It was middle of June this year and after our Karnataka and Mumbai tour in March, it was a long stretch of about two months that our minds were completely out of any thought of Ghumakkari. For the people like me, two months are equal to two years if I am not on a tour, so now somewhere in June the travel bug started wriggling badly in my head and I started thinking in this direction and developed an idea to plan a small tour to be carried out in the month of August.
Since our last tour was comparatively a long tour (over a week’s tour) so this time I thought to plan a small tour of 2 day’s and I started brainstorming on my idea and in order to give a shape to my thought I went in the shelter of google baba. After a little search I came up with three good ideas. One was Udaipur – Nathdwara – Eklingji and back (Udaipur is not more than350 kms from our home), another was Pachmarhi, the only hill station of our own state Madhya Pradesh and the third one was Ajmer and Pushkar.
All these three ideas I discussed with Kavita and then we mutually agreed on Ajmer and Pushkar. Being Hindu’s Pushkar was on our radar since so many years but Ajmer?? Yes we also had a dream and always wanted to visit the holy dargah of khwaza Moinuddin Chishty.
In my previous posts I have already described that we have immense faith in all the religions. OK being hindu’s we worship lord shiva, Krishna, Vishnu, mataji etc. but being a human we respect all other religions too and whenever we get a chance to visit any of the abode of god let it be a church, a mosque, a gurudwara or a pagoda we always try to visit and have a darshan of god the almighty in any form.
I feel that all religions stem from the same source. Just what the source is I am not sure. Call it whatever you wish. We all are also a part of that source. We are one. One human family, one world, one universe. As Dalai Lama says it:
“All human beings come from a mother’s womb. We are all the same part of one human family. We should have a clear realization of the oneness of all humanity.
“All religions are essentially the same in their goal of developing a good human heart so that we may become better human beings.”
Behind finalizing this tour our intension was to have darshan at the dargah of Garib Nawaz along with the darshan of lord Bramha at pushkar. After finalizing the destination I started my activities to get the railway tickets and a hotel booked. I always try to start the journey on Saturday evening so that I can utilize the Sunday’ holiday, so finally after some exercise on irctc.com I booked my tickets in Bhopal Jaipur express 19712 on 18th August (Saturday) boarding from Ratlam junction and return tickets in Ajmer Ratlam express 19654 on 20th August (Monday).
Now I had to book a hotel to stay. Since we had to stay for a single night only on Sunday so we decided to stay in Pushkar only and I started searching for good hotels in Pushkar. While this searching, all of a sudden I came across a hotel booking website which I found a most suitable website for the purpose and the name of this site is www.agoda.com. Immediately I booked a hotel in pushkar through this website.
After the ticket and hotel bookings were confirmed we were now waiting for the date to come and finally the date came. In the evening after finishing my duty I came home and we were now ready to leave for Ajmer. Since almost all the packing we had done on last night only so we didn’t have much to prepare now. We had to board the train from Ratlam and Ratlam is 90 KM from our home, initially I thought of going to Ratlam by our car but because of problem of parking I dropped this idea and decided to go Ratlam by bus only.
Ratlam is 90 KM from our home and usually it takes approx two hours to reach there, so we were waiting for the bus to Ratlam, we were fortunate and after a five – ten minutes waiting we found an Indica car going towards Ratlam. The driver in Indica asked us whether we want to go to Ratlam? What else we wanted, we readily got in to the car and the car started for Ratlam. We reached Ratlam at 8.30 PM and. The arrival time of our train at Ratlam station was 10.40 PM. Now we had two hours to spend on railway station. We had carried food with us to take in the train, but now all of us were hungry and were not in a mood to wait for another 2 hours for dinner so we had our dinner in the retiring room of the station.
After my long experience in travelling I have developed a conception that not every tour is pleasant for every one. This is sure that in every tour you or any one of your group has to suffer, however the intensity of suffering might be less or more. So this time the problem started with my daughter Sanskriti. After arriving to Ratlam station she was feeling acute head and body ache and when I touched her head she was having fever and the fever was increasing rapidly, after few minutes she started vomiting also. Even she denied having meals. We tried our best to make her eat even a small amount, but all our efforts went in vain.
I found some basic medicines in a shop on railway station and took medicines for vomiting, fever and some painkillers. The shop kipper suggested me to take sanskriti to doctor in the city but I was not in a mood of taking risk as our train was about to arrive. After taking medicines she was now feeling some relief. The train arrived at right time we boarded the train and soon we went in deep sleep.
In the morning when we woke up we were in the purlieus of Ajmer. At approx. 7 AM, we reached Ajmer station and we got down from train. There was not much improvement in the health of Sanskriti, she was still having fever, though the vomiting was stopped, but the fever and ache was as it is.
Now our priority was to search a room in a hotel or lodge for just one hour to take bath and to get prepared for darshan of dargah because after darshan at Ajmer we had to move to pushkar where we already had booked a hotel to stay. After getting down from train a number of autowalas approached us, we made one of them aware of our requirement and he assured us that he will take us to a hotel where we could get a room for one or two hours based on our requirement. He took us to hotel Ajmer Darbar and after five minutes bargaining the hotel manager gave us a room for two hour in 200 Rupees.
We checked in to hotel and started getting fresh and have bath one by one. The bathroom was equipped with geyser so we took bath happily and came out of room. Though we had checked out the hotel but considering our problem the hotel manager agreed on keeping our belongings for few more hours.
When we were standing on the reception of hotel the hotel manager asked us whether we want to go to Dargah Sharif now, we told yes and he informed us that he will send a person with us who will take us to dargah and also he will work as a guide for us. We asked hotel manager about the charges of the person and to my surprise he told nothing, he will not charge even a single rupee for this. I asked him why he is doing our favor in free of cost then he convinced us that here in Ajmer the local people consider it a holy work in service of God to take pilgrims to dargah and guide them.
I was astonished to hear this and felt that even today the humanity is alive. For me it was really shocking. Muslims call the pilgrimage as Ziyarat and the pilgrims as Zaayrin. The Hotel Manager called a person who was in the attire of a traditional maulvi and told him “in logon ko ziarat karwa lao” and he came with us and took us to dargaah.
Sanskriti was still having fever so all the time she was wrapped with a woolen shawl.
Now we were walking on the main street heading towards the main gate of dargaah. The entire ambience was looking us out of this world, everywhere there was a feeling of spiritualism. On both the sides of street there were numerous shops of chadars, flowers and other worshipping items. I had never seen such a huge quantity of red roses at a single place; every shop was stuffed with huge quantities of roses.
We also purchased a chadar and a basket of red roses to offer garib nawaz. Soon we were in front of the main gate of dargah of garib nawaz. Everything was beyond our imagination. We were thinking ourselves very fortunate to visit this sacred place. There were strict security checks on the main gate of the shrine. All our belongings were kept at the main gate by security persons and we were not allowed to take our camera inside the dargaah, though the mobiles were allowed. So I took some photographs inside the dargah from my mobile. Soon we entered the main shrine. It is not possible for me to express the feeling in words. It was indeed a divine experience. The best part of this trip was, we were there in Ajmer and in Dargah sharif on the holy and auspicious day of Eid. When I had planned for this trip and booked the tickets that time we were not at all aware that the day we will be in Dargah sharif will be the day of Eid.
Now before moving further I would like to give you a small information of Ajmer Sharif, Dargah of Khwaza Garib Nawaz and other places of interest in Ajmer:
Ajmer (Ajaymeru in Sanskrit) situated about 135 km southwest of Jaipur, is the most sacred of all Muslim places of pilgrimage in India. Founded by Raja Ajay Pal Chauhan in the 7th Century A.D, the city was lost to Mohammad Ghori after he defeated the valiant Prithviraj Chauhan in 1193 A.D. Since then, Ajmer became home to many dynasties, which left behind indelible marks of their culture and tradition on the city’s history, converting it to an amalgam of various cultures and blend of Hinduism and Islam.
Today, Ajmer is a popular pilgrimage centre for Hindus as well as Muslims. Especially famous is the Dargah Shareif or tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, which is equally revered by both Hindus and Muslims.
Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti’s Dargah:
At the foot of an arid hill is situated India’s most important pilgrimage centre for people from all faiths. It is the splendid tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, more popularly known as Khwaja Sahib or Khwaja Shareif, who came to Ajmer from Persia in 1192 AD. The shrine is next only to Mecca or Medina for the Muslims of south Asia. Akbar used to make a pilgrimage to the Dargah from Agra once a year.
The enterence to the complex is from the dargah bazaar, which leads to the first courtyard. This courtyard has a mosque built by Akbar and two iron cauldrons known as degs in which donations are made. These donations are later divided among the families involved in shrines’s upkeep. The construction of shrine was completed by Humayun. The two massive cauldrons in the courtyard are of particular interest and on the right side of courtyard is the Akbari Masjid built in white marble. There is another mosque in the courtyard built by shahjahan. Constructed of white marble it has a Persian inscription running the entire length of the building. The mausoleum has a gigantic gate, which was built by the Nizam of Hyderabad.
Inside Dargah Sharif two huge & gigantic Deghs (pots) are installed for cooking Niaz (purely vegetarian food; cooked with rice, ghee, nuts, safron & sugar). The system of cooking food in cauldron (Degh) was first introduced by Akbar. Since then a large quantity of food of different kinds has always been cooked in Deghs generally at night, and is distributed among the people after Fajr (morning) prayers.
Tomes Coryat, who visited Ajmer, at the time of Jahangir, says that the Mughal emperor once ordered the preparation of Khichri in the Degh to be distributed among 5000 people, taking out the first on a platter with his own hands, followed by the Queen, Noor Jehan, and other ladies of the Harem. Once, Shahjahan mixed the meat of a Nilgai (one of the species of antelope) in the preparation of Degh, which he had shot during a hunting expedition. In the second half of the eighteenth century, when Ajmer came under the control of the Marathas and Rajputs, a new kind of food known as Kesaria Bhat (saffroned sweet rice) was cooked in these Deghs and that has continued to this day.
Small Deg: It was presented by Emperor Akbar, 2400 kgs of food can be cooked in it.
Big Deg : It was presented by EmperorJahangir, 4800 kgs of food can be cooked in it. All these Deghs are cooked by Zaireen (pilgrims/devotees) who can afford to cook, Bavakalat (through) respective Khadims of Khawaja Garib Nawaz.
The saint’s tomb with a splendid marble dome is in the centre of the second courtyard, which is surrounded by a silver platform. Horseshoes, offerings from horse dealers are nailed to the shrine doors. The shrine attracts thousands of pilgrims during the Urs-commemorating the death anniversary of the Saint, held from the 1st to the 6th day of the Islamic month of Rajab.
In the corner of the inner court of the Dargah, is a magnificent building in white marble with a long (30.5m) and narrow court having a low arcade and delicate carvings with trellis work. It is the most marvellous of all the sanctums within the sanctuary of the Dargah.
Now coming to my story:
After a very good darshan at dargaah we were now floating around the dargah campus. A very interesting thing that we saw in the dargaah was the enchanting qawwalis being perfomed by different groups of qawwals within the campus. We were fascinated with these beautiful qawwalis and set besides a group of qawwals and for around 15-20 minutes we enjoyed these mesmerizing qawwalis. After having a complete feel of darshan it was now the time to good bye to this beautiful shrine. We came out of Dargah and now we were on the street just in front of the great dargah.
Now we had to see some other attractions of Ajmer, they are Soniji ki nasiyaan, Dhaai din ka jhopra, Anasagar lake, Taragarh Fort and Foysagar, but since we had very limited time in our hands so we decided to leave everything except Soniji ki nasiyaan which was not much farther from the dargah. So we called a cycle rickshaw wala and told him to take us to Soniji ki nasiyaan.
SONI JI KI NASIYAAN
It is a Digambar Jain Temple which has a double story hall adjacent to the main temple. The hall displays a series of large gold plated wooden figures depicting legends from jain mythology. The entire hall is richly adorned by glass mosaic, precious stones, gold and silver work.
After viewing this beautiful art work we headed towards the bus stop to catch a bus for Pushkar. On our way to bus stop we saw a beautiful church on a square in Ajmer city. We asked rikshawala to stop here for few minutes and we got down from rickshaw to visit this church. The church was looking really nice. It was a Sunday and we were in the church prayed for a few minutes before Jesus Christ and preceded further towards bus stop.
Continued in next part………………..Pushkar the teerthraj.