It is also the base for visiting Pushkar (11 km), an ancient Hindu pilgrim town for the temple of Brahma. Ajmer is regarded as a center of education in Rajasthan. Ajmer was once known as Ajaymeru, the city ruled by Prithviraj Chauhan. The city has given its name to Ajmer district, and to a former region of British India called Ajmer-Merwara, and to the erstwhile state of Ajmer, which was formed after independence of India, and was incorporated into Rajasthan state on November 1, 1956.
As it is surrounded by the hills of Aravili mountain range, Ajmer has lots of green slopes to look upon. Ajmer is well protected from the hostility of the harsh Rajasthani Desert (Thar) by the huge rocks of Nagpathar range.
It was in the late 7th century that Dushyant Chauhan founded this habitation. However, it was from the late 13th century, when the Sufi mystic Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty made this haven his abode, that Ajmer has risen to fame.
Well respected and even venerated by both Muslims and Hindus and other communities, Ajmer today is a huge beacon to hordes of devotees from all over the world. The shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty is a popular pilgrim spot in India and is adorned with silver and gold. The Mughal emperor Akbar was a frequent visitor to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty, and the legend is that Akbar asked for an heir from the saint and was obliged as well. Website of the shrine (Dargah)
The erstwhile East Indian company had only Ajmer under its direct administration. It was the British, who established the famous Mayo College here. Apart from the Sufi shrine, Ajmer of today is an educational destination as well.
But beyond the famous shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty, there are other places of interest.
A crumbling 12th century citadel located on a steep slope is considered to be one of the oldest forts in Asia. The USP of the fort is many water reservoirs, carved out of the rocky base of the fort. It's about 1 1/2 hours climb to the fort. It's walls are about 3 km in length.
A little distance away from the Dargah is this monument with lots of double depth calligraphic inscriptions in Naskh and Kufic scripts. The name itself suggests that this building was constructed in 2 1/2 days, though the historians are yet to have an unanimous opinion about it. Formerly a Hindu temple built in 12th century, it was converted by Qutbuddin Aibak, a Muslim ruler. A notable feature is the intricately carved Jali screen gifted by Sultan Altamush in 1230. This monument is kind of must visit as it is impressive in its architectural beauty, has 40 columns, none of them are like. No entry fees/fixed timings for this monument.
Ajmer has two lovely man-made lakes. Built by Maharaja Anaji in 1150 A.D., the Anasagar Lake had its beauty further enhanced by the Mughal emperors Jehangir and his son, Shah Jahan. Jehangir had the Daulat Bagh gardens made. In 1673 A.D., Shah Jahan had the beautiful marble pavilions constructed. Boating is possible here and there is an island in the centre. Migratory birds like flamingos and variety of ducks stop here by. The second lake is called Foy Sagar Lake. This water reservoirs was built in response to the drought conditions under the famine relief project in 1892 A.D. by the English engineer Mr Foy.
It is situated inside Akbar's Fort, who had this built in the year 1570 and used it whenever he came to Ajmer for pilgrimage. It is also known as the Magazine. The collection here boasts of Mughal and Rajput armour, stone sculptures, weaponry, antique idols as old as from 6th and 7th century A.D., miniature paintings. This is also the location where Emperor Jehangir, son of Akbar, earlier known as Salim, issued the royal decree permitting the British East India Company to trade with India, with disastrous consequences for this land of plenty, as eventually India lost its economic and political clout in the world when the British ruled. (Open every day from 10am to 4.30pm, except Fridays and public holidays)
The Jain temple, popularly known as Soniji Ki Nasiyan. An intricate and architecturally rich Digambara Jain temple, it was built in the late 19th century using red sandstone. It tells the story of Rishabha in accordance with an old manuscript by Acharya Jinasena in three dimension. The highlight of this temple is its main chamber known as the "City of Gold". It is here that several gold plated wooden figures are arranged to tell the tale. It was built by private money and still owned by the family who charge a small entry fee.