A Sufiyani City, Only Temple
of Lord Brahma and An Idyllic Stay at Taj Resort - that is this trip in a nutshell !!
We were in our hometown Jaipur for mom dad's anniversary surprise and had added a short excursion to Ajmer along with it to unwind ourselves. We took the Aravali Express from Jaipur on April 30th - Sunday at about 8 AM and reached Ajmer by 11:30. It was a comfortable ride and an indicator of how the Indian Railways have improved in terms of customer facilities and cleanliness. The staff is more courteous than earlier and trains are cleaner. Once we reached Ajmer we went for some quick snacks to recharge our bodies rearing to go out for the trip.A video blog takes your through Ajmer and Pushkar
A Trip Around the Sufiyani City
We were done with the rest by about noon when we left our room for a city tour. Our first stop of the day was the place that has led to the fame of this city - The Khawaja Gharib Nawaz (R.A) Dargah. The Dargah is the tomb of the Hazrat Khwaja Moin-d-Din Chisti, who was the founder of Islam in India and known as a great preacher of Islam in the world. Ajmer Dargah or Ajmer Sharif as it is also known as has earned reputation all around the world and people from all religions and sections visit the place with wishes in the heart. As we walked on the approach towards the shrine, we could see the huge rush as an indicator of its popularity. We had to walk about half a kilometer to reach the main gate as the area is barricaded to prevent mishaps. There were shops on both the sides selling offering for the god and souvenirs to take back home. At the entrance, we hired a guide Amanutullah to take us around the Dargah. We had to remove shoes and deposit the camera with a security person. We were asked to cover our heads before entering the premises. There are four entrances to the campus and the main gate towards the Dargah Market that we were taking is called the Nizam Gate. The 70 feet high gate was built by then Nizam of Hyderabad in 1911 AD. Once you cross the Nizam Gate, there is a second gate called the Buland Darwaja that comes across before you enter the forecourt of the Shrine. As we entered the front courtyard within the premises there were frantic activities with people coming in from all sides. There are two large vessels on both sides of the courtyard which are used to cook food for devotees when someone wishes to donate food. An offering costs upward of about 50,000 Rs for a single cooking which generally is composed of sweetened rice preparations. While the bigger of these degs or cauldrons cooks 70 pounds of rice, the smaller one takes 28 pounds. There is a small mosque upstairs towards the right - Sanadli Masjid - which was built by Emperor Aurangzeb, the elder son of Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal. The campus also houses an auditorium or "Mehfilkhana" for functions.
|The Rush for Mosque - Indicator of Fame?|
|The Nizam Darwaza - Gate Gifted by the Nizam|
After the tour of the forecourt, we moved to the main shrine. There is a small narrow entrance to the inner sanctum and hence we had to beat the huge rush. We squeezed through the small gap between the crowd and entered a corner where one of the holy man - Khadim - there uttered the hymns and quotes - we had a large green cover over our heads while this was being done.The tomb is of white marble inlaid with pieces of precious stones and is daily bestrewed with sandal-paste and Itars
(perfumes). It is always covered with very costly ‘ghilaafs’ (coverings made of velvet and silk) embroidered with pleasing gold and silver tracings.After few moments we came out of it and then proceeded to another smaller chamber preceded by a huge queue. After about 15 minutes of waiting, we were in front of the Holy Quran being worshiped and were given a chance to pay our respects directly inside a small cage kind of structure. Then we proceeded to the famous "darwaja
" where we tied red ribbons (kalawa
) expressing our wishes to the Almighty. After we come out we spent a few minutes to pay our gratitude to the Almighty in the courtyard and then took a couple of pictures for memories.
|Inside Ajmer Sharif - A Picture for Posterity|
The next stop was the Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra
or the Hut of Two and a Half Days
named after the duration within which it is believed to be built. Adhai Din ka Jhonpra is a mosque built on the ruins of an old Sanskrit college. Muhammad Ghori ordered that a mosque should be built within 60 hours so that he can offer prayers. So the workers tried but could not complete the task. But they were able to build screen wall where Mohammad Ghori could offer prayers. It is one of the oldest mosques in India that was built on the basis of Indo-Islamic architecture touching a height of 259 feet. It is a huge structure to have been built in the short time span. The path towards the monument is through narrow congested streets.
Next, we visited the Nasiyan Jain Temple. After the temples of Ranakpur and Mount Abu, Nasiyan temple is regarded as one of the best Jain temples in Rajasthan. Built in 1865, Nasiyan Temple is also known as Lal Mandir (Red Temple). The two-storied structure of Nasiyan Temple is divided into two parts, where one is the worship area comprising the idol of Lord Adinath and the second is the museum including a hall. The museum hall gets the major attention due to its mind blowing interiors made up of gold. This exquisite museum depicts the five stages (Panch Kalyanak) in the life of Lord Adinath, in the stature of statues. The huge hall is adorned with Belgium stain glass, mineral color paintings, and stain glasswork. The astonishing and inimitable display of the shrine, made it to be recognized as the Golden Temple (Swarna Mandir). The focal hall is made surprisingly beautiful with gold and silver decorations. Digambar Jain Temple displays marvelous wooden gild representations, glass engravings, and paintings, recounting the conviction of the Jainism with reference to the making of the world. Festooned by precious stones, gold, and silver work, the place is also termed as Soni Ji Ki Nasiyan.
|Depicting the Story in Gold - Nasiyan Jain Temple|
|Maharana Pratap Memorial - Remembering the Warrior |
It was getting late afternoon and we picked some snacks before proceeding to our next destination. Then we proceeded to the Anasagar Lake. Ana Sagar Lake is an artificial lake and one of Ajmer’s most popular lakes and one of India’s largest lakes. Named after its founder, the lake was founded during the 12th century after a dam was built across Luni River. Ana Sagar Lake is surrounded by Daulat Bagh Gardens and Khobra Behroon temple, two popular attractions of Ajmer. There is a walkway built along the lake where a small garden and lawns have been maintained. The other shore has been developed as a promenade - something similar to the one at Marine Drive in Mumbai. After this, we proceeded towards a Ghati view where we climbed a sort of the hill. There is a Maharana Pratap Memorial where we spent a few moments enjoying the views across the valley. This was the end of our Ajmer tour and we proceeded to the Taj Gateway Resort on the Pushkar By-Pass.
An Idle Stay to Unwind at Taj Gateway Restaurant
|Taj Gateway Resort - Inside in a Glance|
|The Maharaja Suite - Swing in the Room|
|The Pool View and Aravalis in Backdrop|
|The Charm of the Resort in Night|
The driver dropped us at the hotel by 4 in the evening and we checked into the resort. The staff welcomed us and escorted to our room and we settled in. The hotel is located away from the city of Ajmer and Pushkar and is pretty secluded. You would not find a construction until far and this could be good if you are looking to get disconnected. The rooms are nice and have been set up carefully with all the relevant equipment one could expect. To provide the touch of the royalty of Rajasthan, they have provided a swing within the room and we did like the idea. There was a balcony overlooking the pool and the garden and the view was good enough. The rooms could have been better maintained but overall it was good accommodation. The property itself had most of the basic facilities including a restaurant, swimming pool, and gym. Service was prompt, courteous and accommodating. The restaurant served the breakfast buffet as part of the room inclusion and the spread was decent. One could ask for more from a Taj branded facility. However, the executive at reception told us that it has only recently been acquired by the Taj and renovations were coming up. It was a nice place for a vacation and we spent rest of our day enjoying an idle stay - relaxing and unwinding from the rigors of our work life. Next morning, we woke up to a pleasant weather and peacocks roaming around in the gardens. We checked out of the hotel by 11 after a relaxed morning and pleasant stroll across the facility. The next destination on the list was Pushkar.
Pushkar - The Home of Brahma
It was about a forty minute ride to Pushkar from the gateway and we were in the town by about noon.The mountain range Nag Pahar, which literally means Snake Mountain, separates Pushkar from Ajmer. Pushkar is one of the most ancient cities of India and enjoys an aura of its own. It is a major pilgrimage center for Hindus and all devout Hindus wish to visit the place once in their lifetime. It is a center of both tourist and religious visitors and both come here with equal vigor. Known as ‘the rose garden of Rajasthan’, the essence of the famous Pushkar rose is exported all over the world. Along with an interesting mythological history, a legacy of timeless architectural heritage makes Pushkar a fascinating city. The significance of the town lies in the fact that it houses one of the few temples of Brahma around the world. Though the town is small and traditional, it enjoys a mystical characteristic which gives it a unique charm. The first spot we visited was the Brahma Temple. It is believed that Lord Brahma was cursed to have only a single temple in the world by the first wife and hence only saints and priests offer prayers at the temple. Other visitors merely have a glimpse of the deity and proceed to the other major attraction - the Pushkar Lake. The lake acts as a focal center of the town and is believed to have appeared where Lord Brahma dropped a lotus. There are about 52 ghats all around the lake and we visited one of the ghats to offer prayers. The entire town is full of streets lined with shops selling everything from tie-dye clothes, the musical instrument didgeridoos and other trinkets for tourists.
|Camels and Their Safari - Characterstic of Desert State|
|Sales at Temples - Memoirs and Souvenirs|
|The Brahma Temple - One of its Kind in the World|
We spent about a couple of hours in the town and then proceeded back to Ajmer where we had a quick lunch before catching the Shatabdi Express for New Delhi.
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