Monday, November 7, 2022

The Rajasthan Diaries - Day 2, Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Ajmer

 I was hoping to go to the Ajmer Sharif Dargah the next day but Vasu was keen we go to the dargah since we were anyway passing by Ajmer to Pushkar. I was fine with the plan because if needed I could always come back the next day. Ajmer to Pushkar is only 30 minutes.

Outside the dargah

The Ajmer Sharif Dargah is believed to grant your wishes and many important people come here to ask for the blessings of the saint Moinuddin Chisti who came here sometime in the 1236 period, the times of Iltutmish. He was a Sunni saint who moved from Delhi to Ajmer and apparently had many gifts - visions, clairvoyance, astral travel. After he died the place became even more famous and known. Emperor Akbar is said to have visited the place 14 times during his rule, once walking barefoot to ask for children. Most rulers of the day visited the dargah, Razia Sultana, Sher Shah Suri, Jahangir to name a few. They all contributed to the development of the dargah and even the Maharaja of Baroda seems to have constructed some part. Two huge cauldrons which are used to cook langar have been gifted by Akbar and Jahangir respectively - and are still in use. They are massive and there is a huge fire underneath. Hindus and Muslims, people of all religions go there. Women are allowed.

Bit of history here. The last time I visited Ajmer was quite by accident (there are no accidents) in 2006-7. I had gone to Jaipur to attend a friend's brother's wedding. One free day the brother's friends took off in their Qualis to visit Ajmer and Pushkar and asked if I would join them. I did. I told them about the importance of asking for something specific as the senior person and we all went. Once inside the dargah I forgot my wish and asked for universal peace as usual. But I do remember a little girl running beside me asking for alms, a conversation about having a child and voila, sometime soon after, Anjali was conceived. I somehow always felt that there was some connection to this place. I had tied a dhaga like the others were and I felt I should untie it.     

Vasu and Abhinay getting off the degh where they prepare the langar

Once we entered Ajmer, we got off the car some distance from the dargah because the roads leading up to it are petty narrow, left our footwear in the car and decided to walk. The lanes were crowded like crazy. We picked up skull caps to go inside the dargah and walked and walked a good distance. The street food, kababs, fish fry and other food stuff smelt amazing. After some 20-25 minutes of walking we got to the dargah, bought some dhagas and went in. 

In our sweet shop

There were thousands of people there. We bought some dhagas and walked in. For a while we were confused and wandered around here and there when a young man, a khadim I think since he was dressed in white, asked if we wanted to go in. He led us in through a side gate, quickly got us a darshan and we were out in no time. He also made us tie our dhagas and I untied one to replace the one I had tied fifteen years ago. I wondered if he would ask money but he did not - he just smiled and went away. Just appeared like an angel, helped us and left.

Me and Vasu holding on to dear lives in the rickshaw

We sat around for a while enjoying the peace and quiet and were about to go out when Abhinay wanted to go in once again. This time another bunch of people called us aside and asked if we wanted to go in. These guys wanted a donation.  Anyway post donation they did give Vasu and Abhinay a fine darshan once again. I preferred to stay out.

Darshan done we headed out and Vasu caught one rickshaw puller to drop us at the main road.  This was a James Bond kind of ride where the man rode his rickshaw in a narrow lane with great expertise and at great speed without touching a soul - I held my breath all through. Finally he dropped us near the main gate - raised BP and all.

While waiting for Ram Singh we visited a couple of sweet shops, tried some sweets and lassi by which time Ram Singh came. We drove to a place opposite the beautiful Ana Sagar lake and its lovely promenade and ate a light dinner. My heart craved for the food in those side streets of Ajmer but what the hell.

That done we headed to Pushkar and reached the Vela Resort where Vasu had booked us in for the night. The very likeable and patient Vikram Parasher, owner of the resort, was waiting for us. He had this sense of humour, this patience that belies his age and even at the late hour he told us what to do the next day and how it would be difficult to move around after 2 pm because the Chief Minister of Rajasthan was expected to inaugurate the Pushkar mela. Our day would start at 7 as per his plan. We retired to our rooms after a long tiring day.

I slept well.                               

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