A bunch of us with varying religions, faiths and beliefs embarked on a day’s trip to Ajmer Sharif Dargah and Pushkar and each one of us came back with a unifying resonating thought that that faith and spiritualism can do wonders for people’s psyche, personality and behaviors! How else can the frenzy, passion, undulating devotion of devotees and visitors be ever explained?
Photo from Flickr
Situated 131 Km South West of Jaipur, Ajmer is well connected to Jaipur via Air, Rail and Road route. We decided to take the road trip and left early in the morning. As we entered Ajmer, we realized that the town is defined by its history and the faith of its people. The town is known for the Dargah Sharif that is the final resting place of the Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti whose disciples can be showcased by the likes of Mughal Emperor Akbar.
Be generous like a river, affectionate like the sun, and hospitable like the earth-Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.
The Sufi saint, Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti or popularly famed as Garib Nawaz was born in Persia in 1130’s, traveled widely and finally came to and settled in Ajmer in 1191. Khwaja is known for his simple living and was believed by his devotees that he intercedes on their behalf to the almighty to answer their prayers.
From the lanes of the town to the tomb, the air thick with the scent of roses, incense and fervor of prayer and it grips your senses with a strange sensation. You have to cross a congested market place to reach the 70 ft. high entrance gates of the Dargah. The Ajmer Dargah is an Islamic shrine built on the grave of famous Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. The marble tomb chamber is a soothing structure with silver doors and golden filial. The silver doors of the Dargah are adorned with exquisite carvings. The grave of the saint is covered by a silver railing and a partial marble screen.
Devotees as a gesture of their gratitude offer velvet, silk, gold or silver zari chaddars, roses, attar and sandal to the sleeping saint.
The Dargah is a complex full of many structures worth seeing which are Akbari Masjid made of red sandstone, a Buland Darwaja that dates back to the 15th century, two grandly huge degs (cauldrons) gifted by Akbar and Jahangir to cook food for mass distribution, Mehfil Khana: a hall that opens only for urs, Langar Khana, Sandali Masjid built by Aurangzeb, tombs of Khwaja’s daughter and Nizam Sikka, a Jami Masjid built by Shajahan in white marble and a silver jannati darwaja (Door to heaven) which rarely opens.
About 11 Kilometers North West of Ajmer, a very small town of Pushkar boasts of a religious significance which is quite large in magnitude. We drove down from Ajmer to Pushkar and were instantly lapped up with splash of brilliant Rajasthani colors in an otherwise serene and religious Pushkar.
Pushkar is known for the holy Pushkar Lake and the only temple of Lord Brahma (the creator God in Hindu) in the world. Pushkar brings you face to face with a blend of religious rituals, shrines, aarti, chants along with ‘Om Shanti’ T-shirts, Shiva tattoos, and digital cameras.
Legend has it that the Pushkar Lake was created by Brahma by combining the waters of the four places of pilgrimage sacrosanct to Hindus- Badrinath, Jagannath, Dwarka, and Rameshwaram. Another scripture, Padma Purana states that Brahma was looking for a place to perform yagna when he dropped the lotus flower he was carrying in Pushkar. He decided to perform his yagna then and there only. Since his wife Savitri could not join him for the yagna, he married a local damsel Gayatri to perform the yagna in order to create the lake. He was then cursed by his wife Savitri that Pushkar will be the only place in world where he will be worshiped.
The Pushkar Lake is surrounded by 52 Ghats flanked with saffron clad sadhus, devotees and tourists. There is a floating chhatri in the center of the lake built in 1791 to commemorate the location of Brahma’s yagna. The oldest and most auspicious Ghats are Brahma, Gau and Varaha Ghats. Avoid the local priests popularly known as pandas to maintain your sanctity and peace of mind.
Brahma temple is located on Brahma Ghat and has the idols of four faced Creator God and his bride Gayatri. The shrine supposedly dates back to the 10th century CE.
From here a steep 4 Km climb on the Ratnagiri hills will take you to Savitri shrine which gives a magnificently breathtaking view s all around.
A trip which started for fun eventually turned into a journey of involvement of one’s self and an understanding of the practice of asceticism and religion.