8 hours in eclectic ajmer, rajasthan’s centre for sufism

Rose essence from Hinduism’s holy city of Pushkar fills the air of Sufi Islam’s sacred dargah in Ajmer. The courtyard reverberates with qawwalis in praise of the 13th Century saint from Iran, as the faithful shuffle past his grave in deep reverence, heads bowed, eyes lowered, a prayer or two on their lips.

It is 9ish in the morning and I am at the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti Dargah deep in the heart of Ajmer’s Muslim quarter. As far back as I can remember, I had wanted to visit the tomb-shrine. Now actually standing here, it feels unreal. Surreal.

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Just 15 kilometres from Pushkar, separated by Nag Pahar an ancient hill in the Aravalli range, is Ajmer—Pushkar’s antithesis. Continue reading

saint ma hajiani dargah: of red and green bangles

“… Spirit of Guidance,
Source of all beauty, and Creator of harmony,
Love, Lover, and Beloved Lord.
Thou art our divine ideal.”
~ Ameen (Rasul)

The above verse is from the third evening prayer in Sufism, Rasul.

Sufism in India goes back a 1,000 years, both as part of Islam and woven into the Bhakti Movement. Today, the country is an epicentre for Sufi culture; its dargahs a devout space for connecting with the divine.

One such dargah stands across the Haji Ali Dargah in Mahalaxmi, on the other side of the coastline hugging the Arabian Sea. Lesser known, but no less revered, the Saint Ma Hajiani Dargah is a place of worship for women and their dreams of finding love and having offspring. Continue reading