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”.