Located in the beautiful city of Ajmer, Rajasthan, the Dargah Sharif better known as Ajmer Sharif attracts huge number of Muslim pilgrims not just from India but also from countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan etc. Dedicated to Muslim saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti, the place is considered holy by people of other faith too and they claim that whoever visits the place get their every wish fulfilled. If you visit the shrine, you would see an endless flow of visitors of all religions, the sick, the troubled and the childless coming in hoards, seeking a boon, a blessing or just peace of mind. The central assumption is that the saint is still conscious and attentive, and can confer blessings upon people, by acting as a channel for God's grace. It is said that even Emperor Akbar sought blessings for a son at the Dargah.
You should specially visit the dargah during the Urs festival which comes off in May. The festival commemorates the death anniversary of Moinuddin Chishti and attracts more than lakhs of devotees to the dargah. Saint Moinuddin Chishti also known as Gareeb Nawaz (protector of the poor) is believed to have come from Persia and spent his whole life to improve the lives of the destitute and downtrodden.
The dargah originally consisted of a simple marble tomb of Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti with a golden dome. But, gradually it had grown to a huge complex housing several mosques, pavilions and gateways. This has been possible due to the contribution of a number of Mughal rulers from Humayun to Shahjahan, over a period of time.
As you prepare to enter the Dargah, you have to pass through the dargah bazaar, leading to the main inner courtyard. The grave of the saint covered in silver railing and a partial marble screen would surely arouse a sense of piety and peace in you. The women can pray at the separate prayer room in the premises built by Emperor Shah Jahan’s daughter. Within the dargah lies a mosque, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Like all of Shah Jahan's buildings, the mosque too, is an architectural marvel - a magnificent building in white marble with a long and narrow courtyard for the faithful to pray in, richly embellished with ornate calligraphic inscriptions, delicate carvings and detailed trellis work.
At the tomb of the saint, you may also catch a glimpse of a devotee or two, offering a chaddar (a cover) at the Dargah. This is offered as a gesture of gratefulness to the saint on the fulfillment of their wishes. The pilgrims also make rich offerings called 'nazrana' at the sacred spot where the saint has been entombed that include rose and jasmine flowers, sandalwood paste, perfumes and incense. The fragrant offerings create an aroma which would have a divine effect on your heart.
You can also listen to the Qawwals singing songs in praise of the saint. The people who look after the tourists are called Khadims (servants of the saint).
During the 6 day long Urs festival, special prayers are offered at the mosque in the dargah premises, and huge amounts of 'tabarukh' or consecrated food offered from the two large ‘Degs’, or steaming cauldrons weighing 2240 kg and 4480 kg respectively. These were given as gifts by Akbar, the great Moghul emperor. The surprising part is that the people serve the food while standing inside the scalding hot food in the cauldrons. While qawwallis 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.
Legend has it that when the saint was 114 years old, he locked himself in a room for six days to pray and left his mortal body in solitude. And these six days are today celebrated as Urs.
Other monuments to see while you are at the dargah are the tombs of Bhishti, tomb of Saint's daughter-Bibi Hafiz Jama and the tomb of Shah Jahan's daughter Chimni Begum.
You would also love the dargah entrance that has been beautifully decorated with gold and enamel work, as well as Belgian crystal chandeliers. Clocks are another regular feature of mosques and Sufi tombs--in part to help the faithful keep track of prayer times.
A combination of spiritualism, and ancient architecture makes Ajmer Sharif a must visit pilgrimage for people from all walks of life.
And we would suggest you not to miss the chance to visit Ajmer Sharif on your tour to Rajasthan. The ideal time to visit Ajmer is from October to March.
The city of Ajmer has many places of tourist interests apart from the Ajmer Sharif. Some of them are as follows:
Mayo College: The esteemed and highly impressive Mayo College in Ajmer was exclusively for boys from the aristocratic class. The school was set up by the British, during their rule over India. The oldest public school in the country with its beautiful Victorian architecture is worth a visit.
Taragarh Fort: Constructed in 1354 A.D., the Taragarh Fort in Ajmer is a spectacular illustration of Rajasthani architecture. It was an important center of military activity both during the Rajput and the Mughal domination in Ajmer. Later during the British occupation of Ajmer, Taragarh was used as a sanatorium.
You may visit the fort for its sheer historical value or enjoy a spectacular view of the city from the Taragarh Fort and drink in beautiful vistas of Ajmer steeped in the warmth of the last rays of the setting sun.
While at the dargah, do not forget to pay homage at Miran Saheb ki Dargah, which is located within the fort walls. This mausoleum is dedicated to Miran Saheb, a brave warrior who sacrificed his life defending Taragarh in an enemy invasion.
Adhai-Din Ka Jhonpra: This is an old mosque and as the name indicates was built in 2.5 days only. The edifice was originally a Sanskrit college, but Muhammad Ghori converted it into a mosque in 1198 and built a seven-arched wall inscribed with verses from the Koran. The mansion is a perfect example of Indo-Islam architecture, as it has elements of both Muslim and Hindu religion.
Ana Sagar Lake: It is a picturesque lake constructed by King Anaji (1135-1150 AD), the grandfather of Prithvi Raj Chauhan, in the north of Ajmer. Next to the lake are the Daulat Bagh Gardens set up by Emperor Jehangir. Shahjahan added the Baradari (marble pavilion) to the lake. An embankment built between two hillocks- Bajrang Garh and Khobra Bherun (named after the Hindu temples built on them) forms the Lake.
Lord Brahma Temple, Pushkar: It is the only Brahma temple in India. The temple was built in the 14th century near Pushkar Lake. According to a legend, the Pushkar Lake is believed to be formed by an accidental fall of a lotus flower from the palms of Lord Brahma. When the flower fell from a celestial height into the Pushkar valley, it gave birth to a lake possessing the divine beauty. The temple walls are beautifully wrapped up with silver coins. You would love the silver turtle on the floor, which is kept to beautify the temple compound. A goose believed to be the official carrier of Brahma is situated at the gateway to the temple which is crowned with a red spire.
Akbar Palace: This is a small but beautiful piece of architecture built by Akbar for his frequent tours to Ajmer for pilgrimage. Built in 1570 A.D., the palace has two impressive stone walls that make this fort almost impregnable. Akbar's Palace has an important place in the history of Ajmer, Rajasthan, India. It was here that Sir Thomas Roe of the East India Company and Emperor Jehangir met, which led to the British rule over India for centuries. Akbar's Palace was converted into a munitions house during the British occupation of Ajmer. This grand palace was renamed as the 'Rajputana Arsenal'.
After independence, a part of Akbar's Palace was converted into a museum. You can get to see an amazing display of military armor and weaponry on display at the Akbar's Palace turned museum. The museum also exhibits antiques, objects d' art, sculptures, miniature paintings and archaeological finds from Harappa and Mohenjodaro.
Nasiyan Temple: This red colored Jain temple on the Prithviraj Marg, Ajmer is a Jain temple was built in the late 19th century. The temple with elaborate ornate work is a great pilgrimage centre for Jains. It is also visited by tourists for the museum at its precincts. The temple is dedicated to Lord Adinath. The museum section depicts the five stages (Panch Kalyanak) in the life of Lord Adinath in the form of statues. The 40 x 80 feet hall of the museum is exquisitely done up in pure gold, Belgium stain glass, mineral color paintings and stain glasswork. Its double-storey hall contains a series of large, gilt wooden figures from Jain mythology depicting the Jain concept of the ancient world. It's certainly worth a visit.
Like all other tourist destinations in Rajasthan, Ajmer too is a great place to shop for traditional and handcrafted items. It is known for antiques, curios, gold and silver jewelry in contemporary designs. Bandhini (colorful tie-and-dye saris) and embroidered jodhpuri 'Jutis' (shoes) are popular ladies’ item found at this place. Most tourists especially the religious take home Ittars, a special form of local perfume is sold in small and large packs all over Ajmer.
Tourists visiting Ajmer during the Urs season can select from a wide array of items like colorful clothes from Tilonia village, miniature paintings from Kishangarh apart from a range of wood crafted products.
The annual Ajaymeru Udyog Crafts Mela in Ajmer is another time when you can buy typical and popular items of Rajasthan like brass utensils, bangles, woodcrafts, silver souvenirs, leather belts, hand embroidered cloth bags and unlimited home décor items.
Then, there is the Pushkar Fair, near Ajmer, where you can buy many handicraft items at reasonable prices.
By Air: The nearest airport is Jaipur (132 km); one can get well connected flights from all the major cities of the country.
By Train: Shatabdi connects Ajmer to Delhi. Shatabdi is fully air conditioned train starts from Delhi (5.55 AM) to Jaipur (10.35 AM) daily except on Sundays. There are other trains also to Ajmer from other cities in Rajasthan.
By Road: Rajasthan Roadways have regular bus services from New Delhi, running deluxe and air conditioned coaches from Bikaner house, Delhi. Ajmer is also well connected with the other cities of Rajasthan like Jaipur, Bikaner, Udaipur and Kota. With good road conditions you can also travel by private car/taxi. During the Urs, special buses ply from cities all over India carrying people to Ajmer and back.
You can choose from a wide range of hotels, while in Ajmer from three star hotels to budget hotels.
Two Star Hotels
Outside Delhi Gate
Ajmer, Rajasthan – 305001
Near Dargah Shariff,
Delhi Gate, Ajmer, Rajasthan – 305001
Three Star Hotel
Hotel Mansingh Palace
Ajmer, Rajasthan – 305001
Near Savitri College
Ajmer, Rajasthan – 305001
Naginabagh, Ashok Marg
Ajmer, Rajasthan - 305006 - India
Opp. City Power Hosue,
Ajmer, Rajasthan – 305001
Near Delhi Gate Police Chowki
Ajmer, Rajasthan - 305001 - India
Apart from these, there are many guest houses on the road leading to the Dargah which offer accommodation that ranges from economical to luxurious. Many other guest houses are strewn across the city.
The Dargah is located at the conjunction of three bazaars. There are a number of restaurants around the Dargah where visitors can choose from a variety of dishes most of which are non-vegetarian preparations.