Ajmer represents India's real tryst with religion, where it does
not matter whether a saint is a Muslim or a Hindu, a Sikh or a Christian;
where it only matters that he was an enlightened man. Ajmer is the
place where only faith matters and that faith is represented by
the paradoxical delicacy of the threads tied to the shrine of a
Sufi saint. Each thread tied is a wish and when it is granted, and
it inevitably is, the person who tied it returns to untie a thread.
The hot desert winds play with those threads, the sun leaches them
of colour but the faithful return to tie and untie, in a cycle that
never seems to end. And yes, it is a hot dusty city where acrid
winds blow fine dust into every nook and cranny, but that only serves
as a reminder of the desert origins of the dervish and the Sufi.
How to Reach
Jaipur (132 km) is the nearest airport.
Regular train services link Ajmer with important cities. Some
important train connections: Gujarat Mail (Mumbai-Ajmer-Delhi-Sarai-Rohilla);
Jodhpur Mail (Marwar-Ajmer-Jaipur): Delhi Express (Ahmedabad-Ajmer-Jaipur);
Shatabadi Express (New Delhi-Ajmer-New Delhi).
Railway telephone inquiry: 131.
Railway reservations: 132
The main bus stand (Tel: 429398) is 2 km east of the railway station.
Among other places, you can get buses to Ahmedabad (14 hours,
Rs 190), Bikaner (7 hours, Rs 108), Jaipur (3 hours, Rs 52), Jaisalmer
(12 hours, Rs 190), Jodhpur (5 hours, Rs 81), Udaipur (7 hours,
Rs 135). The Pushkar bus stand, near the station-Kutchery road
junction has buses to Pushkar every 15 minutes from 5 am to midnight
(30 minutes, Rs 5).
Sights to Visit
The Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti
To the foot of this barren hill, they come, people of all faiths.
Some pray for a child, some for surcease of pain, some for cure
of an illness. The tomb of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a Sufi saint,
draws them all, regardless of caste or creed. There is something
deeply moving about the concentration of faith and belief, something
deeply spiritual about the qawwalis (devotional singing popular
among Sufis) sung to God as the beloved. And it is a beautiful
shrine as well.
Shah Jahan's Mosque
In the corner of the inner court of the Dargah, is a magnificent
building in white marble. This is Shah Jahan's mosque, which has
a 33 m. long court with a low arcade and delicate trelliswork.
There are eleven arches and a carved balustrade on three sides.
It took Mohammed of Ghauri only two-and-a-half days (hence the
name, adhai din) to build this mosque. This was not an architectural
or an engineering feat. He took the Sanskrit College that stood
on the site and added a wall with seven arches to the structure.
That took two-and-a-half days. The pillars of the mosque are all
unique, each one carved differently. The arches are decorated
with beautiful calligraphy from the Koran.
A steep climb beyond the Adhai-din-ka-jhopra leads to the ruins
of the Taragarh Fort, perched on a hill. Not much remains except
for the 4 m. thick walls but the view from the fort makes the
huffing and puffing worthwhile.
Once the royal residence of Emperor Akbar and then Emperor Shah
Jahan, the museum has enough stuff to merit a visit. For a Mughal
palace, it is rather plain but has a fine pair of gates. The archaeological
find from Mohenjodaro and Harappa may not be very interesting
to look at (even if they are very, very old) but the beautiful
image of the Saraswati from Banswara in the Jain gallery will
stop you for a while. It is also the site of a rather interesting
colonial encounter. It was here that Sir Thomas Roe, ambassador
of King James, met with Emperor Jehangir for the first time.
Open from 10.00 am to 4.30 pm. Closed on Fridays, entry Rs 3;
free on Mondays (Which means it is also rather crowded on that
One of the India's best public schools, located in the south-east
of the Ana Sagar, Mayo College is one of the great examples of
Indo-Saracenic architecture. When it was a public school for Maharajas,
it was known as the Eton of the East. Very colonial and proud
of its British past is Mayo College.
Nasiyan Jain temple
This red sandstone Jain temple was built in the late 19th century.
Go by appearances alone and you might give it a miss. Which would
be a pity because the interior is truly amazing. Raj Bahadur Seth
Moolchand Nemichand Soni built the museum and temple in 1864.
On the first floor is the Suvarna Nagari or Golden World. It houses
the Jain conception of the universe and replicas of every Jain
shrine of any importance, all plated in gold. Over 1,000 kg of
gold are supposed to have been used in this breath-taking extravaganza.
The whole is enclosed in a glass case and can be viewed from different
galleries. The ceiling is bedecked with silver balls and models
of the ships of the gods. In the centre is the holy mountain Sumeru
with other sites around it.
If you've already been there, go again. The trustees are continually
embellishing and adding to the splendours of the place. Open every
day between 8 am and 5 pm, Entry fee: Rs 5. The shrine next door
is meant only for Jains.
Ana Sagar Lake
This lake was built by Anaji during 1135-1150 AD by damming
the river Luni. Later the Mughal Emperors made additional constructions
to beautify the lake. The baradari, a marble pavilion was built
by Emperor Shah Jahan and the Daulat Bagh gardens was laid by
Emperor Jehangir. This lake is located towards the north of Ajmer
city. Nice place for a stroll or a picnic. The newly built Luvkush
Gardens offer boating opportunities with pedal boats or motor
boats. There are 52 bathing ghats around the lake, each with its
special powers: Naga Kund for fertility, Roop Tirth for beauty
and Kapil Vyapi kund for curing leprosy.
Rajasthan - Ajmer History
Raja Ajay Pal Chauhan founded Ajmer in the 7th century AD. He
constructed a hill fort and named it Ajaimeru or The Unconquerable
Hill. The city continued to be a Chauhan stronghold till 1193
when Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated by Mohammed Ghauri. After
this legendary ruler lost Ajmer to Muhammed Ghori, it became a
part of the Delhi Sultanate. But such an important city - which
lay on the desert trade routes and had shrines of great importance
to both major religions - could not go uncontested for long. Rana
Kumbha of Mewar and Raja Maldeo of Marwar wrested it back for
the Rajputs. The battles continued: Mughals, Marathas and Rajputs
played musical thrones with Ajmer. The result is a syncretist
culture symbolised in the two annual events that bring thousands
to Ajmer: the Urs at the Dargah Sharif of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti
and the Pushkar fair to the west of Ajmer, at the lake which is
home to perhaps the only temple of Brahma.
Rajasthan - Ajmer Geography
Ajmer is in the heart of the Aravalli Mountains, by the edge of
the artificial Ana Sagar Lake, 132 km to the west of Jaipur. It
is only about 3 km long, which means that you can quickly work
your way around it. Navigate by the Dargah Sharief. The landscape
around is unprepossessing, filled with dry rocks, covered with
sparse scrub with only a date palm or two as punctuation.
YOUR ITINERARY for AJMER SHARIF
(DELHI - AJMER -JAIPUR - AGRA - DELHI (6 Days/5 Nights) )
Day 01: Arrive Delhi - On arrival,
transfer to Hotel Imperial or similar. After lunch, half-day sight-seeing
of Delhi visiting Red Fort - the symbol of Mughal power and elegance
built in red sand-stone by the fifth Mughal Emperor Shah Johan
when he shifted his capital to Shahjahanabad from Agra in 1638;
Jama Masjid - India's largest mosque built in red sand-stone and
white marble by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1656: Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin
Auliya; Humayun's Tomb - the mausoleum of the second Mughal emperor
Humayun built in 1564 by his widow Haji Begum during her son Akbar's
reign - a soothing blend of red sand-stone with white, black &
yellow marble. Also visit India Gate, Qutub Minor - built in red
sandstone in Islamic style, the tower is 71m tail with its waits
consisting of intricately carved quotations from the Holy Quran.
Dinner & overnight at hotel.
Day 02: Delhi/Ajmer - After
breakfast, proceed to Ajmer by train (Ahmedabad Express). Transfer
to Hotel Mansingh or similar. After lunch at hotel, tour of Ajmer
visiting, Dargah Shareef - the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.
In 1256AD. at the age of 114, the saint entered his cell to pray
in seclusion for six days after which he passed away. We continue
to Adhey-Din-Ka Jhonpara - a mosque originally an ancient Sanskrit
College & within a temple enclosure. Proceed to Emperor Akbar's
Royal Palace made of red sand-stone - housing a museum with a
rich collection of Mughal & Rajput armour. After that, drive
around Ana Sagar Lake. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 03: Aimer/Jaipur(131kms/3hrs)
- After breakfast, drive to Jaipur by car/coach. Check-in
and lunch at Hotel Mansingh or similar. Tour of Jaipur, visiting
Maharaja's Palace, Hawa Mahal, Royal Observatory and Albert Museum.
Afternoon, excursion to Amber Fort. where ascent to the fort is
on elephant's back. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 04: Jaipur/Fatehpur Sikri/Agra
(232kms/6hrs) - After breakfast, proceed to Agra by car/coach
via Fatehpur Sikri to visit the Mosque built by Emperor Akbar
in the memory of Sheikh Salim Chishti. In Agra, check-in at Hotel
Clarks Shiraz or similar, lunch, dinner & overnight at hotel.
Day O5: Agra/Sikandra/Dethi (203kms/5hrs)
- After breakfast, visit Taj Mahal - built by the Mughal Emperor
Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal; Agra Fort on the
opposite bank of the River Yamuna - built by four successive Emperors;
and the tomb of ltmad-Ud-Daullah. After lunch, proceed to Delhi
by car/coach via Sikandra, Mausoleum of Emperor Akbar. In Delhi,
dinner and overnight at Hotel Imperial or similar.
Day 06: Delhi/Back Home - After
breakfast, transfer to airport to connect flight for onward journey/back