Haji Ali Dargah

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Haji Ali dargah as seen from Worli

Haji Ali dargah as seen from Worli

Entrance to the dargah

Entrance to the dargah

The Haji Ali Dargah (Hindi: हाजी अली दरगाह) is a mosque and tomb located on an islet off the coast of Worli in Mumbai. Lying as it does in the heart of the city, the dargah is one of the most recognized landmarks of Mumbai. //

History

The dargah was built in 1431 by a wealthy Muslim merchant and saint named Haji Ali who renounced all his wordly possessions before making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Legend has it that Haji Ali died on his way to Mecca and his body, in its casket, floated back to Mumbai. However, some believe that Haji Ali drowned at the place where the dargah stands today.

As many as 40,000 pilgrims visit the shrine on Thursdays and Fridays. Non-Muslims are also permitted to walk on the causeway and into the mosque compound. The only area out of bounds for non-Muslims is the sanctum sanctorum of the mosque itself.

The structure

The dargah is built on a tiny islet located 500 yards from the coast, in the middle of Worli Bay, in the vicinity of Worli. The islet is linked to the city precinct of Mahalakshmi by a narrow causeway. This causeway is not bound by railings, and is lashed by the sea during high-tide. Therefore, the dargah is only accessible only during low tide. This 500-yard-walk on the causeway, with the sea on both sides, is one of the highlights of a trip to the shrine.

The dargah

The dargah

The whitewashed structure occupies an area of 4,500 metres, and An 85 foot (26 m) tower is the architectural highlight of the edifice. The tomb within the mosque is covered by a brocaded red and green chaddar (bedsheet). It is supported by an exquisite silver frame. The main hall has marble pillars embellished with coloured mirror work: blue, green, yellow chips. The ninety-nine names of Allah are also written on the pillars.

Most of the structure is corroded due to saline winds blowing from the surrounding sea. It was last repaired in the 1960s, but civil engineers say the structure is beyond further repair. The Dargah Trust is awaiting permission to raze the structure and rebuild it with Makrana marble, the same marble used to build the Taj Mahal. Permission must be obtained from the Central Government as the shrine lies within the Coastal Regulation Zone.

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