An iconic landmark in Mumbai, the Haji Ali Dargah is a tomb and a mosque that houses the mortal remains of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, a 15th-century Sufi saint. Located against the backdrop of the magnificent Arabian Sea, the dargah seems like a mirage floating on water. It stands on a small isle off the Worli Coast and is frequented by devotees and travelers all year round. Known for its religious significance, architectural beauty, and spellbinding location, the dargah deserves to be included in your Mumbai itinerary. Make sure to book your hotels in Mumbai in a prime location so as to have easy access to the dargah.  

Want to know more about this heritage spot and the legends associated with it? Here’s everything you should know about the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai, including its history, architecture, timings, and other interesting facts.

Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai Quick Info

Location Worli, South Mumbai
Type Mosque and tomb
Timings 5:30 am to 10:00 pm; every day
Entry Fee Free
Nearest Metro Station Mahalaxmi Metro Station
Origin 1431
Architectural Style Indo-Islamic style
Area 4,500 square meters
Material Used White marble

Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai: History

The Haji Ali Dargah, one of the top places to visit in Mumbai, traces its origins to 1431 and is associated with Sayyed Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. He was a wealthy merchant from Bukhara (present-day Uzbekistan) who abandoned his wealth and worldly possessions before heading out for Mecca pilgrimage. After that, he went around the world and finally settled in Mumbai.

Legends have it that once the saint saw a woman wailing on the road because she accidentally spilled the oil she was carrying. He took pity on her and poked his finger at the very spot where she had spilled the oil. The oil oozed out from the soil and the woman refilled her oil vessel and went home happily. The saint, however, had a disturbing dream that his act had injured the earth. This filled him with remorse and his health also suffered. That was when he traveled to India. When he reached the Mumbai shore, he decided to stay there permanently and spread the knowledge of Islam among the natives.

There are quite a few legends associated with his death as well. The most popular one goes that the saint had asked his followers to not bury him immediately after his death. He instructed them to throw his coffin in the sea and bury him on the spot where it is found. His followers did as instructed and his coffin came to rest on a small mound in Worli. The dargah and the saint’s tomb were later built on that very same spot. Over the years, the tomb became a popular pilgrimage site where devotees come to seek blessings.

The dargah was extensively renovated from time to time in the 20th century and several new structures were added to the complex. A pathway that leads to the dargah was built and the old sanatorium was also replaced with a new one. Since November 2016, women have been allowed to enter the shrine, which was prohibited earlier.

Haji Ali Dargah Architecture

The 700-year old dargah is a brilliant example of Indo-Islamic architectural style. Situated on an islet 500 meters from the main coast, it remains connected to the mainland through a narrow causeway that is about a kilometer long. This causeway gets submerged in water during the high ride, rendering the dargah inaccessible.

The sprawling edifice covers an area of 4,500 sq. meters and has a height of 85 feet. The main structure and the courtyard are made of pure white marble. The building also features a massive central dome and four small spires in the four corners. The tomb of the saint rests inside this shrine and remains covered with a green and red brocade sheet or chaddar. Colored glasses adorn the marble pillars inside the main hall of the shrine, on which ninety-nine names of Allah are carved.

The current structure of the dargah has two stories and features separate praying rooms for men and women. You can also find a dedicated Qawwal Khana (a hall) and ladies’ restrooms within the dargah complex.

Qawalli Sessions at Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai

One of the major highlights of the dargah is the Qawalli or devotional songs sung here in honor of the Almighty. The place turns into a heaven of tranquility and spirituality during the Qawalli sessions that usually take place on Friday nights. Attending the Qawalli at Haji Ali Dargah is an experience in itself that you must not miss out on when visiting this place.

Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai: Today

Today, the dargah epitomizes the secular spirit of Mumbai, visited by people of all faiths and religious affiliations. Though the place can be visited on all days of the week, it is particularly crowded on Thursdays and Fridays.

Every evening, the dargah is lit up, giving you the stunning sight of an illuminated edifice that is surrounded by the dark sea extending beyond it. Every year, Urs or the death anniversary of the saint is observed with much fervor here.  

Lesser-known Facts about Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai

  • Though the dargah remains open for around sixteen hours a day, it can only be accessed during the low tide.
  • The dargah didn’t suffer any damage during the massive storm in 1949 which caused much destruction in Mumbai and the heavy floods in 2005.
  • It was the location for the filming of the song Piya Haji Ali from the Bollywood movie Fiza, released in 2000.

Attractions near Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai

  • Nehru Planetarium (2.5 km)
  • Chowpatty Beach (3.4 km)
  • Marine Drive (5.2 km)
  • Worli Fort (5.8 km)
  • Crawford Market (6.1 km)
  • Siddhi Vinayak Temple (6.2 km)
  • Bandra – Worli Sea Link (7.3 km)
  • Jehangir Art Gallery (7.5 km)
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (7.5 km)
  • Elephanta Caves (8 km)
  • Gateway of India (8.1 km)
  • Colaba Causeway (8.1 km)

Eating and Shopping Places near the Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai

Once you are done seeking the blessings of the legendary saint, don’t forget to treat yourself to some mouth-watering delicacies at the nearby Haji Ali Juice Center (120 m), one of the top street food shops in Mumbai. The shop is best known for its creamy shakes and delectable faloodas. You can also taste Mumbai’s street food at Sardar Pav Bhaji (1 km), another famous food joint in the city.  If you are a shopaholic, head straight to the Heera Panna Shopping Center (220 m) located in the same area and shop to your heart’s content.

The Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai is among those places that will fill you up with a sense of tranquility. After all, you don’t get to see a majestic white tomb surrounded by the blue waters of the Arabian Sea every day, do you?