Ajmer Travel Information

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Introduction

Ajmer is known throughout the Muslim world for the Dargah (the burial place) of Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti, a famous Sufi saint. He claimed to descent from the son-in-law of Mohammad. Seven pilgrimages to Ajmer are considered as equivalent to one pilgrimage to Mecca. Thousands of pilgrimages descend on this ancient town during the Islamic festivals of Id and Muharram. Ajmer is a small town with Anna Sagar Lake flanking it on one side and barren hills of Aravallis ranges on the other. Streams of Luni River flow south westwards from Ajmer and tributaries of Banas River flows eastward from it. Ajmer is also known as its beautiful landscape created various geographical features created by the nature. Pushkar, one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimages is located just 11 km from Ajmer and the town is the main transportation center for any visit to Pushkar.
A small and secular town with the history going far back in the time, this in short is Ajmer. Ajmer is a place where Garib Nawaz (protector of the poor), Sufi Saint, Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti laid himself to the eternal rest in 1236 a.d.

Ajmer always remained the bone of contention between Rajputs, Mughals, and Marathas. Ajmer was founded by a Rajput chieftain Ajayapal Chauhan, who also built first hill fort in India, the Tara Garh. As the fort was supposed to be invincible, it was named Ajai Meru (the Invincible Hill). Ajmer was brought under the control of Delhi Sultanate in 1193, when Prithvi Raj Chauhan was defeated by Mohammed Ghori. It was later returned to the local chieftains albeit for a small tribute.

Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti, the famous Sufi Saint and patrol saint of Ajmer, reached Ajmer from Persia in AD 1192 and left for the hi heavenly abode in AD 1236. Ajmer was an important military center of the Mughals and worked as the base from where campaigns were initiated against local Rajput chieftains. Jehangir, the son of Akbar and his heir to the throne of India stayed here from 1613 to 1616 in the Daulat Bagh, mostly in ruins now.

Ajmer also played an important role in paving the way for British East India Company in India. In 1616, Jehangir met ambassador of King James, Sir Thomas Roe. That was the first meeting between any Mughal Emperor and representatives of Britain. In the 17th century, Shahjahan built marble pavilions around the Ana Sagar Lake. The Taragarh Fort was damaged badly during the Mughal war of succession between Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh. Schindi Rulers of Gwalior took over Ajmer in the mid 18th century, to be handed over to the British in 1818. Mayo College, a prestigious school for the wards of colonial rulers and local gentry was founded in 1875.


Climate: Jaisalmer is given to extremities in weather. With temperatures in summer ranging from a minimum of 20░C to a maximum of 49░C, summers are not the preferred months for travel. The winters though, with temperatures hovering between maximum temperatures within mid twenties to 5-6░C at the lowest are a great time to visit.

Best time to visit: An extensive green cover ensures a pleasant season during spring and early winter. The best season to visit the city though remains between October and March.

Places of interest


Dargah of Garib Nawaz - Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti

The dargah of Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti is located at the foot of a small and barren hill in Ajmer. It is said that Mughal Emperor Humayun built the shrine and the Buland Darwaza, carved in silver, was built by the Nizam of Hyderabad. The tomb of Khwaja is surrounded by a silver railing and there is a separate women's praying room, said to be built by Chimni Begum - the daughter of Shahjahan.

There are two huge cauldrons in the courtyard of the dargah with a capital of 2,240 kg and 4,480 kg respectively. Kheer (sweet porridge) and Khichri (savoury porridge) are cooked in these cauldrons to be distributed among the devotees. An interesting custom related to the cauldron is the looting of the kheer. Akbar Masjid and Shah Jahan Masjid are also inside the same complex.

Tara Garh Fort
The first hill fort of India was built in 1100 by Ajayapal Chauhan. The fort gives excellent views of the town below and also known as the Star Fort. It has a thickness of four and a half meters and a winding uphill path leads to this rectangular fort. Most of the fort is now in ruins though at the time of its construction, it was supposed to be the invincible fort and so named as Ajai Meru (invincible fort).

Arhai-din-ka-Jhonpra
Arhai-din-ka-Jhonpra (two-and-a-half-day shelter) is considered as the first important Islamic structure to be built in India. According to the legends, Arhai-din-ka-Jhonpra was a Sanskrit College initially and Mohammed Ghori converted the college into a mosque within two and a half days, hence the name. According to another legend, the structure is named after a festival, which carried on for two and a half days. The monument has seven arched walls with Islamic calligraphy, though most of it now remains in ruins.


Special Festivals

The Urs Festival
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Urs Ajmer Sharif: Held in the holy town of Ajmer in honour of the Sufi saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, 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. While quwwallis are sung at night, the celebrations unite people of all faiths, and the complete town is decorated with buntings, and wears the spirit of festivity.
Activities
It is an occasion for thousands of believers to congregate at the shrine and offer their prayers. All of Ajmer seems to take on a festive air and several programmes are organized to mark the festivals.
 

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