Maula Ali Hill: the spiritual heart of Hyderabad

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Maula Ali Hill: the spiritual heart of Hyderabad

Maula Ali hill has been an important place of worship in Hyderabad for over 500 years, and even today a visit there is like stepping back a few centuries in time...

Unlike many other dargahs, the one on top of the hill is not dedicated to a local priest, but to Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Mohammad. Of course he isn’t buried here, but there is a stone with a hand inscription which is believed to belong to him. The stone is what constitutes the heart of the dargah. It’s usually kept locked, but is taken out once a year during the annual Urs festival.

Maula Ali Hill: the spiritual heart of Hyderabad
A woman paying her respect at the entrance...

The legend of Maula Ali

Yakut was a eunuch in the court of kings of Hyderabad, and was popular and liked by one and all. But once he fell ill and no one could cure his illness. Days went by like this and his condition deteriorated. The king was worried and so were the courtesans, and eventually it was a dream in this delirious state that saved his life.

Maula Ali Hill: the spiritual heart of Hyderabad
Pigeon - basing in the morning light at the dargah

Yakut had a dream in which a saintly man told him to go to the Maula Ali hill because someone will be waiting there for him to cure him of his illness. The next morning he told the king about the dream who then sent him to the hill to stay overnight. The next morning Yakut was cured, and interestingly a stone with the mark of a hand was found along with him. He then revealed that it was Ali himself who came in the night and cured him. Ever since, it’s an important pilgrimage for people of all faiths and a large Urs is also celebrated every year in April.

My visit to Maula Ali

I had no clue about the dargah till a friend suggested the place. A quick google search then gave me hope that this could be an interesting discovery in the city.

So we started at about 6.30 in the morning and in an hour reached the foothills of the giant rock. Parking our car outside a house, we quickly ascended the steps to the top. On the way up we saw another hill across the town with another dargah at top, and for a while debated if that was the Maula Ali Dargah instead. Thankfully an old man on top confirmed to us that we were on the right path. We learnt later that the mosque across the hill is also an important one because it’s believed that relics of Prophet Mohammed are kept there.

Maula Ali Hill: the spiritual heart of Hyderabad
The main entrance to the dargah on the hill
Maula Ali Hill: the spiritual heart of Hyderabad
Looking down at Hyderabad - the city has changed a lot in the last few hundred years for sure

The walk to the top was not challenging at all, but I can imagine on a hot day it could be rather tough. The rock is completely barren and only a few shrubs grow, so there is no shade as well.

A large gate welcomes you on the way to top and you can stop by and take some pics from there. Hyderabad looks great from up there in the morning.

The Dargah is small, but beautifully decorated with tiles and chandeliers. There is place for people to stay as well and many Muslim families stay over the Friday-Sunday weekend. We asked the caretaker about the place and the story above is a mix of what he told me and what I found online later.

Maula Ali Hill: the spiritual heart of Hyderabad
The dargah
Maula Ali Hill: the spiritual heart of Hyderabad
The dargah is absolutely clean

Before going back we walked all around the Dargah from outside on the rock. The rock is fairly flat on top and there ya excellent traction, and in the morning the views from up there are gorgeous. The back side is quite dirty though, with lots of filth thrown there. Though Dargah is immaculately clean, I wonder why the same philosophy is at work behind the building too.

Maula Ali Hill: the spiritual heart of Hyderabad
The nearby mosuqe

Oh there are also many dogs on the rock who will give you company. None were aggressive and most ran away seeing us take the unexpected walk.

Practical details

Here are a few practical details which will come handy if you do visit the hill:

  1. There is a road which can take you half way up to the dargah. There is a well developed parking lot as well up there. However, after that you need to climb up by steps. Google map doesn’t show this route, so ask a local and he/ she will show you the way. Alternately, you can climb all the way up like we did.
Maula Ali Hill: the spiritual heart of Hyderabad
On the way up the hill
  1. Toilets are located at the start of the climb, close to the parking lot. They are well made, but badly kept and there was no running water.
  2. There is no entry fee for the dargah. But it’s good practice to leave some money at the donation box at the dargah.
  3. Photography is allowed everywhere. Out of respect, you can refrain from clicking inside the dargah.
  4. Both men and women are allowed to enter the dargah, though head needs to be covered for both. If you are not a Muslim, you can’t go all the way inside.

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Siddhartha Joshi
Last Updated : Jan 15,2021
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