A brief history of Karbala Gamay Shah

Everyone has heard of Karbala Gamay Shah, the famous imambargah in Lahore – heart of Pakistan -, but very few people know why it is called Karbala Gamay Shah.

Although ‘Karbala’ is the name of the plain where the Grandson of Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SW), Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) was martyred, here the word signifies a place of mourning where people assemble in Muharram.

‘Gamay Shah’ is the epithet of Hazrat Baba Syed Ghulam Ali Shah.

According to historical notes, Hazrat Baba Syed Ghulam Ali Shah was buried at the place presently known as Karbala Gamay Shah. The Qizilbash family purchased the land where Hazrat Baba Gamay Shah was buried and built an imambargah there.

Baba Gamay Shah was a Sufi who lived during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at the beginning of the 18th century. He remained celibate all his life. Maharaja Ranjit Singh put Baba Gamay Shah in prison for his displays of religious mourning. 


Baba Gamay Shah selected the place presently known as Karbala Gamay Shah for his spiritual practices. Always attired in black, Baba Gamay Shah was known for his incessant mourning for the Ahle Bait (AS), descendants of Prophet Muhammad (SW). A zarih of Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) has also been fixed next to the grave of Karbala Gamay Shah.

Baba Gamay Shah walked and grieved on the 10th of Muharram. Another Sufi, a woman, Mai Aghia accompanied him for part of his journey of tears,a journey which ended in the place currently known as Karbala Gamay Shah.

During Muharram, one of the country’s largest processions, the Nisar Ali Haveli procession of Mochi Gate, which begins on the night of 9th Muharram, makes its way to Karbala Gamay Shah, along with all other such processions from the city, on the evening of 10th Muharram .

On Safar 20, a chehlum procession - forty days after Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS)’s martyrdom, makes its way from Haveli Alif Shaheeyan in Mochi Gate, ending at Karbala Gamay Shah.

Husseini mourning end on Rabiul Awal 8 with a procession that originates from an imambargah in Islampura, concluding at Karbala Gamay Shah.

Another procession on 21st Ramadan of the martyrdom of Imam Ali (AS) which starts from Mubarak Haveli also finishes at Karbala Gamay Shah.

Processions have been held here since the pre colonial period, when Gamay Shah began walking around the Walled City, holding a taziah on his head and mourning for the martyrs of Karbala.