shrines in an around Karachi going right up to Sehwan Sharif but some how or the other I missed paying my homage to the shrine of Pir Manghopir. This time on a teaching assignment to Karachi I had a few days off from my busy schedule of delivering lectures, examinations and the most laborious job of marking papers that made me take a break.

Somehow or the other I got an inner inclination a sixth sense intuition and spiritual call to visit
the shrine of Manghopir.

It was a sunny afternoon on Friday 19th November 2009, when I along with my family made my way in the early hours of the morning from my sister’s house in DHA Karachi to Clifton and from there to Saddar garden. The roads were congested and traffic was slow like a snail, but my experienced driver SALEEM was very apt meticulous and expertly maneuvered his way in the traffic. Our Route took us to Bismillah Hotel Pak colony, Bara Road Habib Bank Chowk and Valika Stop. There we were caught in the traffic and had to wait for sometime. The road onwards from Valika Mills to Benares Chowk Baluch Colony and Pukthoonabad was dilapidated and broken which speaks well of the malfeasance, apathy and in competency of the Civic authorities. Finally after one hours plus drive we were able to reach the shrine of MAGHOPIR.

At the shrine we were mobbed by the beggars Vagrants and self styled religious guides who forcefully and emphatically offered their services to conduct us around the shine.
Without indulging too much into the religious background and the family tree of the saint buried there, (much is available on the net for which I have given the relevant links). I undertook my poignant religious rituals and paid my homage to the saint. My wife along with my sister and brother–in–law took a longer time to offer their prayers and paid homage like a devout devotee.


Manghopir has the oldest Sufi shrines in Karachi, hot sulphur springs that are believed to have curative powers, and many crocodiles - believed locally to be the sacred disciples of Pir Mangho. Balochs often call this place as ‘Mangi’ or Garm-aap / Sard-aap (due to the presence of the hot & cold springs).
Sheedis and festivals
Manghopir is mostly inhabited by one of
Pakistan's smallest ethnic communities, Makrani or Sheedi. Sheedi are said to be the descendants of African slaves brought from Zanzibar and maintain their distinct African identity in the midst of the dominating South Asian cultures.

The crocodiles are an integral part of the shrine, chronicle of the saint, and are so tightly interwoven that it is almost impossible to judge between fact & fiction. There are many traditions about myth of crocodiles, as if it is believed that Baba Farid gifted the reptiles to Manghopir. The second myth is quite factious - during a visit of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (the celebrated saint of
Sindh) in order to make the barren valley more inhabitable, he caused a hot spring to issue forth from the rock and a grove of date palms to spring up from the ground and the crocodiles were originally the lice of a saint, which he gifted to Pir Mango, to put them into the pond and then each turned into a crocodile. According to a third legend, the crocodiles were introduced in Manghopir by Mor Mubarak (also a saint), who brought them from a cave in Korangi, as a result, after the name of saint, the chief of crocodiles (the eldest one) came to be known as ‘Mor Sahib’.

According to scientific explanations, these crocodiles were carried through some heavy floods, during ancient times and later gathered or collected at this pond. Archaeological investigations have also suggested the existence of a Bronze Age settlement (2500-1700 BC) near Manghopir, who worshipped crocodiles and before the advent of Islam crocodiles were also thought sacred for Hindus. More to the point, certain signs of crocodile-myth in form of animal magic & witchcraft are also seen in the African countries like
Guinea and Zaire. Certainly, these trends are because of the unique nature of the reptile, which is always quick and ruthless and one who maintains a cool behavior at the surface of water, while paddling like a devil underneath.
Hot springs and healing resort

There are hot and cold springs about a kilometer from the shrine. Warm water passing through the
sulphur rocks is said to contain some medicinal qualities. Many people with skin diseases regularly come from long distances to have a bath to cure them. There are separate swimming pools and shower rooms for men and women. Scientific analysis has shown that this warm water is naturally saturated with carbon dioxide, besides containing some sulpher & other skin friendly nourishments, which are no doubt suitable for many skin-disease patients.
I along with my entourage took the services of a local guide who took us to the back of the shrine where there were hot sulphur springs in which many people were bathing. The hygienic and cleanliness of the bathing area of the hot springs left much to be desired the lesser I write about it the better it would be.

As I made my way to the crocodile compound I was struck with consternation, awe and amazement at the mammoth size, color & numbers of the crocodiles basking in the winter sun. The sight of such an enormous collection of reptiles must make the National Geographic channel coverage of crocs in the river of Africa and America look like a mini version. They remained there listless & lifeless like perfect stone statues as if someone had carved them out of stone except for an isolated movement of the limb and flicker of the nictating membrane of the eye.
They were more than hundred of them and mostly their ages ranged from seventy to eighty years. The head of the Crocodiles who is known as MOR SAHIB was about hundred (100) years old and was a sight to watch.

He was the centre of attraction with his retinue and seemed to command a mandamus authority over his kingdom.

There were some small babies as well who were swimming in the green murky and dirty waters of the pool whose size was not more than 150 / 200 square feet.
What really shocked me was that there was no organized systematic, regular arrangement for the feeding of these crocodiles as they were at the mercy of the local people & devotees. I enquired from the guide that from where and how are these mammoth creatures fed; I was told that the local villagers and devotees feed them daily in the afternoon between 3 – 4 pm. I looked up towards the sky with spiritual ecstasy and some how or the other thanked and praised the GOD Almighty that even in this remote and desolate place He had arranged for the food in such large quantity for these enormous creatures.
I have visited many crocodile farms and resorts in Thailand Malaysia and United States of America where I had to pay an enormous amount of entry fee to watch them playing and being fed.
Their enclosures were clean spacious and well kept with plenty of space for their swimming and basking.
They were fed regularly and were under care of dedicated care takers and veterinary doctors and of course the patronage and sponsorship of the local / state governments was very much there. There were no more than 30 / 40 of these creatures in each farm I visited abroad.
Its make me think and ponder that outside Pakistan we pay so much to see these sites and habitats of flora and fauna but in Pakistan where we have a rich cultural heritage of natural treasures we leave them at the mercy of nature, Auqaf, heritage departments and despondent individuals who are out only there to make a fast buck and do not care about our national and cultural heritage.

Please ask your self this question what type of a Pakistan are we leaving for our children? It is our duty to leave a legacy rich in flora and fauna for our future generations.
These are good slogans creating a sense of environmental awareness but in order to implement them each one of us must do our bit by contributing their efforts spare time and funds for the upkeep and preservation of our rich cultural heritage.
As a social activist, environmentalist and a conscientious Pakistani, I appeal to all and sundry especially the governor of Sindh, the Mayor of Karachi local MNA’s, MPA’s and all well to do philanthropists to come forward and join hands with me for the renovation extension of the Pond area and rehabilitation and well being of these Manghopir crocodiles.


A little girl had been shopping with her Mom in the shopping mall. She was hardly 6 years old, innocuous, beautiful red haired, freckle faced image of glowing innocence.

It was raining cats and dogs outside. The kind of rain that gushes over the top of rain gutters, so much in a hurry to hit the earth it has no time to flow down the spout. We all stood there, under the canopy, just outside the door of the shopping mall. We all waited, some patiently, others irritated because nature had messed up their hurried day.

I am always mesmerized by rainfall and look forward to the early showers which herald the change of season. I got lost in the sound and sight of the heavens washing away the dirt and dust of the world like a natural vacuum cleaner. Memories of my childhood flashed on my mind like running, splashing so carefree as a child that came pouring in as a welcome reprieve from the day to day worries of world.

Her little voice was so sweet as it broke the hypnotic trance we were all caught in, 'Mom let's run through the rain,' she said.

'What?' Mom asked. 'Let's run through the rain!' She repeated with excitement. 'No, honey. We'll wait until it slows down a bit,' Mom replied. This young child waited a minute and repeated: 'Mom, let's run through the rain.' 'We'll get soaked if we do,' Mom said. 'No, we won't, Mom. That's not what you said this morning,' the young girl said as she tugged at her Mom's arm. 'This morning? When did I say we could run through the rain and not get wet?' 'Don't you remember? When you were talking to Daddy about his cancer, you said, '

If God can get us through this, he can get us through anything! ' ' The entire crowd stopped dead silent. I swear you couldn't hear anything but the rain. We all stood silently. No one left. Mom paused and thought for a moment about what she should say.

Now some would laugh it off and scold her for being silly or childish. Some might even ignore
what was said.. But this was a moment of affirmation in a young child's life. A time when innocent trust can be nurtured so that it will bloom into faith. 'Honey, you are absolutely right. Let's run through the rain. If GOD let's us get wet, well maybe we just need washing,' Mom said. Then off they ran. We all stood watching, smiling and laughing as they darted past the cars and yes, through the puddles. They got soaked.

They were followed by a few who screamed and laughed like children all the way to their cars. And yes, I did. I ran. I got wet. I needed washing. Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories. So, don't forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday.

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Send this to the people you'll never forget and remember to also send it to the person who sent it to you. It's a short message to let them know that you'll never forget them. If you don't send it to anyone, it means you're in a hurry. Take the time to live!!!
By reliving your pleasure moments of the past you feel young and invigorated so don’t lock your memories try to share it with friends and people whom you love and care

Keep in touch with your friends, you never know when you'll need each other -- and don't forget to run in the rain!



LaGuardia airport is one of America's busiest airports. It was named after Fiorella LaGuardia, the Mayor of New York during the Great Depression.
Acting as judge in one of the poorest parts of the city in the winter of 1935, he found himself forced to pass sentence on a grandmother who had stolen bread to feed her starving grandchildren.

He felt sorry for her but fined her ten dollars. Then he paid the fine himself and fined everyone in the courtroom fifty cents for living in a city where such a thing could happen! The grateful women went home with nearly fifty dollars.
Mayor LaGuardia exemplified the difference between sympathy and compassion:

Sympathy sees and says: I'm sorry.
Compassion sees and whispers: I'll help.
Please compare the above with the present day scenario in Pakistan where Justice is so expensive and delayed that people have lost their confidence in the judicial system of Pakistan.
The time has come where we all must raise our voice against in justice, exploitation, bad Governance and loss of social and moral values.

Contribute your little bit in what ever way you can