LOCATED NEARLY 60 km away from the island city, Haji Malang, a nearly 300-year-old dargah in Kalyan, is one place where devotion meets adventure. The climb to the dargah — which is nearly 1,500 metres high from the Malangwadi village at the foot of the mountain to the shrine located on a hillock — takes nearly two and a half hours to climb. Tourists — nearly 1,500 people per day and over 3,500 over the weekends — combine the trek to Haji Malang with an onwards trek to Malanggad fort, which, unlike the steps on route to the dargah, has a more difficult rocky terrain to maneuvre.
On the route from the base camp to Haji Malang dargah, there are two more shrines – the Bkhtar Shah Baba shrine, also known as ‘Pehli Salaami’, and Mir Sultan Shah Baba dargah or ‘Doosri Salaami’, as per Nisar Khan, one of the trustees of the Haji Malang dargah. Khan added that the two saints were the ones who accompanied Haji Abdul Rahman Malang Baba, whose shrine is known as Haji Malang. “The legend goes that in the 12th century there was a a king called Nal Raja, a magician, who wanted to test the sanctity of the visiting Arab missionary Haji Abdul Rahman Malang and sent his daughter to lure him. Haji Malang however made her his daughter. The king was impressed with him and Haji Malang became famous,” Khan said.
Another legend says that Haji Malang was sent to help people in the area from the atrocities they were facing at the hands of the rulers. The fame of Haji Malang is said to have spanned for six more centuries. In the 18th century, the locals, it is said, refurbished the tomb and built a proper structure around it. While the height of the tomb does bring in an element of adventure to the trip, it does make it out of bounds for old people and children who find the trek too strenuous to attempt.
To ensure that everyone has access to the dargah, the Maharashtra government had in 2007 awarded a contract to build a funicular trolley system that would pick up tourists from the base and drop them at the 1500-metre high dargah. The trolley has, however, till date not been built and the dargah continues to remain out of bound for scores of people. “Last year, work on the trolley system was on in full force and around 80 per cent of the work was done. However, again due to some cost overruns, the process was halted by the government. It is unfortunate that so many years have passed since the trolley system was approved but still it has not been constructed,” Khan said.