Haji Ali Dargah: spiritual and Islamic home in Mumbai

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Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari was a Persian Sufi saint from Bukhara, located in present-day Uzbekistan. Rumor has it that the saint once saw a poor woman crying by the side of the road holding an empty container. She had accidentally spilled the oil she was carrying on the floor and was afraid of her husband’s reaction. With that, Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari stuck his finger into the earth, and then oil spurted out from there. The woman rejoiced, filled her empty vase and went home.

But the Sufi had a recurring and disturbing dream which told him that he had disturbed the earth with this action. Feeling full of regret, he sets out on a journey across the world at the start of the 15th century. Choosing to settle in Mumbai, he devoted himself to the dissemination of the Islamic faith.

Many other legends also say that he felt bad during his trip to Mecca. He asked his supporters to put his coffin in the Arabian Sea after his disappearance. However, the coffin carrying his body came floating from Mecca to the island off the coast of Worli, and a shrine can be found in the same place in the sea today. The revered Haji Ali Shrine in Mumbai called Haji Ali Dargah is one of the most renowned and iconic landmarks in Mumbai India. It is known to be over 550 years old and is frequently visited by people of all faiths. In 2020, the monument was listed in the World Book of Records as one of the most visited shrines in the world. Every day, thousands of people visit Haji Ali Dargah, making it a major tourist destination. According to Suhail Khandwani, an administrator of the shrine, the religious site has a daily attendance of 50,000 people, while on Friday, Sunday and Thursday visitors number 100,000.

Architectural details

Haji Ali Dargah is located on a small islet, just 500 meters from the coast. The structure of the sanctuary consists of a magnificent marble tomb, a typical illustration of Indo-Islamic architecture, adjoining a mosque, minarets and an arched entrance.

The tomb of Pir Haji Ali inside the main hall of the complex has a sanduka, a type of sarcophagus placed on the original tombs of distinguished people in the Turkish-Islamic tradition. The sanduka remains covered with green and red brocade sheets. In addition, the marble ceiling of the main hall is decorated with mirrors with kaleidoscopic patterns. The 99 names of Allah are also inscribed here.

A simple path connects the sanctuary to the mainland coast. As this trail is submerged at high tide, the monument is only accessible at low tide.

The dargah complex itself has a huge foyer called Qawwal Khana, where devotees rest and listen to Sufi musical programs including performances of qawwali (a form of Sufi Islamic devotional chanting, originating in the Indian subcontinent) in the honor of Haji Ali, finding some comfort. Indeed, the Sufi conviction serves as value and meaning to the faithful visiting this miraculous shrine.

Miracles of the Sanctuary

In 1949, Mumbai faced a huge storm that partially damaged almost all buildings except Haji Ali’s Dargah. Those inside the monument at that time were afraid of drowning but saw strong winds come and go – as if they were bowing to the wall of the dargah in submission to the saint – then disappeared. without causing damage. Some people said they saw chiraags (earthen lamps) floating on these waves. The people trapped inside came out unharmed.

Another miracle associated with the monument occurred in 2005 when heavy rains hit Mumbai, causing enormous destruction throughout the city – with the exception, of course, of Haji Ali’s Dargah. Also, during monsoon all roads in Mumbai end up being rough and full of potholes, but the path to Dargah from Haji Ali remains smooth. Despite its location in the middle of the sea, visitors consider this route to be the safest, devoid of potholes.

Bollywood destination

Many Bollywood actors including Tusshar Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Sonu Sood, Emraan Hashmi, and Vidya Balan consider Haji Ali’s Dargah a lucky place. Actor Hashmi always comes to seek blessings at this shrine before venturing into a project. In addition, this important monument of Mumbai has served as the backdrop for many Bollywood films such as “Fiza”, “Halla Bol”, “Once Upon a Time in Mumbai” and the most recent film “Prassthanam”.


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