Things to Do in Mumbai: Haji Ali Dargah
One of the most iconic landmark of Mumbai, Haji Ali Dargah is an ancient mosque and shrine containing the tomb of the revered Haji Ali. It is a beautiful 15th century structure that is actually on a small island easily accesible by footpath from Mumbai proper. A popular site for tourists, the inner sanctum was first opened to female visitors in late 2016.
About Haji Ali
Hazrath Haji Ali is said to have been a devout Muslim saint who lived a selfless and pious life. One story claims that he was a local Muslim merchant who renounced all his wealth and material possessions prior to making his pilgrimage to Mecca. When he died along the journey, his casket floated back to his hometown and the shrine was built.
In the other story, Haji Ali was an Afghan mystic who lived and meditated in Mumbai. It was his desire that, upon his death, his casket should be set afloat to travel to Pakistan, but ironically it only made it to the island where the shrine stands today.
Regardless of the which story you go with, the shrine is dedicated to this Muslim saint and many Muslims make pilgrimages here to this day.
Visiting Haji Ali Dargah
The island that Haji Ali Dargah is built on is mostly surrounded by land at low tide, but at high tide looks like an island. The easiest way to reach the island is to walk along a path that is raised above the level of high tide waters, meaning you don’t have to worry about getting stuck on the island as the tide comes up.
It is a pleasant 500-yard pathway that many visitors feel is the highlight of this trip because of the great view of the water and mosque, but it can get very busy with visitors and pilgrims later in the day. Plan to set off early in the morning to avoid mid-day crowds.
The cool waters and consistent breeze combine to create a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere that can be a nice change of pace if you have spent much time in the city. The Haji Ali Dargah grounds are a sprawling 4,500 meter space, and the tomb is always covered with a brocaded red and green sheet, supported by a delicate silver frame. The marble pillars inside the main hall are decorated with mirrors and embrace the 99 names of Allah. Haji Ali Dargah is great place to take pictures and enjoy the day.
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