Bordered by the jagged mountains of Rajasthan and home to the world-famous Dargah Sharif, the city of Ajmer reverberates with Sufi chants…
South west of Jaipur, Ajmer is an oasis wrapped in the green hills. The city was founded by Raja Ajay Pal Chauhan in the 7th Century A.D. and continued to be a major centre of the Chauhan power till 1193 A.D. When Prithviraj Chauhan lost it to Mohammed Ghauri. Since then, Ajmer became home to many dynasties. Today, Ajmer is a popular pilgrimage centre for the Hindus as well as Muslims. Especially famous is the Dargah Sharif-tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, which is equally revered by the Hindus and Muslims. It is a centre of culture and education, the British chose Ajmer for its prestigious Mayo College a school exclusively for Indian nobility.
Ajmer is also the base for visiting Pushkar (11 km.), the abode of Lord Brahma, lying to its west with a temple and a picturesque lake. The Pushkar Lake is a sacred spot for Hindus. During the month of Kartik (Oct./Nov.), devotes throng in large numbers here to take a dip in the sacred lake.
Ajaipal Chauhan founded Ajmer in the seventh century. He constructed a hill fort "Ajaimeur" or the invincible hill. The Chauhans ruled Ajmer till the 12th century when Prithviraj Chauhan lost Mohammed Ghauri. Thereafter it became a part of the sultanate of Delhi. Ajmer was also favourite residence for the great Mughals. One of the first contacts between the Mughal King Jahangir and Sir Thomas Roe took place here in 1616. The Scindias took over the city in 1818 and then handed it over to the British and it became one of the only part of Rajasthan controlled directly by the East Indian Co.
Being the most important attraction in town, no trip to Ajmer is complete without a visit to Dargah Sharif. Devotees of all religions flock to Ajmer, seeking blessings from the holy saint. The Dargah is best witnessed during the Urs festival, an event that reveals the true harmonious character of the city of Ajmer.
Listening to a session of qawwalis at the Dargah can be quite enigmatic, and is an experience in itself. The shrine where Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti was buried in 1235, Dargah Sharif is always echoing with soft Sufi qawwalis which the devotees sing in praise of the holy saint.
Approximately 135 kilometres from Ajmer city, the Sanganer Airport located in Jaipur is the nearest airport from Ajmer. The airport is well-connected to major metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai. Once you reach at the airport, you can hire a cab to reach Ajmer.
Located within the city, the Ajmer Junction railway station lies on the Mumbai - Ahmedabad - Jaipur - Delhi line. The station is well-connected with major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Allahabad, Lucknow and Kolkata.
The Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation runs deluxe and semi-deluxe buses (both air-conditioned and Non-air-conditioned) connecting Ajmer to nearby cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. There are also several private tour operators who run both regular and Volvo buses on this route.
The world-famous Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is the most frequently-visited pilgrimage point in Ajmer. The complex houses numerous monuments; important attractions within the Dargah include two imposing gates called Buland Darwaza, the mausoleum where Moinuddin Chishti's tomb is placed. There is also a mosque and a huge cauldron where believers donate money, which is then used to feed the poor and needy.
A popular custom at the Dargah is to make offerings in the form of flowers and a chaddar (a cloth wrap) which is placed over the holy saint’s tomb by pilgrims seeking blessings from the Holy Spirit. It is also believed that one can make a wish come true by tying a thread at the shrine, which has to be taken off once the wish comes true.
A large number of pilgrims visit the Dargah to make offerings in the name of the Sufi saint who dedicated his life to the betterment of society. Adding to the ambience of the Dargah complex is the impeccable Mughal architecture, the spellbinding qawwalis and the divine scent of incense sticks all around.
An event that reveals the true harmonious character the Dargah is the annual Urs, a six-day festival which is held during Rajab, the seventh month of the lunar calendar each year.
4 or 5 am to 9 or 10 pm, depending on the season
A historic fort that was established by the Chauhan Dynasty, the Taragarh Fort is perched on the Aravallis and offers a bird's eye view of the city of Ajmer.
Taragarh Fort is claimed to be the first hill fort in Asia, and is very impressive with its solid rectangular shape and rock-strong 4.5 metre walls. It enjoys close connectivity to the Dargah Sharif and is located at walking distance from Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra.
10 am to 4 pm
This is the city museum of Ajmer; a historic palace which was once the royal home of Prince Salim. If you wish to dig deeper into the history and culture of Rajasthan, a visit to the Magazine Museum must be on your itinerary.
It showcases a variety of ancient sculptures that take you through the history of the Mughals and Rajputs who once reigned here. One can also see the different types of armour used during the Mughal rule at the Magazine Museum.
10 am to 4.30 pm
An artificial lake which was brought to life in the 12th century, Anasagar Lake is named after Anaji Chauhan, Prithviraj Chauhan's grandfather. The scenic lake is adjoined by Daulat Bagh, another important tourist attraction in Ajmer.
Ideal for the more laid back, a jetty or paddleboat ride around the Anasagar Lake would be a good option. While touring Anasagar Lake, be sure to visit the island in the centre of the lake which is popular for evening strolls.
Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra is an ancient temple and a Sanskrit college that was converted into a mosque by the founder of the Slave Dynasty, Qutubuddin Aibak, in 1193.
The mosque is popular for the double depth calligraphic inscriptions that adorn its façade. Though most of the ancient temple is in ruins today, the area of the mosque is still used as a place of worship.
If you have an eye for detail, you must visit the Nasiyan Ji Mandir, which has impeccably designed gold-plated figures of peacocks and elephants from Jain mythology to various continents of the world.
This extravagantly built temple is the perfect place to interpret the primeval world from the Jains’ perspective. Aesthetically designed, Nasiyan Ji Mandir is made of two storeys and is divided into two parts, one of which is a prayer area and the other a museum.
8:30 am to 4:30 pm