Dargah of Haji Ali, Mumbai, Overview
Located close to the beautiful coast of Arabian Sea is the Haji Ali Dargah which is devoted to a rich merchant who converted into a Muslim saint after visiting the holy place Mecca. This holy shrine is situated on a small island near the Worli coast in southern Mumbai. It is visited by people belonging to all religion and class just to seek the blessings of the holy saint. Since the dargah is located amidst the sea, it can only be reached during the low tides through a causeway. The view of the shrine at night is simply breathtaking. It is lit in beautiful colours with its reflection adding a charm to the calm waters of the sea.
You will be enchanted by the architecture of the Dargah. Mainly built of glass, the architecture of the shrine is heavily influenced by Indo-Islamic style. The complex comprises of marble courtyard with the main shrine positioned in the middle. The roof of the tomb within the mosque is covered by red and green cloth and is supported by marble columns and silver frame. As you enter the main hall, you will come across splendid marble pillars embellished with colourful mirror works and glass chips. These decorative pieces are arranged in Arabic patterns that illustrate 99 names of Allah. In the shrine, there is also a separate prayer hall for women.
More on Haji Ali Dargah
History of the Dargah
Haji Ali Dargah has a very interesting story behind its construction. Haji Ali hailed from Bukhara, which is situated in today’s Uzbekistan. As per the legends, Haji Ali Bukhari saw a poor woman carrying an empty container and crying on the roadside. He asked her the reason for her grief. She replied that she was to carry oil back home but she spilt it by mistake. Now, she feared that her spouse would punish her for the mistake. Haji Ali then followed her to the spot where she had spilt the oil. He dug at the spot and the oil came spewing out. The poor woman was happy to witness the sight and breathe a sigh of relief. In later days, Haji Ali started dreaming about the actions that lead to the injury of the mother earth and gradually his health started degrading.
In order to distract himself, he chose to migrate to India and spread the preaching of Islam. Since then he dedicated this entire life preaching Islam and knowledge of Allah. During his last days of life, he asked his devotees not to bury him instantly, rather he asked them to put his dead body in the sea and bury him at the region where his body would be found. As per his requests, the Haji Ali Dargah was constructed in 1431. There is another legend about this Dargah and according to which Haji Ali gave away all this wealth and belongings in order to travel to Mecca. Unfortunately, he passed away while the journey. Surprisingly, the coffin bearing his body floated to Worli shore and consequently, the shrine was built.
Architecture of the Dargah
Haji Ali Darhah is constructed on an islet that lies 500 meters off the main Worli Shore near Mumbai. This massive structure occupies an area of about 4500 square meters and is as tall as 85 feet. The path that leads to Dargah from the shore gets immersed in water during the high tides and hence becomes inaccessible. Therefore, the devotees can visit the shrine only during the low tide, when the causeway is visible. The Dargah is constructed in Indo-Islamic architectural style. Mainly built of white marble and glass tiles, the shrine also has a central dome that is supported by four pinnacles in the corner.
During 1960 and 1964, the Dargah underwent renovation and a new sanatorium was added to the mosque complex. The new building constitutes of two floors and the tomb of the Peer Haji Ali is also place inside. There is also a separate place for women named Qawwal Khana where they can rest and change. The tomb of Haji Ali is situated in the main shrine and is overlaid with green and red Chaddar, a cloak of religious importance in Islamic culture. The tomb is surrounded by a glass covering which is adorned with glass chips arranged in Arabic pattern that spell out 99 names of prophet Allah.
Qawalli at Haji Ali
The devotees offer their prayers and worship at this Dargah by singing Qawallis, which are musical hymns dedicated to Allah. There is a separate prayer hall dedicated for Qawalli in the Dargah and for this reason, it is quite famous in the country. The ambience around the shrine is filled with serenity and tranquillity. You will be fascinated by the soothing music of the instruments that are played by various musicians and singers. A large number of devotees sit around this hall and get enchanted by the inflexions. Attending a Qawalli session is a must-to-do activity while visiting Haji Ali Dargah.
Stay Near Haji Ali Dargah
There are a couple of affordable hotels near the dargah where you can stay for a day or two. Hotels such as Central Guest House, St. Regis Mumbai, Hotel Kemps Corner, Hotel Royal Castle, Hotel Shalimar, The St. Regis Mumbai and Hotel Crystal are a few of the popular hotels in the region.
Tips For Visiting Haji Ali Dargah
1. Wear decent clothes while visiting the Dargah. Women are required to cover their head with a scarf while visiting the shrine.
2. Do not litter the place or misbehave.
How to Reach Haji Ali Dargah?
Haji Ali Dargah is accessible by several modes of transportation from different parts of Mumbai city. The shrine can also be reached by the local trains. For those travelling from central line need to get down at Byculla station, and for those travelling on western line require to get down at the Mahalakshmi Station. You can even hire a taxi or take a bus, BEST buses, to teach the Dargah.