Ajmer is one of the major cities in the Indian state of Rajasthan and is the centre of the eponymous Ajmer District. The city is located at a distance of 135 km from the state capital Jaipur and 391 km from the national capital New Delhi.
The city was established by a Shakambhari Chahamana (Chauhan) ruler, either Ajayaraja I or Ajayaraja II, and served as the Chahamana capital until the 12th century CE. After the defeat of Prithviraja lll in 1192 CE, the city came under Muslim rule.
Ajmer is surrounded by the Aravalli Mountains. It is a pilgrimage centre for the shrine of the Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti and is also the base for visiting Pushkar (11 km), an ancient Hindu pilgrimage city, famous for the temple of Brahma. Ajmer has been selected as one of the heritage cities for the HRIDAY – Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India.
HISTORY OF AJMER:
Ajmer was originally known as Ajayameru. The 12th century text Prithviraja Vijaya states that the Shakambhari Chahamana (Chauhan) king Ajayaraja II (ruled c. 1110 – 1135 CE) established the city of Ajayameru. Historian Dasharatha Sharma notes that the earliest mention of the city’s name occurs in Palha’s Pattavali, which was copied in 1113 CE (1170 VS) at Dhara. This suggests that Ajmer was founded sometime before 1113 CE. A prashasti (eulogistic inscription), issued by Vigraharaja IV and found at Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra, states Ajayadeva (that is, Ajayaraja II) moved his residence to Ajmer.
The later text Prabandha-Kosha states that it was the 8th century king Ajayaraja I who commissioned the Ajayameru fort, which later came to be known as the Taragarh fort of Ajmer. According to historian R. B. Singh, this claim appears to be true, as inscriptions dated to the 8th century CE have been found at Ajmer. Singh theorizes that Ajayaraja II later enlarged the town, constructed palaces, and moved the Chahamana capital from Shakambhari to Ajmer.
What To See And Do
THE DELIGHTFUL DARGAH DESTINATION
The city of Ajmer gets its name from ‘Ajay Meru’. Roughly translated, it means ‘invincible hills’. Nestled in the Aravallis south west of Jaipur, Ajmer was founded by Raja Ajaypal Chauhan in the 7th century AD. Till the late 12th century AD, Ajmer was the epicentre of the Chauhan dynasty. After Prithviraj Chauhan’s loss to Mohammed Ghori in 1193 AD, Ajmer became home to several dynasties. The Mughals in particular, fancied it as their favourite destination due to the presence of the holy Ajmer Sharif Dargah.
One of the early meetings between the Mughal King Jahangir and the Ambassador of the Court of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Thomas Roe, took place here in 1616. A few centuries later, the city was handed over to the British, making Ajmer the only region in Rajputana to be directly controlled by the East India Company. Ajmer is now regarded as an educational and cultural centre.
Ajmer is home to the famous Dargah Sharif, which houses the Tomb of Garib Nawaz, also known as Moinuddin Chisti, the founder of the Chisti order of Sufism. Ajmer is also known for Mayo College, one of the country’s first schools that was a stepping stone for British style of education. It is also a sacred city for Hindus and Muslims alike and is renowned for being a centre of history and culture and beauty.
AJMER SHARIF DARGAH
AJMER’S MOST FAMOUS AND MOST-VISITED LANDMARK
The Ajmer Sharif Dargah is considered to be among the holiest Muslim shrines in India and is also a famous landmark in Ajmer. Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti, the Sufi saint from Persia is enshrined here. In keeping with his secular teachings, its doors are open to people of all faiths and religions. Some say that Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti believed he was a direct descendant of Muhammad and preached his beliefs to the masses. While on his world travel, he was urged by Muhammad, in a dream, to visit India. He reached Ajmer, via Lahore, and made it his home from 1192 till his death in 1236 AD. The shrine was built by Mughal King Humayun in honour of this saint. You can step inside the Dargah through a series of massive silver doors that lead into a courtyard where the saint’s tomb is centred. Made of marble and gold plating, the actual tomb is guarded by a silver railing and a marble screen. During his reign, Emperor Akbar made a pilgrimage to Ajmer every year. He, as well as Emperor Shah Jahan, built mosques inside the shrine complex. Visitors to the shrine are awed by the atmosphere of peace and serenity that the combined effects of flowers, sweets and burning incense sticks create.
ADHAI DIN KA JHONPDA
The Adhai Din Ka Jhonpda was originally built to function as a Sanskrit college but was later converted into a mosque by Sultan Ghori in 1198 AD. An impressive blend of Indo-Islamic architecture, the structure was further beautified by Sultan Iltutmish in 1213 AD. Legend has it that the mosque is known as Adhai din ka Jhonpda (literally meaning, The Hut of Two and a Half Days) because of a two and half day fair held here during Urs in the 18th century.
Mayo College is one of India’s oldest independent boarding schools. Founded in 1875, and named after Richard Bourke, the 6th Earl of Mayo, Mayo College was set up to provide the scions of India’s princely states with an education similar to that provided by the Eton College in Britain. John Lockwood Kipling, father of Nobel Laureate, Rudyard Kipling, as principal of Mayo College, furnished the design of the Coat of Arms which shows a Rajput and a Bhil warrior. The college building is one of the finest extant examples of Indo-Saracenic style of architecture.
Anasagar Lake is a scenic artificial lake, commissioned and built by Arnoraj Chauhan, son of Ajaypal Chauhan, between 1135 and 1150 AD. Arnoraj was also known as Anaji, which gives the lake its name. Many years later, Mughal Emperor Jahangir added his touch to the lake by laying out the Daulat Bagh Gardens near the lake. Emperor Shah Jahan too, contributed to the expansion by building five pavilions, known as the Baradari, between the garden and the lake.
SONIJI KI NASIYAN
Soniji ki Nasiyan, also known as the Ajmer Jain Temple, is a wonderful example of ornate architecture, and is dedicated to Risabh or Adinath. Its entrance is made of red stone and the marble staircase inside is engraved with images of the holy Tirthankars – omniscient teachers of Jain faith who taught righteousness. Constructed in the late 19th century, this temple is counted among the richest temples in India. Its main chamber, Swarna Nagari (City of Gold), is aptly named so because of the several gold-plated wooden figures it houses within its walls. This famous architectural marvel finds a mention in Kurt Titze’s book, ‘Jainism: A Pictorial Guide to the Religion of Non-Violence.’
LAKE FOY SAGAR
A beautiful artificial lake that appears flat, Lake Foy Sagar was built by an English engineer, Mr. Foy in 1892 AD. Interestingly, this work was taken up to provide famine relief through wage employment to locals. Lake Foy Sagar offers a beautiful view of the Aravalli range.
Where To Stay
Many Hotels as per the budget are available in Ajmer
How To Get Around
HOW TO REACH HERE
The Jaipur Airport is the closest and is located 138 kilometres away.
You can hop on to a bus from almost any city in and around Rajasthan and get here. These include Jaipur, Agra, Aligarh, Bikaner, Bharatpur, Barmer, Haridwar, Chittorgarh, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Nagaur.
Ajmer is located on the Delhi-Jaipur-Marwar-Ahmedabad-Mumbai railway line. It is well connected by rail as most trains on this route halt at Ajmer.