Ajmer was founded by the Chauhan ruler, Raja Ajay Pal in the 7th century.
It remained directly under the control of the Chauhans untill the 12th century when Mohammad Ghori wrested it away in battle after defeating Prithviraj Chauhan. Subsequently the city was alternately in the hands of the Marwar and sometimes the Mewar rulers for almost 4 centuries till the Mughal Emperor Akbar annexed it in 1556 AD. After the Mughals it was the Marathas who held sway before the advent of the British in the 19th century who made it their headquarters of Rajputana. Under the British, Ajmer gained considerable prominence as several educational institutions were set up and a massive railway workshop was established. Tourist Attractions of Ajmer City;
Nasiyan Jain Temple (Soniji Ki Nasiyan) : A local businessman, Raj Bahdhur Seth Moolchand Nemichand Soni, built the ornate red-sandstone Jain temple in the late 19th century. Although the main temple is open only for persons from the Jain community it is the museum section which showcases the Jain conception of the Universe that is truly amazing. The Suvarna Nagri or the Golden City houses replicas of every important Jain shrine, which are all gold-plated. Infact over 1000kg of gold has been used in this extravagant venture which is enclosed in a glass case and can be viewed from different galleries. The ceiling is bedecked with silver balls and gold painted ships of the gods, while at the center stands the Holy Mountain Sumeru.
Timings – open daily from 9am to 4pm
Entry Fee – Rs 3
Lake Anasagar and the Marble Baradari An artificial lake built by Raja Ana in 1135-1150AD by damming river luni. On one of the embankments of the lake stand a series of marble pavilions or ‘Baradari’ built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1637 with the Daulat Bagh Park on the other side. An island in the centre of the lake has a cafeteria and there are facilities for boating and paddle boats. During the winter months the lake provides ample oppurtunities for bird-watchers as a host of migratory birds including Pelicans, lesser as well as greater flamingos and numerous varieties of ducks descend upon its waters.
Magazine or Akbar’s Fort Located in the center of town is the Daulatkhana constructed by Akbar in 1570AD primarily as a resting place during his numerous Rajputana campaigns. Also refered to as Akbar’s fort, it’s main entrance is through an elaborate gate which was added later by Jahanghir. This edifice also happens to be the venue of the historic meeting that took place between Sir Thomas Roe and Jahangir on 1616 AD. During the 1857 uprising this fort was extensively used as the Rajputana Aresenal’ that led to it being nicknamed ‘Magazine’. The government of India museum is also located here where one can see some rare old relics, Stone sculptures, and manuscripts from numerous erstwhile principalities on display.
Timings – open from 7am to 7pm on all days except Friday and national holidays.
Entry Fees – Rs 3 (Free on Mondays)
Taragarh Fort and Dargah of Meera Saheb: Taragarh or the Star fort which dominates Ajmer’s skyline was built sometimes in the 7th century by Ajay Pal, the founder of Ajmer and is said to be one of the earliest of the mighty Rajput hill forts to be constructed. Although not much remains of the fort except for the old walls and a few gateways yet a drive up to the fort is worthwhile especially to see the splendid views of the countryside. Also atop Taragarh is located the Dargah of Meera Saheb with its own Bulund Darwaza constructed by the Subedaar of Ajmer, Ismail Quili Khan in 1569 AD.
No Entry Fee
The Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti: A visit to the Dargah of the celebrated sufi saint Moinuddin Chisti located within the old walled city is an altogether different experience and although the shrine is a significant pilgrimage spot for the Sufi sect of Muslims, its reputation has spread beyond all faiths. The sacred shrine itself was built in the early 13th century though its popularity spread far and wide only after it received patronage from the Mughal Kings Akbar and Shah Jahan. Infact Akbar is said to have undertaken a pligrimage from Fatehpur Sikri to the Dargah on foot after he was blessed with a son. Both the Mughal Emperors have had numerous buildings constructed in the dargah complex which include the Bulund Darwaza and the Shah Jahani mosque made in marble.
The main entrance to the Dargah is through an intimidating gateway which was built by the Nizam of Hyderabad. An annual 6-day Urs fair held to celebrate the death anniversary of the departed saint attracts lakhs of Zayrins or pilgrims. Noted Qawwali singers also come especially for this occasion to perform at the ‘darbar’ of Chisti, who is widely hailed as Khwaja Garib Nawaz or uplifter of the downtrodden.
Visitors have to cover their heads with a cap or scarf within the dargah complex.
Adhai-Din-Ka-Jhonpra: Situated close to the Dargah at the foot of Taragarh is the unique Adhai-Din-Ka-Jhonpra or the two and a half-day hut. Originally a Sanskrit college it was partially destroyed and later converted into a mosque by Qutub-ud-din-Aibak who also added the massive 7 arched screen façade in front of the existing pillared hall. This handsome edifice got its name after an Urs, which lasted for two and a half days.
No Entry Fee 7.
Mayo College: Hailed as the ‘Eton of the East’, the Mayo College was primarily established by the British in 1875 to educate the children of the princes of Rajputana. Today, however it is the country’s leading residential public school open to all. Sprawling over 265 acres its main attraction is the main building built entirely of White unpolished marble in the Indo-Sarcenic style. The School museum is remarkable and worth a visit.
Prithviraj Chauhan Samark: Enroute to the Taragarh fort is the Prithviraj Samarak; a memorial built in 1994 and dedicated to Prithviraj Chauhan – the last Hindu ruler of India. Located amidst landscaped gardens stands a larger than life statue of Chauhan astride his favorite steed, Chetak.
Sai Baba Temple