About 135 kms South-west of Jaipur lies Ajmer, the most sacred of all Muslim places of pilgrimage in India.The strategic position of this city has been the key to its long, and rather turbulent history. Ajmer is connected to Delhi, Agra, Ahmedabad, Abu, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaipur, by main highways. It was a key centre of Chauhan power, along with the twin capital of Delhi. However, with Prithviraj Chauhan's defeat at the hands of Sultan Mohammed Ghori (1193), Ajmer was rendered vulnerable to many an invasion and gory battles.
Ajmer has been, for time immemorial, a great centre of pilgrimage, for both Hindus and Muslims, a feature that gives the city its character. The city is a genuine amalgam of rich Hindu and Islamic heritage. The sacred lake of Pushkar believed by Hindus, to be as old as the temple of Brahma, has been a place of pilgrimage, for ages. The great Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din-Chisti of Persia, was buried here, and his Dargah is equally sacred for the followers of Islam, as well as Hinduism.
History of Ajmer
Ajmer was founded by Ajayadeva, an 11th-century local Rajput ruler. It was shortly annexed by Delhi Sultanate in 1193, but returned to the local rulers, upon payment of tribute. Ajmer was also sacked by Mohammed Ghori in one of the many raids carried out by him on India. Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the patron Saint of Ajmer, came here from Persia at the end of the 12th century. Ajmer became the part of the mighty Mughal Empire during the medieval period and was an important military center. Military campaigns against local Rajput rulers were initiated from Ajmer. Akbar built a fort here. The first contact between the Mughals and the British also happened in Ajmer, when Jahangir met Sir Thomas Roe in 1616. Shahjahan built marble pavilions around the Ana Sagar Lake in the 17th century. The Scindia rulers of Gwalior took over Ajmer, which was later taken over by the British in 1818. The British founded the famous Mayo College, a prestigious school here, in 1875.
Places Of Interest ( Ajmer)
This artificial lake was created in the 12th century by damming the River Luni. On its bank is a pleasant park, the Dault Bagh, containing a series of marble pavilions erected in 1637 by Shah Jahan. It's popular for an evening stroll. The lake tends to dry up if the monsoon is poor, so the city's water supply is taken from Foy Sagar, three km further up the valley. There are fine views from the hill beside the Dault Bagh.
The final resting place for 'Gharib-Nawaz'- people of all religions visit the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. The Khwaja left for heavenly abode in 1256 AD after a six day prayer in seclusion. These six days are celebrated every year as the annual Urs, which is attended by pilgrims irrespective of their faith.
The shrine is considered to be a place of wish fulfillment for those who pray with devout and pure hearts. It is said that Emperor Akbar sought blessings for his son at the Dargah.
The entry to the Dargah is through the Buland Darwaza that leads to the inner courtyard. The high gateway has beautifully carved silver doors. In the courtyard are kept two huge cauldrons with capacity of 2240 Kg and 4480 Kg. On special occasions, Kheer cooked in these cauldrons is distributed among the pilgrims. The grave of the Sufi Saint is surrounded by a silver railing and is partially covered with a marble screen. The daughter of Shah Jahan had built a prayer room in the Dargah for the women devotees. The premises of the Dargah also has the tomb of Bhishti, tomb of Saint's daughter-Bili Hafiz Jama, tomb of Shah Jahan's daughter Chimni Begum.
Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra & Taragarh
Beyond the Dargah, on the very outskirts of town, are the ruins of the Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra mosque. According to legend, its construction, in 1153, took 2 1/2 days, as its name indicates. Other say it was named after a festival lasting 2 1/2 days. It was originally built as a Sanskrit College, but in 1198 Mohammed of Ghori seized Ajmer and converted the building into a mosque by adding a seven-arched wall in front of the pillared hall. Three km and a steep 1 1/2-hour climb beyond the mosque, the Taragarh, or Star Fort, commands a superb view over the city.
Back in the city, not far from the GPO, this imposing building was constructed by Akbar in 1570 and today houses the Ajmer Museum, which is really not worth the bother. It's open daily except Friday from 10 am to 4.30 pm.
Nasiyan (Red) Temple
The Red Temple on Prithviraj Marg is a Jain temple built last century and is definitely worth checking out. Its double-storey hall contains a fascinating series of large, gilt wooden figures from Jain mythology which depict the Jain concept of the ancient world. A sign in the temple warns that 'Smoking and Chewing of beetles is prohibited'.
Sites Nearby ( Ajmer)
Located 27km from Ajmer, the small town of Kishangarh was founded by Kishan Singh in the early 17th century. Kishangarh is famous for its unique style of miniature painting, first produced in the 18th century.
Pushkar is a mellow, serene and bewitching little town which attracts those in search of some respite from the tumult of India. In fact, many travellers who come here linger on for days, weeks, even years longer than they anticipated. Pushkar is right on the edge of the desert and is only 11km from Ajmer but separated from it by Nag Pahar, the Snake Mountain.
Visiting Time ( Ajmer)
November-February is the best time to visit Ajmer.
Temperature is very high during summers and very low during winters. Ajmer has a typical desert type of extreme climate. The best season to visit this place is between October to March.
Hindi and Urdu
Travel Information ( Ajmer) :
Air : Nearest Airport is Jaipur 138 kms from Ajmer.
Rail : Ajmer is connected by rail to Delhi, Agra, Ahmedabad, Barmer, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Mount Abu and to Bombay Via Ahmedabad.
Road : Ajmer is well connected by road with Agra (370 km), Bharatpur (312 km), Bikaner (234 km), Bundi (139 km), Chittaurgarh (182 km), Delhi (444 km), Jaipur (138 km), Jaisalmer (458 km), Jodhpur (205 km), Kota (178 km), Mount Abu (371 km) and Udaipur (269 km).
Bus : Rajasthan State Trans. Corpn. Buses connect Ajmer with the above places.
Where To Stay
Ajmer is a city of few hotels. Most of the available accommodation is cheap, but there are very few quality hotels. It is difficult to get good accommodation at the time of the Urs festival, when this small city is flooded by a large number of pilgrims.