Destination: Ajmer Sharif, Rajasthan
The most important of
all Muslim pilgrimage centers in India, the dargah of
Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti at Ajmer Sharif is revered
by people of all faiths. It is situated 135 km from
Jaipur and is renowned for fulfilling the wishes of
the followers. Apart from the devout Muslims, people
of other religions throng the holy dargah and pray for
the fulfillment of their desires. The devotees also
offer flowers, velvet cloth, perfume (non-alcoholic)
and sandalwood at the shrine.
Hazrat Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti was the founder of
Islam in India. He was one of the greatest preachers
in the world. The revered prophet undertook to propagate
Islam in India by the most peaceful means and with great
forbearance. When Khwaja arrived, the Muslim community
in India was not as large as it is now. The Khwaja,
by his noble teaching, touched the hearts of everyone
who came his way.
The dargah is the tomb of the sublime Sufi saint
who came to Ajmer from Persia and died in 1236. It was
built by emperor Humayun. Later, rulers like Shahjahan,
Jahangir and Akbar also constructed mosques here.
WHEN TO VISIT
Normal: Throughout the year
Special Event: The dargah becomes
a hub of activity in the seventh month of the lunar
calendar when the Urs is held to mark the death anniversary
of the divine saint.
Upon arriving at the shrine,
one has to make the entry from the Dargah Bazaar. This
would lead to the first courtyard. There is a mosque
built by Emperor Akbar in this courtyard. There are
also present two cauldrons or degs, where donations
could be made. All these donations would later go to
the needy. Khwaja's tomb is in the second courtyard.
Positioned in the center, it is situated in the second
court. The tomb is a domed marble chamber, surrounded
by silver railings.
Devotees visit Ajmer Sharif
to be blessed by the Khwaja. When their prayers are
answered, their wishes fulfilled, they come again to
offer the promised gilaf (velvet cloth), ittar (perfume),
etc. Besides these offerings, they also recite the holy
Qur'an, nafal namaz, milad and aayat-e-karima and khatam
A typical day at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah would comprise
of the following rituals:
Khidmat is the cleaning
of the mazar and offering fresh flowers to it. The ceremony
is performed twice a day. In the early morning at 4.00
a.m., the main entrance of the tomb is opened with the
call of azan. It is performed for about half an hour
before the fajar prayer. Only khadims are allowed to
perform the khidmat. The same ritual is performed at
3 p.m., though somewhat differently.
At this auspicious time, all the pilgrims are allowed
inside except the ladies. Along with the offering of
flowers, the khadims recite fateha and offer sandalwood,
which is later distributed among the pilgrims.
As the name suggests,
this rite takes place in the evening. The khadim brings
candles inside the tomb accompanied by the beating of
drums. Then he places the candles in lamps and recites
some sacred verses. Finally, the lamps that are placed
in the four corners of the tomb are lighted.
The closing ceremony of
the tomb is known as karka. It takes place an hour after
the isha prayer. The custom is that 20 minutes before
closing the door, as the fifth part of the night passes,
a person calls to ring five and the clock sounds five
times. The devotees present inside the tomb are asked
to leave and three khadims clean and sweep the tomb.
When the bell rings six times, the qawwals sing a special
karka song. The doorways of the tomb are closed after
The dargah has a special daily ceremony called the langar
in which devotees are served wheat porridge cooked in
a special grass. It is said that the same porridge was
eaten by the Khwaja himself. Even emperor Akbar used
to stand in queue to take the langar along with other
commoners. Devotees can go for the langar after commencing
the isha prayer.
Qawwali is an integral
part of the rituals here. A qawwali is a song in the
praise of Allah. They are sung by the qawwals (devotional
singer) at the Mehfil-e-Sama in front of the mazar after
the fajar namaz, magrib namaz, and isha namaz are over
The Qur'an recital takes place everyday at Jama Masjid
and Alamgir Masjid.
The splendid mosque is
present in the corner of the inner court of the dargah.
It is a resplendent building in white marble with a
long and narrow court. It has a low arcade and delicate
carvings with trelliswork. Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra
Just beyond the dargah is located the Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra,
a wonderful masterpiece of Indo-Islamic architecture.
As the name suggests, it was built within two and a
The legendary Taragarh Fort is reached after a one-and-a-half-hour
climb beyond the Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra. The fort offers
a scenic view of the entire city.
The museum was once the
royal residence of Akbar. It houses an exquisite store
of Mughal and Rajput armor and fine sculptures.
is available at the Bhola Haji Guesthouse, Regency Mansingh
Palace, RTDC Khadim, Nagpal Tourists and Shobraj hotel.
The six-day Urs commemorates
the death anniversary of the prophet Moin-ud-din Chisti.
It is held in the Islamic month of Rajab, the time when
the Khwaja became one with Allah. Muslims from all over
India and even abroad throng Ajmer during the festival.
The Urs begins with flag hoisting at the Buland Darwaza.
The main entrance to the holy tomb remains open throughout
the day and night, and the entire place is decked up
with the special shops, lights and festoons.
Apart from its religious significance, a colorful fair
is also held as part of the anniversary celebrations.
One of the biggest to be held in India, the Ajmer fair
is a time to witness sessions of qawwali singing. The
highlight of the festival is, however, the assembly
of poets—the mushairas—where the best of Urdu poets
share a common platform.
Another interesting thing is the distribution of the
festival kheer (pudding of rice and milk), cooked in
two 16th-century cauldrons.
The Urs culminates with the Qul ceremony, which takes
place on the last day. It is an extremely important
day. The day commences with prayer in the morning, followed
by the gathering of people at the holy tomb. A series
of activities like the recital of the Qur'an, Darood,
Shijra-e-Chishtia and other verses follows this. Afterwards,
people tie small turbans on each other's head and pray
for welfare of the entire community.
HOW TO REACH
The nearest domestic airport is at Jaipur, 132 km away.
International flights operate from the Indira Gandhi
International Airport at New Delhi
Ajmer is accessible by trains from Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad,
Udaipur, Abu Road and Jodhpur.
Ajmer is connected by road to all the major cities of
Rajasthan. Regular bus services also operate from Ahmedabad,
Agra and Delhi.
INFORMATION TIT BITS
The pilgrims should keep in mind the following factors
while visiting the Dargah:
One should not sit with the legs in the direction of
the dargah. It is best to fold your legs underneath.
One is not supposed to stand with the back to the shrine.
It is customary to keep one's head covered while visiting