Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra, India is famous for its commercial status, cosmopolitan populace, stylish living hood. People from different regions, culture, and creed come to Mumbai to fulfill their dreams and aspirations. Thus Mumbai is a mix of different cultures, in other way one can say Mumbai has in its own right developed its unique culture that is gladly and naturally accepted by one and all. An array of famous holy places in Mumbai with nationwide recognition like the Haji Ali Dargah, Mahalaxmi Temple, Shree Siddhivinayak Temple and Cathedral Church are now intrinsic part of Mumbai's daily life and unique blend of cosmopolitan culture.
Let us have a look at it.
The Mahalaxmi Temple
The Mahalaxmi temple situated in Bhulabhai Desai Road formerly known as Breach Candy, dedicated to Mahalaxmi, the Indian goddess of wealth is certainly one of the famous holy places in Mumbai. It is a famous temple in Mumbai where apart from Mahalaxmi, the goddesses Mahakali and Mahasaraswati are also worshipped.
The three goddesses are ornamented with nose rings, gold bangles and pearl necklaces and the idol of Mahalaxmi is seen riding a tiger and a demon, Mahishasur in tandem. History goes that in the British era, there were three separate temples of the goddesses Laxmi, Saraswati and Kali Maa in the north of Malabar hills. The temples were totally destroyed by the invaders. The British planned to connect Malabar hill to Worli via Breach Candy, but every attempt failed as the tides swept in destroying the work. But as local folklore goes the construction finally took place and the temple came into shape because of the blessing of the goddess.
Number of religious events takes place in the Mahalaxmi temple of which the festival of Nine Nights commonly known as Navaratri celebrated in October during the Deepavali is of special significance. Devotees from distant places come to offer prayers particularly during Navaratri. Even in weekends one can see a long que inside the temple. Coconuts, flowers and sweets are offered. The temple remains open every day from 6 a.m to 9 p.m. Haji Ali Dargah another famous holy place in Mumbai is just 5 minutes away from the temple. A railway station is named after the temple as Mahalaxmi on the western line where you can get down and take a cab to reach the temple.
Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir
This is another famous Hindu temple in the heart of Mumbai located in the area called Prabhadevi. The two century old Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir built by Laxman Vithu and Deubai Patil is the richest temple and one of the famous holy places in Mumbai. Lord Shri Ganesh is worshiped in this temple. The elephant headed deity is carved out of a single black stone and the temple sculpture is magnificient. The wooden doors leading the sanctum are designed with images of the Ashtavinayak (the eight forms of the Lord Ganesha). The inner roof of the sanctum sactorium is gold plated. There is a Hanuman temple inside the compound.
As per Hindu mythology Ganesha is "Siddhidata", the God of knowledge, learning and prosperity and "Vighnaharata", the remover of all obstacles. Hindus believe that no religious ceremony is complete without offering prayers to Lord Ganesha or Ganapati. It is believed any wish prayed with humble heart is granted by Ganapati.
If you are in Mumbai for quite some time soon you would understand that Mumbaikars are genuine followers of Ganapati and nowhere upon the earth, you see such array of ardent followers of the lord in such huge number. Tuesday is a special day for devotees to offer prayer to Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati and consequently if you are to pray to lord that is the best day. Considering its huge impact on the daily life of Mumbai this temple is irreplaceable to mention among the famous holy places of Mumbai.
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir located in Bhuleshwar area in Mumbai is the prime and oldest temple built over hundred years ago and simply in considerate its age old heritage it deserves to be mentioned among the famous holy places in Mumbai. Besides this prime temple there are many temples in Bhuleswar area.Also there is a Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Dadar area. The existing temple in Bhuleswar has idols of Lakhsminarayan Dev, Ghanshyam Maharaj, Hari Krishna Maharaj, Gaulokvihari and Radha. The temple has a tri-spire structure and marvelously curved art in the front. There is an audience hall where idol Ganesha is place on the right and to the left an idol of Hanuman. Krishnalila is painted in the dome over the audience hall. Important festivals held at this temple are Ram Navami, Janmashtami, Vaman Jayanti, Nrisinha Jayanti, Mahashivratri, Ganesh Chaturthi and also in the month of Shravan the festival of Hindola.
The Babulnath temple an ancient temple built in 1780 is one of the famous holy places in Mumbai. The temple overlooking the Arabian Sea about 1000 feet above sea level is situated at one end of the Marine Drive in the South of Malabar Hills. The specialty of the temple is the main deity Lord Shiva depicted in the form of the Lord of the Babul tree. It is believed that Lord Shiva is present in the temple in the shape of Babul trees. Monday is considered auspicious for offering prayers to Lord Shiva. Hundreds of devotees come to pray on this day and also during Mahashivaratri and in the month of Shravan (August/September).
There is a saying that a cow of a prosperous goldsmith Pandurang stopped giving milk. As it became a daily affair the goldsmith one day followed the cow Kapila and was amazed to see that before coming home the cow offered all her milk at a particular spot. Pandurang was surprised to see a huge Shivling on the spot. Thus it was decided to build a Shiva temple on that sacred spot. The temple architecture typically resembles Mount kailash the abode of the Lord Shiva, at least to some extent in outer shape. Apart from a light climbing experience you can use elevator to go up to the main prayer hall of the temple.
Mumba Devi Devi Temple is an ancient Hindu temple originally built by the kolis (fishermen) in 1675 in the Bhuleshwar area of South Mumbai. The word Mumba is derived from Sanskrit which means Maha-Amba" or the Great Mother", and the name Mumbai combines the word ai, which means for "mother" in marathi. The goddess symbolises "Mother Earth" is worshiped by the Dravids spread across western and southern India. It is also the temple primarily from whose name the city of Mumbai has been named in the wake of the change of name of the city by the demand of majority Marathi population. This is the precise reason why among the famous holly places in Mumbai it has earned a special significance nowadays.
The goddess is ornamented with a silver crown, a nose stud and a golden necklace garlanded with marigold flowers. A stone carved idol of Annapurna seated on a peacock is on the left side of the goddess. In the frontal part of the shrine there is a figure of a tiger depicting the carrier of the goddess. The design of the temple is simple yet beautiful.
According to Hindu mythology a giant named Mumbarka used to plunder the city for his own amusement. Horrified and worried by such acts of the giant the people pleaded to Lord Brahma and sought his help. Lord Brahma created a goddess with eight hands who annihilated Mumbarka and brought peace in the vicinity. Mumbarka submitted himself to the goddess and pleaded her to build a temple in her honor using his name. Though confirming historical accounts are really not easy to find, more or less this mythological explanation is believed to be true behind the construction of this temple. It is believed by millions of devotees in the city that anyone seeking her divine help is never returned empty-handed.
The Surya Narayan temple
In Surajwadi, Panjiapol Lane, Bhuleshwar one of the famous holy places in Mumbai, stands out as an ancient temple built in 1899 dedicated to the Sun God, famously known as The Surya Narayan Temple. White stone is used to build the temple. Two figures of Jay and Vijay, considered the two ethereal gatekeepers of the temple are carved at the entrance.
In the inner sanctorum idols of Ganesh, Maruti and the Apsaras are seen. Sculptures of the "Sapta Rishis" or the seven sages are carved on the pillars. The Sun God is seated on a one wheeled chariot with his two wives Prabha and Chahaya on either side. The chariot is driven by Aruna and the horse of the chariot is seven headed.
One can read holy books from the Puranas in a hall inside the temple. There are also a number of galleries where the sanyasis and devotees can sit.
The Walkeshwar temple
Valkeswar is a Shiva temple located at the highest point of the city of Mumbai near Malabar Hill on Walkeswar Road. The temple is also popularly called Banganga after The Tank believed to hold holy water of river Ganga. There is a legendary belief that Lord Ram reached the spot while on search for wife Sita who was kidnapped by Ravan, the king of demons. Ram made a solemn promise to worship Shiva in his pursuit. Since Lakshman was getting late to bring original Shivalingam, Ram created a Shivalingam using sand, Waluka in Sanskrit. The legend has that getting thirsty Ram shot an arrow, Bana in Sanskrit to get pristine water, believed to be pure water of river Ganga.
Worshipers usually visit the temple on full moon and new moon days of a month. The Tank is cleaned every year prior to Banganga festival and Hindustani classical music festival is also held at the site.
Bhuleshwar Temple Mumbai
Bhuleswar is a very old and famous temple of Shiva off Marine Lines station. Its history is more than three centuries old makes it one of the famous holy places in Mumbai. It is believed that Shivalinga rose of its own to the position it occupies in the temple. Idols of Parvati and Ganesha adorn the shrine. The present temple refurbished in 1830 by wealthy devotees is covered by brass. Sign of Gujarati architecture is distinctly visible in the spaciously built temple. It has a large audience hall for worshipers.
Shitala Devi Temple
Shitala Devi Mandir is a temple where Goddess Sitala is worshiped. Shitala Mata relieves a devotee of pain and severe illness bringing coolness. The temple is located in Mahim on a street named Shitaladevi Temple Road.
One of the most famous holy places in Mumbai is the Hari mandir. The full name of the mandir is Shree Sanatan Dharam Sabha (Regd.), Geeta Bhavan, Hari Mandir though it is commonly called the Hari Mandir. Located in Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar in the vicinity of Sion-Matunga, this temple was built in 1950 and rebuilt in 1980. Dedicated to Lord Rama and Lord Krishna this temple is among the oldest and famous temples in Mumbai.
There are three shrines in the temple with three spires on top of each shrine. The center shrine has idols of Ram Darba meaning Rama-Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman. Idols of Radhe-Krishna are also placed in the center shrine. The left shrine has idols of Shiva-Parvati while the right shrine has idols of Durga Ma and Santoshi Mata. The temple is also a home of the deities Ganpati, Mata Yamuna, Mata Ganga, Saraswati Mata, Bharat Mata and Gayatri Mata.The carvings on the temple depicts the story of Ramayan. The temple premise has an air-conditioned hall where various social and religious activities are performed.
Though most of the Hindu festivals are celebrated in the Hari Mandir, the most famous are Ram Navmi, Krishna Janmashtami, Navratri and Hanuman Jayanti when the mandir is thronged with devotees. During Navaratri (festival of nine nights) Mata Ki Chowki is performed every evening by artists. At the time of Ram Navami, Bhandara is organized.
The most important feature is in the year 2006 the Trust of the mandir has brought Akhand Jyoti (flame) from the Holy Enclave of Mata Vaishnodevi (Jammu) which is flaming till date.
Iskcon Temple in Mumai
Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir better known as Iskcon Temple set up on four acres of land just a stone's throw away from the famous Juhu Beach. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the founder of ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness presently the largest Hare Krishna organization in the whole world and without a doubt one of the famous holy places in Mumbai. In the year 1965 at 69 years of age he took a sea journey from Mumbai to United States in view to fulfill the mission of Bhagvan Shree Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and spread the message of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam to the Western world. At present there are more than 400 ISKCON Temples worldwide. The temple dedicated to Lord Krishna attracts thousands of devotees round the year.
The deities worshipped in the ISCKON Temple are Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari and Sri Sri Sita Rama Laxman Hanuman. Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari is seen standing on a silver and teakwook simhasana placed on a marble altar. The temple domes made of marble are more than a hundred feet high.
The temple opens at 4:30 a.m followed by Mangala Arati. Several other activities such as Tulsi puja, Sringar Darshan, Guru puja, Raj Bhog Arati, Sandhya Arati takes place throughout the day. The temple remains closed from 1:00 p.m to 4:30 p.m and 9:00 p.m onwards daily.
Make sure that you don't miss the Mangala Arati in the morning and the Sandhya Arati in the evening. It gives a calm and peaceful feeling which is hard to describe.
There is a guest house in the Temple premises where one can book rooms in advance and stay overnight to enjoy the morning Arati. There is also an option to avail life membership of the Iskcon Temple.
Babu Amichand Panalal Adishwarji Jain Temple Mumbai
Mumbai has large population of Jains and many Jain temples. Amongst the Jain temples Babu Amichand Panalal Adishwarji Jain Temple in Malabar Hill stands out in respect of architecture, devotees, worshipers and visitors. The temple built in 1903 by Svetambar sect of Jains is dedicated to Risshavadev is one of the famous holy places in Mumbai. The other idol placed prominently is of Bhagwan Parasnath. In the ground floor image of Ganesh and statues of Jain prophets called Thirthankars indicate age old connection of Jainism and Hinduism. Like all famous Jain temples in India this temple is exquisitely crafted. At the entrance of the temple two elephants curved out of stone greet the devotees. The temple has a beautiful dome and it's inside ceiling bears pained zodiac signs.
A prominent and one of the famous holy places in Mumbai is the Haji Ali Dargah a mosque and dargah (tomb). It is located in the southern part of Mumbai on an isle 500 meters off the Worli coast, in the middle of Worli Bay. It is joined to the coast by a narrow pathway. The dargah remains open all days, though its accessibility highly depends on the tides. During high tides the pathway which is not bounded by railings submerges under water making it unapproachable for a pilgrim to the dargah. Hence, one needs to visit the dargah during low tides. Treading the pathway with the sea on both sides is a lovely experience.
Constructed in 1431 in the memory of Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, it also portrays perfectly Indo-Islamic architecture. It is said that before making a pilgrimage to Mecca, Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari gave up all his worldly belongings.
The shrine is visited by people round the year especially on Thursdays and Fridays, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, to get the blessings of the legendary saint. One can get a soulful feeling listening to the various Sufi musicians performing Qawwali at the dargah. One should not miss this famous dargah while on a visit to Mumbai.
Jama Masjid Mumbai
There are a total of 89 mosques in Mumbai, 8 belonging to the Bohras, 2 belong to the Khojas, 1 to the Mughals and the rest belongs to the Sunni Muslims. Out of them the most noteworthy is the Jama Masjid located in Dongri in the Kalbadevi neighborhood near Crawford Market in South Mumbai. It is situated near the tomb of Sheikh Makhtum Faikh Ali. This ancient mosque dates back to the 1802's is indeed one of the most famous holy places in Mumbai.
It is allusive from the chronogram Jahas-i- Akhirat, "The ship of the world to come" that the Masjid was constructed over a tank. Legend says that the tank was there in the middle of gardens and open land. The owner was a Konkani Muslim merchant trading in Goa, and Calicut. In the eighteenth century around 1778 he agreed to the construction of a mosque, provided the tank was kept intact.
The Masjid is quadrangular in shape built of brick and stone. It is a two-storied building encircled by a terrace, of which the ground floor is let out to shopkeepers. The eastern gate which is the main gate leads to a courtyard where the tank is. Firstly a one-storied building was constructed above the tank where the original nucleus of the Jama Masjid was formed. The tank is filled with around ten feet of stagnant water. Sixteen black stone arches emerges from the depth of the tank which uphelds the whole structure of the mosque. The upper storey is supported by five wooden pillars in rows.
The masjid and its properties are managed by the board of directors consisting of eleven members who are elected every three year. This is in accordance with a system framed by High Court in 1897. The members of the board belong to the Kokni muslim community of Mumbai also known as Mushavirs.
The Madressa Muhammadiah, a school that imparts free secular and religious education to Muslim youths is also attached to the mosque with a hostel facility.
Very near to the Jama Masjid is the Mahim Shrine located in old Mumbai at the western end of Chandni Chowk one of the most famous holy places in Mumbai. The shrine was built in the year 1650 by Fatehpuri Begum, one of Shah Jahan's wives in the memory of Makhtum fakih Ali Paru of Arab origin. Makhtum fakih Ali Paru is remembered for his views and comments on the Holy Koran. He travelled extensively and was also appointed law officer of Mahim. The Shrine is built of red sand stones. The Dargah rests on a masonry plinth. It has two entrances. A large central dome surrounded by four small domes, with four minarets at each corner. A wooden mosque stands in its north and near to it is a well filled by an underground stream. The mosque is considered a very important shrine for Muslims and all Muslim festivals are celebrated here.
Mount Mary Church
The Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount is a Roman Catholic Church commonly known by the name Mount Mary Church was built by the Portuguese way back in 1640. Architecture and the standing of the church atop a hillock with a view of the Arabian Sea is a real treat to the eyes. It is located in the suburb off Bandra Bandstand. People in large numbers irrespective of religion and cult frequent the Mount Mary Church. Every year in February feast of St. Mary is celebrated commemorating birth of Virgin Mary and the weeklong festival is thronged by huge crowd.
Mahim Church in Mumbai
St. Michael's Church popularly referred as Mahim Church is a very Old Catholic church built by Portuguese in Mumbai. Antonin doPorto built the church in 1534. Since then the building has undergone several restructuring last one being in 1973. The church is located near Mahim causeway between Mahim and Bandra area of Mumbai. It is believed visiting and attending mass on Novena services on Wednesday is most sacred. Services are pronounced in English and many Indian languages like Konkani, Marathi, Tamil and Hindi. Visiting the church with a wish on nine consecutive Wednesday is definitely fulfilled by Virgin Mary. Floral tributes as also wax figures representing the wish are offered by devotees from different religions.
In June 2008 a miracle got spread that the portrait of Jesus Christ in Mahim Church is bleeding and thousands of devotees rushed to the church. On investigation the High Priests declined the miracle as because moisture caught on red halo of the portrait of Lord Christ looked very similar to blood.
The Cathedral Church
The Roman Catholic Cathedral or the Cathedral Church located in Colaba in South Mumbai is the first Anglican Church in Mumbai and is among one of the famous holy places in Mumbai. Also known as the Pro-cathedral church, it was built in replacement of the Old cathedral in Bhuleshwar area in Mumbai where a small Christan community lives.
The Cathedral of St. Thomas (a disciple of The Christ) was started by Governor Aungier in 1676. After the Governor's demise the project was abandoned which was resumed in 1710 by an East India Company chaplain. It was opened for all in 1718 on Christmas Day. The architecture of the cathedral reflects a fusion of Neo-Classical and Neo-Gothic styles. It has a cannon-ball-proof roof and the inside different sections are allotted for different classes of society.
The church was declared Holy in the July 1837 and was selected for the UNESCO Asia-Pacific heritage conservation award 2004. During Christmas and other similar festivals devotees come in huge number and celebrate with great enthusiasm.
Afgan Memorial Church
Afgan Memorial Church was built in 1847 as a tribute to British soldier who died in 1838 in Afgan Sindh War. It is reported thousands of soldiers including various Indian regiments lost life are also commemorated. Known also as St. John The Baptist Memorial the church is located near Colaba causeway. Constructed of local coloured basalt and limestone the architecture is very impressive. There are gothic arches inside and nineteenth century stained glass artwork in windows. The floor is made of imported geometric pattern tiles. Very high spire was erected with the intention that it would act as landmark for ships from long distance. The high tower has illuminated clock. The eight large bells to ring are specialty of the church. Afgan Memorial Church is considered a heritage monument in Mumbai.
These famous holy places in Mumbai depict union of different religious beliefs and cultures besides variety and mix of rich architecture. Whenever one is on a trip to Mumbai, one may make choice to visit at least some of these places of worship.