Ajmer, Madina Of India
Ajmer is a city located in the State of Rajasthan in India and is one of the places that are frequented by tourists from all over the world. The city lies in the heart of Rajasthan and carries religious as well as historical importance. This city is influenced by Mughal and Rajput architectural designs and is famous for numerous shrines including the famous Moinuddin Chisti Dargah (also called Madina of India) which is a mosque created in the memory of a Muslim Sufi saint. The city is also known as the gateway to the famous town of Pushkar and is only six miles away from it.
How To Reach Ajmer
The nearest airport is in Jaipur which is about seventy miles from the city; Jaipur being one of the bigger cities in Rajasthan is connected to all the metro cities in India. The city is connected by rail to Delhi by the Delhi-Ahmedabad Mail which is a slower option and is an overnight journey. The faster way to get to this city is by the Ajmer-Shatabdi Express that takes lesser time compared to other trains from Delhi. Ajmer is also well connected by road to major cities in Rajasthan such as Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Pushkar. The six lane highway from Jaipur is one of the best routes for reaching the city and the journey takes about two to three hours.
The city is not very big and offers many options for a tourist as far as getting around the city is concerned. Buses, rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, and horse drawn Tongas are available for traveling in the city. Many rickshaw drivers also offer to take tourists to the holy city of Pushkar; however there are other cheaper options available for visiting Pushkar which can be availed of if frugality is one of your priorities. The best way to soak in the beauty of this city is to travel by a Tonga which will give you a leisurely tour of the city.
The city of Ajmer has a rich history of both Mughal rulers as well as Indian kingdoms as it saw a power struggle between them from 1100 A.D to 1880 A.D. In the late Nineteenth century, the city was sold by the Maratha rulers to the British East India Company and has seen steady governance and peace since that time. There are many places in the city that have borne witness to the skirmishes and power struggles before British Imperialism. The architecture, culture and the lay out of the city is a potpourri of Mughal, Marwar, and British architecture.
This one of the Jain temples in the city and is famous for its carvings and intricate designs that are quintessential to Jain temples all around the world. The temple also serves authentic Jain food but the timings of the meal are fixed and if you want to enjoy these simple Jain delicacies then you may have to enquire about the meal timings in advance. The temple is huge and has many other smaller temples connected to it which makes a trip to these temples at least a one day affair.
Moinuddin Chisti Dargah
This is a very famous shrine for Muslims and has the tomb of a Sufi saint who was also known as ‘Khwaja Garib Nawaz’ or the benefactor of the poor. This place is also called the Mecca or Madina of India and is visited by Muslims as well as people belonging to other faiths. People who are unable to visit the real Mecca due to some reasons often come here to quench their thirst for religious pilgrimages. The marble decorated shrine with two courtyards has a small chamber that is occupied by the grave of the saint and is usually crowded with pilgrims scampering to bask their eyes with the holy shrine. Folklore has it that whatever a pilgrim wishes for in this place comes true and many people can be seen spending their time reading the Koran, oblivious of the hullabaloo surrounding them. One of the striking memories, that I cannot help but mention when I visited this place, was a woman who was reading the holy book, tears rolling down her cheeks, soaking the book as she prayed for something.
This fort is one of the first hill forts constructed in the world and definitely the first hill fort to be constructed in India. The fort was constructed in 1354 A.D by a Hindu ruler named Ajaypal Chauhan and now lies in ruins. The place was dismantled by the British and made into a sanatorium for British soldiers. It has a two mile long wall protecting the fort and the only way to enter is by using some rather steep and roughly paved rocky steps. The fort doesn’t offer many attractions but is a milestone in history since it was one of the first hill forts that were constructed in India.
Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra
This place is a perfect example of Indian architecture mixed with Mughal designs; the place literally translates to ‘two and a half days hut’. The unique name is due to the two and a half day festival that is annually held here. The original structure was a Jain temple that was converted into a Mosque by Qutbuddin Ayebak who was a Mughal king. The place is noted for its calligraphy in the Nashk and Kufic scripts which are derivations of mainstream Arabic calligraphy. Most of the temple is in ruins but the exquisite designs of the numerous pillars here provide a glimpse into ancient history.
The Ajmer Museum, also known as the Magazine is one of the ‘must-see’ places in the city. It was the palace of Akbar which was then converted into a museum by the British for its archeological and historical importance. The place has many artifacts, sculptures, inscriptions, and excavated material, some of which dating back to 3000 B.C. The museum opens at ten in the morning and closes at four-thirty in the afternoon. A leisurely ride on a Tonga to the museum can take a person back in time and a complete day can be spent at the museum pondering and appreciating the various paraphernalia that are on display.
Ana Sagar Lake
This lake was built by Anaji Chauhan who was the grandfather of Prithvi Raj Chauhan, a famous ruler in the twelfth century. The lake was further adorned by a garden and marble pavilions by Shahjahan and Jahangir. The lake dries up in summer and is best visited after or during the monsoons.
Some of the best hotels in Ajmer include The Mansingh Palace [Ph: +91 145 2425702], Hotel Ambassador [Ph: +91 145 2425095], Hotel Regency [2 star, Ph: 91-145-2620296, 2622439, 5101300], and Hotel Sahil [Ph: 0091-145-2632511, 2632995, 5100511]. These are all luxurious hotels and are recommended for people who like spending on lavish indulgences. The in house restaurants of these hotels are also the best places to eat since most of the hotels in the city are a little seedy.