It all started with a visit of Nisha and her husband to my 28th floor room at the Palladium Hotel, Mumbai. We were there to attend 2015 Discover Thainess event. I had a room with the view. Over tea, they pointed out that the structure in the water was the famous Haji Ali Dargah. Now that got my attention for sure. I got an opportunity to visit the dargah the next morning.
Now that I could see the shrine from my room (this is through a zoom at 300mm) I had to go there. I was staying in Lower Parel and I decided to hail a taxi right outside the hotel. Now I was in for a pleasant surprise here. The taxi went by meter, the bill came to 46 rupees and the driver gave back the exact change! People who live in Delhi/NCR would sure understand why I am surprised. That was a good start to the trip.
The weather in Mumbai was surely warmer than Delhi but it was still quite mild. As a rule I like to walk but I am not so sure about the paths full of hawkers and destitutes. However, once again, people did try to sell things or ask for alms but no one was pushy even when it was obvious that we were tourists.
At the beginning of the path, there is a concentration of shops selling flowers, chadar and other such things. People invariably asked if I would like to buy something, but I didn’t. They were quite alright when I stopped to click a picture even without buying anything. I was either ignored or the shop owners commented on their excellent display which compelled me to stop and click pictures!
All my recent trips to Mumbai have been for events and one night affairs! This one was no different. And yet, I am getting more attracted to it with each trip. I do find it claustrophobic with all its high rises standing next to slums. The traffic makes me feel nervous but there is something about the city which surely attracts me. What it is I know not yet, but the attraction is there, it is unmistakable.
The dargah is said to be built in 1431 AD in the memory of Peer Haji Ali. It is about 500 meters inside the sea and I am told at high tide the path becomes inaccessible. So, at high tide there are chances of getting stuck within the dargah as well. It didn’t happen to me though.
There is a separate enclosure for women at the dargah. It looks like women can’t visit the main shrine but then even this vantage point gives a good view of the main shrine. Like many religious places in India, it is required that you take off your shoes to enter the main complex. You are also required to cover your head. The shrine welcomes people from all religions.
People tie a thread to the outer walls if they wish to make a wish to the saint. If your wish is granted you are supposed to come back and remove the thread.
I am told that photography at the main shrine is not allowed. However from the women’s side no one said anything when I photographed the shrine.
Even though I had very little time, the shops were so colorful that I would stop to click a few pictures even on my way back.
One of the last pictures I clicked was of this bright orange sweet dish. After looking at this mouth watering picture I realized that I should have actually tried the stuff as well. I will surely do it next time. one of the pictures I didn’t dare to click was of a person sitting by the road, he was wearing a green kurta and his white beard had orange tinch of henna. I am still so timid when it comes to clicking people.
My visit to Haji Ali Dargah was truly memorable. So long Mumbai, till we meet next.