Situated at the backdrop of a beautiful view of the sea is the shrine of Haji Ali, a wealthy merchant turned into Muslim Sufi. The Haji Ali Dargah (mausoleum) was raised in 1431 in reminiscence of an affluent Muslim trader, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who gave up all his worldly belongings before making a trip to Mecca. People from all walks of life and religions come here to seek blessings.
Built of glass, the tomb is a beautiful illustration of the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. A marble courtyard contains the central shrine. The tomb within the mosque is roofed by a brocaded red and green cloth, supported by an exquisite silver frame and marble columns. The main hall has marble pillars engraved with creative mirror work: blue, green, yellow chips of glass arranged in varied designs and Arabic patterns which spell the ninety-nine names of Allah. As per Islamic customs, there are different praying rooms for ladies and gents. Many famous personalities visit the shrine to seek blessings.
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.
The shrine of Haji Ali is built on a small island some 500 metres away from the main coast, with the beautiful Arabian Sea in the backdrop. This magnificent structure is spread over an area of 4,500 sq. meters and is 85 feet tall. Due to its location, the road to dargah gets submerged during high tide, making it entirely inaccessible. The architecture of the Dargah in itself is a magnificent example of the Indo-Islamic style of engineering. Made out of dazzling white marble, the shrine has a central dome which is flanked by four smaller spires in the four corners.
The Dargah and the mosque underwent renovations in the year 1960 and 1964, and the new sanatorium was built in place of the old one. The present building lies has two floors which have the main cenotaph of saint Haji Ali, a Qawwal Khana, ladies' rest shade and toilets. The tomb of the saint is located in the central shrine and is covered with a red and green coloured cloak, also called the 'Chaddar'. Surrounding the mausoleum is a marvellous handiwork in a myriad coloured glass, spelling out ninety - nine names of Allah.
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. If you happen to visit this destination, make sure you attend the Qawalli session, for it is an experience of a lifetime.
Haji Ali Dargah can be reached by using various modes of local transport available. It is well connected by local trains. If travelling from the Western Line you need to get off as the Mahalakshmi Station, while from the main line you need to get off at Byculla Station. Metered Black and Yellow Metered Taxis, B.E.S.T city buses and auto rickshaw ply from different parts of the city.
If you intend to stay somewhere near the shrine, you can get a comfortable accommodation at The St. Regis Mumbai, Hotel Crystal, Central Guest House, The Shalimar Hotel, Hotel Kemps Corner and Hotel Royal Castle.
Small shops sell things such as incense sticks, holy thread, flowers and offering outside the Dargah.
1. Since this is a religious destination, make sure you are modestly dressed
2. Cover your head before entering the shrine
3. Donations can be made to the mosque trust as well