Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ajmer Travel Guide

Ajmer – E – Sharief Dargah, Ajmer Pilgrimages ToursSituated in the heart of the desert of Rajasthan, Ajmer is a blend of Sufi culture and Hindu religion. Ajmer has always been a coveted and strategic place for the Rajputs, the Mughals and the Marathas. Ajmer was the seat of administration for the Chauhans till Prithviraj was defeated in 1193 AD by Mohammad Ghauri. It then became a part of the Delhi Sultanate.

However, Rana Kumbha of Mewar and Raja Maldeo again established Rajput rule over Ajmer. The annual Urs at Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is held on a grand scale and attracts pilgrims from all over the world irrespective of their caste and religion.

Prime Attraction
Ajmer-e-Sharief Dargah : At the foot of a barren hill, is situated India’s most important pilgrimage center for people from all faiths. It is the splendid tomb of the Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti more popularly known as Khawaja Saheb or Khawaja Sharif. The shrine is next only to Mecca or Median for the Muslims of South Asia. Emperor Akbar used to make a pilgrimage to this Dargah from Agra once a year.

Adhai-Din-Ka Jhonpara : One of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture, this mosque was a Sanskrit college in the 12th century. In 1193 AD Mohammad Ghori destroyed the college and a mosque was built in its place. The mosque is built on pillars and surprisingly no two pillars are alike. The archways are finely engraved with Kufi and Jughra inscriptions from the Holy Quran (also spelt as Koran).

Nasiyan (Jain Temple) : This red coloured Jain temple was built in the late 19th century. The wooden gilt in the double storeyed hall depicts scenes from the Jain mythology. The beauty of this temple is widely acclaimed.

Govt. Museum : The Royal palace of Akbar was converted into a museum and today it houses a rich collection of Mughal and Rajput armoury. Some of the fine and delicate sculptures of the region have been displayed here. The building itself has been constructed of red sandstone, which have been laid down in a square pattern giving it a fabulous look.
Ana Sagar Lake, Ajmer Tourism
Ana Sagar Lake : This lake was built by Anaji during 1135-1150 AD. Later the Mughal Emperors made additional constructions to beautify the lake. The ‘Baradari’, a marble pavilion was built by Shah Jahan and the Daulat Bagh Gardens were laid by Jehangir. This lake is located towards the north of Ajmer city.

Foy Sagar : This artificial lake was built during a famine relief programme. Named after the engineer responsible for its construction, the picturesque lake is 5-km from Ajmer.

Taragarh Fort : Built in the 7th century by Ajaipal Chauhan, the fort gives a bird’s eye view of the city. Taragarh Fort or the ‘Star fort’ is situated on a hill and to reach there, one has to take winding bridle path.

Kishan Garh : On the road to Jaipur, 27-km from Ajmer is located this medieval treasure house of art. This place had one of the finest schools for miniature paintings during 18th century. This town of artists is also famous for Gundelao Lake, Phool Mahal Palace, Temple of Sri Kalyan Raiji and the Majhala Palace.

Mayo College : One of the India’s best public schools, located in the south-east of the Ana Sagar, has now been converted to the Circuit House. The lake and the cenotaph and the shrine of the Hindu reformer Swami Dayanand, founder of the “Arya Samaj Movement” in India, can be viewed from here.

Excursions – Cites
Pushkar Travel & Tour PackagesPushkar : The sister city of Ajmer, Pushkar is just 11-km away from the city. The road to Pushkar passes through the Nag Pahar or the Snake Mountain. Pushkar is an ancient city and has seen history being made since the Ramayana period. The account of this city can be found in the 4th century writings of the Chinese traveller– Fa-Hien and also in the scripts written during the era of Muslim invasions. The city is considered by Hindus to be one of the most sacred places in India and has, perhaps, the only existing temple in Asia, dedicated to Lord Brahma. Life in the city is very much related to the Pushkar Lake. Mythology says that this ancient lake was formed when a lotus flower fell in the valley, from the hands Brahma. The 52 bathing ghats that surround the lake are believed to have special powers e.g. ‘Naga Kund’ for fertility, ‘Roop Tirth’ for beauty and ‘Kapil Vyapi Kund’ for curing Leprosy. The famous Pushkar fair is held every year on the Kartik Purnima day. This fair is famous as a bazaar for the animals particularly the camels. But the folk dancers and the folk musicians add traditional colour in the fair, which gives a new leash of life to the town.

Mangliyawas : This town is famous for two 800 years old trees of a rare species- ADANSONIA DIGITATA LINN- popularly known as ‘Kalpa-Vriksha’. People visit this place through out the year but on dark moon day of ‘Sravana’ (also spelt as Shravana) thousands of people come to worship the trees. The town is 26-km from Ajmer. Beawar – This town is located 54-km from Ajmer and is famous for the Badshahi procession festival held on the next day of Holi. On this occasion, people participate in large numbers and throw ‘Gulal’ on each other.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ajmer Sharif: The Sufi Spirit

The 21st of July (6th Rajab hijri) this year marked the 795th (hijri) Urs or death anniversary of the greatest mystic saint of the Indian sub-continent, Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. Devotees and pilgrims from all over the world converge at the Dargah sharif in Ajmer to pay their respect.Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti is one of the most outstanding figures in the annals of Islamic mysticism. He was born in Sejistan, around 533 H / 1138 A.D. to Khwaja Ghayasuddin and Syeda Bibi Ummalwara (alias Bibi Mahe-Noor) who were the descendents of Hazrat Ali through his sons Hazrat Imam Hassan and Hazrat Imam Hussian. As a young child Khwaja Sahab was drawn to mystics and began visiting seminaries in Samarkand and Bukhara which were then important centres of Islamic learning. On the way to Iraq at Harvan, he met Khwaja Uthman e Harooni and joined the circle of his disciples.

The Chishtia Sufi order derives its name from a Chist-e-sharif, a Ajmer Sharifvillage near Herat in Afgahnistan where the founder of the order Hazrat Abu Ishq Shami of Syria had settled.

Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti popularly known as Khwaja Gharib Nawaz brought the Chishti Sufi order in to India at the close of the 11th century A.D, and established its center in Ajmer Sharif from where it spread all over the Indian sub-continent. Khwaja Saheb brought the message of universal Love ,Peace and Brotherhood. He chose the way of non-compulsion in the true spirit of the Holy Quran, which says –

“Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error ; whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks .And Allah hearth and Knoweth all things.�? (Quran 2:256)

Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is a shining luminary from the family of Holy Prophet Muhammed .The light of his personality has dispelled darkness, and has illuminated thousands of hearts throughout the world. He is not only respected, esteemed, honored, implored, but in fact is the focus of attention, and a center of hope to myriads of people, belonging as they do to different castes, creed, religions and nationalities .

In Khwaja’s presence commoners and the kings stood in line to receive his blessings. Shahbuddin Gohri and Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish served as his humble attendants in his lifetime. The Moguls emperors like Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan presented themselves in Khwaja Saheb’s Court. Sufi Princess Jahan-Ara, cleansed and swept the blessed tomb with her eyelids. Saints would come here and dedicate their lives in his service and devotion . Today the dargah at Ajmer continues to draw people irrespective of caste and creed and nobody goes back deprived of blessings.

The spiritual descendants of Gharib Nawaz are to be found in the Faridi’s, the Nizami’s the Sabiri’s and other Sufi orders which owe existence to the patron Sufi and remain the torch-bearers of his message of universal love. Chishti sufism is both an experience and a memory. It is the experience of remembering God so intensely that the heart burnt, the soul is destroyed. It is also the memory of those who remembered God, those who were devoted to discipline and prayer but above all, to remember, whether they recited the Divine name (Zikr) or evoked His presence through music (Sama).

“The heart of a lover ( the true devotee of God ) constantly burns with the fire of Love so much so that whatever ( passion ) intrudes upon its sanctity is burnt to ashes�? – Khwaja Gharib Nawaz.

Divine Love was expressed in the verse Shyakh Baba Fariduddin Ganj e Shakar recited when he first met with his chief disciple and successor, Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Awliya.

“Ay atishi i firaqi at dili ha kabab karda

Saylabi i Ishtiyaqi at jani ha kharab karda�?

Ah, the fire of absence from you has burnt many a heart

And the flood of yearning for you has destroyed many a soul !

Chishti principles of love towards all is seen among the non-muslim south Asians who appreciate and also appropriate Chishti spiritual experience. Hazrat Baba Farid is so highly respected by Sikhs that they have incorporated his Punjabi verses for their holy scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. Similarly, Hindus flock in great numbers to the blessed Shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at his annual Urs festival .

The Chishti’s were spiritual adepts with a flexible creative mission. Initially the Chishti mission was directed to South Asia but has now become a diverse global phenomenon upon which many feel free to draw, whether within the framework of traditional South Asian Islam or beyond that framework. Chishti ethos will continue to resonate, whoever sings, whoever listens .

Besides being a great mystic, Gharib Nawaz was an erudite scholar and poet. He left a collection of his poems in Persian. I leave the readers with a translation of a very beautiful verse which I often hear while walking through the blessed lane’s of Ajmer sharif……

“The clouds of mercy have spread out ecstatically

For spring has arrived in the garden of Chisht .

Friends, get a ticket to Ajmer

For Khwajah’s festival has arrived .

The soul acquires peace in Ajmer

Life smiles in Ajmer ……

A treasure of mercies lies in Ajmer .

Khwaja’s tale took place in Ajmer …..

Why do you hesitate ?

Pay heed to what I say

Once this opportunity slips away it will not return

Friends ,get a ticket to Ajmer .�?

Syed Salman Chishty belongs to a family of caretakers of Ajmer Sharif and calls himself a humble Khadim (servant) of Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz (RA). This article earlier appeared in Hindustan Times.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hotels in Brief

Ajmer is 132 kms. south-west of Jaipur and 198 kms. east of Jodhpur. It is connected by road to Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur and Kota. Ajmer is a railway junction on the Delhi-Ahmedabad section of the Western Railway. During the Urs, special buses ply from cities all over India carrying people to Ajmer and back. The lakeside city of Ajmer is located in central Rajasthan, and is held in great reverence by devotees of all communities who call it 'Ajmer Sharif' (Holy Ajmer). It is here that the mortal remains of the highly respected Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti lie buried

MANSINGH PALACE, MANSINGH PALACE - invites you to be a part of the holy and festive environment of the town.

Hotel Regency, Ajmer
The famous Muslim Dargah shrine is just 5 minutes walk. Pushkar is 11 kms and other places of tourist interest are within walking distances.

Hotel Embassy, Ajmer
Hotel Embassy is one of the best of hospitality traditions converge in Ajmer City.

Hotel Sahil , Ajmer
It is placed 2kms from Railway Station, 2kms away from Bus Station & 4kms from Mayo College.

Phool Mahal Palace, Ajmer
has the massive Fort of Kishangarh as its backdrop and is washed by the monsoon fed Gundalao Lake in front, an architectural setting very rarely seen in Rajput history.

Hotel Chitvan, Gagwana, Ajmer
The Hotel is well located right on the main NH 8 entry to Ajmer from the Jaipur side it is about 9 km from the Ajmer railway station.

Hotel Ambassador, Ajmer
The Hotel is centrally located close to the famous Baradari – Anasagar, just 1Km from Bus stand and 1.5 Km from Railway Station. The famous Dargah Shrine is just 1.5 Km

Roopangarh Fort, (Roopangarh) Ajmer
is a vast war Fort and has been over 350 years in the making. It has been painstakingly restored and renovated as a heritage hotel, especially for those who enjoy a sense of history and seek a story from the silent walls.