Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal

Mausoleum in Sylhet

This fascinating and atmospheric shrine of the revered 14th-century Sufi saint Shah Jalal is one of Bangladesh's biggest pilgrimage sites. Housing a mosque (masjid) and the main tomb (mazar), the complex is accessed via an open staircase from the East Darga Gate entrance. Shah Jalal’s tomb is covered with rich brocade, and the space around it is illuminated with candles in the evenings, lending a magical feel. Non-Muslims can enter (dress conservatively). Shoes have to be removed at the steps.

The saint's sword and robes are preserved within the mosque, but aren’t on display. You can also walk around the hillside graveyard behind the shrine, dotted with tombs. Being buried near the saint is considered a great honour. Women can enter the complex – there is even a special prayer hall for women here – but are not usually allowed to enter the shrine itself (doing so would mean passing through part of the mosque, which is out of bounds to women).

The pond at the northern end of the complex is filled with sacred catfish that are fed by pilgrims and are, according to legend, metamorphosed black magicians of the Hindu raja Gour Govinda, who was defeated by Shah Jalal in 1303.