Listening to my husband talk about his family is like having someone recount the stories from some storybook that comes from the era of black and white films. His father was born in a haveli and his family till date boasts of a living Sufi saint who presides over the Kaliyar Sharif Dargah. They have had Sufis for generations. And I strongly suspect the Sufi gene in my husband for the dharamshala that our house turns out to be at times!
They are the Shahs of Behat and according to Wikipedia, "Behat is an ancient town and a nagar panchayat (municipality) in Saharanpur district on the northern tip of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India..." Wikipedia cites from A Gazetteer of Saharanpur District District Volume XIV: Gazetteers of the United Provinces edited by H. R Neville what is the origin of my husband's family - "During the reign of Bahlul Khan Lodi (1451–1489), a Muslim colony was founded at Behat by Shah Abdullah, who was a descendent of the Saint Sheikh Baha-ud-din Zakariya Suhrawardi. Western part of Behat along the Naugaon Rau is named after him as Abdullah Mazra." Thus, the Shahs of Behat are the direct descendants of Shah Abdullah which is why, I later understood, everybody in the family writes Shah before their names and not after their names. When I first met my husband years ago, I was curious about his name - Shah Nadeem. And "kahan ke Shah ho tum? (and you are the Shah/emperor of which place)" used to be my favorite refrain. When I met the men of his family, I realised what the case was. And when I saw the shrine of Shah Abdullah in Behat, I must say I did get goose bumps.
Here, I seek to post some pictures of the ruins of Behat, the ancestral haveli of the Shah family which is in ruins. But there are portions of the haveli where the members of the family are still living. Partition marred the haveli and its residents. Most of the family members migrated to the haveli they were given in lieu of the one in Behat in Pakistan. But my husband's grandfather stayed back. And his stock now bears testimony to the life and times of Behat and its ruins.
next to the main gate is this old 'kacheri' (court of justice) where the Shah family's grandfathers of several generations presided