Nestled amidst the Arabian Sea, Haji Ali Dargah is one of the most famous places in Mumbai. This floating marvel is both a mosque and tomb. Sitting on a tiny islet right off the coast of Worli in Mumbai, it is connected to the mainland by a narrow constricted lane. The 15th-century mosque pays homage to the Sufi saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. In fact, Thursdays and Fridays see thousands of pilgrims pay their respects and seek blessings at this historical yet legendary place of worship. In a city that’s as modern as it gets, Haji Ali is a reminder of the times gone by. Here’s a comprehensive guide to Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai.
Things to do/ Highlights
Admire the Indo-Islamic architecture of the mosque
The main structure and the courtyard of the sprawling and imposing mosque are made of pure white marble and look absolutely ethereal. The building also has four small spires in the corners supporting a massive central dome. The standout feature, undoubtedly, is the main hall with marble pillars that are embellished with the most striking artistic mirror work. Think yellow, green, and blue pieces of glass arranged in kaleidoscopic designs and sprinkled with Arabic motifs that spell the 99 names of Allah (God in Islam). Besides two separate praying rooms for males and females, you’ll also find a ‘Qawwal Khana’ (hall for Qawwali) within the dargah.
Offer prayers at the shrine of Saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari
The dargah contains the tomb of a Muslim saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. He was a wealthy merchant and it is said that he abandoned all his possessions to visit Mecca, before eventually settling in present-day Mumbai (he originally hailed from Uzbekistan). Before he passed, he asked his followers to drop his ‘kafan’ (shroud) into the sea, and the site of the dargah is where his shroud came to rest. Today, this saint’s tomb is covered with a red and green brocade cloth known as chadar. If you’re lucky, you might even receive rose water as you pay your respects and say your prayers. For, the water’s powers have been known to heal many health ailments.
Listen to devotional Qawwali on Fridays
Sometimes, various Sufi musicians perform devotional music known as Qawwali at the dargah. Qawwalis are performed by a group of singers, with the help of various musical instruments. This usually happens on Fridays and takes place in the open-air Qawwal Khana, and the performances and music are dedicated to the Saint Haji Ali. In fact, notable Qawwali singers such as the Sabri Brothers have performed here, too.
Entry to Haji Ali Dargah is free. However, there are a number of things you need to remember while traveling to Haji Ali, including the time of the day, the tide, and the dress code.
Check the tide
Since all that connects the mosque and the mainland is a constricted lane, it can only be accessed during low tide. During hide tide, the lane is completely submerged, making it impossible to visit the dargah. So, you need to inquire and know about the tide before. Also, the pathway is an open one, doesn’t have railings on the side, and keeps getting sprayed with seawater. So, wear proper shoes so that you don’t slip on the rocky path.
Dress code and etiquette
Since this is a place of worship, there’s a strict dress code that you need to adhere to. Firstly, your shoulders and knees need to be covered, and women need to cover their heads as well. Also, men and women pray in separate prayer halls and there’s a separate entrance for both. Moreover, photography is strictly restricted within the dargah, and don’t do anything that others aren’t doing so that you don’t hurt sentiments unknowingly.
Protect yourself from the sun
The path to the dargah is open and the sun can really beat down on you during the day, especially in the summer. So, carry water, caps or hats, sunglasses, and maybe even a small scarf that you can also use to cover your head inside the dargah.
How to get there
Haji Ali Dargah is located off the Worli coast in the southern part of Mumbai. It’s also close to the Bandra-Worli sea link, and you can easily get here via private car or a taxi (black-and-yellow or app-based ones). However, you won’t find rickshaws here since auto-rickshaws don’t ply in Mumbai’s southern suburbs.
The roads right outside Haji Ali are the most busiest in south Mumbai. You can reach here via BEST buses. BEST has numerous buses from several parts of the city to the dargah daily. The closest bus stop to the shrine’s entrance is Vatsalabai Desai Chowk.
By local train
The stations closest to Haji Ali on the Western Line is Mumbai Central and on the Central Line is Byculla. From there, you can take either a taxi or a bus, but a taxi is hassle-free and will get you to the shrine quickly.
Haji Ali Dargah information
Haji Ali Dargah
Address: Dargah Rd, Haji Ali, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400026
Opening hours: 5:30am - 10pm (daily)
Official Website: Haji Ali Dargah
News & updates for Haji Ali Dargah: Haji Ali Dargah: Mumbai mosque to lift ban on women | Haji Ali: The 400 Year Old Dargah Which Withstood Storms And Time
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