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Photographer's Note

In the distance you can see the Haji Ali 'Dargha', the 15th century tomb in Bombay (Mumbai) of an Uzbek merchant known as Ali Shah Bukhari, who had settled in the city. Next to the mausoleum is a small mosque.

I hesitated long before deciding to post this photo (and two WS). It was a very hazy day with a strange light, and although I won't claim it's a very good scan it's not quite as bad as it may seem at first glance. The weather was bad, the scan is relatively decent.

The fate of Ali Shah Bukhari is shrouded in myths and legends. It is very possible that while living in Bombay he selected this spot for his burial. But various stories claim that he died on his way back from a pilgrimage to Mecca, but after he was buried at sea, either his coffin or just his body (depending on which legend) floated on the waves and was stranded here. It has also been claimed that he drowned as the ship taking him back from the pilgrimage perished here, just as he was near his home.

Whatever happened, this is one of the most visited places in Bombay, usually packed with pilgrims and ordinary tourists.

I wasn't much impressed by the mausoleum, where according to my diary I was disturbed at finding a cafeteria with a large soft drink sign just a few meters from the sarcophagus.

I was more interested in what I saw along the way to the mausoleum. There were lots of souvenir sellers, as in this photo, but also hundreds of beggars. Since Muslims are required to give alms to beggars, especially when visiting sacred places, it would have been an impossible task for everyone to hand out gifts to every beggar.

I was delighted to discover the solution:

Along the way were money changers with large stocks of coins of the smallest denominations. A pilgrim ready to donate one rupee (just my example) could exchange it for approximately 90 coins of 1 paisa each. At the end of the day a beggar who had collected 100 such coins could exchange them for maybe 90 paisa of more comfortable denominations.

The beggars received their alms, the money changers made a profit, the pilgrims had done their religious duty. Everyone was happy!

Recent photos indicate that this walkway has been rebuilt and elevated since 1988. Using it at high tide can still be risky, as sudden strong waves are likely to splash all over it.

There are two WS. All photos were scanned from Kodachrome slides.

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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11974 W: 567 N: 22888] (98884)
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