Ajmer is a historic and vibrant city located in central Rajasthan. It is flanked by the Ana Sagar Lake on one side and barren hills of the Aravali range on the other side. The best season to visit Ajmer is October-March. Since it came under the rule of a number of dynasties, the city has a mix of cultures. It is a place greatly influenced by both Islamic and Hindu cultures. This can be seen in the composite architecture as well as in the way of life. English, Hindi and Urdu are widely spoken languages.
I traveled to Ajmer in May, not the best month to visit, but it was an enjoyable experience nevertheless. I reached there by train (Haridwar Mail) and stayed for three days. The city is well connected by both road and rail. There aren’t many hotels and it’s difficult to come by any luxurious ones but modest accommodations are easy to find. The very first place I went to was the Dargah, located at the foot of the Taragarh Hills. It consists of a number of white marble buildings around two courtyards. Sanctified by the memories of the great seer, Ajmer has earned the title of “Madinatul Hind or the Madina of India”. Devotees of all sects and faiths come here as the saint’s blessings are significant for all. Every year millions of pilgrims come down to Ajmer to pay their homage to the13th-century Sufi Saint, Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisti. Here lies some of the sacred sayings of Hazrat Khwaja. The intervening period of seven long centuries has not in any way affected their ever-lasting value. The Digambar Jain temple fondly known as Soni ji ka Nasiyan is just five minutes from the Dargah and is dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankara Rishabha. In the main chamber is a city made entirely of gold. The detailing is breathtaking.
The following day I visited Taragarh Fort and Adhai-Din Ka-Jhonpra. The giant fort was built by Ajaypal Chauhan in 1354 and has Miran Saheb ki Dargah who was once the governor of the fort and was martyred in an encounter. Adhai-Din Ka-Jhonpra is a Jain temple that was built in 1153 and was later converted into a mosque. There are forty pillars supporting the roof and no two are alike. Legend has that it was built in two and a half days. Nearly the whole of the ancient temple is now in ruins.
Bus service from Ajmer to Pushkar is very frequent and the next morning I left for Pushkar which is only a half hour bus ride. There are a number of hotels that cater to all price ranges and also a number of restraunts serving all kinds of cuisines. I stayed at the Lakeview Hotel, a modest accomodation. Pushkar has one of the very few temples dedicated to Lord Brahma and every year pilgrims throng the place for a holy dip in the Pushkar Lake. It is believed that the temple has existed since fouth century B.C. There are a number of other small temples like the old and new Rang Ji’s temple. Every temple exhibits a mix of Islamic and Hindu architecture.
Shopping in Ajmer and Pushkar is a major attraction and both places are famour for their handicrafts. Ajmer is also known for its antiques and traditional silver jewellery.
The culture and the history of Ajmer is intriguing and getting to know it was a memorable and insightful experience.