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Monsoons at Haji Ali Dargah

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Monsoons at Haji Ali Dargah

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Monsoons at Haji Ali Dargah DSC06252 - CopyHaji Ali Dargah is one of the most popular religious shrines and tourist spots in Mumbai, visited by people of all faiths. It contains the tomb of the Muslim Saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. It was built in 1431. The saint had given up all his worldly possessions before making a pilgrimage to Mecca. There are few stories surrounding his life. For example, once the saint saw a poor woman crying on the road, holding an empty vessel. She sobbed that her husband would be upset because she had spilled the oil she was carrying. He asked her to take him to the spot where she spilt the oil. There, he jabbed a finger into the soil and the oil gushed out. The overjoyed woman filled up the vessel and went home. (Source wikipedia)

Legend has it that Haji Ali died while on a pilgrimage to Mecca and his tomb miraculously floated back to this spot. It’s now known as a ray of hope to many who come here asking for God’s blessings. This shrine that looked like it was floating on water truly fascinated me. I knew I had to visit.

Alongside dozens of families, groups of youngsters and foreigners, I stood in the rain, waiting to enter the sacred space. Waiting was necessary because the walkway is not bound by railings, making it very dangerous during high tide.

Even amid gloomy skies and high tides crashing against the footpath, Haji Ali was still the most beautiful vision on the horizon.

Sipping a kesar milkshake I’d purchased at a nearby juice bar, I exchanged smiles with another young girl who had inched closer to me, hoping for shelter under my umbrella. She told me she’d come to pray and experience some silence; she’d been contemplating her own career decisions. My amazement was interrupted when a powerful gust of wind turned my umbrella outward. We laughed and enjoyed watching the high tides collide with the shore.

The opening of the gates is a sight to see. As with many places in India, simply entering a religious space is quite intense. Everyone began pushing forward, anxious to enter. It was chaotic and beautiful at the same time.

Upon entry, we were instructed to remove our shoes and enter the ladies’ section. Women are prohibited from entering the tomb, but this room allowed us to see a bit of its interior structure. Intricate architecture decorated the ceiling and colorful ornaments and coverings adorned the tomb itself. My new companion Saadiya pointed out a nearby window that had been decorated with red threads. She said I could tie a thread to the window and make a wish. Even with an obstructed view, I marveled at Haji Ali Dargah’s magnificent tomb, soaking up the energy in this holy space.

After some time in this room, watching women eagerly push forward to ask for blessings, we exited the shrine and I took some pictures. I bid a fond farewell to my umbrella buddy and wished her luck in her career endeavors. We exchanged smiles as high tides crashed in the distance.