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Cemetery of the eunuchs

In a bustling lane of Mehrauli, a narrow green gate leads to a flight of stairs opening into a courtyard which serves as a ‘spiritual retreat’ for hijras (eunuchs). Known as Hijron ka Khanqah, this cemetery has some 50 whitewashed graves of hijras. It is said to date back to the 15th century.\n

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

21st December 2012 10:41

Alessia Valenza

According to residents of the area, one of the graves is of a hijra who was dear to Sufi saint Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki. “The saint called him aapa (elder sister). Her grave is distinguished from the others as it has been enclosed in a tiled structure,” says Shree who claims to be the caretaker of the cemetery.

According to Jafa, the cemetery can be traced back to the reign of the Lodhis. “The place was handed over to hijras only around 125 years ago. When I present this khanqah during heritage walks, I talk about the manner in which the perspectives and functionality of monuments have changed over time. One needs to look at the dynamism of the monument in this respect. The hijras who have been buried here were those who went on the Haj,” Jafa says.

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