early 18th century shrine contains the tomb of HAZRATH HAJI ALI, a
Muslim Sufi saint. There are two local legends which claim to trace
the hazraths antecedents. One story has it that Haji Ali was a rich ,
local businessman who gave up materialism after a visit to Mecca and
then took up meditation.
Another legend says that he was an Afghan mystic who lived and
meditated here. He specifically ordered that after his death , his
casket should be cast off into the sea off the shore of what is today
Pakistan. However , the casket surfaced intact at the spot where the
shrine is today.
The Haji Ali shrine is located on a small island on the Arabian Sea.
There is a walkway which connects the shore to the shrine. This
walkway is the only way to enter the shrine and it can be used only
during low tides. High tides and monsoon rains completely cover the
walkway. Inside the shrine there is a courtyard which normally sports
a festive, talkative atmosphere.
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
As many as 40,000 pilgrims visit the shrine on Thursdays and Fridays.
People from all faiths visit & pray at the "dargah"
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 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 dargahThe 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.