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Ajmer

Ajmer, formerly written Ajmere, is a city in Ajmer District in India's Rajasthan state. Ajmer is a very beautiful city, surrounded by the spectacular Aravalli Mountains. Ajmer, also known as Ajaymeru, was the city once ruled by Prithviraj Chauhan. Its population was approximately 500,000 in 2001. The city gives its name to Ajmer district, and also to a former province of British India called Ajmer-Merwara, which, after India's independence, became the state of Ajmer. On November 1, 1956, it was merged into Rajasthan state.

History of Ajmer
Ajmer was founded in the late seventh century by Dushyant Chauhan. He established the Chauhan dynasty which continued to rule the country while repeated waves of Turkish invasions swept across India. Ajmer was conquered by Muhammad of Ghor, founder of the Delhi Sultanate, in 1193. Its internal government, however, was handed over to the Chauhan rulers upon the payment of a heavy tribute to the conquerors. Ajmer then remained feudatory to Delhi until 1365, when it was captured by the ruler of Mewar. In 1509 Ajmer became a source of contention between the Maharajas of Mewar and Marwar, and was ultimately conquered by the Marwar ruler in 1532. Ajmer was conquered by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1559. It continued to be in the hands of the Mughals, with occasional revolts, until 1770, when it was ceded to the Marathas. From that time up to 1818 Ajmer was the scene of an ongoing struggle, being seized at different times by the Mewar and the Marwar maharajas, from whom it was often retaken by the Marathas. In 1818 the Marathas sold Ajmer to the East India Company for 50,000 rupees. Since then Ajmer has enjoyed stable governance, although during the 1857 War of Independence some Indian sepoys at the garrison in the nearby town of Nasirabad joined the revolt. Under the British Raj, Ajmer was governed by an Agent to the Governor General overseeing Rajputana. After independence in 1947, Ajmer retained its position as a centrally administrated state under a Chief Commissioner for some time. Ajmer was eventually merged with the State of Rajasthan.

Places of Interest
The chief objects of interest are Pushkar, and the Dargāh, tomb of the most revered Muslim sufi saint Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī, known as Gharīb Nawāz, or 'Benefactor of the Poor'. Pushkar is a town in the state of Rajasthan in India near Ajmer, about 23 Kilometers away, and is an important tourist destination. Pushkar is famous for Pushkar Lake and the 14th century Brahma temple dedicated to Brahma, Hindu God of Creation. Pushkar is also famous for its annual Pushkar Camel Fair.

The Dargah of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti The Dargāh Sharīf of Khwāja Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī is situated at the foot of the Tārāgaṛh hill, and consists of several white marble buildings arranged around two courtyards, including a massive gate donated by the Nizām of Hyderabad, a mosque donated by the Mughal emperor Shāh Jahān, the Akbarī Mosque, and the domed tomb of the saint. The Emperor Akbar, with his queen, used to come here by foot on pilgrimage from Agra every year in observance of a vow he had made when praying for a son. The large pillars, erected at intervals of two miles (3 km) the whole way between Agra and Ajmer, marking the daily halting places of the royal pilgrim, are still extant.

Tārāgaṛh Fort, the fort of Ajmer, seat of the Chauhān rulers, is claimed to be the first hill fort of Asia, built at a time when the Aravalli mountain ranges were above the snowlines. This gives it the reputation of being one of the oldest hill forts of the world, and it is definitely the oldest among the hill forts in India. It was built by King Ajāypāl Chauhān on the summit of Tārāgaṛh Hill, overlooking Ajmer; its thick battlements run along its brow, completely enclosing the table-land. The walls are two miles (3 km) in circumference, and the fort can only be approached by steep and very roughly paved slopes. When it came into the hands of the British Raj, the fort was dismantled by order of Lord William Bentinck, and was converted into a sanatorium for the troops stationed at the British cantonment town of Nasirabad.

The Aḍhāī Din kā Jhonpṛā, a Jain temple constructed in 1153 and converted into a mosque by Quṭbuddīn Aybak after 1193, is situated on the lower slope of the Tārāgaṛh hill. With the exception of that part used as a mosque, called Jāma' Iltutmish (pronounced Altamish locally), nearly the whole of the ancient temple has fallen into ruins, but the relics are not excelled in beauty of architecture and sculpture by any remains of Hindu art. Forty columns support the roof, but no two are alike, and exceptional creativity is shown in the execution of the ornaments.

The Magazine, the city's Museum, was once the residence of Prince Salīm, son of the Emperor Akbar, and presently houses a collection of the Mughal and Rajput armour and sculpture. This residence of Salīm is significant from a historical point of view, because Salīm as Emperor Jahāngīr read out the firman for trade to India to the British East India Company from here, thus starting the chain of events that lead to India's colonisation by the British. Mayo College was established in 1875 by Lord Mayo, Viceroy of India. The architecture of the school buildings evoke the grandeur of erstwhile princely Rajasthan. The main building of the school, in white marble, is a classic example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, and the design now lies in the archives of the British Museum in London.

The Anasāgar Lake lies to the north of Ajmer. According to the Prithvirāj Vijāya, this lovely lake was constructed by King Anaji (1135-1150 AD), the grandfather of Prithvirāj Chauhān, to purify the soil defiled by the blood of Muslims who had died there in a battle. When Hazrat Mu'īnuddīn Chishtī arrived in Ajmer in 1192 CE, he spent a period in seclusion (chillah) on the banks of this lake; this spot on the Anasāgar Ghāti is now known as Chillah Khwājah Sāhib. Next to the lake are the Daulat Bāgh Gardens set up by Emperor Jahāngīr. Shāh Jahān added five pavillions, known as the the Baradaris to the lake. The lake is formed by an embankment built between two hillocks: Bajrang Gaṛh and Khobra Bherun (named after the Hindu temples built on them).

The Nasiyan is a Digambara Jain temple, also known as the Lāl Mandir (Red Temple)because of its colour. It was built in 1864-1895, and is dedicated to the first Jain Tīrthankar Rishabha. It is located on the Prithviraj Marg. The main chamber is known as the Swarna Nagari (City of Gold), which is filled with gold-plated wooden figures depicting characters in Jain mythology, which were fashioned in Jaipur.

Shopping Experience In Ajmer
Shopping In Ajmer Is An Enjoyable Experience. One Can Shop For Antiques, Curios, Fascinating Gold And Silver Jewelry In Contemporary Designs, Colorful Tie-And-Dye Sarees And Embroidered Jodhpuri 'Jutis'. Especially During The Annual Urs Fair, A Range Of Colorful Items And Marvelous Creations Of Traditional Folk Aristsans Are For Sale.
Ajmer has a women's market (ask for the Mahila Mandi - closed Tuesdays) that sells odnis (traditional veils... they also make nice light table covers) and saris galore. Ornate Lenghas (skirts worn with blouses) are also widely available. Hand tie-dyed turbans (safas) are 9-metre long bands of fabric with various uses and are usually sold wherever fabric for men's clothing is sold.

Accessibility by Road and Train to Ajmer

By train
By rail from Delhi - the Delhi-Ahmedabad Mail is a decent overnight train (slow, but it gives you more time to sleep) while the Ajmer Shatabdi Express is the fastest way to get there. There are passenger trains (second unreserved only -- definitely an "experience") in the morning and evening to Jaipur and train links down to Ahmedabad. The city is also connected to Udaipur, of which Intercity Express would be a better option.

By bus
Jaipur is 1.5-3 hours by road (depending on the type of bus you take)(the jaipur- ajmer expressway is a 6- lane one and is fantastic to drive on). Jodhpur is 4-5 hours in the opposite direction. Buses to Pushkar leave at a different bus stand (near the Jain temple) from the other buses (south).

Get around

Ajmer is a walkable city, once you get your bearings. It is also a good option for weekend breaks [1]. The Dargah bazaar is about 10 minutes walk and Ana Sagar (the "lake" - which has marble pavillions in a garden and is a wonderful place to sit, especially on hot days) is about 30 minutes walk. There are some wonderful back-alleys -- just wander down small side streets from the Dargah bazaar and you'll see some wonderful old architecture and murals before you stumble back across a main street.

Other than on foot, cycle rickshaws, autorickshaws (who are intent on taking you to Pushkar) and horse-drawn tongas are available for hire (the latter on selected routes only). There are also tempos that run from the bus stand to the railway station and all over town .

Click here for Information on Places Around Ajmer



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