July 11, 2009

Haji Ali Darga: Mumbai's Most Religious Place

The calm is palpable, the view, breath taking as you step onto the 500 yard walkway to reach the Haji Ali Dargah (See Wallpapers) which is situated right in the middle of the sea off the Worli bay. Haji Ali is considered one of the most secular worship places amongst all religious hot spots of Mumbai.
Once, while visiting the Durgah, I had a very interesting encounter with an old gentleman seated at the Darga, enjoying the sea breeze. I sat beside him and he just looked at me and asked, 'do you know the story of this Darga?'
'No', I said.
'Do you know it was built in the year 1431?'
I was shocked and very interested now. So the story began.
'According to historical records available with the Haji Ali Trust, a Muslim Preacher, Syed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari had arrived in Bombay in the early 1400s.
He had stumbled upon this island city after roaming the whole world. This Durgah was built in his memory'
I was amazed at the kind of history this place had because when you look at the structure right in the middle of water, you tend to assume that it must have been quite modern. But, guess, the olden times had much better technology than we have now.
Anyway, the story continues...
'Legend has it that one day Bukhari saw a woman crying, holding an empty vessel. On asking, the woman cried that she had spilled the oil that she was carrying and that if she did not take home some oil, her husband would beat her. Bukhari felt sorry for the woman and then miraculously jabbed a finger in the ground and oil gushed out to the joy of the distraught woman. But this incident did not make Bukhari better. He was distraught with guilt thinking that he had hurt mother earth with his action. Apparently, his health suffered because of this guilt of his and he asked his followers to bury him at sea when he left his body. The followers did exactly as they were directed by Baba. But the coffin drifted in the sea for days and then settled on a small islet just off the Worli coast.
Taking this as some kind of a sign, his followers decided to bury the coffin on the islet and built a Durgah around it'.
This Mumbai Hot Spot is an integral part of any local Bombayite because of the totally secular nature of the worship house. Attracting more than 40000 visitors a week,the Haji Ali Darga has as many Hindus and Christians as there are Muslims lining up to pay their respect. Probably, this is what sets this place apart.
Built over a sprawling area of about 4500 square meters, this historic place was also supposedly lined up for renovation and revamping with a budget of about 500 crores, by the authorities. But, knowing the bureaucracy and red tape in India, it's anyone's guess, when that's going to happen.

It is said no one goes empty handed from Baba's Darga. You have to just ask and you shall receive.
Check out exclusive photos and wallpapers of Haji Ali Mosque Mumbai.
To sum up, I think A R Rehman's very popular Hindi film song from the Bollywood Movie, Fiza, 'Piya Haji Ali' still remains a one of a kind song that truly symbolizes The Haji Ali Darga of Mumbai. Download the 'Piya Haji Ali' song here...

Here are the road directions on How to reach the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai

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Driving directions to Haji Ali Dargah sharif
022 23524221
Suggested routes
Western Express Hwy
19.8 km
26 mins
Eastern Express Hwy
25.5 km
40 mins
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
Kalina, Vidya Nagari, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
1.Head north on Sahar Rd toward I A Project Rd
2.0 km
2.Turn left toward Western Express Hwy
0.4 km
3.Slight left at Western Express Hwy
7.2 km
4.Exit on the left onto S V Rd
1.0 km
5.Continue on A S Gaya Marg
1.1 km
6.Continue on Lady Jamshedjee Rd
0.9 km
7.Continue on Gokhale Rd N
2.4 km
8.Turn right at Pandurang Budhkar Marg
1.0 km
9.Turn left at GM Bhosle Marg
1.0 km
10.Slight right at Worli Naka onto Dr Annie Besant Rd
1.7 km
11.Continue on Lala lajpathrai Marg
0.8 km
12.Turn right at Keshav Rao Khadye Marg
15 m
13.Turn right at Lala lajpathrai Marg
0.3 km
Haji Ali Dargah sharif
Dargah Road
Mumbai, Mumbai City, Maharashtra, India
022 23524221


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