Historical Background

Ajmer is situated at the foot of an 800-feet high mountain on the top of which stands, in solemn splendour, the celebrated fort of Garh Beetli or Bithali named after Bithaldas Gaur the trusted General of Emperor Shah Jahan, which is now called Taragarh (the star citadel). This city stretches out in all directions of a spacious valley and is hemmed in on all sides by picturesque hills. Its holy traditions are equally replete with Rajput chivalry and Muslim supremacy in the past history of Hindustan. Few cities of India can boast of Ajmer’s religious sanctity for both Hindus and Muslims, its glorious history and it natural beauty. It was in Ajmer that Khawaja Muinuddin Chishti laid the permanent foundation of Islam in India in 1192 A.D. by his spiritual powers and peaceful preachings. It was in Ajmer that Sir Thomas Roe, as ambassador of King James I of England, had his audience with Emperor Jahangir on 19th January 1616 A.D. which laid the steping stone of the British Raj in India through the charter of free trading granted to the East India Company by the Emperor. It was in Ajmer that Shah Jahan, on the death of Jahangir, proclaimed himself Emperor of India while returning from Udaipur and proceeding to Delhi in 1627 A.D. And it was in Ajmer again that a beginning of the decline of Moghul Empire was made with the victory of Aurangzeb against his brother Dara Shikeh after a furious battle on 11th, 12th and 13th March 1659 A.D. In addition to these major historical events, Ajmer has seen many vicissitudes of time in its long history of about 1400 years.

Why Ajmer Was Chosen

Why Ajmer was particularly selected to be pivot of Hazrat Khawaja Muinuddin Chishti’s mission in India? This is a pertinent question which may be asked by some critical readers. A careful study of the history of India before Khawaja Saheb’s arrival, and of the period of his stay in Ajmer will answer this question satisfactory. We have already thrown sufficient light on this point in one of the previous chapters. In this chapter, we trace a brief history of Ajmer and the Khawaja Saheb’s Dargah which attracts millions of people every year to seek spiritual blessings of the great saint.

Geographically, Ajmer is situated in the heart of Rajasthan, at one time the citadel of India kingdom, and thus it suited the grand mission of Khawaja Saheb best. Politically, Ajmer the seat of a most powerful kingdom of the last Rajput Emperor of India, Raja Prithviraj Chauhan (1179-1192 A.D.) whose whole life was “one of unbroken chain of chivalrous deeds and glorious exploits which have won for him eternal fame and a name that will last as long as chivalry itself.” Prithviraj was the son of Someshwara (1170-1179 A.D.) who was the 29th descendant in the lineage of King Vasudeva who flourished as far back as 551 A.D. Vasudeva has descended from Chahuan (the founder of the Rajput clan of Chauhans) whose date is untraceable in the description of Ajmer. As given in Sarga IX of the famous documentary “Prithviraj Vijaya”, runs as below:-

The city was so densely populated and there were so many gardens, tanks and wells that not more than one-tenth of the earth was visible to sun, and water in the wells was only two cubits from the ground surface. Karpurdevi (mother of Prithviraj) under whose regency he was brought up also founded a town”.

Describing Ajmer in his “Picturesque India” (p.77) Mr. Caine, says:-

“It is an ancient, beautiful city full of interest, both historical and architectural; its gay busy bazars and its old houses with carved fronts, some of which are among the finest in India, giving added attractions to its superb situation. A well built stone wall with give gateways surrounds the city”.

Anasager Lake

According to “Prithviraj Vijaya” Arnoraja or Raja Anaji (1130-1150 A. D.) the grandfather of Emperor Prithviraj Chauhan, had built the picturesque lake of Anasagar at Ajmer in order to purify the land which was alleged to have been despoiled by the spilling of the Mussalman blood in a battle fought at this place. (It is the same Anasagar lake on the banks of which the Khawaja Saheb had stayed after his arrival in Ajmer in 1192 A. D. The exact place of his stay is known as ” Chilla Khawaja Saheb ” which is situated on the top of the Anasagar Ghati). In 1637 A. D., Shah Jahan built five beautiful pavilions (called Baradaris) of polished marble on the embankment of Anasagar which are still preserved in their original glory.

Jama Al-Tamish Or Dhai Din-Ka-Jhonpra

One of the oldest and most interesting historical building of Ajmer, is Jama Al-tamish popularly known as Dhai-din-ka-Jhonpra, situating in Ankerkot at the foot of the Taragarh hill According to Tod Rajasthan ” it is a relic of nobler days and architect and the antiquarian because of its multifarious artistic attractions.

The monumental mosque has, however, been the subject of diverse opinion about its origin. According to Ajmer Historical and Descriptive (by Dewan Bahadur Harbilas Sarda) it is claimed to be a Saraswati Mandir which is said to have been built in 1153 A. D. by Raja Visaldeva who was the first Chauhan Emperor of India. But according to the Arabic inscription appearing on the marble arch in the centre of the mosque and the convincing arguments advanced by the author of Main-ul-Arifin (P. 150-154) it is recognised to be a mosque ever since its origin which was built by Sultan Shahabuddin Ghori in 595 A. H. (12th century A.D.) wherein Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti himself (who came to Ajmer in 587 A. H.) is said to have offered his prayers for a considerable time. Later on, Sultan Shamsuddin Altamish of Delhi (607 to 633 A. H.) is reported to have built its present massive structure of red stone which was completed in 614 A. H. by Ali Ahmed mason under the supervision of one Mohammed Ariz – a claim which is also substantiated by another Arabic inscrition on its central arch. (Ahsan-us-Siar, P. 87-92). In any case, this magnificent mosque is one of the rare historic monuments of India.

General Cunningham., Director of Archaeology Government of India, who inspected this mosque in 1864 A. D., appears to have fallen into the error of accepting the common belief that it was built in Dhai-din i.e. two and a half days, as its name implies out of the material released from some demolished temples – a judgment which is difficult to believe in view of its extensive and massive stony structure replete with extremlely fine and most intricate workmanship on stone. It seems that only the smaller marble arch in the centre of the mosque may have been finished in 2-1/2 days to meet an emergency but the whole massive structure, with its elaborate Arabic tracings and delicate engraving details, is definitely a work of many years sustained labour.

Writing of the beautiful details of this marvellous edifice, Mr. Furgusson, author of the Eastern and Indian Architecture (P. 513 ) says – “As example of surface decoration, the Jhonpra and the mosque of Al-tamish at Delhi are probably unrivalled. Nothing in Cairo or in Persia and nothing in Spain or Syria is so exquisite in detail and can approach them for beauty or surface decoration. The gorgeous prodigality of ornamental work , the fascinating richness of tracery, the delicate sharpness of finish, the fascinating richness of tracery, the delicate sharpness of finish, the endless variety of detail and the accurate and laborious workmanship, are eternal credit to its past Indian engineers and masons”. There is a rich variety of Quranic verse inscribed all over the building to tax the brains of both inquisitive historians and the antiquarians alike . In short, it is a model of excellence in the art Indian architecture.

Dargah Of Miran Syed Husain

On the highest point of Taragarh fort stands the Dargah of Hazrat Miran Syed Husian Asghar Khangswar who was the governor of Ajmer after its conquest by Sultan Shahabuddin Ghori.. On the death of Qutubuddin Aibak in 1210 A.D., the Rathor and Chauhan Rajputs joined in a night attack on the Taragarh Fort when most of the men of Miran Saheb were out collecting taxes in the district, and the number of his garrison was, therefore, numerically very small. The Rajpurs thus massacred Miran Saheb and his garrison to a man on 18th Rajab.

The Fort Of Taragarh

According to Akhbar-ul-Akhyar, the first fort built on a hill in India was the fortress of Taragarh at Ajmer. Its unique defence and strength lie in the impregnable ruggedness and acclivity of the mountain upon which it is built. This ancient fort has seen many historic battles and nerve-wrecking sieges and has changed hands with the Rajput, Muslim, Maratha and the British conquerors during its long and checkered history. Ajameru Doorg, as it was originally called, was built by Raja Ajairaj Chauhan who was the king of Sapadlaksh territory having Sakambhari (now Sambhar as his capital in the early part of 6th century A.D. He also built the town of Ajmer and the village of Ajaisar, lying in the south of Foysagar lake, still commemorates his name.