The Ajmer Bunglow
Ajmer Bungalow
Going to Town

A brief history

Ajmer, situated where the rugged hills of the Aravali range meet the scorching Thar Desert 78 miles (130km) west of Jaipur, was, from the 7th to the 12th century AD, the stronghold of the powerful Chauhan Rajput dynasty.

Its strategic location vis-à-vis the trade route between Delhi and the sea coast of Gujarat as well as the heart of Rajputana made Ajmer an important, much coveted city and following the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan in 1192, it changed hands many times. In 1556 the city finally found stability again under the Mughal Emperor, Akbar; and it was here, in 1615 that Akbar’s grandson, Emperor Jahangir, had an historic meeting with the first British Ambassador, Sir Thomas Roe.

With the decline of the Mughals Ajmer came under the Marathas but, in the 19th century, Ajmer became a little British enclave, the base for British operations, from where the British Chief Commissioner for Rajputana kept an eagle eye on all the Rajput Kingdoms

Shopping

Just walking in the old bazaar is an experience in itself. However for the serious shopper Ajmer is a good place to buy silver jewelry and artifacts as it is an important silver trading centre. You can also buy a variety of antique jewelry, Rajasthani clothes, jootis, accessories and handicrafts.

There is much to see and do around this historic city: the varied influences on the culture and heritage particularly the architecture reflective of its colourful past.

The Darga Sharif or Holy Dargah, one of the most important places of worship for Muslims after Mecca, is situated at the foot of the northern extremity of Taragarh hill. Its main attraction is the mausoleum containing the tomb of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a Sufi saint who came from Persia, which is the sanctum of the Dargah.

Dhai Din Ka Jhopda situated near the Darga Sharif.was originally a Jain temple constructed in 1153 and converted into a mosque around 1193 following the fall of Prithviraj Chauhan. Legend has it that it was built in two and a half days, hence the name Though all but the section in use as a mosque are in ruins, the art and architecture remain evocative and remarkable.

Mayo College has the distinction of being one of the oldest public schools in the country. It is named after Lord Mayo, Viceroy and Governor General of India, who at a Durbar of ruling Princes of Rajputana held in Ajmer in 1870, expressed his desire to set up a 'Raj Kumar College' in Ajmer, "devoted exclusively to the education of the sons of Chiefs, Princes and leading Thakurs. The school opened in 1885, when the main building completed. Today it is one of the leading public schools of India and has on its rolls students from all walks of life.

Taragarh fort built by King Ajāypāl Chauhān on the summit of Taragarh Hill, overlooking Ajmer, l 2855ft above the sea level and 1300ft from the plain, is the oldest among the hill forts in India. The walls are two miles (3 km) in circumference, and the fort can only be approached by steep and very roughly paved slopes. The fort was dismantled by order of Lord William Bentinck when it came under British control and converted into a sanatorium for troops.

Anasāgar is a historic man-made lake constructed in the 12th century by Maharaja Anaji by daming the Luni River and has been a lifeline for the city since. When Ajmer came under the Mughals this became a favourite haunt for the Emperor Jehangir, who laid out a beautiful garden he named Daulat Bāgh, on the banks, as well as his son Shah Jahan who added the spectacular white-marble Baradari between the gardens and the lake.

Foy sagar in the suburbs of the city, is a picturesque artificial lake named after the engineer Mr Foy, an Englishman, who created it in 1892 under a famine relief project. The original capacity of the lake original capacity is 15 million cubic feet, and the water spread over 14 million square feet.

Ajmer Museum situated inside the Akbar fort, in chambers that were once part of Prince Salim’s (later to be Emperor Jehangir) chambers. It was here that Jahangir finally agreed to meet Lord Munro to sign an agreement with the British to trade with India. The museum houses a fairly large collection of Rajput and Mughal armour, sculpture and old photographs.

Soniji Ka Mandir is a beautiful old Jain temple built between 1864 and 1895. The main chamber, known as the Swarna Nagari (City of Gold), has several gold-plated wooden figures, depicting characters in the Jain tradition and created in Jaipur. The attached museum displays important Jain artifacts.

As in any part of the country fairs and festivals form a colourful part of the life of the people of Ajmer. Teej, Holi, Diwali and Id are all celebrated with enthusiasm. There are two, however that demand particular mention.

The Urs festival is considered as one of the most sacred Muslim celebrations. It is held in Ajmer in the memory of the revered Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti for six days during the 6th month of the lunar calendar. The festival recreates the memory of those six days during which the Saint retired to his personal quarters for prayer and meditation till he breathed his last. The Urs festival celebrations are inaugurated by Sajjada Nashin, a descendant of the Chisti family and is an occasion for thousands of believers to congregate at the dargarh and offer prayers. All of Ajmer seems to take on a festive air and several programmess are organized to mark the festivals.

Pushkar is a small temple town on the sacred Pushar lake, 20 minutes’ away from Ajmer, is said to be one of the oldest towns in India. Legend credits Brahma, himself with its creation and it is even today, the most celebrated site for the worship of Brahma. The fair held here in October/November is one the biggest cattle fairs in the country draws people from all over Rajasthan and offers plenty of vibrant folk music and dances, magic shows, horse and camel races and various other types of traditional entertainment .
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