Place to visit in Ajmer

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Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by asoulwindow

Place to visit in Ajmer

The holy city of Ajmer which was founded in 7th century C.E. by Raja Ajay Pal Chauhan attracts pilgrims throughout the year. Being an atheist, I visited it only as a tourist; my main halt was at Pushkar fair. I was curious to know, what is it about this famous Muslim Shrine that so many people, of all religions are drawn to it! Which is the best place to visit in Ajmer?

So there I was, heading to shrine which also has the tomb of the Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti. The otherwise nondescript town of Ajmer is situated close to the Naag Pahad aka Snake Mountain in the majestic Aravali Hills.

Some other popular and offbeat places to see in and around Ajmer are Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra, Ana Sagar Lake, Taragarh Fort, Buland Darwaza etc. Qawwali at Ajmer Dargah is also not to be missed. Yes, there are many things to do in Ajmer in Rajasthan.

Rose flower seller. Scenes outside Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah.

History of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah

The Indian Muslims consider Ajmer Dargah as one of the holiest pilgrimage, next only to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is said that Mughal emperor Akbar revered the Persian saint Chishti and once walked barefoot from Agra in Uttar Pradesh to Ajmer Dargah to pay his respects.

What makes this 13th century shrine so important? Dargah Sharif is home to the grave or the maqbara of Moinuddin Chishti, who was a highly revered Sufi saint. He was born in the present day Iran which was then called Sanjar. Also called as Khwāja Mu’īnuddīn Chishtī, he was addressed by locals as the Gareeb Nawaz aka ‘benefactor of the poor’

Established in the year 1236 C.E., the shrine was renovated by other rulers such as Jahangir, Jahanara, Shah Jahan and Maharaja Of Baroda. Since those days, it was the most popular place to visit in Ajmer city.  

Chadar seller at Ajmer Sharif Dargah

Why is Ajmer Sharif Dargah Famous?

It is believed that Mughals such as Akbar, Shah Jahan, Jahangir, Jahanara, Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb paid visit to Ajmer Dargah.  Other historical figures like Nasiruddin Mahmud, Sher Shah Suri, Rasiya Sultan and Muhammad bin Tughluq have also paid their respects at the Dargah.

Both Muslims and Hindus visit the Dargah of Khwāja Mu’īnuddīn Chishtī. It is the main attraction of Ajmer. Do include this in your places to see in Ajmer in one day.

Buland Darwaza – main entrance to Dargah Sharif

Buland Darwaza of Dargah Sharif

Taking a Rs. 50, 10 minutes auto-rickshaw ride from Bus station (Same distance and rate from railway station), I stepped down at the main ancient gate called Buland Darwaza from where the Dargah Bazaar starts. It is generally very chaotic and crowded here on most days. It is one of the top places you will see during Ajmer sightseeing.

Other gates in Ajmer Dargah include Shahjahan Gate and Nizam Gate.

Also do visit the Akbari Masjid, Mehfil Khana, Library, Chishti’s tomb etc.

A local Bhil woman wearing bangles on arms. Street near Ajmer Dargah. Rajasthan.

Streets of Ajmer Dargah

Since I wanted to feel the pulse of the place, so I walked down the area of Dargah Bazaar which leads to the Dargah. The beggars with mutilated body parts dot the market; they roll on the ground and beg. The streets are lined with shops selling everything from daily use items, food, clothes, VCDs and what nots.

A begger in the markets of Ajmer Dargah

Most VCDs in shops showed distressed women hysterically and dramatically wailing and crying and asking Khwaja for ‘rehem’ (Mercy). It further showed that once they visited the Ajmer shrine, its happy days for them again. Some more non serious CDs has songs playing in a child’s voice, Papa, mujhe Khwaja ji ke mele mein hai jaana” ( Daddy ,I want to go to Khwajaji’s fair). Ajmer sightseeing is fun, eh!

Rules Inside Ajmer Dargah

What are things to consider while visiting Ajmer Sharif Dargah? I bought a Rs.10 handkerchief from a kid, covered my head (mandatory for all men and women) and moved to gate number 2 of the Ajmer Dargah (take left from Main Gate) , to deposit my bag and camera for Rs. 20 (Rs. 10 for small bags). Bags of any kind, footwear and cameras are not allowed inside Khwāja Mu’īnuddīn Chishtī Dargah.

Entering from gate Number 2 , I deposited my sandals when the caretaker announced pointing to my shorts , ‘Yeh chadhdhi nahi chalegi ander , yeh lungi kiraaye per le jao’ (You can’t wear this half pants inside , take this sarong/wrap-around to cover) At Rs.15 , I wrapped it around , only to hear more such strict rules from a loud speaker inside , viz. ,

  • Don’t sit with your back facing the Dargah
  • Kids need to be disciplined
  • No smoking or Paan chewing or drinking etc.
  • No cameras inside (Strangely, you can not carry a camera inside, but no one stops you if you click on phone cameras.)

Remember the famous controversy over dressing of Bollywood actress Katreena Kaif in Ajmer Sharif premises? So always keep in mind the rules and things to consider while visiting Ajmer Sharif Dargah.

Place for waju. Inside Ajmer Dargah

Ambiance inside Ajmer Dargah

Anyways, once inside the Ajmer Dargah, I was intrigued by the whole ‘mahaul’ (Ambience). Architecture wise it is nothing to write home about. But what appeals is the feeling that you get there. It looked like a different country! Ajmer sightseeing has many faces.

A wishing well inside Ajmer Sharif

As if I was in some Middle East nation , what with most people dressed in traditional Muslim attire , long-bearded and pathani suit clad men speaking in Arabic, cats roaming around confidently , people reading holy texts (There was a library with huge collection of holy text), smell of fragrances (of agarbatti aka incense sticks , flowers, biryani etc.), live qawwalis filling the air , people tying holy threads on a wall dedicated for same , people kissing the same thread wall , a charming water pond where pilgrims and pigeons washed their legs, a well where people threw money and other such predictable things. No wonder it is a famous place in Ajmer.

People tying thread or dhaga inside Ajmer Sharif

But what intrigued me the most were humans and their dreams, hopes, aspirations, despair, grief, happiness, total surrender, the works ! It was so palpable; I could read all these emotions on people’s faces there. Human vulnerability was at its peak! A teary eyed face there, a trance-ed face there.  As the famous and my favorite Hindi song (penned by Prasoon Joshi) goes, “ Dararein dararein hain maathein per maula , marammat mukaddar ki kar do maula’ (There are cracks galore on my forehead, Oh Lord , I beg you to heal those).

Qawwalis At Ajmer Dargah

Do not miss the Qawwalis in Ajmer Dargah which is one of the best things to do here. It happens throughout the day and even in the night. Being an atheist, I didn’t stand in a queue to offer a prayer or even to see what lies inside. Nor did I kiss any holy door or tie a thread. No offences here, it is just that rituals never made sense to me.

People tying holy thread or dhaga inside Ajmer Dargah

What drew my attention instantly were the live qawwalis. I found out later that it is a must do when in Ajmer city. I just rushed to the place from where the sound was coming, observed how others were behaving or sitting and tried to fit in. I sat there with closed eyes and complete surrender, listening to soulful qawwalis peacefully for more than an hour. It was as comforting as the bhajans at Hindu temples. Such music makes me silent and contemplative always.

Live Sufi Qawwali inside Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah

The words were all themed around human vulnerability. And that made sense to me. I found my God there! I offered no chaadar, no prayer , tied no threads , didn’t even ask for anything (Despite the fact that at that time a lot of things are not going right in my life), but still felt at peace hearing those words. They were so good; I quickly wrote down some to Google them later. Ajmer sightseeing is incomplete without a qawwali session.

I observed a man whose eyes were red with all the weeping, a foreign woman, so engrossed in the music, even though she didn’t understand a word and other such people who were in almost trance like state. The songs almost made me cry as it made me reflect on my past and present, both of which I found to be in shambles. But not one to cry in public, I gained control on my emotions.

Special mention for the singing. All the men had great powerful voice and sung it with so much passion even though they do it daily, non-stop. Not wanting to get up even after an hour session, but bound by time constraints, I left the place humming those qawwalis. It is one of the top reasons why the Dargah is the most spiritual place to visit in Ajmer city.  

Live Sufi Qawwali session inside Ajmer Dargah

Some Qawwalis at Ajmer Dargah

 I wrote down some lyrics of the qawwalis to later Google them once I am back to Mumbai. And to my surprise and delight, I found some of them on Youtube . Sample these:

1) Mujhe aapne bulaya , yeh karam nahi to  kya hai…

Mera martaba badhaya , yeh karam nahi to kya hai…

2) Bhar do jholi mere ya mohammed ,Laut ke main na jaaunga khaali

Uski kismet ka chamka sitara , jispe rehmet najar tumne daali…

(This was before Bajrangi Bhaijaan released)

3) Mujhe apne rang mein rang diya , mere Ajmeri khwaja ne

Meri bigdi kismet sanwaar do , sbaki bigdi kismet sanwarti hai Khwaja Ajmeri mein.

4) Jikr-e-Khwaja jo karta rahe, uska har kaam hota rahe…

Rang-e-Chishti na utre kabhi, Rang-e-Alam badalta rahe…

5) Jab tak bika na tha, koi poochta na tha ,

Tumne khareed kar mujhe anmol  kar diya.

Watch it here

6) Samajh  mein aayega ibdaad kaise hoti hai,

Jara tadap kar pukaro to ae gareeb nawaj…

Ajmer Dargah in Night, Rajasthan.

Ajmer Dargah in Night

2 days later, few hours before boarding the train to Mumbai , I returned back to Ajmer from Pushkar (My base during the trip) a few hours early to catch the Dargah in its night glory. My father, who had been there strongly recommended me to see it by the night, he said you will feel like your soul is transported to a bygone era. And yes he was true. It felt like I was in 15th century, perhaps! Somehow the place was more magical by the night. It is after all, one of the most famous Dargah in India.

The scents were uncannily stronger and the sights more delightful in night, what with all those colorful lights. It sure is one of the most soulful of all Ajmer tourist places. It is also one of the most unusual things to do in Ajmer as most people leave the city by evening.

Devotees offer rose, marigold flower and chadar at Ajmer Sharif. Rajasthan

Miracles and Mannat – Wish fulfillment

Many people come here hoping for a miracle. Others come for wish fulfillment or mannat. Emotions run high in Dargah. The sheer display of faith overwhelmed me. Pilgrims displayed stronger and more powerful/overwhelming emotions than morning. I saw a woman crying while leaving the Dargah (A sick child? A divorce? / A husband on the verge of bankruptcy? ). Many come to Dargah, hoping for a miracle that can change their lives. They express their mannat or wish and hope for it being fulfilled.

Another woman was walking to-and-fro like a lion in a cage shouting to God and herself, “My daughter never harmed anyone! Then why this happened to her? Why? Why? Why? I want an answer…) She was furious, angry and grief stricken and freaked out the pilgrims with her antics. It was a sad sight. It was something which stayed with me even after I had left the Ajmer Dargah. It is said that all wishes are fulfilled in Dargah. People come here to see miracles and express their mannat (wish)

A woman visiting Ajmer Sharif

Bidding Adieu

In the evening, they were also distributing free biryani, which I refused to eat suspecting it to be non-vegetarian. Again I spent 45 minutes listening to qawwalis, this time putting an alarm in my cell phone, lest I would have missed my train (Thanks to the hypnotizing music). Coming out of the Dargah, I returned the handkerchief to an old man selling the same, so that he could sell it again. The old man got really surprised and happy to get this handkerchief which could help him fetch an extra Rs.10/-. In India, Rs. 10/- can bring a wide smile, I was surprised to know!

Ana Sagar Lake and Aravali hills. Ajmer, Rajasthan

Ana Sagar Lake & Baradari – Ajmer sightseeing

A thirty minutes walk away from the Ajmer Dargah is the artificial lake called Ana Sagar Lake. And if you are in Ajmer you should not skip this monument which dates back to 12th century. The beautiful white marble pavilions or the Baradari served as the summer shelter in old days. It was built in 17th century by Shah Jahan on the periphery of the Ana Sagar Lake. It is located adjacent to the Daulat Bagh garden. This is one of the best of all the Ajmer famous places.

After munching on my passable Masala Dosa in an al fresco restaurant opposite Circuit House, I walked 5 minutes to reach the Baradari, from where one can have fabulous view of lake as well as the city. FOR FREE! It is a nice place to visit in Ajmer city.

A man contemplating in Baradari in Ana Sagar lake. Aravali mountains in background. Ajmer, Rajasthan

The views are best in evening (The time at which I visited) when the sun hides poetically behind the majestic Aravalli mountains. One can even take a boat ride in the lake during sunset. The 5 marble pavilions of Baradari were built by Mughal emperor Shahjehan in 1637 while the lake which was constructed by Anaji Chauhan came to life much earlier in 1135-1150 A.D.

It’s a thing of beauty but sadly in a state of neglect. I didn’t find a single security guard there. It is thronged by picnickers, local children, school bunkers, lovers, pensioners and scores of poppadom sellers. It has a children’s park nearby. Bus station and railway station is Rs.50/- auto rickshaw ride away. It is one of the most touristy of all Ajmer tourist places. You can easily include this in places to see in Ajmer in one day. It is also called as Foy Sagar lake or lake Foy Sagar.

Sunset from baradari in Ana Sagar Lake. Ajmer, Rajasthan

Sunset at Ana Sagar Lake

I saw amazing sun set at the Ana Sagar Lake. It is the best time of the day to visit the lake. The sun down colors dancing on the water is a beautiful sight. The colossal Aravali mountains in the background adds to the aura of the place. The cool breeze was an added bonus.

Also watch out for any exotic bird in and around the Ana Sagar lake, especially during the winter months.

Sunset from baradari. Aravali hills in background. Ana Sagar lake. Ajmer, Rajasthan

Durga Baag – Place to visit in Ajmer

Located on the banks of the Ana Sagar Lake, Durga Baag is another must visit place in Ajmer. Commissioned by King Shiv Dan in the year 1868 C.E., this garden adds charm to the cityscape of Ajmer. It is a good idea to spend evening in the peaceful gardens and baradaris around the Durga Baag.

It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A muslim man performing namaj inside Adhai din ka jhopra. Ajmer, Rajasthan.

Adhai Din Ka Jhopra- Ajmer tourist places

Moving out of Dargah, I took the lane to ‘Dhai Din Ka Jhopdaa’ (The hut of 2 and a half days) aka Jama Al-Tamish. To reach it, one just needs to take the right lane upwards from the main gate of Dargah (When facing it). This place to visit in Ajmer is popular with both locals and tourists. Still, few know about it. It is a free thing to do in Ajmer.

Arabic inscription, Islamic calligraphy inside Adhai Din Ka Jhopra, Ajmer, Rajasthan.

This hillside monument has a mosque with seven arches, with elaborate Arabic inscription, Islamic calligraphy and delicate carvings all over the 7 arched screen façade. Despite its awe inspiring beauty, it is in a state of neglect. In fact, most tourists/pilgrims to Ajmer Dargah are not even aware of this hidden gem 5 minutes walk away from the Dargah. This is one of the best offbeat Ajmer tourist places.

The ambiance of Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra was intriguing, what with the goats grazing on the graveyard in its lawn, people sleeping in the campus and most interestingly ‘papad-wallah’ (popadum-sellers) selling huge papads with a parrot perched on their shoulders. When I asked, why is there a parrot on every papad sellers’ shoulders, I was told it is to attract the tourists. What a pity! I ate a rice papad (Rs.10) and it was pretty good. If you have only one day in Ajmer, then you can easily visit here.

Papad seller and his customers at Adhai Din Ka Jhopra, Ajmer, Rajasthan.

Hindu past of Adhai Din Ka Jhopda

Dhai Din Ka Jhopda was originally a Jain Temple and a Sanskrit college built in 660 C.E. by Seth Viramdeva Kala. The purpose of the construction of the original Jain Temple was to celebrate the Panch Kalyanaka. It later became a Sanskrit school in the year 1153 C.E. under the supervision of Vigraharaja IV aka Visaladeva.  He was a ruler from the Shakambhari Chahamana dynasty.

Many ancient pillars at Adhai Din Ka Jhopra still have remains of Hindu and Jain temples. Ajmer, Rajasthan.

Till date you can see some Hindu style pillars and Jain features here. Hindu motifs can also be seen on the ceiling.

In earlier days a temple devoted to Hindu Goddess Maa Saraswati existed on the western side. Sadly, it does not exist anymore. The original building was square in shape. Much like elsewhere in Rajasthan, all the corners had dome-shaped pavilion or Chhatri. There were around 700 pillars and 20-30 Hindu temples here originally.

The construction material for Adhai Din Ka Jhopda was taken from the destroyed Hindu temple which dates back to 11th and 12th century C.E. Do go to this secret place to visit in Ajmer. It is one of the most important Ajmer famous places.

One of the pillars at Adhai Din Ka Jhopra, Ajmer, Rajasthan. Some pillars and ceilings still have Hindu and Jain motifs on them

Who destroyed Jain Temples at Adhai Din Ka Jhopda

Qutb-ud-Din-Aibak from New Delhi was responsible for the destruction of the Hindu temple and a Sanskrit college in late 12th century C.E. on orders by Muhammad Ghori. A mosque was built here soon. It is one of the oldest mosques of India. It was further renovated by Iltutmish in 1213 C.E. who succeeded Qutb-ud-Din-Aibak.

It was common in those days to build mosques on existing Hindu Temple after destroying them partially or completely. The Qutub Minar Complex in New Delhi which was also a Jain Temple originally is the most famous example of the same. It also reminded me of Martand temple in Srinagar which was destroyed by the Islamic invaders. You can read a detailed account of my personal visit on Martand Surya Mandir on my blog.

Kids playing in Adhai Din Ka Jhopra, Ajmer, Rajasthan.

Why Dhai Din Ka Jhonpra is called so

There are two stories regarding the unusual name of Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra: One story states that its construction completed in 2 and a half days in 1153. (Which I think is impossible, given its huge size.) Other says it is called so due to a festival which continued for 2 days here.

Taragarh Fort and Adhai Din Ka Jhopra are located nearby. Ajmer, Rajasthan.

Taragarh Fort

Stepping down the mosque stairs of Dhai Din Ka Jhopra, I spurned the offer of a shared cab owner, who said that he would take me to on a 3 kms ride uphill to Taragarh fort. My travel guide book tells me that due to its height, the views of Ajmer city and Ana Sagar Lake are spectacular from here. But despite my eagerness to see it, I skipped it due to time constraints. It takes only around 90 minutes to reach Taragarh Fort from Dhai Din Ka Jhopra on foot. Rickshaws, shared taxi and cabs are faster, of course.

This 12th century Fort was commissioned by Ajaypal Chauhan, who was also the founder of town. Also visit the shrine within the Taragarh Fort complex. Do not miss this unique place to visit in Ajmer.

Taragarh Fort and Adhai Din Ka Jhopra are located close to each other. Ajmer, Rajasthan.

Prithviraj Smarak

Dedicated to the great warrior Prithviraj Chauhan (1178–1192), the Prithviraj Smarak is a must see place in Ajmer. A black statue of Pritviraj Chauhan carrying a bow and arrow and sitting atop a horse is the highlight of this memorial. The Taragarh Fort can be seen in the background of the statue. You must walk up to this historical place to visit in Ajmer.

He is a much revered hero from the Rajput Chauhan clan. Also known as Rai Pithora or Prithviraja III, he was also the last of Chauhan dynasty rulers and one of the most notable historical figures of Hindus.

Prithviraj Chauhan was a powerful ruler before the invasion of Islam in Indian subcontinent. The territories in control of Prithviraj Chauhan included huge area of what is now Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, New Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Till 1193 C.E., Ajmer was in control of Chauhans. The Islamic rule was followed after Prithviraj was defeated by the Ghurids in 1192 during the Second Battle Of Tarain. This was the first of its kind of Islamic victory ad expansion in India. Till then Ajayameru or Ajmer was the capital of the kingdom of Prithviraj Chauhan. He is a popular historical figure. Many movies, TV shows and books have been released on his life.  Prithviraj Smarak is located on the Taragarh road. You must pay a visit to all of these famous Ajmer tourist places.

DID YOU KNOW that the original Hindu name of Ajmer was Ajayameru?

Soni Ji ki Nasiyan aka Nasiyan or Red Temple

What else is there to do in Ajmer? Built in 1865 C.E. by a wealthy merchant, Soni Ji ki Nasiyan is an offbeat place to see in Ajmer. It has grand interiors. The golden interiors of the Swarna Nagari will impress you with its opulence. The Soni Ji ki Nasiyan is divided into worship area or temple and museum. It is spread across an area of 3,200 square feet and is an important religious place to visit in Ajmer. This Ajmer Jain temple is a class apart. It is nothing less than a royal palace. Do explore this place.

You can observe the scenes from the Jain mythology of Rishabh or Adinath here. He was the first of all the Jain Tirthankaras. It took 25 years to assemble this spectacle. I have been to Hindu pilgrimage, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in Tibet. As per the legends, Lord Rishabhdev achieved salvation at the holy Kailash parbat.

Inside the Glass hall, you can see the concept of ancient world and 13 continents, replicas of Hindu Holy town Ayodhya and Mount Sumeru. A whooping 1,000 kilograms of gold was used

Depict Ayodhya. Svarna Nagri (City of Gold) is made as per the descriptions in Hindu scripture Adi Puran.

The best displays are on the second floor of the Laal Mandir or the Red Temple. The exquisite glass mosaic work on the walls and ceiling are worth craning your neck for. Do not miss this Jain Temple, which is off the beaten track. The temple and museum complex is owned by Ajmer’s Soni Family.  Also called as Nasiyan Jain Temple, the exteriors of the buildings are equally impressive.It is one of the most underrated of all Ajmer tourist places.

Through displays of figures, you can also learn about the ‘Pancha-Kalyanak’ aka the 5 auspicious events’ in every Tirthankara’s life. It includes the below:

  • Conception
  • Birth
  • Renunciation
  • Enlightenment
  • Salvation aka Nirvana or Moksh

Located in Prithvi Raj Marg, it is also known as the Nasiayan Digambara Temple. Also see the 54 feet tall Shantinatha statue, Manastambha, suspended golden boats, paintings, wooden gold figures, Library, Belgian stained glass work etc.

Only Jains are allowed inside the main temple. Ticket entry is for the museum called Svarna Nagari. Your holiday to Ajmer is incomplete without a visit here.

Soni Ji ki Nasiyan Timimgs: It is open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Muslim skull caps for sale in Ajmer Sharif market

Akbar Fort and Museum

During the British rule in India, Akbar Fort and Museum served as a huge garrison. In fact, the permission for establishing the 1st British factory at Surat in Gujarat happened here. The deal was confirmed between Mughal ruler Jahangir and Thomas Roe from the British East India Company in the year 1660 C.E. It is now one of the major points of interest in Ajmer. The Mayo College Museum is a must visit when in Ajmer.

This colossal building is now a Government run museum which houses ancient sculptures, statues carved in stones, ancient weapons, typical miniature paintings from Rajasthan and rock inscriptions. Many of these displays date between 8th to 12th century C.E. and were excavated from archaeological sites in  Nagar, Rairh, Sambhar, Bairat etc. Also, watch out for beautiful door and awe inspiring architecture. Do not miss the Ajmer Government Museum.

The building was originally called as Daulat Khana by Akbar. Located in Dil-E-Aaram gardens, it was established in the year 1949. Do check out the 2 sacrificial posts or the Yupa Pillars. History lovers will enjoy spending time at this place to visit in Ajmer. Most of the places to see in Ajmer can be visited in one day. Also most Ajmer famous places are located very close to each other.

Entry Fees – INR 25

Akbar Fort and Museum Timings: It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Victoria Jubilee Clock Tower

The history of Ajmer is rich and you can still see the remains. Built in the typical Indo-Islamic architectural style, the Victoria Jubilee Clock Tower is located in Hathi Bhata in Parao area of old town Ajmer. As is usual in such architecture, the clock tower has 4 ornate balconies at each side of the tower. Locally called Ghanta Ghar, the tower has an Islamic dome at the top.

As the name suggests Victoria Jubilee Clock Tower was named to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria in the 19th century.  I saw many such British era clock towers across India in cities like Lucknow, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Jodhpur, Hyderabad, Mirzapur, Chennai and Murshidabad etc.

Sai Baba Temple

You can also visit the local Sai Baba Temple when in Ajmer. Constructed in 1999 by a local person called Suresh Lal, Sai Baba Temple is spread across 2 acres of 5 bighas of land. It is one of the main pilgrimage sites of Ajmer which is popular with people from all faiths. Built in marble, the architecture of Sai Baba Temple is a sight to behold and worth exploring.

Devotees offering chadar inside Ajmer Sharif Dargah

Nareli Jain Temple

Contrary to the ancient monuments of Ajmer, the palace like Nareli Jain Temple is a modern temple. Built by Ashok Patni, a businessman at RK marbles, the Nareli Jain Temple is a grand temple. The imposing Aravali mountain range in the back ground of the Nareli Jain Temple adds to its charm. No wonder, the views from here are worth it.

Do not miss the huge statue of Guru Adinath ji on the first floor. There are around 24 miniature hillside temples around the main shrine. As is common with Jain temples, you will also see the statues of other Tirthankars in temple complex. The spellbinding architecture of Nareli Jain Temple is impressive. It is built in marble on a grand scale. The exquisite stone carvings are worth appreciating. It is said that wishes are fulfilled here and a mere visit is considered to bring prosperity.

Nareli Jain Temple is located in the suburban area, just 7 kms away from main Ajmer city on the Ajmer Jaipur highway. This is one of the best spots to visit in Ajmer in 2 days.

Timings:  6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on all days.

Pushkar

Ajmer trip is incomplete without visiting Pushkar. I have been to Pushkar during the Pushkar fair in winters. I have written many travel blogs on Pushkar based upon my own experiences. There are many places to see in Pushkar such as the holy Pushkar lake, the ancient temples etc.

Most people visit Pushkar and Ajmer together like I did during the annual Pushkar fair. What also helped was that Ajmer is just 30 minutes, Rs.12 bus ride away from Pushkar. So why not? It is after all, the best place to visit near Ajmer.

Restaurants right outside Ajmer Sharif

Vegan and Vegetarian Food in Ajmer

From traditional Rajasthani dishes to the western Pizzas, pastas and from South Indian Masala Dosas to hummus and mezze platter and Chinese food, you will get it all in Ajmer. Some of the Rajasthani vegetarian dishes you must try in Ajmer are Daal-Baati Churma, Haldi Ki Sabzi, Ker Sangri, Mirchi vada, Gatte ki Sabzi, Papad ki sabzi, Bajre ki roti with Lehsun ki chutney, onion kachori, raab or Makki Ki Raab etc. Polish these off with delicious dessert of Rajasthan called Ghevar.

All of these dishes are vegetarian by default. Just request the restaurant owner to not add desi ghee (Clarified butter) to have a vegan version of the same. Rajasthanis add lot of ghee to everything.

Kadi Kachori

Kadi Kachori is the signature dish of Ajmer. The locals claim that the best Kadi Kachori is sold at Shankar Chat Bhandar. During your Ajmer trip, do try this.

Kachchi Haldi Ki Sabzi

Prepared with raw turmeric and yoghurt, Kachchi Haldi Ki Sabzi is a traditional winter dish of Rajasthan.

Turmeric helps in making your body warm in winters and of course has the immunity boosting nutrients.

I sampled Kachchi Haldi Ki Sabzi at a random restaurant near the Ajmer railway station. Look around during winters and you will find it.

Ker Sangri

Sangri is a long bean which also grows wildly in deserts and dry regions of Barmer and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. During drought and dry season, Sangri comes handy as a rich source of nutrition as it contains around 53 % protein. It can be cooked with buttermilk or just plain water.

Ker is a wild berry which is cooked along with Sangri. Ker adds peppery and tangy flavor to the dish.

Raab

It is a local soup which is high in nutrition. It is made up of bajra flour aka millet and buttermilk. It is fermented after heating.

Sheermal sold in a restaurant outside Ajmer Sharif Dargah. Rajasthan. It is a local bread.

Islamic Food

Also on offer near the street of Ajmer Dargah were, no prizes for guessing, the Islamic food such as sheermal , naans , biryaani , kebabs, keema  , curries , the works! You can find such food near all the top Ajmer tourist places. It must have been a gastronomic delight at a throw away price for non-vegetarians but being a vegetarian, my stomach churned up at the smells and sight of hard core non-vegetarian food. As if this was not enough, my eyes wandered at a butcher shop next to the main gate of the Dargah. I was appalled to see full on body parts of chicken lying ruthlessly just a stone’s throw away from the Dargah.

A pile of legs and intestines here and a bunch of blood-soaked feathers there. So far, still good. But I was disgusted at the sight of a bunch of dried goat heads (Eyes socket and teeth intact) lying carelessly at another butchers’ shop as if nothing happened. And in the same shop the owner was lovingly hand-feeding the goats whose throat he might slit open within few hours. I have never been able to understand this psychology.

I, anyways ignored all of it (But still wondered in my head, ‘Why no ‘rehem’ for these poor harmless animals? Just because they can not sing and dance in a VCD?) , 

Goats during Bakrid. Ajmer Sharif bazaar. Rajasthan

A funny-sad-scary experience at a restaurant

Still having a few hours to kill , on much mulling I chose a restaurant opposite Ajmer Railway station for my dinner of (average tasting) ‘Aaloo ka Paratha’ . I didn’t know I would have the entertainment of my life there. A group of four women (1 of them squatting on the chair, ouch!) were making a scene there over petty issues.

She is the one. First from left. Squatting.

The Ms. Squatter was leading the pack with her crass and crude behaviour. She was shouting at the top of her voice, “Ae paani laao, daal laao , blah blah laao…..” (Hey, get me water/lentils/whatevers). The irritated waiters told her, “Ek thaali mein itna hi chaawal milega’ (Only so much rice you will get in 1 order)

She (Face red with anger), “Jaldi laao” (Get me fast!)

He,“ Zaada chillao mat , aur nahi milega , paanch rupaye extra lagenge” (Don’t shout , If you want more , you gotta pay Rs. 5 extra.)

She (Still angry and shouting), “Le kar aao” (Get me fast)

The waiters to each other, “Dude just feed her fast so that she leaves asap.”

I wanted to laugh to my heart’s content but restrained or else she would have thrown the piping hot daal over me. (Though I clandestinely managed to take her picture!) If I were the casting director of some entertainment channel, I would have signed her there and then. She would have put TRPs on fire and given the drama queens like Pooja Mishras, Rakhi Sawants and Dolly Bindras a run for their money. A perfect Bigg Boss housemate, this fighter ninja!

Loban for sale in Ajmer Sharif Dargah market

What to buy in Ajmer Dargah

Shopping in Ajmer can be fun if you keep your eyes peeled. The bazaar near Ajmer Dargah is typical of what is expected outside a Muslim religious place. The shops were selling rose flowers and chadar (Green Cloth Sheets) for offer, different types of caps to be worn inside the mosque, clothes , scents , lobans in multi colours (looks like a rock , but is extracted from tree , used to produce fragrance upon burning), CD sellars selling Dargah themed kitschy VCDs as cheap as Rs.20/-.

Huge crowd in Ajmer Sharif Dargah market

Festivals of Ajmer

Though Ajmer gets huge footfall on all days, but the influx is more on festivals like Urs , Eid and the famous ‘International (The way Govt. ‘Push-es’  it !) Pushkar fair.

Urs Mela in Ajmer Dargah

The Urs Mela is a highly crowded annual festival of Ajmer. Urs happens every year in the month of October. Expect Sufi’s singing qawwalis, vibrant markets, feasts and festivities. Urs is one of the biggest of all the Islamic festivals.

In festivals like Urs, the huge cauldrons or degs are used to prepare meals in large quantity for the masses.

Eid Ajmer Dargah

Eid is also the time when you can enjoy Ajmer in all of its glory. Not only can you attend qawwali sessions but you can also sample Eid special food such as Sewayi (Vermicelli, both vegetarian and vegan). You can plan your trip to co-incide with Eid celebrations at Dargah of Khwāja Mu’īnuddīn Chishtī. The best place to visit in Ajmer during Eid is the Dargah area of course.

A goat and kid during Bakrid in Ajmer Sharif market

Bakrid in Ajmer Dargah

I saw several such scenes on the road, people feeding goats with so much affection and to think they will kill the goat with those very hands. There were goats and goats and goats all over the bazaar area. I was wondering why and then it struck me that its Bakrid (Festival of bringing home a live goat , feeding and pampering it , slitting open its throat by family member , and then feasting on it) the next day and it was the last day for most of the goats. No wonder, it’s the festival when I avoid going to the streets the most, thanks to the mass cruelty sanctioned by our ‘civilized’ society.

Me reaching Ajmer via a sleeper class train.

How to reach Ajmer Dargah, Rajasthan

If you want to see the place to visit in Ajmer, worry not.It is very easy to arrive at Ajmer, which is located on the National Highway 8.  Just 132 kilometers away from Jaipur and 390 kilometres away from New Delhi, Ajmer is an easy destination in Rajasthan.

Distances from Ajmer to other top places in Rajasthan

There are many places to see in Rajasthan and neighbouring states of India which are located close to Ajmer. Ajmer can be clubbed with many destinations in Rajasthan and elsewhere.

Distance between Ajmer to Pushkar is 15 kilometers and it takes around 40 minutes via NH58.

Distance between Ajmer to Jaipur is 132 kilometers and it takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes via NH48.  

Distance between Ajmer to Nagaur is 153 kilometres and it takes around 3 hours and 11 minutes via Sardarshahr Ajmer road.

Distance between Ajmer to Bundi is 177 kilometers and it takes around 3 hours and 30 minutes via Ajmer Kota road and NH52.

Distance between Ajmer to Chittorgarh is 193 kilometers and it takes around 3 hours and 54 minutes via Ajmer road and NH48.

Distance between Ajmer to Jodhpur is 221 kilometers and it takes around 3 hours and 40 minutes via NH162

Distance between Ajmer to Udaipur is 263 kilometers and it takes around 4 hours and 41 minutes via NH58.

Distance between Ajmer to Bikaner is 266 kilometres and it takes around 5 hours and 45 minutes via Bikaner Nagaur road and Bikaner Barmer Road.

Distance between Ajmer to Jaisalmer is 500 kilometers and it takes around 8 hours and 10 minutes via NH125.

Distance between Ajmer to New Delhi is 390 kilometers and it takes around 6 hours and 50 minutes via NH48.

Distance between Ajmer to Ahmedabad in Gujarat is 546 kilometers and it takes around 9 hours and 20 minutes via Beawar-Pindwara road.

Distance between Ajmer to Mount Abu hill station is 365 kilometers and it takes around 6 hours via Beawar – Pindwara road and NH62.

A man performing ‘waju’ inside Ajmer Dargah. Rajasthan.

Safety in Ajmer

Ajmer is a very safe city. However stay alert from the pick pockets, especially when it is very crowded near the major Ajmer tourist places like Dargah. Also, be wary of touts who will try to fool or misguide you. When it doubt, use an app or better still, ask a local person. When exploring a place to visit in Ajmer, rest assured about their safety.

Internal Transport

Within the Ajmer city, you can easily find shared taxis, cabs, private taxis, auto rickshaws, local buses etc. Public transport is very cheap in Ajmer.

Where to stay in Ajmer, Rajasthan

Ajmer is a major city in Rajasthan, so expect good quality accommodation in all budgets. You can stay in heritage properties or even a luxury hotel. I had stayed in a cheap hotel room in Pushkar. The cost of the room was just INR 300 a night. It had a roof top restaurant. This hotel was popular with backpackers from Israel and other western nations. Most hotels are located near the main Ajmer tourist places.

Best Time to visit Ajmer, Rajasthan

So what is the best time to visit Ajmer Sharif? Ajmer city receives year round footfall due to the Dargah. That said, winter is undoubtedly the best time to visit Ajmer tourist places.

Festivals such as Pushkar fair, Eid and Urs Mela are also a good time to be in Ajmer. Expect huge crowd though!

October to March – The best time to be in Ajmer city is between October to March. It is the North Indian winter. The climate is very pleasant during this time.  This is the best time to visit Ajmer Sharif.

April to June

This period is not advised for a visit to Ajmer. The North Indian summers are very hot. However, the pilgrims still come to the Dargah as it is a revered place.

June to October

These are the monsoon months. Expect humidity and rainfall. The rains are more extreme in the month of July. You can travel to Ajmer city in these months but do carry umbrellas and raingears.

Inside Ajmer Sharif Dargah. Main shrine. Rajasthan.

Conclusion – Visiting Places in Ajmer city

Ajmer city is a very unique destination in Rajasthan. Most famous for the Ajmer Sharif Dargah, the other places to see in Ajmer such as Ana Sagar Lake, Prithviraj Smarak, Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra and Taragarh Fort also impress. While offbeat places like Soni Ji ki Nasiyan or Red Temple acquaints you with Jainism, the nearby holy town of Pushkar will tell you a thing or two about why Pushkar lake is revered by the Hindu people.

These are not just Ajmer tourist places but have great religious and historical significance to them.

I loved visiting places in Ajmer and beyond. So will you! Apart from places to visit it Ajmer, you can also club other nearby destinations in Rajasthan on a road trip through the most culturally rich state of India. So which is your favourite place to visit in Ajmer?

The view from my Soul Window is revered!


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