Pilgrims and mosque at Haji Ali.

Haji Ali Dargah

Mumbai (Bombay)

Floating like a sacred mirage off the coast, this Indo-Islamic shrine located on an offshore inlet is a striking sight. Built in the 19th century, it contains the tomb of the Muslim saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. Legend has it that Haji Ali died while on a pilgrimage to Mecca and his casket miraculously floated back to this spot.

It’s only possible to visit the shrine at low tide, via a long causeway (check tide times locally). Thousands of pilgrims, especially on Thursday and Friday (when there may be qawwali; devotional singing), cross it daily, many donating to beggars who line the way. Sadly, parts of the shrine are in a poor state, damaged by storms and the saline air, though a renovation plan exists. It’s visited by people of all faiths.

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