Dating back to the 15th century, this white-marble mosque and shrine (dargah) is among Mumbai's most important sights for Muslim pilgrims. It was built to honor a Muslim saint, Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who was known for spreading knowledge of Islam. Today worshipers and tourists come from across India to pray and learn about the mosque.
One of Mumbai's most iconic structures, and a popular stop on many city tours, Haji Ali Mosque sits on an islet, a half-kilometer from the shore. It's a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture, with towering pillars and domed cupolas, plus a main hall filled with mirror inlay work. Women were banned from the sanctum sanctorum from 2012 until 2016, when the Bombay High Court ruled the ban unconstitutional. Visits to the mosque are including on many half- or full-day Mumbai walking or biking tours. Some visitors also arrive as part of a multi-day excursion from New Delhi that also explores Agra and Jaipur.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A must-visit for those with an interest in local culture and religion.
- Remember to dress conservatively, with clothes covering the shoulders and knees. All visitors should also cover their heads before entering.
- Check the tides before going, as the causeway leading to the shrine can get submerged during high tide.
How to Get There
The shrine is located at the tip of a jetty that goes out into the Haji Ali Bay, a five-minute walk from Mahalakshmi Temple. The nearest railway stations are Mumbai Central and Mahalakshmi, each of which is about 20 minutes’ walk, or 10 minutes away by taxi or auto rickshaw. Getting to the Gateway of India takes about 15 minutes by road.
When to Get There
The shrine is open from sunrise until late in the evening, though it can be difficult to reach during high tide, when water levels sometimes submerge the causeway that leads out to the shrine. There are often traditional Qawwali (South Asian devotional music) performances held Thursday and Friday evenings, so those are popular times to visit.
The highlight for many visitors to the shrine is the chance to witness a live qawwali performance. This traditional form of Sufi music originated in the northern reaches of the subcontinent and features a mix of instrumental performance (usually harmonium and drums, such as tabla or dholak), accompanied by rhythmic clapping and devotional singing.