Ajmer is the 5th largest city in Rajasthan and is the centre of the eponymous Ajmer District. The city was named after its founder, Raja Ajai Pal Chauhan, who founded it in the 7th century. Since then, Chauhans reigned over Ajmer till Prithviraj Chauhan lost the city to Mohammed Ghauri. Nonetheless, the culture and traditions of the city were strongly influenced by its rulers and one can see the indelible imprint of various cultures on the city. Just like old days, Ajmer continues to be a popular pilgrimage centre for both Hindus and Muslims. Dargah Sharief, the tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, is equally revered by both the communities and Urs fair attracts thousands and lakhs of pilgrims every year.
Ajmer is surrounded by the Aravalli Mountains. It is a popular pilgrimage center for the Hindus as well as Muslims. It houses the Dargah or tomb of the 13th century Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, which is equally revered by the Hindus and Muslims. Ajmer is also the base for visiting Pushkar, about 11 km. from Ajmer, the abode of Lord Brahma, lying to its west with a temple and a picturesque lake.
Major attractions in Ajmer
- The Ajmer Sharif Dargah – One of the country’s most famous pilgrim centres ,It is a shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti who came to India from Persia in 1192 with Mohammad Ghori’s invading army. He died here in 1236. For the Muslims of India, the shrine’s importance is only second to the sacred shrine at Mecca .It is situated at the foot of the Taragarh hill, and consists of several white marble buildings arranged around two courtyards, including a massive gate donated by the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Akbari Mosque, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It contains the domed tomb of the saint. Akbar and his queen used to come here by foot on pilgrimage from Agra every year in observance of a vow when he prayed for a son. The large pillars called kose(Mile) Minar , erected at intervals of two miles (3 km) the whole way between Agra and Ajmer, marking the daily halting places of the royal pilgrim, are still extant.
- Taragarh Fort – The giant fort stands guarding the city. It has six gates. The fort also has Miran Saheb ki Dargha who was the governor of the fort and laid down his life in an encounter. It gives a panoramic view of the city situated in Nagpahari of Aravalli ranges, this fort has immense archaeological and historical importance. It was built by King Ajaypal Chauhan on the summit of Taragarh Hill and overlooks Ajmer. The battlements run along the top of the hill. The walls are two miles (3 km) in circumference and the fort can only be approached by way of a very steep slope. When it fell to the British Raj, the fort was dismantled on the orders of Lord William Bentinckand was converted into a sanatorium for the British troops stationed at the garrison town of Nasirabad.
- Adhai Din Ka Jhonpda – A Jain temple built in 1153 and converted into a mosque by Qutubuddin Aibak in 1193, is situated on the lower slope of Taragarh hill. Aikbak’s successor, Shams al-Din Iltutmish added to the mosque. . Apart the exception of that part used as a mosque, called Jama’ Iltutmish (pronounced Altamish locally), nearly the whole of the ancient temple has fallen into ruins, but the relics are not excelled in beauty of architecture and sculpture by any remains of Hindu art. Forty columns support the roof, but no two are alike, and exceptional creativity is shown in the execution of the ornaments.
- The Museum – the city’s Museum, was once the residence of Prince Salim, son of the Emperor Akbar, and presently houses a collection of the Mughal and Rajput armour and sculpture. This residence of Salim is significant from a historical point of view, because Salim as Emperor Jahangir read out the firman for trade to India to the British East India Company from here, thus starting the chain of events that lead to India’s colonisation by the British.
- Mayo College – It was founded by the British Viceroy Lord Mayo1875. The architecture of the school buildings is in the same style as royal Rajasthani architecture. it is one of the finest schools in India. Mayo College is famous not just for the quality of education it imparts, but for its architecture as well.
- Anasagar Lake – This is a historic man-made lake was built by Maharaja Anaji (1135-1150 AD) the grandfather of Maharaja Prithviraj Chauhan. By the lake is the Daulat Bagh, a garden laid out by Emperor Jahangir. Emperor Shah Jahan later added five pavilions, known as the Baradari, between the garden and the lake.
- Nasiyan Jain Temple (Red Temple) – the Nasiyan Jain temple located on the Prithvi Raj Marg on your Ajmer travel. Also known as the Red Temple, the Nasiyan Temple is dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara Rishabdeoji. According to Col. James Tod, the columns are most worthy of attention; they are unique in design, and with the exception of the cave temples, probably amongst the oldest now existing in India.
- Lake Foy Sagar – It is situated in the outskirts of the city, it is a picturesque artificial lake that was created as a famine relief project in 1892. It offers panoramic views of the neighbouring Aravalli mountains as well as of the evening flights of nearby birds.
- Nareli Jain Temple – Nareli is a Jain place located on the outskirts (Kishangarh bypass). This is a good place to visit, has a very big temple and offer authentic jain food (You have to check the meal hours in advance, they are strict in serving meals in those hours only)
Other important places to visit near Ajmer are
- Aptaeshwar Temple, Pushkar
- Brahma Temple, Pushkar
- Camel Safari at Pushkar
- Durga Bagh
- Pushkar Lake
- Pushkar Fair
- Rangji Temple, Pushkar
- Varaha Temple, Pushkar
- Savitri Temple, Pushkar
Fairs and festivals
- Urs Fair is held during the first six days of Rajab (seventh month of the Islamic calendar) on the death anniversary of Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti, whose remains lie buried and are held in held in great reverence by devotees of all communities in ‘Dargah Sharif’ in Ajmer. Khwaja had come from Persia and established Chishtia order of ‘fakirs’ in India.
- Pushkar Fair is held in the month of Kartik that usually falls in October or November at Pushkar, which is 11 kms away from Ajmer, Rajasthan. One of the most sought-after fair in Rajasthan, a lot of tourists come to Pushkar Fair on pilgrimage as well as to see the display of a mystifying array of items. With the picturesque sand dunes as its backdrop, the camel fair and camel, horse and donkey races are the featured events of the fair. People indulge themselves in body tattooing as the villagers from distant places come here to trade their wares.
How to reach
By Air – The nearest airport to Ajmer is situated in Jaipur.
By Train – You can find a train to Ajmer from all the major cities of India. From Delhi, you can catch Shatabdi Express, The Pink City Express and Chetak Express.
By Road – Ajmer is well connected by the network of roads to Delhi, Agra and all the major cities of Rajasthan