Travel wishes come true at India's funkiest shrine
Ask pretty much anyone in the town of Jamshedpur about Passport Baba and they will direct you straight to the dargah, or shrine, of Miskin Shah -- a saint whose specialization is long-distance travel wish-fulfillment.
Maybe you're planning a holiday to a far-flung place, hoping to land a dream job overseas or perhaps you fantasize about relocating to another country one day -- whatever your reason, the divine help of Passport Baba may help.
In fact in Jamshedpur, a major industrial center in Eastern India, they seem almost sure of it.
Armed with tips such as which days are the best to seek holy intervention and how to write a note to Baba, I arrive at the shrine in a nondescript alley and am greeted by many goats and a group of young lads who have just finished praying.
I am ushered in by the caretaker of the shrine, Peer Mohammad Khadim, whose family has worked at the shrine for generations.
"People come here from far-off places to seek the help of Baba, and the Baba is very generous towards the visa seekers, students and the unemployed," Khadim tells me.
It is believed that if anyone is suffering from extreme wanderlust, then tying a copy of their passport and a note of their desire to an old peepul tree inside the shrine will see their dreams fulfilled.
Like Raja, who, in his early 20s, has come to seek the blessing of the Passport Baba.
"I dream to go to United States as many of my family members live there, but my visa has been rejected," he says. "I hope with the help of Passport Baba, I will get my visa soon."
Peer Mohammad also emphasises that if anyone cannot physically get to Jamshedpur, sending a letter with a copy of a passport to the shrine can also work.
Shabir, another devotee says, "I tied a copy of my passport at the shrine two years ago and my dreams of moving to Dubai came true just a month after. I have come to show my gratitude to Baba."
The peepul tree in the compound is overladen with passport copies, student cards, interview letters, notes and even politicians' manifestos.
According to Peer Mohammad, Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays are the best days to make one's wishes known.
I was more than eager to seek the blessing of Passport Baba too, and after making eleven rounds of the shrine, I tied a note overflowing with names of countries I would like to visit.
According to Peer Mohammad, the Passport Baba came to Jamshedpur from Lahore -- now part of Pakistan -- some 150 years ago. He is said to have possessed a divine power to heal.
The shrine was built around 1934 and since then Baba's following has increased through word-of-mouth.
Plan a trip to see the shrine around June 22 or February 18 when the Urs (the traditional celebration of a Sufi saint in South Asia) is performed.
You'll meet devotees in their thousands as the shrine is bathed in rose water and attar incense.
Hazrat Miskin Shah Baba dargah, Kallu Bagan, New Badi of Jamshedpur, Jharkhand.