Demystifying the charm of Ajmer Sharif, Rajasthan
I stood in front of Ajmer Sharif, hesitant and hopeful. The raw, spine-chilling and unspoiled embrace of erratic winter of Rajasthan, slowly reprimanded me for not wearing enough clothes.
And I shivered, just a little bit.
For quite some time, I had been desperate to visit Ajmer. Though, I deliberately avoided opting for Ajmer Sharif Tour Packages. Don’t ask me why? (Let’s keep revealing the eccentricities of my mind, for another blog.)
The Ajmer Sherif Dargah is a world-famous Sufi-shrine dedicated to 13th century Saint Moinuddin Chisti from Persia. He had devoted his entire life for humanity, helping the poor, healing the sick.
Even today, this shrine answers every wish.
Just like magic.
I too could feel different, right inside my bones. Don’t ask why. Or what!
‘They’ say Ajmer Religious Travel changes you.
‘They’ did not know.
It was January 4. The entire town was bracing up with intoxicating eagerness, breathless hurry. Too much was happening, at once.
Roads were being cleaned. Shops were being decorated, the smell of delicacies reaching my nostrils. Horse-carriages were being lined up, one after the other. Children were running, carrying flags with Urdu words neatly embellished on them. Loudspeakers were being fastened on towering poles, ready to gear up for loud music.
It was noisy, chaotic and happy.
Well, it was the auspicious birthday of Prophet Mohammad, celebrated once in 10 years.
It felt historic for me.
This day won’t get repeated, ever. And if it does, it would, after 10 years. The thought itself added some triumph. An iota of excellence!
Who says histories need to be penned down in books? Who says, history must be known by everyone? My history was happening right then. And it didn’t matter, if it was known.
The twin gateways or ‘Buland Durwaza’ endowed by Sultan Ghyasuddin Khilji of Hyderabad welcomed me. The marble floor was cold, as felt by my naked feet. Belgian crystal chandeliers coated with enamel and gold work elegantly adorned the majestic entrance. I looked up, wondering how old the shrine was.
Silently I entered. Colours, crowd and chaos inundated me.
Men, women, children—kneeling down, privately praying, chanting hymns, hugging each other, performing ablution—so on and so forth. The red sand-stone mosque located at the entrance, called as Akbari Masjid, was constructed by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1571. The presence of clocks—a regular feature of Sufi shrines also caught my attention.
Just like the countless pilgrims, you could spot several tombs, courtyards, antechambers and porticos enclosed within the compound—inter-connected in their own arithmetic. It felt as if everyone’s woe, sorrow and anger were being slowly drowned amidst the large spaces. One after another!
The real tomb, located at the centre of the compound, is revered in extreme silence, in spite of the pushing-elbowing pilgrims. The jewelled mausoleum, preserved by golden cloth, is protected by silver railings. Heaps of petals remained scattered on the marble floors, smelling strongly of rose and jasmine.
As I silently bowed down, in one of the quarters of mausoleum where women were allowed, I gently asked the 80-year-old priest where I could too buy the Islamic Taweez (sacred locket containing verses from Quran) which he had.
He looked at me, smiled.
‘It was meant for you’, he said, gently handing it over to me. I stared at him in disbelief. And then smiled, slowly!
As if, it was a prophecy.
Later, soaking myself in the winter sun, I found myself nestling near a little courtyard, sitting in the company of few very old Muslims.
Our discovery into each other was mutual. I inquired about their faith as they did about me, our conversations getting lost in the passage of time!
They asked me why I came.
I didn’t know. I will never know.
They asked me what I wanted.
Nothing, I said.
I sat for hours next to them. Lost in my own world!
Today, felt different. Or healed! From what and how—I have no idea! But I held the taweez tightly in my palms.
Later, I got up, picked my bag and rushed outside to participate in the grand celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.
And slowly in few minutes, I chose to set myself free in the euphoric, yet anonymous observance.
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