Ajmer, one of the major oldest cities in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is located at the center of Rajasthan and is home to the Ajmer Sharif shrine. The city was established as “Ajayameru” (translated as “Invincible Hills”) by a Chahamana ruler, either Ajayaraja I or Ajayaraja II and served as their capital until the 12th century CE.
Foundation of Ajmer
The city was founded by an 11th-century Chahamana king Ajaydeva. According to Historian Dasharatha Sharma – the earliest mention of the city’s name occurs in Palha’s Pattavali, which was copied in 1113 CE (1170 VS) at Dhara. This suggests that Ajmer was founded sometime before 1113 CE. A prashasti (eulogistic inscription), issued by Vigraharaja IV and found at Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra, states Ajayadeva (that is Ajayaraja II) moved his residence to Ajmer. Read about Harakeli Nataka – Sanskrit Drama by King Vigraharaja IV
A later text Prabandha-Kosha states that it was the 8th-century king Ajayaraja I who commissioned the Ajayameru fort, which later came to be known as the Taragarh fort of Ajmer.
According to historian R. B. Singh, this claim appears to be true, as inscriptions dated to the 8th century CE have been found at Ajmer. Singh theorizes that Ajayaraja II later expanded the town area, constructed palaces, and moved the Chahamana capital from Shakambhari to Ajmer.
In 1193, Ajmer was annexed by the Mamluks of the Delhi Sultanate and later was returned to Rajput rulers under the condition of tribute.
In the Battle of Singoli, Maharana Hammir Singh allegedly defeated Tughluq close to the village of Singoli and captured the Sultan. He then let the Sultan go. The Sultanate gave him Ajmer, Ranthambor, Nagaur, and Sooespur six months later, in exchange for 5 million rupees and 100 elephants as ransom.
Mughals in Ajmer
In 1556, Ajmer came under the Mughal Empire after being captured by Mughal Emperor Akbar. It was made the capital of the eponymous Ajmer Subah. The city enjoyed special favor under the Mughals, who made frequent pilgrimages to the city to visit the dargah of Moinuddin Chishti.
The city was also used as a military base for battles against Rajput rulers, and several times became the site of celebration when a campaign bore success. Mughal Emperors and their nobles made charitable donations to the city and gave it with constructions such as Akbar’s palace and the pavilions along with the Ana Sagar.
Their most prominent building activities were in the dargah and its vicinity. Jahanara Begum and Dara Shikoh, children of Shah Jahan, were both born in the city in 1614 and 1615 respectively.
British Rule in Ajmer
Mughal patronage of the city waned after the end of Aurangzeb’s rule. In 1770, the Maratha Empire conquered the city
But in 1818, the British gained authority over the city. Colonial-era Ajmer served as the headquarters of the Ajmer-Merwara Province and possessed a Central jail, a large General Hospital, and two smaller hospitals according to Gazetteer, 1908. It was the headquarters of a native regiment and a Railway Volunteer corps.
From the 1900s, the United Free Church of Scotland, the church of England, the Roman Catholics, and the American Episcopal Methodists have mission establishments here. At that time there were twelve printing presses in the city, from which eight weekly newspapers were published.
Ajmer after Independence of India
At the time of Independence Ajmer remained as a separate state with its legislature until its merger with erstwhile Rajputana province then called Rajasthan.
The Legislature of Ajmer State was housed in the building which now houses T. T. College. It had 30 MLAs, and Haribhau Upadhaya was the first chief minister of the erstwhile state, with Bhagirath Chaudhary as the first Vidhan Sabha speaker.
In 1956, after acceptance of the proposal by Fazil Ali, Ajmer was merged into Rajasthan to form Ajmer District with the addition of the Kishangarh sub-division of Jaipur district.
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