Akbar’s Fort – A Photo Journey into History | Ajmer, Rajasthan | The Traveling Sage

  • A 21st century horse cart boarding passengers outside the 21st century well preserved Akbar's once-upon-a-time fort, and presently a government museum.

Ajmer has a history dating back to 8th century AD, when it was founded by AjayRaj Chauhan, one of the prominent rulers of Chauhan Dynasty. Since then, Ajmer has thrived to become one of the great cities of South East Asia to being left to ruins after being plundered, and to again being restored to its earlier might. The dominion of Ajmer has shifted from Chauhan Dynasty to Delhi Sultanate to Mewar Kingdom to Marwar Kingdom to Hemu Vikramaditya to Mughals to Marathas to British India to finally Independent India, over the time of more than thousand years.

The history of Ajmer is fascinating and full of the never-ending fight for its dominion.

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Emperor Jal-aluddin Mohammad, popularly known as Akbar, after winning the second battle of Panipat in 1556 AD by beheading the Hindu ruler, Hemu Vikramaditya, conquered Ajmer – a part of the vast empire of Hemu – in 1559, and commissioned the construction of a fort at the center of the city for himself in 1570 AD. It is exactly the same fort we are talking about 445 years later.

In the next decade, Ajmer’s fort was Akbar’s permanent residence. He stayed at this fort for most of the time while fighting Maharana Pratap of Mewar Kingdom between 1570 and 1580. The famous Haldi Ghati war was fought in 1576, with Rana Mann Singh of Jaipur leading the forces of Akbar. I assume, all the planning and plotting of the war was carefully maneuvered from this palace, also the garrison for Akbar’s forces.

The front entrance (first photograph) of the present day fort looks like the place where Mughal Emperors seemed to hold public court through the Jharoka, windows. It is through this Jharoka, Emperor Jehangir, son of Akbar, must have attended the first British merchant, Sir Thomas Roe, in his court of commons permitting him the right to do business in India. The same Britishers later formed the East India Company which later ruled all over India for more than 200 years. So, it looks like this is the place where the future of India was first written, with a simple fermaan (order) by Jehangir.

The golden square shaped structure (third photograph) at the center of the remaining part of fort can either be Akbar’s office at the time, or maybe his inner chambers.

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This is also the palace in which Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan, son of Jehangir, from his second and most loved wife ,Mumtaz Mahal, was born in 1615. Yes, you are thinking it right, Shah Jahan commissioned the construction of Taj Mahal in the memory of Mumtaz Mahal! He also commissioned the white marbled Baradari gardens and private bath alongside the AnaSagar Lake, for royal pleasures. You must look at them, they are heavenly!

So, it looks like Shah Jahan also spent a long time in Ajmer’s fort.

Also, Dara Shikoh lost his final battle against his younger brother, Aurangzeb, near Ajmer for the throne of Mughal India. Ajmer was his last bastion.

There are many chambers in the two wide walls of the inner fort (second, fifth and seventh photograph).

I clearly remember reading somewhere that the rooms inside these walls were once used by Britishers to keep prisoners. And I also remember reading somewhere about these rooms being used as barracks by Britishers, and Akbar alike. Of course, when there was no war, these chambers must be used to live, by Jehangir, Shah Jahan, and Dara Shikoh.

So much history at one place!

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