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Ajmere , or Ajmer, a city of British India in Rajputana which gives its name to a district and also to a petty province called Ajmere-Merwara. It is situated in 26° 27, N. lat. and 74° 44, E. long., on the lower slopes of Taragarh hill, in the Aravalli mountains. To the north of the city is a large artificial lake called the Anasagar, whence the water supply of the place is derived.

The chief object of interest is the darga, or tomb of a famous Mahommedan saint named Mayud-uddin. It is situated at the foot of the Taragarh mountain, and consists of a block of white marble buildings without much pretension to architectural beauty. To this place the emperor Akbar, with his empress, performed a pilgrimage on foot from Agra in accordance with the terms of a vow he had made when praying for a son. The large pillars erected at intervals of two miles the whole way, to mark the daily halting-place of the imperial pilgrim, are still extant. An ancient Jain temple, now converted into a Mahommedan mosque, is situated on the lower slope of the Taragarh hill. With the exception of that part used as a mosque, nearly the whole of the ancient temple has fallen into ruins, but the relics are not excelled in beauty of architecture and sculpture by any remains of Hindu art. Forty columns support the roof, but no two are alike, and great fertility of invention is manifested in the execution Of the ornaments. The summit of Taragarh hill, overhanging Ajmere, is crowned by a foot, the lofty thick battlements of which run along its brow and enclose the table-land. The walls are 2 m. in circumference, and the fort can only be approached by steep and very roughly paved planes, commanded by the fort and the outworks, and by the hill to the west. On coming into the hands of the English, the fort Was dismantled by order of Lord William Bentinck, and is now converted into a sanatorium for the troops at Xasirabad.

Ajmere was founded about the year 145 AD by Aji, a Chauhan, who established the dynasty which continued to rule the country (with many vicissitudes of fortune) while the repeated waves of Mahommedan invasion swept over India, until it eventually became an appanage of the crown of Delhi in 1193. Its internal government, however, was handed over to its ancient rulers upon the payment of a heavy tribute to the conquerors. It then remained feudatory to Delhi till 1365, when it was captured by the ruler of Mewar. In 1509 the place became a source of Contention between the chiefs of Mewar and Marwar, and was ultimately Conquered in 1532 by the latter prince, who in his turn in 1559 had to give way before the emperor Akbar. It continued in the hands of the Moguls, with occasional revolts, till 1770, when it was ceded to the Mahrattas, from which time up to 1818 the unhappy district was the scene of a continual struggle, being seized at different times by the Mewar and Marwar rajas, from whom it was as often retaken by the Mahrattas. In 1818 the latter ceded it to the British in return for a payment of 50,000 rupees. Since then the country has enjoyed unbroken peace and a stable government.

The modern city is an important station on the Rajputana railway, 615 m. from Bombay and 275 m. from Delhi, with a branch running due south to the Great Indian Peninsula main line. The city is well laid out with wide streets and handsome houses. The city trade chiefly consists of salt and opium. The former is inlported in large quantities from the Sambar lake and Ramsur. Oil-making is also a profitable branch of trade. Cotton cloths are manufactured to some extent, for the dyeing Of which the city has attained a high reputation. The educational institutions include the Majo Rajkumar college, opened in 1875, for training the sons of the nobles of Rajputana, on the lines of an English public school. Population (1901) 73,839, showing an increase of 10% in the decade.

The District Of Ajmere, which forms the largest part of the province of Ajmere-Merwara, has an area of 2069 sq. m. The eastern portion of the district is generally flat, broken only by gentle undulations, but the western parts, from north-west to south-west, are intersected by the great Aravalli range. Many of the valleys in this region are mere sandy deserts, with an occasional oasis of cultivation, but there are also some very fertile tracts; among these is the plain on which lies the town of Ajmere. This valley, however, is not only fortunate in possessing a noble artificial lake, but is protected by the massive walls of the Nagpathar range or Serpent rock, which forms a harrier against the sand. The only hills in the district are the Aravalli range and its offshoots. Ajmere is almost totally devoid of rivers, the Banas being the only stream which can be dignified with that name, and it only touches the south-eastern boundary of the district so as to irrigate the pargana of Samur. Four small streams--the Sagarmati, Saraswati, Khari and Dai--also intersect the district. In the dry weather they are little more than brooks. The population in 1901 was 7453, showing a decrease of 13% in the decade. Besides the city of Ajmere, the district contains the military station of Nasirabad, with a population of 22,494.

Initial text from an old 1911 Encyclopedia - please update as needed