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AJMERE, or AJMER

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Originally appearing in Volume V01, Page 453 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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AJMERE, or AJMER, a city of British India in Rajputana, which gives its name to a district and also to a petty province called Ajmere-1VIeirwara. It is situated in 26° 27' N. lat. and 740 44' E. long., on the lower slopes of Taragarh hill, in the Aravalli mountains. To the north of the city is a large artificial lake called the Anasagar, whence the water supply of the place is derived. The chief object of interest is the darga, or tomb of a famous Mahommedan saint named Mayud-uddin. It is situated at the foot of the Taragarh mountain, and consists of a block of white marble buildings without much pretension to architectural beauty. To this place the emperor Akbar, with his empress, performed a pilgrimage on foot from Agra in accordance with the terms of a vow he had made when praying for a son. The large pillars erected at intervals of two miles the whole way, to mark the daily halting-place of the imperial pilgrim, are still extant. An ancient Jain temple, now converted into a Mahommedan mosque, is situated on the lower slope of the Taragarh hill. With the exception of that part used as a mosque, nearly the whole of the ancient temple has fallen into ruins, but the relics are not excelled in beauty of architecture and sculpture by any remains of Hindu art. Forty columns support the roof, but no two are alike, and great fertility of invention is manifested in the execution of the ornaments. The summit of Taragarh hill, over-hanging Ajmere, is crowned by a fort, the lofty thick battlements of which run along its brow and enclose the table-land. The walls are 2 M. in circumference, and the fort can only be approached by steep and very roughly paved planes, commanded by the fort and the outworks, and by the hill to the west. On coming into the hands of the English, the fort was dismantled by order of Lord William Bentinck, and is now converted into a sanatorium for the troops at Nasirabad. Ajmere was founded about the year 145 A.U. by Aji, a Chauhan, who established the dynasty which continued to rule the country (with many vicissitudes of fortune) while the repeated waves of Mahommedan invasion swept over India, until it eventually became an appanage of the crown of Delhi in 1193. Its internal government, however, was handed over to its ancient rulers upon the payment of a heavy tribute to the conquerors. It then remained feudatory to Delhi till 1365, when it was captured by the ruler of Mewar. In 1509 the place became a source of contention between the chiefs of Mewar and Marwar, and was ultimately conquered in 1532 by the latter prince, who in his turn in 1559 had to give way before the emperor Akbar. It continued in the hands of the Moguls, with occasional revolts, till 1770, when it was ceded to the Mahrattas, from which time up to 1818 the unhappy district was the scene of a continual struggle, being seized at different times by the Mewar and Marwar rajas, from whom it was as often retaken by the Mahrattas. In 1818 the latter ceded it to the British in return for a payment of 5o,000 rupees. Since then the country has enjoyed unbroken peace and a stable government. The modern city is an important station on the Rajputana railway, 615 m. from Bombay and 275 M. from Delhi, with a branch running due south to the Great Indian Peninsula main line. The city is well laid out with wide streets and handsome houses. The city trade chiefly consists of salt and opium. The former is imported in large quantities from the Sambar lake and Ramsur. Oil-making is also a profitable branch of trade. Cotton cloths are manufactured to some extent, for the dyeing of which the city has attained a high reputation. The educational institutions include the Mayo Rajkumar college, opened in 1875, foe training the sons of the nobles of Rajputana, on the lines of an English public school. Population (19o1) 73,839, showing an increase of to %o.in the decade. The DISTRICT OF AJMERE, which forms the largest part of the province of Ajmere-Merwara, has an area of 2069 sq. m. The eastern portion of the district is generally flat, broken only by gentle undulations, but the western parts, from north-west to south-west, are intersected by the great Aravalli range. Many of the valleys in this region are mere sandy deserts, with an occasional oasis of cultivation, but there are also some very fertile tracts; among these is the plain on which lies the town of Ajmere. This valley, however, is not only fortunate in possessing a noble artificial lake, but is protected by the massive walls of the Nagpathar range or Serpent rock, which forms a barrier against the sand. The only hills in the district are the Aravalli range and its offshoots. Ajmere is almost totally devoid of rivers, the Banas being the only stream which can be dignified with that name, and it only touches the south-eastern boundary of the district so as to irrigate the pargana of Samur. Four small streams —the Sagarmati, Saraswati, Khari and Dai—also intersect the district. In the dry weather they are little more than brooks. The population in 1901 was 7453, showing a decrease of 13 % in the decade. Besides the city of Ajmere, the district contains the military station of Nasirabad, with a population of 22,494. AJMERE-MERWARA, a division or petty province of British India, in Rajputana, consisting of the two districts of Ajmere and Merwara, separated from each 'other and isolated amid native states. The administration is in the hands of a commissioner, subordinate to the governor-general's agent for Rajputana. The capital is Ajmere city. The area is 2710 sq. m. The plateau, on whose centre stands the town of Ajmere, may be considered as the highest point in the plains of Hindustan; from the circle of hills which hem it in, the country slopes away on every side—towards river valleys on the east, south, west and towards the desert region on the north. The Aravalli range is the distinguishing feature of the district. The range of hills which runs between Ajmere and Nasirabad marks the watershed of the continent of India. The rain which falls on one side drains into the Chambal, and so into the Bay of Bengal; that which falls on the other side into the Luni, which discharges itself into the Runn of Cutch. The province is on the border of what may be called the arid " zone " ; it is the debatable land between the north-eastern and south-western monsoons, and beyond the influence of either. The south-west monsoon sweeps up the Nerbudda valley from Bombay and crossing the table-land at Neemuch gives copious supplies to Malwa, jhalawar and Kotah and the countries which lie in the course of the Chambal river. The clouds which strike Kathiawar and Cutch are deprived of a great deal of their moisture by the hills in those countries, and the greater part of the remainder is deposited on Mount Abu and the higher slopes of the Aravalli mountains, leaving but little for Merwara, where the hills are lower, and still less for Ajmere. It is only when the monsoon is in considerable force that Merwara gets a plentiful supply from it. The north-eastern monsoon sweeps up the valley of the Ganges from the Bay of Bengal and waters the northern part of Rajputana, but hardly penetrates farther west than the longitude of Ajmere. On the varying strength of these two monsoons the rainfall of the district depends. The agriculturist in Ajmere-Merwara can never rely upon two good harvests in succession. A province subject to such conditions can hardly be free from famine or scarcity for any length of time; accordingly it was visited by two famines, one of unprecedented severity, and one scarcity, in the decade 1891-1901. In June 1900 the number of persons in receipt of relief was 143,000, being more than one-fourth of the total population. In 19ot the population was 476,912, showing a decrease of i2% in the decade, due to the results of famine. Among Hindus, the Rajputs are land-holders, and the Jats and Gujars are cultivators. The Jains are traders and money-lenders. The aboriginal tribe of Mers are divided between Hindus and Mahommedans. The chief crops are millet, wheat, cotton and oil-seeds. There are several factories for ginning and pressing cotton, the chief trading centres being Beawar and Kekri.
End of Article: AJMERE, or AJMER
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