Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city

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Ajmer is located around funnily named ‘Nag Pahad’ or Snake Mountain in the Aravali Hills. It is an unattractive town, and most travellers prefer to make a pit stop in Pushkar. Ajmer was founded in the 7th century and is home to India’s most sacred Islamic shrine. This pilgrimage is considered second in importance only to visiting Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Hence, this Ramdan, I decided to visit Ajmer Sharif Dargah in a month, which scared all Muslims. 

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Nag Pahad

I was in Pushkar on the eve of Chaitra Purnima, as my mom wanted to take a dip in the holy Pushkar lake. So I planned to visit Ajmer Sharif Dargah as it was going on Ramadan days. Ajmer is a medieval city-bound towering Aravallis representing a blend of Islamic and Rajput architecture. Famous for the tomb of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, commonly called Ajmer Sharif Dargah Ajmer offers an experience of spiritual peace.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Pushkar Lake

Hence on the 15th morning, I left for Ajmer from Puskar, conveniently located on NH-8 at 15.2km was an odd 40min drive. I was supposed to meet Shahnawaz Chisti, a trustee board member of the DargahDargah. I reached Ajmer around 9 am and had breakfast with the famous aloo Piyaaz kachori & a steaming cup of tea before heading towards the Dargah parking place. Upon arriving, I called Shahnawaz, who met us at the parking around 10mins. We then took an auto to the backside of the DargahDargah, from where it was another 10min walk. 

Roads to Ajmer

While we were walking toward DargahDargah Shahnawaz, he talked about Ajmer Sharif. He was built in the 13th century by the ruler Humayun. He continued that Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti was settled in Lahore, a part of India, and a Persian man. But it is believed that the Sufi saint locked himself up at Ajmer to offer prayers for the less fortunate. An extremely pious saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti devoted himself to alleviating the poor. This idea was to educate the masses about the importance of selfless service. He was almost 114 years old, and his sacred mortal remains constitute his tomb. In the 13th century, he breathed his last sigh, which he believed had immense spiritual powers. Many stories say that any wish made before his tomb in Ajmer Sharif Dargah will be fulfilled.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Ajmer Sharif

The Dargah was not crowded, which I expected it to be as it was Ramadan. But Shahnawaz confirmed that mornings are empty due to the hot weather & Roja, and the crowd can be seen during Iftari. As I walked, I observed the slender path to the dargah was lined with stalls selling flowers and prayer paraphernalia, along with a few biryani shops to donate food to the poor. The lanes give an impression of an era in the 15th century.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
The offerings

We entered the dargah through the Buland Darwaza-huge doors boasting beautiful carvings and doors made of pure silver, with intricate carvings a treat to watch. I even walked past the two huge cauldrons called Degs, where a significant amount of food is prepared during the night. And it is distributed to the public as Tabarruk-meaning a blessing given after the morning prayers.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Buland Darwaza- Entarance to Dargah

The atmosphere was filled with the qawwali of Sufis, praising the Khwaja. I walked up to a stall and bought chadar and roses to be offered as my prayers to Khwaja. I had to carry the chadar on my head to the shrine. Upon reaching the courtyard, I saw the tomb of the pious saint Moinuddin Chishti, which was carved out of marble. Gold plating is on the top of the dargah, guarded by a railing made of pure silver and marble. A sense of peace and serenity inside the premises of dargah that you would not find anywhere else!

I have to bend my head before entering the shrine through the Nizam Gate, followed by the Shahjahani Gate, to stand in front of the shrine. The shrine’s doors are made of pure silver and intricate carvings. And over 33 Quranic verses and 99 sacred names of Allah have been beautifully inscribed on the Jama Masjid, a treat to the eyes.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
The silver Door

I offered my prayers, and verses of the Quran were read by Shahnawaz, asking Khawaja to give his blessing. Our heads were covered under the chadar we provided, where I asked my wish from the Khawaja. The ultimate peace and solitude I got cannot be explained in words. Post our offerings, I sat in the dargah, listening to the Sufis; I even donated a token to help the needy at the trustee board.

The shrine

When we were leaving, the dargah Shahnawaz asked to visit Ajmer Sharif during Urs. Well, ‘urs’ for the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti is celebrated every year on the 6th and 7th days of the Rajab. All six days during this celebration, for 24 hours, the Buland Darwaza is kept open, and devotees come to offer their gratitude towards the holy shrine. We took leave, promising to return. 

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
The Tomb

Our next stop was Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra, 400m away from the main Dargah Sharif entrance. We walked up to the place, a marvellous structure that dates back to 1199 AD—built by Qutb-Ud-Din Aibak, the first Sultan of Delhi, on the orders of Mohammad Ghori. However, Sultan Iltutmish revamped the structure later, in 1213 AD. The design derives its name from the fact that it was made within two and a half days. While some states, a fair takes place in the mosque for two and a half days, hence the name.

Dhai Din ka Jhopda

Standing tall as one of the masterpieces of Indo-Islamic architecture, the mosque is now dilapidated. What caught my attention was the 60-feet high arch and magnificent front facade of the building. Walking up the steep steps to reach the dome, I was astounded to see the seven lofty arches of the mosque. 

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city

The arcs have several stone-carved Quranic inscriptions, similar to the Delhi Qutub Mosque. As per historical records, parts of Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra were built from the ruins of Hindu and Jain temples. As I walked inside, I saw the hall consisting of beautifully decorated pillars with some designs similar to the ancient Hindu and Jain structures. I was surprised to see damaged Hindu motifs and goddesses on the posts and ceilings. 

The artichecture

It is currently maintained by The Archaeological Survey of India and is less explored by the tourists who visit Ajmer. The old charm of the place makes it a perfect haven for shutterbugs and those who have a strong love for things of the bygone era. The hilly stretch in the mosque’s backdrop adds to the overall structure’s beauty.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Islamic inscription on the pillars

We went next to Soni Ji ki Nasiyan, locally called the ‘red temple’ and was built by a wealthy merchant in 1865. However, the building is unassuming from the outside. As I walked in and ascended the stairs to the second floor, I was taken aback by the grandeur and golden opulence. It seemed like a fantasy world.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Soni Ji Ki Nasiyan

A breathtaking display filled the massive hall in the open-for-all museum – the Swarna Nagari. There were tiny gilded golden figures celebrating scenes from the Jain mythology of Rishabha (or Adinath)-the first Jain Tirthankara. One glass hall also shows a concept of the ancient world. It comprises 13 continents – the golden city of Ayodhya, complete palaces, chariots, ships, armies and people. Locally called Soni Ji ki Nasiyan. It was beautiful! 

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Swarn Nagri

The entrance to the main temple is only allowed for Jains. Although I could barely understand what the work of art meant, the sheer scale of the display was spellbinding.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Jain Temple

Ajayraj Singh Chauhan founded Ajmer in the late 7th century A.D. And it was formerly known as Ajmere or Ajaymeruand. Ruled by the Chauhan dynasty for several decades, Prithviraj Chauhan was one of the most famous rulers. Hence we are en route to Ajmer fort, constructed in 1570 and initially named Daulat Khana by Akbar. During the British regime, a large garrison was maintained inside the fort. 

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Ajmer fort

 There is a historical point of view of the fort. The British got a toehold in India in 1660. When Sir Thomas Roe, a British East India Company representative, met Emperor Jahangir. He gained permission to establish the first British factory at Surat, at this fort. I was particularly mesmerised by the beautiful doors and architecture of the central building inside the fort.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Weapons in the fort

After spending 30min to 45 min, we moved to our last destination Taragarh Fort one of the oldest hill forts in the country. Located strategically, Ajmer was a significant town in the 12th century; hence, Ajayraj Singh Chauhan built this fort to guard the city. During the Mughal period, the defence was the site of military activity. However, it was later used as a sanatorium by the British troops stationed at Nasirabad. The fort walls are carved with stone sculptures of elephants. And it also houses a large canon, huge stone water reservoirs and a tomb dedicated to the warrior Miran Saheb. The fort is crumbling but still has fine views of Ajmer. From the top, Ana Sagar Lake provides a beautiful backdrop.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Taragarh fort

 It was almost 4.30 pm, so I thought to take a round of the Ana Sagar. It is an artificial lake laid in the 12th century. The elegant line of white-marble pavilions called Baradaris, or summer shelters, are worth watching.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Biradari – Ana Sagar Lake

A garden named Daulat Bagh is on the lake’s bank, built in the 17th Century by Shah Jahan. I was lucky to reach the baradari during the sunset. I was greeted by a cool breeze and beautiful sun setting in the tranquil-looking waters.

Ajmer: A brief synopsis of the city
Daulat Bagh

After the sunset, we finally drove towards Kishangarh, a 45min drive of about 29.5km. I wanted to visit the Marble dumping yard, a place with wastes of marble slurry. I can see heaps of marble wastes, known as mines of snow. We have to take a token from the Marble association office to enter. I was curious about visiting this place, as I heard a lot from a few of my friends & even saw a hell of videos on youtube. It was super crowded & everywhere I could see white heap which looked like the snowy place. I took some photographs & drove back to Gurgaon. 

Kishangarh-Marble dumping Yard

How to Reach

By Air: 

The nearest airport is Sanganer Airport at Jaipur, approximately 130km from the city. At the airport, hire taxis or opt for bus services from Jaipur to reach Ajmer.

By Rail:

The Ajmer Junction railway station is a well-connected railway station with all the major cities in India. You need to hire private cabs or take a shared taxi from the station to reach the city.

By Road:

Ajmer is well-connected via road with Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur & other nearby towns of Rajasthan. Buses, private cabs, and shared taxis ply from these places. However, you can either book a private cab or a shared taxi. One can drive to Ajmer too.



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