Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai-A Religious Monument of Communal Harmony
A mosque housing a Dargah built on a tiny islet 500 meters from the coast, in the middle of Worli Bay in the vicinity of Worli, Mumbai. It is the Arabian Sea around. You need to walk nearly 0.5 km through the causeway without any railings to help you, and the sea on both sides.
When I reached here on a rainy day in June, two years back, I could just watch it from a distant place only. As June is the month of Monsoon, the whole causeway was submerged in the violent waves of the Arabian Sea. What I could see in the pouring rain was a white marble structure lying in the middle of the sea. A floating shrine in the Arabian Sea! Nevertheless, it was a spectacular scene.
It is my second visit. But this time the weather was fine. The causeway was safe with no splash of sea waves. The dargah is accessible only during low tide. But there was a great rush of all types of people- pilgrims, visitors, shoppers, and onlookers. Both sides of the footpath were occupied by the vendors, who do brisk business. Cooling glass, cap, toys, readymade garments, cosmetics and eatables like ice cream, candies, hot snacks, everything was available there for a decent price.
When I entered on the holy shrine what fascinated me was a beautiful Qawwali. This is a sort of music being followed by the Muslims in certain parts of Asia. Listening qawwali is an enjoyable experience. The performers were singing loudly with rhythmic movements and enthusiasm. Covering my head I entered the dargah and prayed before the tomb of the Muslim Saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. I felt relaxed in the devotional atmosphere prevailed there. The fragrance of the thick incense sticks filled in the air. It was a soothing experience.
Haji Ali, the saint is believed to be a wealthy local businessman, who renounced the material world and meditated at a nearby place following a pilgrimage to Mecca. One story reveals that the saint drowned at the place, where the mosque stands at present. Another version is that Haji Ali died during his pilgrimage to Mecca in early nineties and the casket carrying his body floated back, coming to rest near the rock bed on the sea at Mumbai, where his devotees built the Dargah. It was built in the year AD 1431.
Versions vary, but his power was one thing that all agreed and worshiped. People irrespective of caste and religion reach the dargah. They pray and make offers. The pilgrims include Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and followers of other faiths. Don’t be surprised if you see more Hindus here in the Mosque. It is a place of religious tolerance and communal harmony. Each one has their own reason for coming here. Their prayers have been heard and they have got the result with new job, marriage, health, wealth and children.
The Dargah is a brilliant specimen of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. It is a marble marvel showcasing the classic style of the olden times. The white colored structure is a delight to our eyes. The white domes and minarets offer you the beauty of the Mughal architecture of the period. The walkway, offering 500-yard walk is the main highlight of the trip. You will enjoy the cool waters and the pleasing breeze. You cannot enter the mosque during rough monsoon and tides.
Haji Ali Dargah was voted as one of the seven wonders of Mumbai. It is one of Mumbai’s chief landmarks and is situated about 500 yards from the Mumbai shoreline in the middle of the Arabian Sea off Lala Lajpatrai Marg.
Thousands of people visit the dargah daily. Visitors’ number may increase on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. At times, it looks like a sea of humanity, especially on the Ramadan Eid and Bakri-Id.
Behind the mosque, you can enjoy the cool breeze and play with the splashing waves. You can sit on the rocks and enjoy the sunset. A visit to this holy place is a divine and delightful experience. People of all faiths come, pray and enjoy together on this picturesque platform of God. Here the religion is ‘peace’!
For more information, visit the official web site of Haji Ali Dargah : http://www.hajialidargah.in
Haji Ali Dargah Trust
Above Kinara Masjid,
Lala Lajpat Rai Marg,
Mumbai 400 026.
Tel: +91 - 22 - 23529082
Fax: +91 - 22 - 23524221
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth