Raja my friend, philosopher and guide over the last few days was determined to get me to Ajmer and it is of course a place to be at and as the Lonely Planet had advised I thought of making a day trip of it from Pushkar. I got up ‘early’ at 10:00 am we were on our way to the City of Ajmer by 10:30 am on Ram’s dusty Royal Enfield Motorcycle.
It was a steep road carved between rocks that we meandered through to reach the city. I captured the city from the road and got a panoramic view of Ajmer and the Anasagar Lake – an artificial formation built it is said by Prithviraj Chauhan’s (1149-1192 AD and a great Indian ruler and warrior from these regions) grandad Anangpal ‘Anaji’ Tomar in 1135 AD, nearly 900 years back.
The first stop was of course the lake and we took a boat ride to the island and the coffee shop in between the lake. The coffee shop however served nothing but stale vegetable pattice some ice cream and coffee. They took their time finding their change to return to me. I ignored the trouble and strolled through with out a fuss . Capturing the people and the view of the lake. A lady approached me and asked me to take a photograph of her son. I had to say no and told her that I do this for fun and am not a professional photographer.
We dove further though the lanes and past the Ajmer Railway Station. Muslim sweet meat shops and fake jewellery shops were all over. I stopped to take a peak at a Minar and a Christian church and then asked Ram to drive towards the Dargha – the mausoleum .
I had heard so much about the dargha , which has also been immortalised in Bollywood films. People say it has magical powers and can cure the sick, revive the dying and also facilitate the birth of a child. We drove past the narrow lane , overcrowded with people , beggar’s , shopkeepers and rickshaw pullers. In Islam holy men are allied Fakir’s or Peer’s.They are not unlike the Sadhus and beg for alms and food and in return shower their blessings and wisdom. The drive through this crowd was slow and tiring .
By now I had worked up an appetite and after a few and more days of vegetarianism I new this was the place to find some good non-veg food especially lamb in all it’s glory. We took are place at the Jannat Restaurant and had two plates of mutton , Fry dal , nan and roti . All this with cold drinks for Rs 400 . Then i decided to hit the Ajmer Sharif and walked in after buying a chadar and flowers ,i was ushered into the mosque area through the people who were about to pray . I reached at the front of the Mazaar and took the blessings of the Islamic saint . Never saw so much green in my life , i was wearing a green skull cap also ,so immersed into the crowd .
Then it was to the Dhai din ka Jhopda a monument made in those many day’s by a ruler called Quttubadin , who also made the Qutub Minar in New Delhi .I was amazed to see men and women stroll freely through this monument made mostly of sandstone .
Our last stop was a rocky climb right at the top of a mountain overseeing the entire city called Taragrah . It was the seat of the great Rajput King Prithvi Raj Chauhan. He had fought the great Mohammad Gazni seventeen times at defeated him every time. This was his fort and he could oversees his subjects from the top. Also the quila, fort was built at such an height so as to keep away invaders who come to invade the city. I walked through the Kwaja Sahib Dargha which was situated nearby. All the while Raja was telling me about the bravery of Prithviraj “ Sir he was finally killed by Gazni but they cheated otherwise it was impossible for them to defeat him . Then these people built a mosque here .” As i approached the mosque a Muslim gent clad in a black shalwar approached me. He said his name was Shabir Khan and he said he’d seen my movies and recognised me. He decided to take me through the dargha and made sure I got my blessings and also to pray for my fathers soul .” You see Anuj sir; never keep faith on human beings, you are bound to be cheated, only keep faith in the Upaarwala, the almighty!!”
I kind of agreed, he then went on “ You see here was the stone that fell when the pir baba was praying he fought the shaitan here and the stone stopped in mid air .” he was very enthusiastic about these myths and folklore . I guess that is the only means of earning their living especially near the mosque area .
Raja grew a bit uncomfortable and nudged me to move on “ arrey sir they just want you to spend more money . They are not following our Dharam and i do not believe in their dharam and after all they defeated Prithvi Raj Chauhan by cheating .” I realised there were historical wounds here unhealed as he dragged me out. But not before Shabbir dragged me back to his shop for a cup of tea with his brother and a photograph with him. I was becoming the bone of contention between Hindu’s and Muslims I thought just a tad worried! It was a very active day where I saw the Sufi Islamic faith up close and experienced the same peace here that I got at any other holy shrines and temples in my travels.