One of the most prominent Muslim pilgrimages in Rajasthan, Khwaja Garib Nawaz Dargah is situated at the foot of Taragarh hill in Ajmer. The Dargah (a shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure) is dedicated to Hazrat Khwaja Moin-d-din Chisti, a sufi saint who was known for his noble teachings about love and peace. The altruism of the saint made him popular with the title ‘Garib Nawaz- benefactor of Poor’ and consequently the Dargah too is known as Khwaja Garib Nawaz Dargah.
The domed tomb of the saint is located in the center of the Dargah and and attracts pilgrims from around the world sans any discrimination based on community, gender, or caste. The dome itself is made of white marble as is the whole Dargah. The gold crown situated atop the dome was added in the year 1896 when a brother of the Nawab of Rampur offered it. Though, evidently, the central component of the Dargah complex is the tomb of the sufi saint, other erections built by the rulers of bygone era too add to the architectural significance of the place.
The chief among these other constructions is main entryway known as Nizam Gate, which was built in the year 1911 by Mir Osman Ali Khan of Hyderabad. The Nizam gate is followed by Shahjahani Gate, built by emperor Shah Jahan and Buland Darwaza, built by Mehmood Khilji. There are also many white marble building set around the courtyards of the complex. Akbari Mosque, Jannati Darwaza, Aulia Masjid, Sanadji Masjid, and Mahfilkhana are among the other remarkable architectural constructions found around the place.
The other significant constructions linked with the Dargah are the large pillars known as ‘Kose Minar’ literal for Mile Minaret or towers. These minarets are constructed on the way between Ajmer and Agra, in the intervals of 3 km, and were built by Emperor Akbar who used to visit the Khwaja’s shrine every year, by walking all the way from Agra (his capital) to Ajmer.
Counting these notable augmentations makes it clear that the grand Dargah as we see it today, was not built just like that. It is a product of multiple amendments made by the devoted rulers over the period of years. Despite all these magnificent architectural masterpieces, it is amazing to see how the visitors always head towards the holy tomb of the Sufi saint, an unintentional act that clearly shows the faith and devotion the people have in their hearts for this holy place.