The Barkat Ali Dargah that gives its name to the B.A.D Road in Wadala (East) is one of the lesser-known landmarks in Mumbai. The road was once called the ‘container road’ by local residents, given the high container traffic carrying goods from the docks along the eastern harbour of the city. The road, which begins from the Wadala bridge and goes up to the Wadala police station, has seen its importance ebb and fall with the construction of new roads and bridges.
The owner of Damji Velji general store, who had an establishment on the road for 50 years, said, “Earlier, this road had no value. It was a narrow road used only by containers. What changed things was the construction of the Wadala bridge.”
Sushant Kamble, who has been residing on the road for nearly 40 years, said, “After the bridge was opened, there was a lot of traffic here with containers as well as vehicles vying for place. It was difficult to even cross the road. However, a few years back after the Wadala Eastern Freeway and the Wadala-Chembur Link Road came up, it has taken the container traffic away.”
The road also houses old structures where Bombay Port Trust employees once resided.
The dargah, perched atop a hill, has been around for more than 200 years, according to Rais Patel, who is a committee member of the dargah trust. The shrine is located at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Chowk and the blink-and-miss entry point from where one can climb stairs to reach the top is behind a dilapidated police chowky. There is also a way for cars to reach the top from the eastern end of the hill. “The dargah is named after Barkat Ali Baba, a saint from UP who had come to the city and died here. His body was then kept here and a shrine was built by a nawab. My great-grandfather knew the intricate details about how the shrine came to be built. I’m part of the fourth generation who is looking after the functioning of the dargah,” says Patel, who now works for a pharmaceutical company.
On an average day, the dargah sees 10-15 visitors who visit the shrine or offer namaaz. “The dargah, however, sees a lot of visitors during a five-day period in November on the occasion of Urs, the death anniversary of Barkat Ali Baba. Nearly 7,000 people visit the dargah during the five-day period,” Patel said.