Ajmer, one of India’s oldest established cities in the state of Rajasthan, was founded by Raja Ajaypal Chauhan of the Chauhan Dynasty. The architecture of this city reflects the endurance of different eras of the Rajputs, Mughals, and British. The city’s urban fabric is defined by its Temples, Dargahs, Forts, and Lakes. Immersed in a vast sea of culture, history, and religion, Ajmer is well-known for its co-existence of Indo-Islamic, Royal Rajasthani, Indo-Saracenic, and Jain architectural styles. The months of October to March are ideal for exploring the wonders of this relatively hot region. Popular among pilgrims, artists and tourists alike, Ajmer is welcoming to people of all faiths and practices.
Mayo College | Places to Visit in Ajmer
Mayo College was founded by the British as a lavish school for the sons of Indian royalties. Major Mant’s Indo-Saracenic design was finally adopted by the viceroy in June 1875 out of several designs submitted in Grecian, Indo-Saracenic, and Kolhapur styles. The building began in 1877 and was finished in 1885 at the cost of 3.28 lakhs. Major Mant’s design is still quoted in architectural courses today, and the original drawings are now housed in the archives of the British Museum in London. Mayo College has since evolved into a self-sustaining smart campus by updating and adapting the old structure with the help of conservation architect Abhimanyu Dalal.
Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra
One of the earliest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture and the oldest mosque in India, Adhai Din ka Jhonpra literally means a ‘shed of two and a half days.’ The legend behind its name dates back to 1192 CE when Mohmmad Ghori ordered Qutbuddin Aibak to build a mosque in Ajmer within 60 hrs. The workers were able to erect only a yellow limestone screen wall in two and a half days, where Ghori offered his prayers. The mosque was later completed in 1199 CE. Although in need of restoration, it’s an exquisite piece of architecture designed by Abu Bakr of Herat, with ornately designed domes, pillars, and an arched screen inscribed with verses from the Holy Quran, primarily built from pieces of Jain and Hindu temples. The structure is now under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India.
Dargah Sharif | Places to Visit in Ajmer
The Dargah was built by Mughal Emperor Humayun as a majestic tomb of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, displaying Mughal-style architecture. The Dargah is entered through a series of massive doors adorned with beautiful silver carvings. The complex contains several masjids and tombs built by Akbar and Shah Jahan. After entering the complex, a courtyard leads to Moinuddin Chishti’s marble tomb. Protected by a silver railing, the gold-plated marble tomb rests in a chamber under a dome. The structure is a beautiful piece of architecture as well as a divine shrine for anyone seeking a spiritual connection.
Akbar’s Palace and Museum
Emperor Akbar often came to Ajmer to offer his prayers at Dargah Sharif. The Akbar palace, or Ajmer fort, was built in 1570 to accommodate Akbar’s visits. Later it became a residence for Akbar’s son, Jahangir. A part of the fort was declared a museum in 1908. There is a collection of paintings, armor, sculpture, and relics. The Palace is fortified by walls of stone with projecting double-storied bastions at all four corners and a single entrance through the enormous Jahangir gate. A substantial core leads to an array of lavishly furnished chambers. At the centre of the complex is Diwan-e-Khaas, which served as a place for Mughal emperors to receive courtiers and state guests. Akbar’s Palace is considered to be a masterpiece that accentuates the intricate architectural details of the Mughal era.
Taragarh Fort | Places to Visit in Ajmer
The Taragarh Fort, also known as the ‘Star Fort,’ is Ajmer‘s most impressive Rajput architecture, built with locally available sandstones and granite stone. It was built in AD 1354 atop a steep hillside range overlooking the city and surrounded by the Aravali mountain range. The fort is accessible via three gateways: Lakshmi Pol, Phuta Darwaza, and Gagudi ki Phatak. The fort has a lovely landscape and three water reservoirs that never run dry. The technique used to build them has long since been lost, but the tanks are a testament to mediaeval India’s advanced construction and engineering methods.
Ana Sagar Lake
Visiting Ana Sagar Lake and indulging in a boat ride on this lake during sunset can be the highlight of a visit to Ajmer. This artificial lake was built by Anaji Chauhan, grandfather of Prithviraj Chauhan, and spreads over an area of 13 kilometres. The lake was created by damming the Luni River to ensure the betterment of civilization. The picturesque lake is surrounded by the Daulat Bagh gardens. Any further construction in the catchment area is prohibited to preserve the splendour of Ana Sagar Lake.
Baradari and Daulat Bagh
Emperor Shah Jahan built the Baradari, a chain of marble pavilions, during his reign in the 17th century. The arrangement of five pavilions and a royal hammam (royal bath) is nestled along the edge of Ana Sagar Lake. The third pavilion is the largest and was inspired by Delhi‘s Diwan-E-Khaas. Beyond the pavilions is Daulat Bagh, also known as “The Garden of Treasures,” an excellent example of Mughal gardens. It is kept in perfect shape, with a trimmed carpet of grass, bushes, trees, and a lovely fountain bringing it all together. This is a place that never fails to attract the tourists of Ajmer looking for a peaceful getaway.
Nasiyan Jain Temple | Places to Visit in Ajmer
Soniji ki Nasiyan, an architecturally rich Jain temple, was built in the late nineteenth century. It is also known as the Red Temple because it is entirely made of red sandstone in typical South Indian temple architecture. The two-story structure is divided into two sections: the worship area with Lord Adinath’s idol and the museum hall. Dedicated to Lord Adinath, the museum depicts the five stages of his life (Panch Kalyanak) through sculptures. Its interiors are exquisitely decorated with gold and precious stones giving it the name Swarna Nagari. The superior and lavish work of the temple reflects Digambar Jains’ rich culture and great sense of art.
Nareli Jain Temple
The Nareli Jain Temple is a relatively new place of worship for Digambar Jains in Ajmer. It is gradually gaining popularity among tourists due to its blend of traditional and contemporary architectural styles. The temple’s design features clean angular lines and intricate stone carvings. The temple is made of marble stone and is known for granting wishes and bringing good fortune. On the first floor of the main temple is a huge idol of Guru Adinath Ji. The temple complex has 24 miniature temples dedicated to 24 Tirthankar lined up on the hills above.
Sai Baba Temple | Places to Visit in Ajmer
Suresh K Lal, a resident of the Garib Nawaz City, built the Sai Baba Temple on an area of more than five bheegas (or more than two acres) at Ajay Nagar. It was inaugurated in 1999 and is one of Ajmer’s most recent architectural works. It is prevalent among all Sai Baba devotees and has a shelter for the pilgrims. The temple is made of the purest marble, which has the unique property of being translucent, allowing light to pass through it. Every Sai Baba disciple should go to this shrine at least once in their life.