Growth of Ajmer City –A Historical Perspective
If one hears the Pushkar lake is dry it hurts . The historic aspects of Ajmer tell about its glory
The evolution of a city is a historical process by it self. Its image at any time is merely a cross section through a continuous stream (Blumenfield, 1982). The form and growth of the city results from the concepts in the minds of its inhabitants and also from the types of structure they build. Both are derived from pre-urban roots determined by the interaction of its site, situation, function and subsequent human activity. Cities generally do not have any common origin. A city may develop from growth of a village or it may be consciously established as a town. Geographers describe three such situations like center place, transfer point and specialized city (Carter, 1975). Ajmer city is centrally located in the state and important from historical, religious, academic and administrative point of view. King Ajai Raj established it in 1933. It is a religious place for both Hindus and Muslim community. Ajmer is also important place from administrative point of view being earlier as capital of Mewara State and presently being headquarter of district and division.
5.2 Historical evolution of Ajmer City
5.2.1 Early historic period (600 BC- 600 AD)
King Ajaipal Chauhan, who was king of Sapadlaksh, with Sambhar as his capital, early in the sixth century A.D, built Ajaimeru Doorg, or the fortress of Ajmer, now called Taragarh. He also built the town of Ajmer. The village Ajakisar, to the south of Foysagar commemorates his name.
5.2.2 Medieval period (600- 1800 AD)
Prithivi Raj Vijai says that Ajai Dev II, the 23rds Chauhan King of Sakambhari, the first being Vausudeo founded a town and named after him. Prithivi Raj Vaijai, Sarga VIII, also, says that Somershawar, the third son of Arnoraj or Annaji founded a town where his elder brother and predecessor Vigraraj palaces stood, and named after himself. A convincing proof that Ajmer existed long before Ajaideva II or Ajairaj was born, is furnished by the inscription 4s in the Thades and Chhatrees of the Digambar Jain religious cult built over the remains of Hemraj, Disciple of Bhattarak Ratankirtiji at Ajmer, bears date S. 817 (A.D. 760). This was long before the time of Ajaideva II, who lived early in the twelth century A.D. That these Jain Pandits and Bhattaraks died and were cremated in Ajmer provoves that the town of Ajmer existed in the eighth century A.D. and must have founded prior to that time.
The earliest reminiscence of development of the town in the valley date back to 700 A.D. in and around ‘Adhai Din Ka Jhopra’, a Hindu University just west of the famous Durgah of Pir Chisti. According to the Prithviraj Vijaya, Ajaideva’s son, Anaji or Arnoraj (about 1730-1150 A.D.) built the Anasagar lake, to purify the load which had become impure owing to the spilling of mussalman blood in a battle fought at that place. Anaji’s son, Visaladeva (1151-1163 A.D.) constructed the Visalsar lake (Visla) with temples and palaces round it.
After the defeat of Prithvi Raj Chauhan in the 12th century, Ajmer passed into the hands of the Pathans and subsequently the Mughals and finally the British.
In 1192 A.D. Ajmer was taken by Sultan Shabuddin Ghori. During his short stay at Ajmer, the sultan, “destroyed the pillars and foundations of the idol temples.” Visaldeva’s college was dismantled, to which Shamsuddin Aptamsh (1211-1236 A.D.) added the present screen of seven arches. The prosperity of the town declined in the middle of the fifteenth century A.D. Mallu Khan, Governor of Ajmer under the Mandoo Sultan, built about this time the two malusar tanks and a garden to the south of Ajmer, at the foot of the eastern spur of the Taragarh hill.
In1535 A.D., Rao Maldeva of Marwar took possession of Ajmer, strengthened the fortress and built the half- finished water lift to carry water from the chasma into the fort of Taragarh. About 1558 A.D. Ajmer passed into the possession of Akbar; and in 1571 A.D., to improve the condition of the place, he ordered a strong wall to be built round it and a palace to be erected for his own residence. This place, called the Daulat Khana, is now known as the Magazine. The city wall when Emperor Akbar built it, was only 4,045 yards in circumference. He also built the Khas Bazar, now called the Dargah Bazar. Akbar added the Akbari Masjid to the Durgah in 1570. In 1569 A.D. Ismail Kuli Khan Akbar’s subedar at Ajmer, built the Buland Darwaja of the Shrine of Miran Sayad Husain.
Ajmer, in Akbar’s time, was bounded on the north by the Delhi gate (still standing); on the east by the gate since rebuilt and called the Bansphad Darwaja (the western end of the Naya Bazar), on the south by the Diggi Darwaja demolished in 18883 A.D. and on the west by the Tripolia gate (still standing). Thus after a lapse of 376 years (1194 –1570 A>D.), during which Ajmer had been neglected, it began to recover in Akbar’s reign.
Jahangir, after he came to the throne in 1605 A.D., built the Daulat Bagh and erected palaces in it, which have since disappeared. In 1615 A.D. he had the Visla Lake, which he called Bisal Tal, repaired and built a palace on its bank. He also built a residence for himself on the Pushkar Lake, which still stands behind the Jodhpur Ghat.
After Jahangir, came Shah Jahan, Who built in 1637 A.D. the beautiful Baradaries standing on the Ana Sagar lake and a Turkish bath, since demolished except the floor.
In 1791 A.D., Shivaji Nana became Governor of Ajmer and built the Jhalra on the Taragarh hill called the “Nana Sahib Ka Jhalra”. It was he who designed and started the construction of the present Naya Bazar shops began to spring up there in 1797 A.D. The street however, was not completed when Colonel Tod in December 1819 A.D. passed through Ajmer.
5.2.3 historic period ( 1800-1947 AD)
In 1803 A.D., Baba Rao Inglia, the then Governor of Ajmer, demolished the Santupura built by Santuji. Bala Rao founded the village of Balapura, near the Madar hill, strengthened the fortifications of Ajmer, repaired the city wall and dug a ditch round it, some remnants of which near the Madar gate still exist. Bapu Scindia the last Malvatta Governor of Ajmer (1816-181) built the Bapugarh and repaired the Bajarang garh temple.
In 1818 A.D. Ajmer was ceded to the English, and on 28 th July, 1818, Sir David Ochtertony and calonel Nixon, occupied the city. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, under the British Government, it began to regain its former position of prosperity and we now find the city more populous than it had ever been before.
The population of the city, which in1818 A.D., was about 24,000 souls all told, rose to 119,524 in 1931 A.D. The whole valley is filled with buildings, roads and gardens. The railway has now linked Ajmer with the United Provinces on the east, Punjab on the north, Bombay on the South and Sindh on the west.
Since 1818 A.D. the town has been, greatly extended, the Naya Bazar was finished and Agra gate built about 1820. This bazar has now the finest street of Ajmer. The Moti Katra so called after the Moti Begum; the first wife of Sir D. Carendish (Oct. 1827 to Oct. 1931 A.D.) built the street out side Madar gate, where the short –lived Santupura once existed. It is named Cavendishpura. He also enlarged the city wall near the old Diggi Darwaja and built the Usri gate. Edmonstone (1834-36 A.D.) extended the Dargah Bazar by building the Dhan Mandi. During the time of Macnaghten (July 1837 – Feb. 1842 A.D.) and colonel Dixon (1842-1857 A.D.) the Anasagar lake was adorned by a series of ghats and gardens. They are all on the south side of the lake and around the Pushkar road.
At Colonel Dixon's suggestions, four reservoirs to supply water to the town were built, two out side the city wall the Suraj Kund (in 1854) out side Madar gate and the Chand Kund between the Delhi and Agra gates, and two inside the town, the Nahar in the Nahar Muhalla and the Diggi at the foot of Taragarh hill. Colonel Dixon also deepened and repaired the Jhalna for the use of the town.
In the early thirties of nineteenth century a few rich families of Mahajans from Marwar and Jaipur came and settled in Ajmer owing to the security of life and property under the British Raj and facilities of buisness and concessions given by the early British Administrators of Ajmer, who wanted to make Ajmer the centre of their influence in Rajputana. One of the firsts to come was the family of Seth Ram Prasad Agrawal from Jhunjhunu in Shekhawati. Seth Ram Prasad persuaded his relative Seth Pooran mal of Ganeri, also to come to Ajmer. A third well to do family, the patwari family came from Parbatsar.
On 17th February 1968, Colnel Keating Agent Governor General for Rajputana, laid the foundation stone of the present Government College building. In Mr. Saunder’s time (1871 to 1885) a new courthouse and the central Jail were built and a hospital was opened in the Naya Bazar. The Mayo College with a number of boarding Houses belonging to the various Rajputana states and residential houses for the Principal and the Head master were built in 1875-82. The Railway Company filled up the entire area between the Visla Lake and the Madar hill with bungalows called fifty-two bungalows.
With the advent of the Railway and transfer of the various offices connected with the Railway and particularly of the Locomotive and carriage shops to Ajmer from Agra and other places, the population of Ajmer began to increase by leaps and bounds. The first extension planned by Mr. Saunders was towards the south and Kaisarganj came into the existence in 1884-85. The Railway General office was built in 1884 and the railway workshops in 1879. The Adhai-Din-Ka-Jhonpara, the Magazine and the Baradaries on the Anasagar Lake have been repaired and restored. In 1888 A.D., the Victoria Jubilee clock Tower opposite the Railway station was built, and 1898 A.D. the Victoria General Hospital was built in honor of Her Majesty’s the Empress Victoria ‘s Diamond Jubilee.
People began to settle dawn in the neighborhood of the Railway shops and Nagra, Jonesganj, Ramganj and Narainganj sprang up in the early eighties of the 18th century. The Railway established Jonesganj about 1880 A.D. The colony at Pal Bisla sprang up about 1890 A.D. and by it the settlement called old Jadughar, between the Srinagar and Nasirabad roads. All these are now thickly populated areas.
As the population increased, the Ganj out side the Agra gate, a very old extension, became congested, and Loongia and Bapugarh Muhallahs sprang up near it. The area between the Imperial road to the Daulat Bagh and the Jaipur and Katchery roads, which in old days had been covered by vegetable and fruit gardens became a populous Mohullah called Hathi Bhatta. In the beginning of 19th century, Brahmpuri came into existence. These are now as congested areas as the walled city itself.
It was, however, chiefly towards the south where the Railway shops are situated that extensions took place in rapid succession, Bhagwan ganj, Asaganj, Bherooganj, Behari ganj and the Rabadya between the Mayo College and Locoshops, came into existence. Udaiganj and Bhajanganj on the Nasirabad road and Paharganj, south of Ashaganj. The Muhallah called Topdara between the Railway line and the Government High School also came in to existence. Kalabagh and the adjacent gardens to the east of Daulat Bagh disappeared and the higher-class people built houses there as also in civil lines, which have all become well- populated areas.
The Gulab Bari behind the Mayo College, so called because roses grew thee in hundreds of acres was established in 1924. To the north of the Anasagar Lake between it and the Anted Ki Mata temple, has arisen Christian ganj. There were a few isolated houses here prior to 1930; it is now a well populated, inhabited by middle class people.
Ram nagar near Narsinghpura and the Foysagar Road and Pushkar Road colonies came into existence between 1925 and 1935(fig 5.1). The Alwar gate colony began to fill up about 1925 and is now a thickly populated area. With a view to build a model town in Ajmer the Adarshnagar Housing Society was formed in 1931.