Forever linked in alliteration

Arguably the most exquisite building in the Mehrauli complex, the tomb of Jamali Kamali is well known for many things, beginning with its unusual square structure, the inlaid tiles, the poetry of Jamali, the surrounding gardens... And as an enduring icon of homosexual love, based on the mystery of Kamali.

While something is known of Jamali, that he was a sufi mystic and poet of the early Mughal period, Kamali, his alliterative partner is more of an enigma.

Karen Chase, a poet based in the US, has a new book out from Mapin Publishing. In Jamali-Kamali: A tale of passion in Mughal India, a homoerotic poem, she "reconstructs the expressions of love and longing between the two, who according to Delhi's oral tradition were homosexual lovers." Since the oral tradition in question is little more than the arch assertions of local tourist guides, this may be more a work of imagination than history. On the other hand, a century later, there was the much better documented history of the Persian mystic Sarmad, so there could be something here...

In our Poetry section, 80 pages, Rs 1100, ISBN: 9788189995126

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