… Jo Bhi tere dar aaya, Jhukne jo sar aaya;
Mastiya piye sabko, Jhoomta nazar aaya,
Pyaas leke aaya tha, Dariya who bhar laya;
Noor ki baarish mein, Bheegta sa tar aaya...
These famous lines of a popular Hindi film reverberate with the trust and conviction of thousands of people thronging the Dargah Sharif of Ajmer to offer their prayers…
Situated about 11 kms from Pushkar and 145 kms from Jaipur, The Dargah Sharif is the final resting place of the great Sufi saint - Hazrat Khwaja Syed Muhammad Muinuddin Chishti.
Also known as Gharib Nawaz, or 'Benefactor of the Poor', the Khwaja was one of the greatest saintly liberators of human sufferings, a vast oasis of peace and harmony, moral strength and divine enlightenment. He still is, in spirit, through His blessings and love which one can sense when one is here. No wonder then, it is believed that no one returns empty handed from His divine abode.
Going back in time, the great Mughal Emperor Akbar once came to the Dargah Sharif in the 16th century to offer prayers for an heir and later his prayer was answered. It was his belief that had brought him there. And even today, it’s this belief that brings not only the common man but also popular personalities, of all faiths and from all fields, to this living cenotaph all round the year to pay homage to the great saint. During the Urs, which is held in honor of the death anniversary of the Saint, it is said that, this Muslim mosque is totally a different place swarmed with lakhs of pilgrims from all over the world.
You will have to leave your cars a good distance away from the main shrine as after this point, entry of vehicles are restricted (I had left my camera too as our driver told us that electronic gadgets are not allowed inside the dargah). Walking on foot, this is the time when you will be able to see the different colors of Ajmer. The narrow lanes are lively, bustling with colorful bazaars selling a variety of stuff from chaddars and scarves to clothes and food. I walk past beggars asking for alms, other pilgrims hurrying past and shopkeepers who urge you to remove footwear in their shops and buy something instead. Soon, the smell of fresh rose and jasmine flowers, sandalwood paste, perfumes and incense sticks floating in the air indicate that I am just about to reach. In a moment, I spot the huge gates. Remove your footwear, cover your head, two things must be done before entering.
I entered the main dargah, where the saint lies buried. Every corner inside is done up in gold which furnishes the whole aura in grandeur and divinity. Tried to get near his crypt but it was getting too difficult to stand in the place filled to the brim, with everybody trying to do the same. It is surrounded by a silver railing with a cleric sitting besides it. He takes the offerings, puts them on the tomb and taps your head with a feather fan before directing you towards the exit gate. I wish I could have spent some more time here.
[ The resting place of the saint, Khwaja Syed Muhammad Muinuddin Chishti
(courtesy photo.webindia123.com) ]
Outside, in the premises, there is a humble baoli or water reservoir whose waters are said to cure all diseases. There are people roaming around here carrying water-filled sacks who will insist you buy one of this. This essentially means that, you will then get to empty the water from the sack in the pond which, in turn, is said to bring good luck and prosperity.
Just a little ahead are two enormous cauldrons filled with rice, lentils, dry fruits and condiments donated by the pilgrims. This is daily cooked and distributed free among the poor.
As I headed towards the exit, I spotted the professional singers called 'qawwals' sitting in groups, singing qawwallis (Sufi hymns) in the praises of the saint in a distinguishing voice penetrating not only through the walls but also your soul. Every time I have heard Sufi songs live, especially in dargahs, be it at the Haji Ali dargah in Mumbai or here, the experience has truly been a magical one… the magic of the music merging with the soul… It was a wonderful feeling that stayed on with me as I made my way towards the city!