THE DARGAH LIES AT THE FOOT OF THE NORTHERN EXTREMITY OF HILL. ITS MAIN ATTRACTION IS THE MAUSOLEUM CONTAINING THE TOMB OF THE SAINT WHICH IS THE SANCTUM SANCTORUM OF THE DARGAH. THE DARGAH INCLUDED MANY OTHER ATTRACTIVE BUILDINGS, TOMBS, COURTYARDS AND DAALANS SOME OF WHICH ARE EXQUISITE SPECIMENS OF THE MUGHAL ARCHITECTURE AND WERE ERECTED DURING THE MUGHAL PERIOD.
recorded visit to to the Dargah Sharif (SHRINE) of Hazrat
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty Ajmeri (R.A.) was
Muhammad Bin Tughluq in
1332. In the first year of the reign of Firuz Shah
Tughluq (1351-2) the important Chishty, Zain al-din, the khalifa
of Burhan al-din Chishty, who was himself the khalifa of Hazrat
Nizam al-din Awliya, made a pilgrimage to Ajmer.
Sultan Ghiyasuddin Khilji (1469-1500) himself was a devotee of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin and it was almost certainly he who funded the construction of the Buland Darwaza, one of the ceremonial gates of the dargah, and so-called because of its great height. The Buland Darwaza is sometimes attributed to Sultan Alauddin Khilji, some refer today to it as the 'Ala I Darwaza ' but this is unlikely, and is no doubt the result of a confusion between the Khiljis of Malwa and Mandu, and Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi (1298-1316). The Buland Darwaza, can, therefore, more acceptably be attributed to Ghiyas al-din Khilji.
At the beginning of the
sixteenth century Maulana Jamali, author of Siyar al-Arifin,
undertook the pilgrimage to Ajmer. He refers to the
existence of families of attendants long established at the
shrine, and the significant quantity of gifts brought to it
by Hindus as well as Muslims.
In AH 939 /
1532-3 the cupola of
Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty's mausoleum was
embellished as is indicated by an inscription in golden
letters on the northern wall of the tomb. There is
nothing to suggest who was responsible for this
decoration; however, a certain 'Mua'zzam' was the chrono
grammatist. Trimizi believes that this might have been
Khwaja Muazzam, the uncle of the Emperor Akbar.
Each of Akbar's visits to Ajmer was celebrated by his making substantial offerings at the shrine, conferring endowments on it and beautifying it. His Majesty also arranged for the management of the shrine, and for the treatment of pilgrims, and for the extension of mosques and khanqas in the territory.
It measures 148 feet in
length and 25 feet in width, having in front an enclosure
measuring 150 feet by 53 feet. This enclosure, paved with
polished marble, is surrounded on the south, north and east of
an elegant balustrade having five entrances, one in the south,
one in the north and the remaining three in the east, each
reached by a flight of stairs. The mosque proper is on a plinth,
which is again reached by a flight of stairs. Under the roof
of the mosque there is an exterior row of eleven arched
entrances running parallel to an interior row of the same
number, all the twenty-two being identical to one another. The
back-wall has five niches in which the fundamental creeds of
Islam are inscribed in letters of gold. Over the frieze of the
facade there is an inscription in Persian verse.
text of the
inscription over the frieze of the facade of
Shahjahan's mosque in the Ajmer Dargah Sharif. The inscription
is inlaid with blasé marble occupying 66 horizontal panel;
each panel contains a hemistich flanked by various attributes
of Allah. The whole runs into 33 verses of high quality. The
inscription is in masnawi from and the meter employed is a
variation of the mutaqarib. The style of writing is Naksh of a
very high order.
It measures 148 feet in length and 25 feet in width, having in front an enclosure measuring 150 feet by 53 feet. This enclosure, paved with polished marble, is surrounded on the south, north and east of an elegant balustrade having five entrances, one in the south, one in the north and the remaining three in the east, each reached by a flight of stairs.
The mosque proper is on a plinth, which is again reached by a flight of stairs. Under the roof of the mosque there is an exterior row of eleven arched entrances running parallel to an interior row of the same number, all the twenty-two being identical to one another. The back-wall has five niches in which the fundamental creeds of Islam are inscribed in letters of gold. Over the frieze of the facade there is an inscription in Persian verse.
The text of the inscription over the frieze of the facade of Shahjahan's mosque in the Ajmer Dargah Sharif. The inscription is inlaid with blasé marble occupying 66 horizontal panel; each panel contains a hemistich flanked by various attributes of Allah. The whole runs into 33 verses of high quality. The inscription is in masnawi from and the meter employed is a variation of the mutaqarib. The style of writing is Naksh of a very high order.
The chronogram yields the date AH 1047/1637-8.
Shah Jahan is
also belived to have constructed a ghat to give access to the Jhalra
which is adjacent to the south side of the dargah.
One of the
This gateway is variously known as the Shah Jahani Darwaza and the Naqqar Khana, the latter because it was used to house tow immense drums, which came from Bengal. An earlier reference suggests, however, that there was some kind of naqqar khana before the reign of Shah Jahan.Early in Ramazan (1574) the atmosphere of Ajmer became fragrant from the storm raised by the musk-like hoof of royal horses. The king went straight to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin and duly observed the necessary religious ceremonies there, and from the spoils of Bengal, two big drums, which from the first day had been kept apart to be presented to the Khwaja, were brought and presented to the Naqqar Khana.
Shah Jahan's daughter, Jahan Ara Begum,was a loyal follower of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty & as an expression of her devotion, she had a porch of white marble built over the main entrance to the saint's mausoleum known as the Begumi Dalan the has been recently decorated.
In 1888, the walls and pillars were painted arich red, gold and blue, at the expense of the Nawab Mushtak Ali Khan of Rampur
Another account of Ajmer and its shrine by a European traveller dates from Shah Jahan's reign. Peter Mundy describes 'a great resort of people continuously from all parts thronging in and out'.
The Emperor Aurangzeb was not wholly in favour of pilgrimages to the shrines of saints: 'He forbade the roofing over of buildings containing tombs, the lime-washing of sepulchres, and the pilgrimage of women to the grave-yards of saints, as opposed to Quranic law.' Even so Aurangzeb himself did not fail to visit the shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty when he was at Ajmer in 1659 after his victory over Dara Shikoh, he presented Rs. 5,000 to the attendants as a thanks-offering for the victory. However, there are no lasting monuments in the shrine of Aurangzeb's reverence of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty. But in spite of the lack of any obvious imperial patronage at this time, there seems to have been no drastic decline in the popularity of the shrine.
The era of the Great Mughals was a time of unusual stability in the history of Ajmer. The cult of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty and his shrine had development unhindered by political and territorial disputes. This relative tranquillity ended with the death of Aurangzeb, when Ajmer entered a period of uncertainty and political turbulence. The city became the focus for Rajput expansionist ambitions.
Muhammad Shah, the new Mughal Emperor, recaptured Ajmer in 1722.But by 1730 Ajmer was again in Rajput hands. It has been suggested that the visit to Ajmer planned by Nadir Shah was no more than a cover for political designs: 'At Delhi Nadir Shah talked of making a pilgrimage to the tomb of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty at Ajmer. This journey was really intended for the spoliation of the Rajput states because Ajmer is in the heart of Rajputana.'
Ajmer was the center of endless disputes in the mid-eighteenth century, but stability returned when it was annexed by Scindia of Gwalior in 1791. It remained in his hands until it was ceded to the British government in 1818. The turbulent history of Ajmer is a factor in the growth of its shrine. Nadir Shah was not alone in realizing that journeys to shrines could be used for military or political ends. The strategic importance of Ajmer may help to explain the interest temporal rulers (including non-Muslims) took in the shrine. Geographically Ajmer is the gateway to much of Rajasthan. Its position, combined with the precipitous nature of the hill on which its fort is built, made the city of supreme strategic interest.
during the political upheavals in Ajmer in the nineteeth century the
dargah was not entirely neglected. A succession of Maharajas endowed
it with a series of villages.
The advent of Scindia rule in Ajmer in 1791 was marked by the Nawab of Arcot wishing to repair the dargah buildings which had become dilapidated. Rao Scindia co-operated in this and was presented with a telescope in return. From the correspondence between the two, it is clear that there was much rivalry to gain the privilege of funding this repair work. The Nawab was considerably alarmed by the potential competition, but the Maharaja was able to assure him the all was well and no-one would interfere with the Nawab's requests.
The Scindia family was devoted to the shrine. Bishop Heber, who visited Ajmer shortly after the beginning of British rule noted that 'the Scindia family, while masters of ajmer, were magnificent benefactors of its shrine.' They spent Rs 2,000 annually on the distribution of food to the poor at the two Id festivals.
In 1800 the
Maharaja of Baroda presented a chatgiri with which to cover the
ceiling of the mausoleum of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty.This was
replaced in 1959 by Ghulam Dastgir of Hyderabad.
1. He is
The present main gate of the dargah was built by the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1915. It stands outside the Naqqar Khana. The raised steps beneath this new gateway were, actually, built during Akbar's reign in order to prevent flooding.
Distinguished individuals continue to visit the shrine. Thus, in 1951 Dr. Rajendra Prasad, then President of India, Paid a visit to the dargah, as did the wife of President Fakhr al-din 'Ali Ahmad in 1975, and Indira Gandhi in 1977.
Mention was made above of Nizam the Bhishti's tomb. Numerous individuals since then have elected to be buried within the precincts of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty 's shrine. Not only is this exceptionally holy ground, but the saint is believed to be able to intercede on behalf of those buried near him and ensure for them the mercy of Allah.
Another of the graves belongs to Shahbaz Khan one of Akbar's leading generals. There is a curious story behind his burial at the shrine: Shahbaz had expressed a dying wish to be buried in Ajmer within the hallowed enclosure of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty. But the custodians of the sacred shrine refused to comply and Shahbaz was buried outside.
Near the Karnataki Dalan is the mausoleum built by Muhammad Tahir Bakhsh, entitled Shah Quli Khan, who had been Subedar of Ajmer. Anxious to be buried near Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty, he had this small mausoleum built, but he died in Agra in 1605 and nobody thought to return his body to Ajmer.
Ghiyas al-din entitled Naqib Khan, who was made a commander of 1500 at the beginning of Jahangir's regin, and died in 1614, is also buried in the Ajmer dargah with his wife beside him. Badayuni throught highly of him and described him as being 'endowed with angelic qualities and adorned with the graces and perfection of learning, has no equal either in Arabia or Persia in his knowledge of works on travel, of history, and of chronicles.
In 1616 Hur-al-Nisa', daughter of Shah Jahan, is believed to have died of smallpox and to have been buried just to the west of Gharib Nawaz 's tomb.
Begumi Dalan are several tombs, one of which houses the remains of
Shaykh Mir, commander of Dara Shikoh's forces and Auragnzeb's
father-in-law. Another contains the body of Shah Nawaz Khan,
Aurangzeb's gneral. They were both killed in the battle of Ajmer
fought between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb in 1658-9. In the same
courtyard is the tomb of Mirza Adil, governor of Ajmer under the
Scindias. The chronogram on the tomb gives the date AH 1182/1768-9.
Close to the grave of Mirza 'Adil is that of his son, Nawab Mirza
Chaman Beg, who was Subadar of Malwa under the Scindias.'
It was only
a small minority who has the means to record their respect for the
saint in the from of architectural monuments, or who were in a
position to select the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty as their
last resting place. While these monuments are crucial to the task of
tracing the development of the cult, they represent only a very
limited range of the saint's followers. Since its inception, the
cult of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty as always been popular movement.