18 September, 2011
Mansagar Lake is a 300 acre lake surrounded by the Nahargarh hills. In the past, at the location of the lake, there was a natural depression where water used to accumulate. During 1596 AD, when there was a severe famine in this region there was consequent acute shortage of water. The then ruler of Ajmer was, therefore, motivated to build a dam to store water to overcome the severe hardships caused by the famine to the people inhabiting the region. A dam was constructed, initially using earth and quartzite, across the eastern valley between Amer hills and Amagarh hills. The dam was later converted into a stone masonry structure in the 17th century.
Jal Mahal or water palace, is built in the centre of the artificial lake Mansagar, outside the city to the north-east, by the road to Amber. Though sometimes dated as late as 1775, it is likely that this was constructed by Sawai Jai Singh, at the time of foundation, around 1735. Certainly, one surviving drawing in the palace collection that shows it is a type and style consistent with other drawings from Sawai Jai Singh's time.
The Jal Mahal palace, a pleasure resort, is considered an architectural beauty built in the Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture. Its position in a lake extends and established Rajput tradition, of which earlier examples include the very early palace of Padmini at Chittor (originally built c. 1300 but reconstructed c. 1880) and the Jag Mandir at Udaipur (1620s). Roughly contemporary is the Jag Nivas, also at Udaipur, which was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II. The palace has airy domes, pavilions and terraces around an old fruit orchard. A lot of people presume the Jal Mahal was a duck hunting retreat used by the maharaja and his guests for shooting migrating geese, grouse and duck but it was actually a pleasure pavilion for the royal family.
The palace, built in red sandstone casts an enchanting reflection in the calm waters of the Mansagar Lake. It is a five storied building out of which four floors remain under water when the lake is full and the top floor is exposed. The rectangular Chhatri on the roof is of the Bengal type. The Chhatris on the four corners are octagonal.
The garden on the roof – Chameli Bagh – is a Rajput garden, very different from a Mughal garden. It has plants bearing scented white flowers – juhi, champa, chameli, mogra.
The paintings on the tibaris celebrate the art forms of Jaipur, each with a different theme like sunehri, hari, neeli. All the doors are of rose wood, specially carved by traditional carpenters from Sikar. This is as authentically Rajput as it can get.
17 September, 2011
Love all and hate none.
Mere talk of peace will avail you naught.
Mere talk of God and religion will not take you far.
Bring out all the latent powers of your being
and reveal the full magnificence of your immortal self.
Be overflowing with peace and joy,
and scatter them wherever you are
and wherever you go.
Be a blazing fire of truth,
be a beauteous blossom of love
and be a soothing balm of peace.
With your spiritual light,
dispel the darkness of ignorance;
dissolve the clouds of discord and war
and spread goodwill, peace, and harmony among the people.
Never seek any help, charity, or favors
from anybody except God.
Never go the court of kings,
but never refuse to bless and help the needy and the poor,
the widow, and the orphan, if they come to your door.
This is your mission, to serve the people.....
Carry it out dutifully and courageously, so that I, as your Pir-o-Murshid,
may not be ashamed of any shortcomings on your part
before the Almighty God and our holy predecessors
in the Silsila on the Day of Judgment.
- The final discourse of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti to his disciples, one month before his death
Khwaja Mu'inuddin Hasan Chishti was born in Asfahan, Persia, around 1138 AD, and brought up in Sanjar. He completed his religious education in Samarqand and Bukhara . He was initiated into the Chishti Order by Khwaja Usman Haruni around 1156 AD. Mu'inuddin met the great Abdu-l-Qadir Jilani, the founder of the Qadiri Order and also Abu-n-Najib Suhrawardi, the renowned Saint of the Suhrawardi Order at Baghdad. During his visit to Medina, around 1187 AD, he received a mandate from the Holy Prophet to proceed to Ajmer where he established the first presence of the Chishti Order in India. His high morals, great wisdom and frugal lifestyle deeply influenced thousands of people as he carried on his work in Ajmer for more than 45 years and became known as also known as Gharib Nawaz, the Patron of the Poor. He passed away in 1236 AD. His tomb in Ajmer is a well-known place of pilgrimage for people from many countries, regardless of their religion.
Text in the following sections has been borrowed from http://dargahsharif.com/KGN_DARGAH%20SHARIF.htm
Dargah Shariff of Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti lies at the foot of Taragarh hill. The first recorded visit to to the Dargah Sharif (SHRINE) of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty Ajmeri was Muhammad Bin Tughluq in 1332. Between the death of Firuz Shah Tughluq (1388) and the invasion of Timur (1398), Zafar Khan, progenitor of the Sultans of Gujarat, made the pilgrimage to Ajmer from Nandalgarh.
The Khiljis of Malwa and Mandu had close connections with the shrine in the last half of the fifteenth century.Sultan Mahmud Khilji visited Ajmer in 1455. At that time there was still no proper mausoleum to house the tomb of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin. Two mighty Buland Darwaza, were built with the donations of Sultan Ghyasuddin Khilji of Mandoo who ruled Malwa from 1469 to 1500 A.D.
Ajmer emerged as one of the most important centers of pilgrimage in India during the reign of Emperor Akbar. He was the first Moghul Emperor to visit the Dargah on foot when Ajmer came under his possession. Emperor Akbar used to come here by foot on pilgrimage from Agra every year with his queen in observance of a vow he had made when praying for a son. Akbar visited the grave of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty fourteen times.
One night His Majesty went off to Fatehpur Sikri (U.P.) to hunt and passed near by Mandhakar which is a village on the way from Agra to Fatehpur. A number of Indian minstrels were singing enchanting ditties about the glories and virtues of the great Khwaja, Khwaja Moinuddin--- May his grave be hallowed---who sleeps in Ajmer.
Often had his perfections and miracles been the theme of discourse in the holy assemblies. His Majesty, who was a seeker after Truth, and who, in his zealous quest sought for union with travelers on the road of holiness, and showed a desire for enlightenment, conceived a strong inclination to visit the Khwaja's shrine. The attraction of a pilgrimage higher seized his collar.
The Emperors subsequent devotion to the shrine was remarkable. He made it a rule for himself that he should go every year in the beginning of Rajab (the time of the 'urs) to the holy shrine'. But his visits were not confined to attending this annual festival. As the expeditions of just rulers are a source of soothment to mortals, and are market-days of justice, His Majesty was disposed to traveling and hunting especially when in this way he could make a pilgrimage to the shrine of some great ascetic. Akbar also visited the shrine regularly to give thanks after important military victories. Thus, he went there after the conquest of Chittor in 1568 and of Bihar and Bengal in 1574.
Akbar believed the birth of his son, Prince Salim, in 1570 to have been the result of the successful intercession with God by Salim Chishty, a darvish whose marble mausoleum may still be seen at Fatehpur Sikri. This reinforced the Emperor's faith in the Chishty order and was the occasion of his most striking display of devotion to Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty. He, at the time when he was seeking for a son, had made a vow to his God that if this blessing should be attained, he would perform an act of thanksgiving which would be personal to himself, viz., that he would walk from Agra to the shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty and there pay his devotions to God. He repeated the visit on the birth of his second son later in the same year, through this time he only walked the last stage of the journey.
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.
- From Akbarnama
He built the Akbari Masjid, a spacious mosque in the Dargah in 1571 A.D. It was repaired by Nawab Ghafoor Ali of Danapur in 1901 A.D. One of its wings now accommodates the Moiniua Usmania Darul-Uloom, an Arabic and Persain School, for religious education which is run under the management of the Dargah.
The buland Darwaza in the north, which is now the main entrance of the Dargah, was built by H.E.H. Nisam Usman Ali Khan of Hyderabad Deccan in 1915 A.D.
On the top of this gateway, there is the main Naqqar Khana (drum house) containing two pairs of huge naqqars (beating drums) which were presented by Emperor Akbar after his successful victory in a campaign of Bengal. They are sounded to the accompaniment of music played on Nafeeries and Shahnias at certain fixed hours of every day and night of the year by musicians permanently employed on the staff of the Dargah.
In the three years he was at Ajmer, Jahangir visited the shrine nine times. He gave the dargah one of its cauldrons (degs) and on the inaugural occasion he lit the fire beneath it himself and the contents of the pot fed five thousand poor, as well as himself and his wife, Nur Mahal. In 616, Jahangir had made a vow that they should place a gold railing with lattice-work at the enlightened tomb of the revered Khawaja. On the 27th of this month (Rabi II) it was completed and I ordered them to take and affix it. It had been made at a cost of 110,000 rupees.
Shah Jahan is also belived to have constructed a ghat to give access to the Jhalra tank which is adjacent to the south side of the dargah. A second monumental gateway was built outside the Buland Darwaza during Shah Jahan's reign. The inscription on the gateway indicates that it was built to commemorate a victory of Shah Jahan.
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.
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 Dargah includes many other attractive buildings, tombs, courtyards and Daalaans, some of which are exquisite specimens of the Moghul architecture and were erected during the Moghul period.
Tombs in Dargah Shariff
Finch mentions that there were many men of distinction to be buried in the saint's vicinity. Most remarkable of them, at the time Finch was writing, was the grave of Nizam, the water carrier who saved the Emperor Humayun's life. In his gratitude, the emperor promised that he would seat the water carrier on his throne. Humayun did not fail to keep his word and the humble bhishti was able to dispense imperial authority for a period which varies in the sources from two hours to two days. By the time Aurangzeb visited Ajmer (1659) the water carrier's grave was so elaborately decorated that the Emperor mistook it for the of the saint. He ordered that it should be stripped of its embellishments.
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.
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.
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.
Outside the 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 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.'
The enclosure behind the Shah Jahani mosque is called the Charyar after the forty companions of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty who are supposed to have arrived in Ajmer with him, and whose remains are believe to be buried there.
Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty's grave was replaced by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur in 1730. This contains approximately 42,961 tolas of silver.
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. 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 1793 the Nawab of Karnatak, Muhammad 'Ali Khan Wala Jah, built the Karnataki Dalan as a shelter for pilgrims to the shrine.
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.
Distinguished visitors to the shrine
On 23 December 1911, Queen Mary of Britain visited Ajmer and its shrine. She gave Rs. 1,500 to pay for the repair & roofing of the tank in front of the Mahifil Khana.
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