Liyaqat Hussain, caretaker of Nathan Peer Baba mazar, recounted that the site would see large numbers of both Hindu and Muslim visitors, particularly during an annual festival held in June. Photo: Astha Savyasachi


At around 4 pm every day, 73-year-old Ashraf Ali puts on his woollen sleeveless jacket, tucks some incense sticks into his pocket and sets out with his young grandson to offer prayers at the Sher Ali Baba Mazar.

He persists with his ritual even though the forest department demolished the mazar on May 15, 2023. According to the 73-year-old caretaker, the shrine, situated in Uttarakhand’s Ramnagar tehsil, inside Corbett Tiger Reserve, was built around 150 years ago, and had been looked after by three generations of his family.

Ali and his grandson reach the site as the sun sets behind the hill on which the mazar once stood. They bow down as Ali lights the incense sticks and prays from the road, gazing up at the vacant space before him.

The site is now surrounded by a barbed wire fence, outside which lies a board that proclaims that entry into the area is an “illegal and punishable offence”. Just beyond the wires lies a collection of incense sticks, sweets, clay lamps and sacred cloths – offerings to the mazar that people slip in through the fence, testament to the fact that locals continue to visit and worship at the site.

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