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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

Which are the top popular religious sites in Mumbai?

Kapil Gumasta DEC 10 2012
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

In this flashy, fast growing, forever in a manic rush city, that will have your head spinning if you attempt to catch up to its pace, some things never change and are as permanent as its coastline-like the religious sites. Some of the religious sites of Mumbai to be visited are:

  • Mount Mary Church

    Perched on a hillock, overlooking the Arabian Sea, is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, a Roman catholic church located in Bandra. Its white, austere exteriors sit quite in contrast with its magnificent interiors awash with serene blue. The statue of Our Lady that you see in the church was actually brought by the Jesuit priests in 16th century. If you look closely you will notice that the right hand has been sawed off. In 16th century, Arab pirates keen on getting hold of the gilt-lined objects held in the hand, cut it off. In 1706 the statue was was substituted with a statue of Our Lady of Navigators in St. Andrew's church nearby. However, eventually the original statue was restored, where it now resides. One of the more frequented places of worship in the city, the basilica and the entire region around transforms from a place of awe-inspiring tranquility to infectious vibrancy during the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated on the first Sunday after 8th September, the birthday of the Virgin Mary. A week long celebration, it is also known as the Bandra Fair and is visited by lakhs of devotees. You will find food stalls selling all kinds of snacks, roasted grams, sweets and religious items. You will come across kiosks selling candles in the shape of different body parts. The belief is that if the sick and suffering choose a candle or wax figure that corresponds to their ailment and light it in Church, their pious hope that Mother Mary will consider their appeals for help might be fulfilled. Many who come here are actually those praying to Blessed Virgin Mary for expressing their gratitude and attest to her miraculous powers.
  • Haji Ali Dargah

    The view of the stark white dome and needle thin minarets of Haji Ali Dargah against the clear blue skyline, with the Arabian Sea stretching into eternity in the backdrop is one of Mumbai’s most striking visual icons. Built on a tiny islet located 500 meter off the coast, in the middle of Worli Bay, the Haji Ali Dargah is a mosque and dargah (tomb), containing the tomb of Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, a rich Muslim merchant. Constructed in 1431, the sculptured, elegant whitewashed structure of the dargah, is a brilliant work of Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The path that leads up to the dargah is the Mahalaxmi causeway, nearly a kilometer long, and has the sea on both the sides. Walking on the causeway with the Arabian ocean on your both sides, as you approach the dargah’s entrance, magnifies the feeling that you are in the presence of divinity and power much greater than you have possibly felt before. Keep in mind that not only does the causeway not have railings, but also, how accessible it is depends on the tide; in times of high tide it gets completely submerged and the dargah is completely cut off and looks more like an island or oasis of divinity.
    The mosque is just one feature of the dargah; the tomb lies within the mosque covered with a brocaded red and green
    chaddar (tomb cover sheet). It is surrounded by an exquisite silver frame, supported by marble pillars. Walk through the main hall and you will find the marble pillars adorned with intricate mirror work: blue, green, yellow chips of glass arranged in kaleidoscopic patterns interspersed with Arabic patterns which spell the ninety-nine names of Allah.
    Due to erosion, flow of saline winds and the large number of devotees that visit it daily, the
    dargah’s 400 year old structure had corroded and recently underwent restoration, so that it glistens with faith and stands strong for years to come. When you leave Mumbai and as your plane takes off and is gaining height, do look down; your last image of Mumbai is likely to be that of Haji Ali seated  serenely, even as the waves crash around it, illuminated in the rays of the sun, reflecting back rays of its own.
  • Siddhivinayak Temple

    Built on November 19th in 1801 by Laxman Vithu and Deubai Patil, the temple is shrine to Lord Ganesha. The grand, six storeyed, gold peaked temple you see stretching out into the sky today, was originally a small, tiny place of worship; 3.6 m x 3.6 m square brick structure with a dome-shaped brick shikhara (rising tower). The lake that see you in the temple’s complex was dug up in 19th century by Nardulla to counter the scarcity of fresh water. When you walk through the temple complex you will also find a small Hanuman shrine. It was built in 1952 for the Hanuman icon that was found near Elphinstone road, on Sayani road during a road extension project. Donations of about 100-150 million (INR) every year, making it the richest temple in Mumbai, underlie its evolution from a small place of worship to the magnificent, opulent temple it is today. Within the temple is a small mandap (hall) which contains the shrine of Siddhi Vinayak (Ganesh who grants your wish). When you enter the sanctum, take a close look at the heavy, wooden doors; they are carved with the images of Ashtavinayak (the eight manifestations of Ganesh). Lord Ganesha’s statue resides in the sanctum and the deities you see on both sides of Lord Ganesha are Riddhi and Siddhi, who stand for fulfillment, holiness, wealth and prosperity. During Ganesh Chaturthi, the temple takes on an added layer of opulence and magnificence, visited as it is by lakhs of devotees of all faiths. Siddhivinayak is actually known as Navasacha Ganapati or Navasala Pavanara Ganapati , which translates to Ganapati bestows whenever humbly genuinely prayed a wish in Marathi among devotees. It isn’t a wonder that even on a daily basis, the temple is filled with people seeking blessings and offering prayers including politicians and Indian film industry celebrities, as you will discover on your visit.

Mumbadevi temple, Global Vipassana Pagoda, Jain temple and Babulnath temple are some of the other religious sites that you could have in your itinerary of religious places to visit.

In a city of paradoxes and extremes, experience another aspect of your time trip of Mumbai, where its
temples, mosques and churches stand as strong, if not as tall, as some of the most expensive real estate of the world in Mumbai.

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