Ajmer India Tour
- History of Ajmer
- Climate of Ajmer
- Tourist Attractions
- Eating in Ajmer
- Shopping in Ajmer
- Hotels in Ajmer
A small pilgrimage town that is equally revered by both Hindus and Muslims alike, Ajmer is the final resting place of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti , the great Sufi saint of the Chisti Silsilah, who laid the permanent foundation of Islam in India in 1192 A.D. by his spiritual prowess and peaceful preaching. During the annual Urs celebration held in the month of May, the Khwaja's mausoleum or Dargah receives an endless flow of visitors of all faith and creed who visit the shrine to pay homage, seek a boon, a blessing or just peace of mind. Legend has it that the Mughal emperor, Akbar came here to the saint in the 16th century in quest of a boon for an heir and the saint obliged.
An oasis wrapped in the green hills, Ajmer is also a centre of culture and education. The prestigious Mayo College, a school which was founded exclusively for the Indian princes is located here. Ajmer is also the base for visiting Pushkar (11 km.), the abode of Lord Brahma and the site of the annual camel fair. Other tourist attractions include the Taragarh Fort, the Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra , the simple and aesthetic tomb of Abdullah Khan and his wife, the Solahkhamba or the 16-pillared tomb of Sheikh Ala-al-Din, who was the main overseer of Hazrat Khwaja Chisti's Dargah., the red Nasiyan temple and the picturesque Foy Sagar and Ana Sagar Lake with its beautiful baradaris and gardens.
The history of Ajmer begins from the seventh century onwards, when the city was founded by Raja Ajaipal Chauhan, the grand father of the great warrior king Raja Prithviraj Chauhan. Located south west of Jaipur, Ajmer continued to be the seat of Chauhan power till 1193 A.D. when Prithviraj Chauhan lost it to Mohammed Ghauri in the battle of Tarain. Thereafter it became a part of the Delhi Sultanate and remained a feudatory to Delhi until 1365, when it was captured by the ruler of Mewar.In 1509 the place became a source of contention between the chiefs of Mewar and Marwar, and was ultimately conquered in 1532 by the latter prince, who in his turn in 1559 had to give way before the emperor Akbar. Ajmer along with Agra became the favorite residence for the great Mughals.
It was in Ajmer that Sir Thomas Roe, as ambassador of King James I of England, had his audience with Emperor Jahangir on 19th January 1616 A.D., which laid the stepping stone of the British Raj in India through the charter of free trading granted to the East India Company by the Emperor. It was in Ajmer that Shah Jahan, on the death of Jahangir, proclaimed himself Emperor of India while returning from Udaipur and proceeding to Delhi in 1627 A.D. And it was in Ajmer again that the beginning of the decline of Mughal Empire began with the victory of Aurangzeb over his brother Dara Shikoh. The city continued to be in the hands of the Mughals till about 1770 AD., when it was wrested away by the Marathas (Scindias) who then ceded it to the British in 1818 A.D in return for a payment of 50,000 rupees and becoming one of the few places in Rajasthan controlled directly by British rather than being part of a princely state.
Located on the Southwest of Jaipur, the town of Ajmer becomes pretty hot and dry in summers when the temperature touches 38 degrees. Winters are quite chilly at 5 degrees with the annual rainfall being at 38 to 51 cms. The best time to visit the town is from July-March and that to the Dargah during the annual Urs of Moinuddin Chishti in May.
Facts and Figures about Ajmer :
- Population : 500,000( as per 2001 census)
- Altitude : 486 meters
- Languages : Rajasthani, Hindi and English
- Best time to visit : July-March
- STD code : 0145
The Dargah of Hazrat Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti : Located on the foothills of a hill and in the old part of town is the final resting place of 'Gharib-Nawaz', Hazrat Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti, the great Sufi saint of the Chisti Silsila. An important pilgrimage site for people of all faiths, thousands of devotees from all parts of the world converge at his Dargah at Ajmer Sharif to pay the respects during the six day annual Urs celebration held in the Islamic month of Rajab. The Dargah (tomb) of the Khwaja Sharif consists of several white marble buildings arranged around two courtyards. While the saint's tomb located in the center of the second court was built by Humayun, its gate was added by the Nizam of Hyderabad. The saint's tomb has a marble dome and actual tomb inside is surrounded by a silver platform. In the inner court, is a mosque built by Shah Jahan. Constructed of white marble, it has 11 arches and a Persian inscription running the full length of the building. In the courtyard are two massive cauldrons believed to be donated by Akbar and on the right side of the courtyard in the Akbari Masjid.
The emperor Akbar used to make yearly pilgrimage on foot from Agra in accordance with the terms of a vow he had made when praying for a son.The large pillars erected at intervals of two miles the whole way, to mark the daily halting-place of the imperial pilgrim, are still extant. The shrine becomes a center of activity during the annual Urs celebration when innumerable pilgrims congregate at the shrine irrespective of their faith. Special prayers are offered at the mosque, and huge amounts of consecrated food offered from the large, steaming cauldrons that were a gift from Akbar. Qawwals sing songs in praise of the saint while devotees offer chadar (cover) on the grave of the saint following the fulfillment of their wishes and prayers. During the Urs celebration, the entire town wears aa air of festivity and several programmes are organized to mark the festivals.
Jama Al-Tamish or Dhai Din-Ka-Jhonpra : Beyond the Dargah, on the outskirts of town, are the ruins of Jama Al-tamish popularly known as Adhai-Din-Ka-Jhonpra mosque. Designed by Abu Bakr of Herat, the mosque is a masterpeice of early Indo-Islamic architecture and was built on orders of Sultan Shahabuddin Ghori from the masonry taken from broken down Hindu and Jain temples. Subsequent additions were later made to it by Sultan Shamsuddin Altamish of Delhi. According to legends, the mosque was constructed in two and a-half days (Adhi-Din)- a belief shared by General Alexander Cunningham., Ex.Director of Archaeology Government of India, who inspected this mosque in 1864 A. D. It was originally a Sanskrit college which was converted to a mosque by adding a seven-arched wall covered with Islamic calligraphy in front of the pillared hall. The distinct pillars and an intricate arched jali (screen) with its ruined minarets make it a splendid architectural masterpiece.
The mosque is entered through a simple gateway in the north, on whose right stands a ruined minaret. The front façade consists of a number of small arches built of yellow limestone while the main arch is flanked by six smaller arches of Arab origin wherein tiny rectangular panels allowed for a lighting system, a feature very common in ancient Arabian mosques. As opposed, the interiors of Jhonpra are more Hindu in design. The columns are heavily decorated and quite similar to Hindu and Jain rock temples, each of one being dissimilar to each other. Their bases are large and bulbous, tapering as they gain height, with nichés to house images of gods and goddesses.
Taragarh Fort : According to Akhbar-ul-Akhyar, the first fort built on a hill in India was the fortress of Taragarh at Ajmer. Built by Raja Ajairaj Chauhan who also founded the city of Ajmer, the Taragarhor or the 'Star Fort' overhangs the city like a star. Also known as Ajameru Doorg, the fort perched on top of a hill covers an area of 2 to 3 km and offers a spectacular view of the city. The fort has six gates and was the site of many historic battles and nerve-wrecking sieges during the Mughal times and was later used as a sanatorium by the British for its troops stationed at the British cantonment town of Nasirabad. The fort also has Miran Saheb ki Dargha who was the governor of the fort and laid down his life in an encounter.
The Dargah of Miran Syed Husain : Located within the Taragarh fort is the Dargah of Hazrat Miran Syed Husian Asghar Khangswar who was the governor of Ajmer following its conquest by Sultan Shahabuddin Ghori. On the death of Qutubuddin Aibak in 1210 A.D., the Rathore and Chauhan Rajputs joined in a night attack on the Taragarh Fort when most of the men of Miran Saheb were out collecting taxes in the district, and the number of his garrison was, therefore, numerically very small. The Rajputs thus massacred Miran Saheb and his garrison to a man on 18th Rajab.
Nasiyan Jain Temple : A beautiful red temple, that is greatly revered by the Jain Digambar sect, the Nasiyan temple is dedicated to Adinath -the first Jain Tirthankar. Built by Seth Shri Mulchand Soni and opened to public in 1895, the temple is also known as Soni Ji Ki Nasiyan and as the Siddhkut Chaityalay Nasiyanji. Built entirely of red stones and hence the epiteth Lal Mandir (Red temple),the Nasiyan Jain temple consists of two parts, the first is the worship area for Jain community with the idol of Lord Adinath and the second is the museum section where the five stages (Panch Kalyanak) in the life of Lord Adinath have been depicted in the form of statues. The main chamber consists of a 40 x 80 feet double storeyed hall exquisitely done up in pure gold, mineral colour paintings and Belgium stain glasswork. It houses a series of large, gilt wooden figures from Jain mythology depicting the Jain concept of the ancient world. The inner sanctum has silver balls suspended from its ceiling and is surmounted by a vimana (spire). The Nasiyan temple is one of the finest Jain temples in Rajasthan after the temples of Ranakpur and Mount Abu and is open to visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Old Rangji Temple : Built in 1823 by Seth Puran Mal Ganeriwal of Hyderabad, the temple dedicated to Lord Rangji, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is known for its confluence of South Indian Dravida style, Rajput and Mughal style of architecture.
New Rangji Temple : The new Rangji temple is known for its gracious south Indian style of architecture. The temple houses a huge image of Lord Vishnu. It has a high rising 'Gopuram' (large gate) and Garuda pillars studded with a mythical bird styled in gold.
Khobra Behroon Temple : The temple of Khobra Behroon located on the south bank of the Ana Sagar offers a panoramic view of the lake and Dault Bagh. The temple’s name is derived from the word khobra, which means `mischievous’, and according to tradition a newly wed couple must pay their respects to the temple or else their married life can be full of un-foreseen complications!
Ana sager Lake : The picturesque Anasagar lake was built by Arnoraja or Raja Anaji (1130-1150 A. D.), the grandfather of Emperor Prithviraj Chauhan by damming the river Luni. When Khawaja Moin-ud-din Chistoi first arrived at Ajmer in 1192 A. D., he took a rest on the embankments of the Lake. The exact place of his stay is known as “Chilla Khawaja Saheb " which is situated on the top of the Anasagar Ghat. Located towards the north of the city, additional constructions were made by the Mughlas emperors to beautify the lake. The five beautiful marble pavilions (Baradaris) were built by Shah Jahan, to facilitate his long stays in Ajmer while its adjoining parks- the Dault Bagh and Subhash Bagh, which are the lungs of city and favorite outing spot were built by Emperor Jahangir. There is an island in the center of the lake which is accessible by boats or water scooter. Boats and water scooters could be hired from the east side of the Dault Bagh.Time : 10 AM - 4:30 PM (Saturday-Thursday).
Foy Sagar : Foy Sagar is a picturesque artificial lake named after the engineer for who created it under a famine relief project.
The Museum/Akbar's Palace : Built by Akbar in 1570 for his visits to Ajmer as well as a bastion for his advancing empire, this impregnable fort is rather small compared to his other forts. The entire fort is surrouned by two thick walls; one on the outside and another running parallel to it on the inside. The fort walls encompass a double storeyed palace surrounded by a row of columns held together at the top by arches. A large hall in the centre of the palace leads into number of rooms around it, meant for the emperor and his entourage while he was in Ajmer. The fort has played an important part in the annals of Indian history. It was here that Sir Thomas Roe, East India Company’s envoy first met Jahangir in 1616 and got the farmans to trade in India. The British took charge of the fort in 1818, and during the mutiny of 1857 used it as a magazine to hold arms and ammunition, calling it the Rajputana Arsenal. Today, the fort popularly known as the Ajmer Museum houses a rich repository of the Mughal and Rajput armour, miniature paintings, ancient rock inscriptions and exquisite stone sculptures that date back to the 8 th century AD. A black marble statue of Goddess Kali is a must see. This imposing edifice is opened from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. throughout the week except on Fridays.
Shahjahan's Mosque/Jami Masjid : Located in the eastern corner of the inner court of the Dargah, is Jami Masjid - a magnificent building in white marble. Built in 1638 by Shah Jahan, this 45m long mosque with 11 arches bears Persian inscriptions under its eaves and is surrounded on three sides by an intricately carved balustrade. Slender pillars divide the mosque into three sections, and the mihrab (prayer niché) is a deep star shaped recess in the wall. With a long (30.5m) and narrow court having low arcade and delicate carvings with trelliswork, it is the most marvelous of all the sanctums within the sanctuary of the Dargah. The Jami Masjid took nine years to complete and was built in keeping with a vow that Shah Jahan, as a prince, had made. This resolve was in gratitude after Shah Jahan defeated the Rana of Mewar for the second time. The Emperor held Khwaja Moin-ud-din in high esteem, and while building his own mosque ensured that it was devoid of a dome to allow the main shrine to be the dominant one in the complex.
Sola Khamba (16 Pillars Tomb) : Located outside the dargah of Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti shrine, the Sola Khamba so named because of the 16 pillars that support its roof was built by Shaikh Ala-al-Din, who was the overseer of Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti shrine. Built entirely of marble, this rectangular building is not a very large one, but its size is overshadowed by the spectacular trio of cusped arches leading upto the flat roof out of which rise four slender minarets from each corner. Completed in 1660, Sola Khamba is also known as Shaikh Ala-al-Din’s tomb.
Baghera Archaeological Site : Located 107 km southeast of Ajmer, Baghera is famous for its ancient archaeological relics. A treasure trove of archaeological and antiquarian relics, Baghera attracted the attention of the reowned archaeologist A.C.L. Carllyle who examined its relics in 1871-72. Founded by the Chauhana king Someswara, Baghera’s original name was Vyageraka as mentioned in a rock inscription in Bijoliya dating back to 1226AD. Baghera is known predominately for its ancient monuments, especially the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The Varaha Avatar temple, as it is known, depicts Vishnu in the form of a boar (varaha). The temple is now located within a fairly new building near the Varaha Sagar, a sacred tank. On the western side of the Varaha Sagar is a ruined 10th century temple as well as a decorated gateway leading into the house of the chief of Baghera. A little distance away from Baghera is Mataji Dungar where one can view a mystifying sight of Jain images jutting out of land . The place was once the site of an ancient Jain temple referred to in the inscriptions of the medieval period and these images are the only things that have survived today.
Mayo College : One of the India’s best public schools, located in the south-east of the Ana Sagar, Mayo College was designed to make British gentlemen out of Indian princes.Its foundation stone was laid in 1878 A.D. by the then viceroy of India- Lord Mayo and its building, constructed in white marble in Indo Saracenic style, was inaugurated by the Maruis of Dufferin, in 1885 A.D. Maharaja Mangal Singh of Alwar was the school's first student. The institution had the distinction of enrolling several ruling princes, not only from Rajasthan but from outside as well. Now opened to all sections of the society, it is still one of the premier educational institutions of India and has a museum, displaying historical objects of interest and biological preservation.
Man Mahal : Along the banks of the Pushkar Lake is the former residence of Raja Man Singh of Amer, Man Mahal. Now a RTDC Sarover Tourist Bungalow it offers accommodation to travellers. Pushkar palace ( Kishangarh House) adjoining it is a heritage hotel.
Though not exactly a shoppers' paradise, shopping in Ajmer can be an enjoyable experience. One can shop for antiques, curios, fascinating gold and silver jewelry and trinkets in contemporary designs, colorful tie-and-dye sarees and embroidered jodhpuri ‘Jutis’. Ittar' (perfume) is a major specialty of Ajmer. During the Urs fair, folk artisans and craftsmen from all parts of Rajasthan display their talent and offer a tempting range of intriguing and colorful items at competitive prices. Try the area around the Dargah for knick-knacks and the main markets around the railway station or in the city centre for the signature Rajasthani bandhni designs.
The city serves varied cuisines -Rajasthani, Mughalai, Indian, Continental, Italian, Chinese and Kosher. Being a Muslim-dominated city, one can expect some mouth watering non vegetarian dishes. The Honeydew Resturant has a good selection of vegetarian and non vegetarian Indian, Continental and Chinese fare while the Tandoor Resturant as the name suggest offers an assortment of Indian vegetarian and non vegetaian fare. Other resturants include the Sheesh Mahal at the Mansingh Palce famous for iots chicken tikka masala; the Bhola resturant and the Madina Hotel. Mithai is great in Ajmer, especially the ghevar (khoya delight) and you should definitely carry a box back with you.