Ajmer Sharif History

The Dargah Sharif of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz  is indeed an ornament to the city of Ajmer. It is one of the holiest places of worship in India not only for the Muslims but also for the people of other faiths who hold the saint in high esteem and reverence.

The Khwaja Sahib as a living spirit of peace and harmony enjoys universal respect and devotion ever since he set his holy feet on the soil of Hindustan. He has unquestionably been one of the greatest spiritual redeemers of human sufferings. To the faithful and afflicted souls invoking his blessings, he has ever been a never-failing source of moral strength and spiritual enlightenment. Apart from the common people, even the mighty kings of India, have paid submissive homage to the great saint and sought his miraculous aid to solve their problems. The precious buildings and various rich endowments dedicated to the Dargah of Huzoor Gharib Nawaz are living memorials to and reminders of his continued patronage enjoyed by the people of India throughout the past eight centuries.

The Dargah lies at the foot of the northern extremity of hill. Its main attraction is the Mausoleum containing the tomb of the saint which is the sanctum sanctorum of the Dargah. The Dargah included many other attractive buildings, tombs, courtyards and Daalans some of which are exquisite specimens of the Mughal architecture and were erected during the Mughal period.

A History of the Dargah Sharif (SHRINE)

of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty Ajmeri (R.A.)

The first recorded visit to to the Dargah Sharif (SHRINE) of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty Ajmeri (R.A.) was Muhammad Bin Tughluq in 1332. In the first year of the reign of Firuz Shah Tughluq (1351-2) the important Chishty, Zain al-din, the khalifa of Burhan al-din Chishty, who was himself the khalifa of Hazrat Nizam al-din Awliya, made a pilgrimage to Ajmer.

A further reference to regular pilgrimage to Ajmer in the latter half of the fourteenth century occurs in the conversations of Syed Muhammad Gesudaraz recoreded in 1399-1400 AD. Gesudaraz was talking about his refusal to impart further instructions to one Hazrat Khwaja Hisamuddin, who had previously received Sufi teaching from other Shaikhs. An unnamed darvish approached Gesudaraz and gave him a resume of what he might have imparted to him. This included an injuction to perform the ziyarat of the Panj Pirs (five pirs) who, as explained in the anecdote, are the five great Chishty ShaIkhs who preceded Gesudaraz, viz. Hazrat Khwaja Nasiruddin, Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin, Hazrat Khwaja Fariduddin, Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddin,and Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin.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. He dismounted at a distance of 3 koos from Ajmer and went on foot to the shrine where he performed the appropriate ceremonies.

The Khiljis of Malwa and Mandu has close connections with the shrine in the last half of the fifteenth century. Sultan Mahmud Khilji visited Ajmer in 1455. The Muslim population of Ajmer resented their governor, so Mahmud marched on Ajmer. On the fifth day he captured the fort and appointed his own governor.

‘He then paid his respects to the shrine and distributed offerings among its attendants in thanks giving for his successful campaign.

Sultan Mahmud Khilji also built a mosque near the shrine, known as the Sandal Khana especially for the Khadims as at that time the only population present was that of Khadims.

At that time there was still no proper mausoleum to house the tomb of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin. According to ‘Abd al-Haqq Dihlawi, it was Hazrat Shaykh Husain Nagauri, a descendant of Hazrat Khwaja Hamid al-din Nagauri and pir of Sultan Ghiyas al-din Khilji, who first remedied this situation.

Sultan Ghiyasuddin Khilji (1469-1500) himself was a devotee of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin and it was almost certainly he who funded the construction of the Buland Darwaza, one of the ceremonial gates of the dargah, and so-called because of its great height. The Buland Darwaza is sometimes attributed to Sultan Alauddin Khilji, some refer today to it as the ‘Ala I Darwaza ‘ but this is unlikely, and is no doubt the result of a confusion between the Khiljis of Malwa and Mandu, and Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi (1298-1316). The Buland Darwaza, can, therefore, more acceptably be attributed to Ghiyas al-din Khilji.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century Maulana Jamali, author of Siyar al-Arifin, undertook the pilgrimage to Ajmer. He refers to the existence of families of attendants long established at the shrine, and the significant quantity of gifts brought to it by Hindus as well as Muslims.

The Tarikh-i Daudi mentions that;

In 1554 Sher Shah Suri himself went to Ajmer to have the ziyarat of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty. Gave large alms to the faqirs of the khanqa and performed the necessary ceremonies of going around it.

In AH 939 / 1532-3 the cupola of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty’s mausoleum was embellished as is indicated by an inscription in golden letters on the northern wall of the tomb. There is nothing to suggest who was responsible for this decoration; however, a certain ‘Mua’zzam’ was the chrono grammatist. Trimizi believes that this might have been Khwaja Muazzam, the uncle of the Emperor Akbar.

Akbar was the first Mughal Emperor to take an interest in Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty, and with his imperial patronage the fortunes of the shrine dramatically improved. Akbar visited the grave of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty fourteen times.

The Akbarnama records how his interest in the saint was kindled :

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.

Badayuni records how in the year 1573-4 a lofty college and high spacious palaces were built on the road to Ajmer. And the cause of this was as follows: His Majesty’s extreme devotion induced his every year to go on a pilgrimage to that city, and so he ordered a palace to be built at every stage between Agra and that place, and a pillar to be erected and a well sunk at every kos (kilometers). Ever so many hundreds of thousands of stags’ horns, which the Emperor had killed during the course of his life were placed on these pillars as a memorial to the world………. Would that instead of these he had ordered grandness and caravanserais to be made.

In 1571 Akbar initiated the building of the mosque (AKBARI MASJID) which is named after him at the shrine, and in 1579 he had the mausoleum of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty further embellished. This is mentioned in an inscription painted in golden nastaliq lettering inside the dome of the mausoleum. For early topographical descriptions of Ajmer and its shrine, reliance must be placed on the foreign travellers who went there. Contemporary local authors give no such descriptions. W. Finch, who was in India between 1608 and 1611, left the following account of the shirne:

Ajmer is only famous for the sepulchre of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty, a saint much respected by the Mughals.

It was not only Akbar and the Khilji Sultans who adorned Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty ‘s tomb. By the early seventeenth centrury the dargah was clearly an impressive establishment with a considerable staff financed by the endowments and offerings of devotees. There was already accommodation for the staff, facilities for the pilgrims’ ritual ablutions, a monumental gateway the (the Buland Darwaza), at the entrance of the shrine, and a lavishly decorated mausoleum for the saint. Finch mentions that there were many men of distinction to be buried in his 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 hould 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.

The next addition to the shrine of any significance was the gateway to the north of the mausoleum, adjacent to the present Mahfil Khana. The inscription above the gate records that it was built by Mir Shamani in A H 1021/1612-13.

The Emperor Jahangir lived at Ajmer ‘for five days less than three years’. The prospect of going there pleased him:

“In this undertaking two things were agreeable to me, one a pilgrimage to the splendid mausoleum of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishty, from blessings of whose soul great advantages had been derived by this dignified family and whose venerable shrine I had not visited after my accession to the throne.”

Accordingly, on Monday, 5 Shawwal (18 November 1613) the hour for enterning Ajmer was fixed. On the morning of the said day I went towards it. When the fort and the buildings of the shrine of the revered Khwaja appeared in sight, I traversed on foot the remainder of the road , about one kos. I placed trustworthy men on both sides of the road, who went along giving money to faqirs and the necessitous. When four gharis of the day had passed, I entered the city and its inhabited portion, and in the fifth gbari had the hoour of visiting the venerable mausoleum.

In fact, this was not Jahangir’s first independent visit to Ajmer. In AH 990/1582-3, Badayuni records that the Prince Salim went to Ajmer to meet Gulbadan Begum and Salima Sultan Begum, who had returned from pilgrimage. On this occasion they paid a gratuitous visit to the shrine of the saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty left their gifts there.

A year after his first visit to Ajmer as Emperor, Jahangir decided outwardly to symbolize his devotion and gratitude to the saint:

During my illness it had occurred to me that when I completely recovered inasmuch as I was inwardly an ear-bored slave of the Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty and was indebted to him for my very existence, I should openly make holes in my ears and be enrolled among his ear-marked slaves. On Thursday, 12th Shariwar, corresponding to the month of Rajab, I made holes in my ears and drew into each a shining pearl. When the servants of the palace and my loyal friends saw this, both those who were in the presence and some who were in the distant borders, diligently made holes in their ears and adorned the beauty of sincerity with pearls and rubies, until by degrees the infection caught the ahadis and others.

That Jahangir believed that he owed not only his ‘very existence’ to Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty but also his throne is suggested by a miniature by Bichti which show Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty proffering the orb and crown of imperial office to Jahangir (who is out of the picture). On the orb is inscribed ‘The key of victory over the two Worlds is entrusted to thy hand.’

A notice in the Tuzuk-i Jabangir mentions that later in the same year he presented ‘732 pearls of the value of 36,000 rupees to the servants, who, by way of loyalty, had bored their ears.’

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.

The Emperor Shah Jahan visited Ajmer five times during his reign (1627-58). The Shah Jahani mosque at the shrine is the chief monument of his devotion to Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty. He ordered the mosque to be constructed in fulfilment of a vow made during his Mewar capaign. The result is a building of striking quality, its beauty enhanced by the enclosure, which stretched before the mosque itself. According to the Siyar al-Aqtab, Shah Jahan built ‘such a splendid mosque that no former ruler has ever built a mosque to rival it anywhere on the face of the earth. May Allah preserve this building for ever.’

Tirmizi has noted the details of the mosque’s construction thus:

It measures 148 feet in length and 25 feet in width, having in front an enclosure measuring 150 feet by 53 feet. This enclosure, paved with polished marble, is surrounded on the south, north and east of an elegant balustrade having five entrances, one in the south, one in the north and the remaining three in the east, each reached by a flight of stairs.

The mosque proper is on a plinth, which is again reached by a flight of stairs. Under the roof of the mosque there is an exterior row of eleven arched entrances running parallel to an interior row of the same number, all the twenty-two being identical to one another. The back-wall has five niches in which the fundamental creeds of Islam are inscribed in letters of gold. Over the frieze of the facade there is an inscription in Persian verse.

The text of the inscription over the frieze of the facade of Shahjahan’s mosque in the Ajmer Dargah Sharif. The inscription is inlaid with blas� marble occupying 66 horizontal panel; each panel contains a hemistich flanked by various attributes of Allah. The whole runs into 33 verses of high quality. The inscription is in masnawi from and the meter employed is a variation of the mutaqarib. The style of writing is Naksh of a very high order.

Shahjahan Mughal Emporor of India,
National Museum

  1. I have heard from the clite of happy omen that prior to {his} eternity bound accession.
  2. Faith-cherishing refuge of the religion, of heavenly dignity, Shah Jahan the King.
  3. Asylum of nation, lord of throne and crown, in whose reign the Divine Law prevails.
  4. After scoring victory over the Rana, pitched up his tent at Ajmer with great dignity, pomp and felicity.
  5. For praying a visit to the shrine of the truthful Moin (helper) of the world, Khwaja of the age.
  6. The refuge of the truths, the receptacle of divine knowledge to whom the heaven has a awarded the title of
  7. Qutub-e-Alam {pole star of the world}.
  8. As there was no mosque in {the enclosure of} that holy mausoleum, a desire for {constructing} a mosque in memory of him.
  9. Between the lord {Shahjahan} and God it was ratified that there should be a mosque in memory of him.
  10. Many revolutions of the sphere were not over when that altar of monarchs and angles.
  11. Occupied the seat of emperorship and sovereignty, through divine favor.
  12. Girded up his lions and went ahead, not by way of formality, but through sincere intention {to put his desire into reality}.
  13. By the grace of Allah, the work was done as desired. He laid the foundation of this mosque and it was completed.
  14. How excellent is the mosque of the king of the world which bears the stamp of the Bait-ul-Muqaddas {the name given to the mosque in Jerusalem}.
  15. How happy is the dignity of this house that on account of its sanctity is the companion on the Holy Kaaba.
  16. It is scared shrine like the sanctuary of Abrahim A.S. the tongue is dedicated to honorable mention for its description.
  17. It is considered a twin of the Kaaba, who has beheld a mosque with such splendor and grandeur?
  18. The sun makes a broom from its rays in order that he might receive the honorific of ‘sweeper’ at this place.
  19. The Kaaba is visible therein at the time of prayer, having opened the door of the niche towards the Holy Sanctuary.
  20. When you rub your fortunate face on its floor, your book of deeds becomes as white as marble {i.e. your sins are washed away}.
  21. The indigent seeker has his heart attaches therein; its guldasta is the spring-time of prayer.
  22. When the king of the world {Shahjahan} turned the face of supplication towards its niche, at the time of prayer.
  23. Through divine favor, the niche was honored on both sides; it has its back to one qibla {the Kaaba} and its face to another {the mausoleum}.
  24. There are two pupils that sit in the eye of the world; one is the house of Kaaba and the other is this {the mosque}.
  25. The emperor of the faith sits in the mosque as if the Kaaba occupies the mosque for ever.
  26. In the mosque prayer is favored with response; so happy is the one who offers prayer there.
  27. The soul can be burned as incense at its pulpit from which the name of the King of the World {Shahjahan} is raised.
  28. To the throng of people who come to offer prayers its gate is always open as it the gate of penitence.
  29. In order that the sermon of the king may be worthy of it, it is befitting that its pulpit should be made out of the wings of angels.
  30. It reservoir is full to the brim with the water of Zam Zam; through its niche it is door to door with the kaaba.
  31. Its limped water has drawn a sword of waves to sever relations {with everything mundane}.
  32. The joints of the stone have been so finely set together that you may say it was carved of a single piece.
  33. Since at the behest of the Shadow of God {i.e. the king}, destiny raised this edifice.
  34. Men of faith recorded for its chronogram the words; the edifice of the emperor of the surface of the world 1047 A.H

The chronogram yields the date AH 1047/1637-8.

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.

One of the verses reads:

During the reign of Shah Jahan, the religious-cherishing king, the son of Faith has wiped away the darkness of infidelity completely. Year 29 (1654).

This gateway is variously known as the Shah Jahani Darwaza and the Naqqar Khana, the latter because it was used to house tow immense drums, which came from Bengal. An earlier reference suggests, however, that there was some kind of naqqar khana before the reign of Shah Jahan.Early in Ramazan (1574) the atmosphere of Ajmer became fragrant from the storm raised by the musk-like hoof of royal horses. The king went straight to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin and duly observed the necessary religious ceremonies there, and from the spoils of Bengal, two big drums, which from the first day had been kept apart to be presented to the Khwaja, were brought and presented to the Naqqar Khana.

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.

In 1888, the walls and pillars were painted arich red, gold and blue, at the expense of the Nawab Mushtak Ali Khan of Rampur

Another account of Ajmer and its shrine by a European traveller dates from Shah Jahan’s reign. Peter Mundy describes ‘a great resort of people continuously from all parts thronging in and out’.

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 era of the Great Mughals was a time of unusual stability in the history of Ajmer. The cult of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty and his shrine had development unhindered by political and territorial disputes. This relative tranquillity ended with the death of Aurangzeb, when Ajmer entered a period of uncertainty and political turbulence. The city became the focus for Rajput expansionist ambitions.

Muhammad Shah, the new Mughal Emperor, recaptured Ajmer in 1722.But by 1730 Ajmer was again in Rajput hands. It has been suggested that the visit to Ajmer planned by Nadir Shah was no more than a cover for political designs: ‘At Delhi Nadir Shah talked of making a pilgrimage to the tomb of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty at Ajmer. This journey was really intended for the spoliation of the Rajput states because Ajmer is in the heart of Rajputana.’

Ajmer was the center of endless disputes in the mid-eighteenth century, but stability returned when it was annexed by Scindia of Gwalior in 1791. It remained in his hands until it was ceded to the British government in 1818. The turbulent history of Ajmer is a factor in the growth of its shrine. Nadir Shah was not alone in realizing that journeys to shrines could be used for military or political ends. The strategic importance of Ajmer may help to explain the interest temporal rulers (including non-Muslims) took in the shrine. Geographically Ajmer is the gateway to much of Rajasthan. Its position, combined with the precipitous nature of the hill on which its fort is built, made the city of supreme strategic interest.

Thus, even during the political upheavals in Ajmer in the nineteeth century the dargah was not entirely neglected. A succession of Maharajas endowed it with a series of villages.

Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty ‘s grave, but it was replaced by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur in c. 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. From the correspondence between the two, it is clear that there was much rivalry to gain the privilege of funding this repair work. The Nawab was considerably alarmed by the potential competition, but the Maharaja was able to assure him the all was well and no-one would interfere with the Nawab’s requests.

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.

Inscription on the Karnataki Dalan on the Dargah Sharif of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty R.A.

  1. He is the Helper.
  2. In the court of the lord of both the worlds- that Moinuddin, the King of Empeorors.
  3. When that Amir-ul-Hind, mine of justice and equity, ocean of generosity and heaven of devotion,
    namely, that nawab of elevated rank whose name is Wala Jah, having high station,
  4. Who is successful ruler of the dominion ok Karnataka and who is undoubtedly a favourtie servant of Allah,
  5. With sincerity of intention and chaste truthfulness laid the foundation of a charming edifice,
  6. With a view to people reposing therein and thus it may certainly be the cause of blessing;
  7. In the reign of Shah Alam {II} the king, this abode was constructed with glory and splendour;
  8. I sought from the heart the year of its construction; it became enraptured and opened its lips,
  9. Saying, ‘since it is an edifice of Wala Jah {and as} its foundation is dedicated to Allah.
  10. Seek the year of its construction in this benediction, May the blessed building endure for ever! 1207 A.H.
  11. Seek the thirty five from the year of the king�s succession, it was completed in the Holy Month of Rajjab.
  12. The devoted servants of Wala Jah, Mohammed Jaffar Khan Qadir Yar Khan and Ali Mohammed Khan had the good fortune of supervising its construction .

The Nizam of Hyderabad’s patronage of the dargah began when he gave a jagir to the shrine in 1851.A crown-like pinnacle for the apex of the mausoleum was presented in 1896 by Nawab Haider ‘Ali Khan.

The next architectural tribute to the importance of the shrine came in 1888 when Sir Asman Jah initiated the construction of the Mahfil Khana were sama ‘ is held every night during the ‘urs.

The eastern and southern doors of the mausoleum were when plated with nickel thanks to the generosity of Sadutullah Khan of Jaora, and Shah Jahan’s ghat was converted into a Square Hauz for the ritual ablutions before prayers in the Shah Jahani mosque.

In 1901 the Akbari mosque was repaired at the expense of Nawab Gafur ‘Ali of Danapur.

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.

The present main gate of the dargah was built by the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1915. It stands outside the Naqqar Khana. The raised steps beneath this new gateway were, actually, built during Akbar’s reign in order to prevent flooding.

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.

Mention was made above of Nizam the Bhishti’s tomb. Numerous individuals since then have elected to be buried within the precincts of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty ‘s shrine. Not only is this exceptionally holy ground, but the saint is believed to be able to intercede on behalf of those buried near him and ensure for them the mercy of Allah.

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.

Near the Karnataki Dalan is the mausoleum built by Muhammad Tahir Bakhsh, entitled Shah Quli Khan, who had been Subedar of Ajmer. Anxious to be buried near Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty, he had this small mausoleum built, but he died in Agra in 1605 and nobody thought to return his body to Ajmer.

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. Badayuni throught highly of him and described him as being ‘endowed with angelic qualities and adorned with the graces and perfection of learning, has no equal either in Arabia or Persia in his knowledge of works on travel, of history, and of chronicles.

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 AH 1182/1768-9. 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.

It was only a small minority who has the means to record their respect for the saint in the from of architectural monuments, or who were in a position to select the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty as their last resting place. While these monuments are crucial to the task of tracing the development of the cult, they represent only a very limited range of the saint’s followers. Since its inception, the cult of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty as always been popular movement.

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