AJMER SHARIEF DARGAH IN RAJASTHAN
Ajmer-E-Sharief Dargah - Ajmer
The dust of your doorstep
is just the right thing to apply,
If Surmah does not show
its beauty in the eye!
- Amir Khusrau
This is the faith at Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan. Amir Khusrau, the
great Persian poet beautifully portrays his devotion while playing an
enthralling crossword with his words. He quotes that surmah or kohl powder
cannot embellish one's eyes, but my Lord, the dust of your doorstep has
the efficacy to garnish, even a nescient soul.
Ajmer's closest association is with the Dargah Sharif, the catacomb of the eminent Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, whose disciples included the Mughal emperors and who would claim cliques of all creed from every corner of the country. The favored Sufi capital is in the shadow of the Aravallis in central Rajasthan, around 3 hours drive from Jaipur, the capital city. The unbiased ambiance of the Dargah, which calls devotees from every caste, creed and sect, actually rejuvenates one's spirit and fills one's heart with eternal bliss. Since the 13th century, this shrine, richly adorned with silver and gold ornamentation, has enjoyed a huge following and the Urs, or death anniversary, of the saint is observed with huge fanfare.
Entering the precincts of the shrine is like entering
another world. The clamor of the street falls away under an enormous
marble gateway built by emperor Shahjahan. There are hundreds of people
within, but a harmony of soft whisperings and prayer muffles the air. As
you enter the Dargah, have a look at the two pulchritudinous gateways,
Buland Durwaza, which were built by Sultan Ghyasuddin Khilji of Mandoo.
Akbar was the first Mogul emperor to visit the Dargah on foot, when Ajmer
came under his possession. He built the Akbari Masjid in the Dargah in
1571 A.D. which is a voluminous, red sandstone mosque, situated at the
right side of the main entrance. The entrance is decorated with gold and
enamel work, as well as Belgian crystal chandeliers , which hung from the
apex inside the shrine. Clocks are another regular feature of mosques and
Sufi tombs--in part to help the faithful keep track of prayer times.
In the center of the compound lies the actual mazaar, or grave, bustling with the prayers of the devotees. It is this shrine that is the main attraction of Ajmer Dargah. Around it is a golden railing donated by emperor Jahangir and the crown at the apex is made up of solid gold. Inside, the hush deepens, despite a crush of people. The jeweled mazaar, covered with gold cloth, is protected by silver railings and a great dome above. Pilgrims stand outside the outer railing, and the khadims (hereditary shrine keepers) move in the space in between. The heaps of rose petals give off an incredibly strong scent that fills the room, adding to the atmosphere. The walls are paneled with velvet curtains, including one from Mecca.
The accretions are not merely material; faith is also a quality in the ambiance. Faith seems to thicken and reshape at this place of worship, the way that agglomerations around sand create pearls in oysters. By looking at the devotion of the crowd, you are forced to wonder about this small, body-sized patch of earth guiding the faith of millions. You will be fascinated about this Persian man, orphaned at 16 and heir to an orchard and a windmill, who chose to become a hermit just by a chance encounter with a dervish. His arrival and popularity in Prithviraj Chauhan's Ajmer in 1190, aged 52, ruffled feathers in the court; but the force of his spiritual presence won over his antagonists. Pilgrims from every pockets of the Indian Subcontinent cluster in the Dargah Sharief, also known as the second Mecca of south-east Asia, to ask for favors. They put forward their grieve and sorrows, with the impeccable credulity that, the saint is still conscious and attentive, and can confer blessings upon people, by acting as a channel for God's grace.
Devotee at Ajmer-E-Sharief Dargah
A spellbinding ritual is the looting of kheer (milk pudding) which is cooked in two cumbrous cauldrons called degs, donated by Akbar and Jahangir to feed the poor. Each day, the khadim cook a gruel of barley and salt for the hungry. At the cost of Rs 800, the simple larder feeds two thousand people, twice a day. The iron degs with a capacity of 120 and 60 maunds respectively, are reached by a set of steps. During the Urs, the khadim put on boots and leap into the hot cauldrons to decant food out from the bottom. Every time the money thrown into the empty vessels amounts to Rs 40,000 or more, a Tabarruk (blessed food) is cooked and distributed to the devotees.
The Urs festival begins on the 25th of Jamadi-ul-Akhir (sixth lunar month), in May, portraying the six day seclusion, followed by the demise of the great Sufi saint Hazart Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisty. Energized by the hoisting of a white flag with gaiety, on the Dargah by the Sajjada Nashin (successor representative) of Chistis, the tomb, richly adorned with gold and silver ornamentation, is then washed with rose water and sandalwood paste in the early morning. The last day is marked by the opening of the Jannati Darwaza, a gateway to heaven that should be crossed 7 times to obtain eternal salvation. A must see quantum of the fair is the mushaira or poetic recitation. Poets from all pockets of India gather wholeheartedly to recite compositions dedicated to Khwaja. People also gather in religious convocations which include singing of Qawwali songs by devotees. It is this festival that makes this pilgrimge centre a major attraction in India.
This famous Ajmer Chisti pilgrimage is located at the confluence of three bazaars. There are a number of restaurants around the Dargah where tourists can choose from a variety of dishes most of which are non-vegetarian delicacies. Prefer not to take a car into the bazaar unless you enjoy executing a 74-point turn on a five-foot-wide lane with oncoming traffic beeping apologetically. Besides, this is a pilgrimage: even Akbar walked, all the way from Agra and his ardent son, Jahangir, did the last few miles of the journey on foot. Members of all caste, creed and sect have access to the shrine. It is mandatory to remove the shoes, before entering through the main gate. Within the premises, the head of the devotee should be covered at all times.
Ajmer is well connected to all major cities of Rajasthan. Private and State owned buses ply regularly through this route. You can also book your tickets for a tourist video coach. Besides, during the Urs festival, special buses from RTDC cruise to Ajmer and back from various destinations all over the country. Hire a bicycle or a tonga (horse drawn carriages) to reach the Dargah.
Top 5 Reasons To Visit Ajmer Dargah
The Hallowed Dargah of Khwaja
The Most Adored Shrine
Get Some Blessings
See The Faith And Believe It
Rajasthan & The Taj
Wildlife Safari Tour
Mahal - White Wonder
Delhi - Eternal Capital
Sikri - City of Victory
- Out of The World
Madhya Pradesh -
Centre of Attraction