Haji Ali Mosque
Tomb of Muslim saint Haji Ali
Throughout the year
Honoring the Muslim saint Haji Ali this mosque was built in the center of the sea with only a slim path leading to it giving it an ethereal look. As per the Muslim traditions separate praying rooms for ladies and gents are provided here to pay their respects. It is set 500 yards into the sea and can be reached only in low tide. The Haji Ali mausoleum has an offshore position, opposite the Mahalakshmi racecourse.
During high tide, the connecting causeway is submerged in water giving the impression that the mosque and tomb are floating out at sea in splendid isolation. This is The Haji Ali Dargah, the floating tomb of a wealthy Mohammedan merchant who renounced his worldly ways before embarking on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The structure is a slim solitary minaret. It is linked to the mainland by a tenuous causeway, which is practically nonnegotiable during rough monsoon, tides. Behind the sculpted entrance, a marble courtyard contains the central shrine. Hundreds of worshippers stoop to press their forehead against the richly brocaded red and green chaddar covering the tomb, lying in an exquisite silver frame supported by marble pillars and is decorated with artful mirror work: blue, green, yellow chips of glass arranged in kaleidoscopic patterns interspersed with Arabic patterns which spell the ninety-nine names of Allah. Women sit behind carved partitions, their heads bent over the Koran. Every year, the tomb is washed with rose water, which is then distributed among the ailing for its healing properties and the faithful continue to tie red threads on wooden lattices to honor the soul of Haji Ali. It is a handsome example of Indian Islamic architecture, associated with legends about doomed lovers; the dargah contains the tomb of Haji Ali.
The mosque can be reached only during low tide. The whitewashed mosque also has a cool courtyard generally full of people and refreshment stalls. The rocks exposed during low tide at the rare end of the mosque are a favourable spot to catch some cool sea breeze. There's nothing somber about the building's cool courtyard, which is generally full of chattering families and refreshment stalls.
Information for tourists
The durgah is more or less shut for visitors and devotees during the monsoons, as the sea is very violent and there is a high risk in crossing the causeway. Attached to Haji's body was a note stating that his body should be buried wherever it lands. The body was found on the rocky island and the durgah was erected in his memory.
How to get there
Air : Bombay's International Terminal is at Sahar, 30 kms (Ph: 8366700) and Domestic Terminal at Santacruz, 26 km (Ph: 6116009) respectively from downtown Mumbai. Most of the International Airlines, Indian Airlines Vayudoot & many other private airlines touch Bombay and connect it with the major cities of India and the world. There are domestic flights to all the major cities of the country.
Rail : Mumbai has trains connecting it to all the major cities of the country. Bombay is the headquarters for both western & Central Railways. Central Railways handles services to the east and south, plus a few trains to the north. Western Railways has services to the north from Churchgate and Central stations. Central Railways operates from the VT Railway Station (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal) located in the Fort area (ph: 2623535). Other railway stations are Dadar, Churchgate and Kurla. Regular train services connect Bombay with all major towns and cities in India. Intra city trains in Mumbai are very good, and are the fastest and cheapest way to move around in Mumbai.
Road : Mumbai is connected by good motorable road to Pune 163 km, Nasik 185 km, Mahabaleshwar 239 km, Shirdi 307 km, Aurangabad 392 km, Vadodara 432 km, Ahmedabad 545 kms, Panaji 597 kms, Hyderabad 711 kms, Bangalore 998 kms. Intra city bus services are also very good. The Maharashtra State Transport Bus Terminal (Ph: 3076622, 3074272), J B Behran Marg, is directly opposite the Central Train Station.