The Holy City
Located right in the heart of the state of Rajasthan, Ajmer is one of the most iconic cities of western India, despite heavy competition from all its neighbours. Home to the world-famous Islamic pilgrimage site of Dargah Sharif and the revered Hindu destination Pushkar, Ajmer reflects a perfect example of communal harmony as it harbours pilgrims from both religions together, as well as a host of tourists who simply want to soak in its beauty.
The city of Ajmer gets its name from the word ‘Ajay Meru’ which translates to the ‘invincible land’. However, the name does not fit well with the history of Ajmer, as it has changed hands numerous times and has seen its share of dynasties rising and falling. Nestled amidst the Aravallis south-west of Jaipur, the city was founded by Raja AjaypalChauhan in the7th century AD. After PrithvirajChauhan lost his last battle to Mohammed Ghori in 1193, the defence of Ajmer wore down over the years.
Much later, it would become the only city in the Rajputana region of Rajasthan to be directly controlled by the East India Company and later the British Empire, making the moniker even more ironic. In fact, one of the earliest meetings between the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and the Ambassador of the Court of England, Sir Thomas Roe, took place here in early 17th century.
Dargah Sharif, or popularly known as Ajmer Sharif, houses the remains of Garib Nawaz KhwajaMoinuddinChisti who found the Chisti order of Sufism. This is by far the most prominent and beautiful place to visit in Ajmer, and a rite of passage for any person who belongs to the faith. Anasagar Lake built by the Chauhans, and the DaulatBagh Gardens added to it by Jahangir is yet another stunning example of the harmony Ajmer is so well-known for.
Although not as heavily laden with forts and palaces as the other Rajasthani cities, Taragarh Fort of Ajmer is quite a stalwart when it comes to Rajput architecture. Standing atop the crest of a hill, this colossal fortress is home to the Dargah of HazratMiran and the giant cannon called GarbhGunjam, translating to ‘Thunder of the Womb’.