9 religious sites of Mumbai you probably didn’t know of
One of the most vibrant cities of the country, Mumbai undoubtedly dazzles its people with its multitude of offerings. But even amidst the modern extravaganza and perennial urban hustle, the City of Dreams also houses plenty of religious respites. For the faithful, there is their kind of places where they can find spiritual solace and answers to life’s unsolved questions. The great Siddhivinayak Temple, the Mahalaxmi Temple, the Jama Masjid, St. Mary’s Cathedral are just a few of such places where pilgrims and devotees throng from far and wide.
But is it possible that a 2000-year old settlement would only have a handful of such religious sites? With travelers, traders, rulers, and commoners from different communities making this city their home, they brought with them their faith. And, thus they built sanctums where they can seek and find peace and align with the almighty.
We take you on a religious journey of Mumbai through its ancient places of worship, which, surprisingly are still functional.
Tucked away in the deep end of the city’s southern landscape, in the tree-lined streets of Navy Nagar, lies this thousand-year-old church. Built in the 1840s, this beautiful Gothic-style cathedral was established as a memorial. Dedicated to the soldiers who died fighting the first Anglo-Afghan war, this church is also known as St. John Evangelist church and is a popular place of worship for the local Anglican community.
In the fishing docks of Mazgaon, in South East Mumbai, you will find one of the most magnificent mausoleums of the town. The Hasnabad Dargah was built in reverence of the first-ever Aga Khan, Shah Hasan Ali Shah, who migrated from Iran to India in the early 1800s. Besides being of religious importance, this dargah is an architectural marvel in itself. With four traditional-style minarets, an exquisitely designed blue dome, and the traditional Islamic artistry makes this site Mumbai’s own Taj Mahal!
Mandapeshwar Cave Temple
AN 8th-century rock-cut cave sites amidst the hilly forests of Mount Poinsur on the edge of the Borivali National Park. This cave houses ancient temples enshrining black stone idols of Lord Shiva and his mounts. Though the temple façade and the premises look rough and worn out, the interiors and the altar impart a serene atmosphere. Besides the sporadic daily visitors, the Mandapeshwar temple gets crowded during special festivals like Maha Shivratri and other celebrations of Shiva.
In the busy neighborhood of Worli Seaface, lies an 800-year old temple. Revered and worshipped by the Kolis- Mumbai’s local fishing community, the Golfadevi is one of Mumbai’s hidden religious treasures. The goddess or devi is believed to speak to her devotees and answer their questions. In the earlier days, when the fishermen would go out to the sea, they would come to Golfadevi and seek her advice on the perfect time and weather to venture out.
Global Vipassana Pagoda
Nestled in the greenery of the western suburbs of Gorai, you will find this massive Buddhist Pagoda. A monastery and a temple, this spiritual site is dedicated to Buddha’s teachings and practicing Vipassana (meditation). It is one of the largest pagodas in the country and invites visitors and pilgrims alike. Spread across a vast area of natural surroundings, this spiritual sanctuary in one of the most serene places in the city, when one can seek answers or discover their inner self.
Banganga & Walkeshwar Temple
Probably because Mumbai does not have the privilege of the original Ganges, this natural pond was protected as an equally holy water body. The Walkeshwar Temple, surrounding Banganga is a prominent place of worship for the Hindus. Established in the 1100s by the Gowd Saraswat Brahmins of the region, this temple also has reference to Ramayana.
Kwan Tai Shek
In the farthest corners of Mazgaon, you will find the Kwan Tai Shek Chinese temple built by the original Chinese community of Mumbai. The only Chinese temple of the city, Kwan Tai Shek is adorned with traditional artistry and carvings and houses ancient scriptures. The Chinese New Year and the Moon Festival is religiously celebrated at this temple, where all the 400 Chinese families gather in festivities.
Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue
Don’t be surprised if you find a Jewish temple in the busy downtown of Mumbai. It was built by Sassoon family in 1884, to provide a place of worship to the small Jewish community who migrated to India at that time. Though inconspicuous in number today, the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue is still an active place of worship today. The colonial construction with pillars, chandeliers, and classic stained glass windows make for a delightful sight.
Babu Amichand Panalal Adishwarji Temple
Jain temples usually are magnificent structures on their own and equally soulful. This early 20th-century temple in South Mumbai is no exception. It was built in 1904 and dedicated to Lord Adishwar, the first of the 24 Jain Tirthankaras. The interiors display ornately carved walls and ceilings with paintings of all the Tirthankaras, and the union of these liberated souls with the ultimate energy.