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Friday, 13 January 2012

6. DELHI-DWARKA-DELHI BY CAR : AJMER (TRAVELOGUE)

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The impressive Clock Tower in Ajmer
Day 02 : AJMER

Day 02 of our Rajasthan- Gujarat sojourn was meant for travelling from Jaipur to Ajmer and visiting the Dargah of Khwaja Saleem Chishti in the forenoon and Pushkar Temple in the afternoon as the Temple opens only at 3.30pm.

We left the Guest House at Jaipur at 9.10 am after gorging on aloo parathas and curd to cover a distance of 130 km to Ajmer.

The first Toll Plaza came after 20 kms at 9.40 am where we dished out Rs 80. But one didn’t mind paying as the road ahead was absolutely smooth and we were going at 120 kms per hour in our Hyundai i20 without feeling any rattling whatsoever. Fantastic!!!  Just 35 kms before Ajmer, there was another Toll Plaza but we were surprised that there were no charges. We only had to produce the previous receipt and no further payment!!

As we approached Kishangarh at about 10.50 am, we missed the bypass to Ajmer and entered Kishangarh instead.  As the roads are still under construction at many places, the road indicators/signages are not always perfect… are even missing at times. Anyway that added a little extra time to our drive and availability of time not being a constraint we did not mind it.

Soon we were back on the highway and saw the big M of McDonalds, the Country Inn, Swad-Ri-Dhani (an ethnic village resort) and many more hotels and restaurants before we were greeted by a big hoarding welcoming us to “ Ajmer the City of Prithvi Raj Chauhan”  . 

Ajmer is a unique blend of history and civilisation. The name has been derived from  "Ajay Meru" a range of Aravali hills which surrounds the area. It is an interesting place which attracts people of all religions. The Dargah of Saleem Chishti is a big attraction for all, irrespective of their religion, caste or creed. Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan was born here. For Hindus, the Pushkar is supposed to be the only temple of Brahma. Swami Dayanand Saraswati breathed his last here. There are a number of churches here. There are also Digambar Jain temples in the area with Sidhkut Chaitalaya  being a prominent one which was constructed in the year 1865. Ajmer is also recognised as a centre of education as the British developed it as an academic centre. Mayo College, Ajmer was established by the British in the year 1875 and it continues to be a centre of excellence even today. I also liked the design and build of the Clock Tower adorning the city.  

VISIT TO DARGAH OF KHWAJA MOINUDDIN CHISHTI

Shirky Darwaza (Gate# 4) of Dargah
The Dargah, which has given Ajmer a lot of importance dates back to the 13th century. It houses the grave of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a Sufi saint who  was stated to be a descendant of Prophet Mohammed and had received this land from Prithvi Raj Chauhan. It was interesting to know that the Dargah is considered next only to Mecca and Madina by the Muslims.. It is strongly believed that whatever one prays here is granted to him as a boon. 

Our contact person at Ajmer had arranged for a Khadim from the Dargah to escort us to the place and I am glad that he was arranged because without his pushing us probably we would not have been able to enter the Dargah’s sanctum sanctorum on our own. He asked us to leave our car and come with him in the 3 wheeler which he had brought with him. The ride in the 3 wheeler was a memorable event, clutching the side rods tightly to  avoid a fall during the extremely bumpy ride (and that is an understatement)  on way to the Dargah,  unoblivious of any rumble strips, speed-breakers or pot-holes, not to mention the narrow approach to the Dargah  with hoardes of people falling on each other. I am surprised how we did not meet any accident or even scratched anyone… (except the aching bicep and fore-arm of my right hand which was clutching the rod)… Allah ki meher hai, bhai !! 
 
The author after coming out of Dargah
Once  inside, amidst teeming crowds, we purchased a Chadar and a Flower Basket for offering at the Dargah not realising at that moment how tough it is going to be for us to reach the Dargah and do Kadambosi (kissing the feet) of the peer. At many stages, I almost gave up anticipating a stampede or the fear of getting my ribs crushed. But thanks to the Khadim who kept pushing us exhorting us to move on until we did the kadambosi. On coming out, I realised that I had not been able to pray at all there, my only concern at that moment  being my survival. The immense feeling of relief post-kadambosi was our major reward.

We profusely thanked the Khadim, paid his charges of Rs 500 and came back in the same 3-wheeler back to our camp having a feeling of great achievement.

VISIT TO PUSHKAR TEMPLE AKA PUSHKAR TEERTH AKA BRAHMA TEMPLE
The afternoon was reserved for the visit to Pushkar Temple. The hilly drive to Pushkar with langoors sitting on the road-sides was exhilarating. The bliss did not last too long and  soon we were pestered by the guides and one of them started chasing us on his bike until we said 'yes' to his advances. His charges being extremely nominal at Rs 100, we decided to add to the gross national income of the country and hired his services.

A Hanuman Temple within the complex
A Shiva Temple within the premises
Once inside the temple, we were surrounded by the pandas for the pooja for our ancestors. One thing I have not been able to understand till date and that is if one has not looked after the parents when they were alive, what is the idea of performing various poojas for them and filling the coffers of the pandas. Anyway, that is my personal opinion without any offence to the believers. Soon, a panda was after us and offered to do some pooja without any charges and insited on doing it. As we succumbed to his pressure, he sent me for an errand and started persuading my hubby to undertake various types of rituals which he withstood with high degree of nonchalance. The next step was interesting as he asked us to pay him his charges. When confronted with his own earlier statement that he will not charge anything for the pooja, he said pointing towards the ghat, “ Yes I said that but it was at that place and at that time. I am asking for my dues now at this place.”  It was irritating as well as hilarious and we asked him to get lost irrespective of any curses that he might have hurled at us like Rishi Durvasa.

The holy cow
The place was like any religious place, dirty, filthy, manipulative with greedy and corrupt people around. An interesting site was a whole lot of foreign tourists taking ride on camels. Many of them waved at my hubby. Did they think he too was a firang?
Disillusioned with the religious places of both the faiths, it was time to go back to our local pad now. We had no time to visit Adhai Din ka Jhopda, a mosque which was built from the remains of a Temple in a Sanskrit College, destroyed by Mohammed Ghauri in the year 1193. He ordered the mosque to be built in 2.5 days so that he could read his namaz there.



THREE LEARNINGS OF THE DAY

1. Don’t throw away the Toll Plaza receipts. At many places, the previous ones have to be shown for moving along without paying any additional charges at the next Toll Plaza.
The picturesque road to Pushkar

2. Don’t rely totally on your eyes while reading signages.  In case of doubt, DO stop and ask the locals for the direction.

3. Religious places are all the same and one should not expect much there unless you have blind faith in the rituals.


For more TRAVELOGUES, please visit my dedicated blog on travels
http://globalhindustani.blogspot.in


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