Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Haji Ali - worth a visit, but check the tides!

Dear reader,
You may know by now how much I enjoy exploring this city right!? Mumbai is full of secrets and behind every corner is a something new to discover. With our great explorers group we have done the city back and forth - but still so much to see and do! We have also done our best to explore the religious Mumbai.We have visited temples and churches. We have been up close and personal with Jainism - the religion of harmlessness, and the religion of the Parsi and with the holy Hindu site: the Banganga tank with surrounding temples.  

A lot to see, learn and digest! And sometimes I am in for a real surprise, like when we went to Worli - remember I told you about the colorful houses and Virgin Mary in the pink sari?
That was a place I had passed a lot of times - and from the "inside" it was nothing like I had thought.. A wonderful surprise..

So, with that memory fresh in my mind, I headed out to explore another place which I had passed again and again. The white building on the small islet close to the mainland... First time I saw it, it was Friday and it was sunset, -with hundreds of people on the narrow path taking you out there... Haji Ali dargah.
The view - the other way around... 
The walk out to the dargah, with sea on both sides, - a great experience:-)  
View from Haji Ali towards the city

On the way out, you can buy flowers, perfumes, carpets and wishing-treads- all for use in the dargah.
The Haji Ali dargah was constructed in 1431 for the rich Muslim merchant Haji Ali. There are a lot of legends surrounding his life. The last one describes how he fell ill on a pilgrim journey to Mecca. He had directed his followers to throw the casket with his body into the Arabian sea, and miraculously it found its way back to Mumbai, right to the cliffs on the islet, where the dargah (tomb) then was built.
Then entrance gate to Haji Ali .. A lot of eager photographers. 
On the islet- a place where thousands of pilgrims come to have their blessing  
After walking for about a kilometer, and after passing all the photographers, beggars, sellers and the weigh-in people (Yes, they have a scale, and for a couple of rupees they will tell you your weight... We were told it is because a lot of Indians do not have a scale at home. NICE, I say... ) you are out there. You need to remove your shoes before going into the dargah itself. There are different entrances for ladies and gentlemen, and both men and women must cover their heads. Ladies: they have some colorful scarf you can borrow, if you did not bring one, and some for men too. As a man, you get quite close to the coffin, but as a woman you must look from a distance. You can still receive a blessing from the saint though - a man will pat you on the head with a peacock feather with holy water. You can also leave your wish behind, by tying your wishing-tread to the door or to the wishing-tree.
The shoe-removing line - before getting in to the dargah
This is from inside the dargah - the tomb of saint Haji Ali
Here the women can have their blessing, and leave a donation. 
The wishing-tree with orange wishing-treads
Good to know: 
- The Haji Ali is considered a dargah, a tomb, a mausoleum and not a mosque. All are welcome, and people from all religions and beliefs find their way out there.
- Avoid Thursdays and Fridays when it is really packed with people.
- Use your time out there also to admire the great view towards the city, and the sea... 
- And last but not least: check the tides! The dargah is accessible only during low tide, and be sure it doesn't change during your visit out there. You may not want to be stuck? 

Happy exploring! Stay tuned:-) 

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