Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Sunday, July 21, 2019

Haji Ali Dargah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Haji Ali Dargah is a mosque and dargah (tomb) located on an islet off the coast of Worli in the southern part of Mumbai. Near the heart of the city proper, the dargah is one of the most recognisable landmarks of Mumbai. 

 

 

Saint Haji Ali belonged to Bukhara, which lies in present-day Uzbekistan. This shrine has a mystical story attached to it. According to legends, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Bukhari once came across a poor woman crying on the road and holding an empty vessel. Upon inquiring about the matter, she told him that she had spilled the oil she was supposed to be carrying home and was now afraid that her husband will punish her. He then accompanied her to the spot where she had spilled the oil and prodded the ground and oil came gushing out. The woman was delighted and went home happily. Later, recurrent dreams indicating that he had injured the Earth haunted him and his health began to deteriorate. He then decided to travel to India and decided to stay here so as to spread the word of Allah and Islam. 

 

 

From that point of time till the end of his life, Haji Ali dedicated his life spreading the wisdom of Allah and devotees would regularly visit him. Before he died, he instructed his followers that they shouldn't bury him immediately; rather they should drop his shroud in the ocean and bury him where it is found. In accordance with his wishes, the Haji Ali Dargah was built in the year 1431. According to another belief, Haji Ali donated all his wealth for a journey to Mecca and died in between. Miraculously, the casket carrying his body floated back to Arabian shores and got stuck in the twine of rocky islets just off the shores of Worli. 

 

 

 

Architecture of the Dargah 

 

 

 

The Dargah is built on a tiny islet located 500 meters from the coast, in the middle of Worli Bay, in the vicinity of Worli. The edifice is a brilliant specimen of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The islet is linked to the city precinct of Mahalakshmi by a narrow causeway, which is nearly a kilometre (0.62 mile) long. 

 

 

The accessibility to the dargah is very much dependent on the tides. As, the causeway is not bound by railings, when the causeway gets submerged during high tide it becomes inaccessible. Therefore, the dargah is accessible only during low tide. This walk on the causeway, with the sea on both sides, is one of the highlights of a trip to the shrine. 

 

 

The whitewashed structure occupies an area of a marble courtyard contains the central shrine. The tomb within the mosque is covered by a brocaded red and green chaddar (tomb cover sheet). It is supported by an exquisite silver frame, supported by marble pillars. The main hall has marble pillars embellished with artistic mirror work: blue, green, yellow chips of glass arranged in kaleidoscopic patterns interspersed with Arabic patterns which spell the ninety-nine names of Allah. As per the Muslim traditions separate praying rooms for ladies and gents are provided here to pay their respects. During the high tide, the dargah seems completely isolated with no access. It looks more like a little island. 

 

 

 

Qawalli at Haji Ali 

 

 

 

A unique way of offering prayers to Allah is through the means of Qawallis, which are melodious invocations to the Almighty. Haji Ali Dargah has a dedicated hall for this purpose and is extremely famous for the same throughout the country. Spirituality and tranquillity reverberate through the complex as the Qawalls sit down on the floor with their instruments and fellow singers and begin the prayer. Throngs of people sit surrounding them, mesmerised by the intonations and instruments. 

 

 

On Thursdays and Fridays, the shrine is visited by an enormous number of pilgrims. Irrespective of faith and religion, people visit the dargah to get the blessings of the legendary saint. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: