Ajmer Sharif, a mausoleum of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, lies at the foot of a barren hill in Ajmer. It is a holy place for both Muslims and Hindus. Ajmer Sharif was the last resting place of the saint, who died in 1235. It is India’s most important place of worship for Muslims. The marble domed mausoleum is very sacred. It receives a year round flow of pilgrims. The sick, troubled and childless come here to seek Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti’s blessings. Legend has it that the Mughal Emperor Akbar came here in the quest of an heir to his throne and the saint obliged.
In Ajmer Sharif, the Urs is the annual pilgrimage of the devotees. It is held in May. Millions of pilgrims visit the dargah during this time. They stand in queues of several kilometres to visit the dargah. Sweet rice with dry fruits is cooked outside Ajmer Sharif, in large vessels, during this time. It is served as tabarukh. Within the dargah, lies a beautiful mosque built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Like all buildings built by Shah Jahan, this mosque too is an architectural marvel. It is built in white marble, with a long and narrow courtyard. The mosque is decorated with delicate carvings, calligraphic inscriptions and detailed trelliswork.
The best time to visit Ajmer Sharif is during the annual Urs of Moinuddin Chisti. Winters are more suitable time to visit the dargah, than the summers. This is because summers in Rajasthan are hot and dry. Winters are pleasant and comfortable. Ajmer Sharif is open every day from 5 am to 9 pm. Pilgrims have to dress modestly and maintain the decorum. Women have to cover their heads with a scarf or dupatta.
Devotees offer nazrana at the holy place in the dargah, where Moinuddin Chisti has been entombed. The offerings include sandalwood paste, rose and jasmine flowers, incense and perfume. All these things add an aroma to the already fragrant air that floats in Ajmer Sharif. Pilgrims also offer money apart from the ghilaph, chaadar and neema.
Professional singers called Qawwals, sit in groups outside the holy place of the dargah. They sing songs in the praise of the lord in a characteristic, high-pitched voice. These songs are called Qawwalis. You will also find fakirs at the main gate of Ajmer Sharif, begging in the name of the Khawaja.
The scent of fragrance sticks and Qawwalis together add a magical touch to Ajmer Sharif. You are overwhelmed by the spiritual peace you get after your visit.