Past Cities

Ajmer, Rajasthan, India

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Ajmer, located in the state of Rajasthan, India, is a city with a rich historical and cultural heritage. Nestled at the foothills of the Aravalli Range, it has been an important center of trade, spirituality, and political power throughout history. With a population of around 550,000 inhabitants, Ajmer is a bustling city that attracts tourists and pilgrims from all over the world.

The history of Ajmer dates back to ancient times. The city finds mention in the 7th-century chronicles of Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang, who described it as a prosperous trade center. Its strategic location on the trade routes connecting North India with Gujarat and the Arabian Sea made it a hub of commercial activities, attracting merchants and traders from far and wide.

In the early 12th century, Ajmer came under the rule of Prithviraj Chauhan, the last Hindu king of Delhi. However, the city's fate took a significant turn when Muhammad of Ghor, a powerful ruler from Central Asia, invaded India. Muhammad of Ghor defeated Prithviraj Chauhan in the infamous Battle of Tarain in 1192, establishing Muslim rule in the region. Ajmer became a crucial outpost of the Delhi Sultanate and served as the capital of the province of Ajmer-Merwara.

Under the Delhi Sultanate, Ajmer flourished both culturally and politically. The sultans patronized the arts and sciences, and the city became a center of Sufi mysticism with the establishment of the famous shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a renowned Sufi saint, attracted disciples from different parts of India and beyond, making Ajmer a significant pilgrimage site for Muslims.

During the Mughal period, Ajmer's importance continued to grow. Emperor Akbar, who had a deep reverence for Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, visited the city and constructed the Buland Darwaza, a grand gateway to the shrine. The Mughals considered Ajmer a strategic location due to its proximity to their capital, Delhi. The Mughal emperors used Ajmer as a base for military campaigns in Rajasthan and maintained a strong administrative presence in the city.

Ajmer's political landscape changed once again in the 18th century with the decline of the Mughal Empire. The Marathas, led by their warrior chieftain Mahadji Scindia, captured Ajmer in 1755. The Maratha rule brought a period of relative stability and prosperity to the region. However, their hold over Ajmer was short-lived, as the British East India Company emerged as the dominant power in India.

The British took control of Ajmer in 1818 after defeating the Marathas. They established a British residency in the city, making it a part of the British Raj. Ajmer became the headquarters of the Ajmer-Merwara region, which was later renamed the Ajmer-Merwara-Kekri region. The British implemented various administrative reforms, built infrastructure, and introduced modern education systems in Ajmer, leaving a lasting impact on the city's development.

Ajmer played a significant role in India's struggle for independence. The city became a hotbed of nationalist activities, with prominent leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Subhash Chandra Bose visiting and addressing public gatherings. The people of Ajmer actively participated in the non-cooperation movement, civil disobedience campaigns, and the Quit India movement, contributing to the freedom struggle.