Ajmer is home to a large number of forts and palaces, some of them are the Bijay Niwas Palace, Taragarh Fort, Akbar Fort, Mansingh Palace and many more. Amongst the many, the most well known is Akbar's Palace. The palace is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful monuments which one would come across in the city and portrays some of the best works or art and workmanship which have been used to construct this palace.
Akbar is said have begun his rule in the year 1556 AD after defeating Hemu in the second battle of Panipat. Akbar was just 13 then and with the help of Bairam Khan, in two years, his army was successful in capturing a large number of territories in North India. With this Ajmer came under the power of the Mughal dynasty in the year 1558 AD and the fort was built in the year 1570.
The first thing which would grab the attention of any visitor is the red coloured window situated above the front gate of the fort. The Mughal Empire was at its peak when Mr Thomas Roe, the ambassador of East India Company came to seek permission to do business in the Mughal territory of the country.
In the year 1615, the then emperor, Jahangir, gave audience to Thomas Roe from this very window and read out a notice which permitted the company to do business in India. The irony here is that in the next 230 years, the very same company overthrew the Mughals and established the British Raj in India.
It is said that after winning the fort of Chittorgarh in the year 1568, Akbar undertook a pilgrimage from Chittaur to Ajmer by foot to offer prayers at the dargah. Around the same time he met Sheikh Salim Chisti, who was a sufi mystic and a disciple of Moinuddin Chishti.
It is believed after receiving his blessings, a son was born to Akbar in the year 1569. After the birth of his son, the emperor became every grateful to the dargah at Ajmer and visited the place 12 years in a row. The fort was built in the year 1570 to provide accommodation to Mughal rulers during their visits to the holy city.
The fort is square in shape and at each corner an octagonal bastion is constructed. The sides of the square had a double storey construction; at the middle of the courtyard one would come across a structure which resembles a hall which was used for public audience and meetings.
The battle of Haldighati holds a very important milestone in the history of Mughals and Rajputs. It is said that the Rajput king Rana Pratap went as a fugitive to Akbar and with this the entire region came under the control of Akbar.
Later Amar Singh, Rana Pratap's son signed a conditional treaty of peace with Jahangir. The entire military planning of the Haldighati Battle, which was fought in the year 1576, was drawn in this very hall.
Jahangir, continued to visit the dargah and Ajmer like his father. During such visits the royal entourage stayed at this fort. During his stay here, Jahangir used to have a private audience with Thomas Roe. It is believed that the two of them had a very thick bond and used to have wine together at the same hall.
After the fall of the Mughal Empire, the fort fell into the hands of the Marathas who further handed it over to the British, the British used the fort as their tehsil office. The British also converted it into a war prison, from where they sent 572 men to fight the first world war.
In the year 1908, the fort was converted into a museum by Lord Curzon and currently is managed by the India government. The museum is located to the right of the fort; its first two halls display pictures of various important events and personalities, who are associated with the fort and the museum. In the next hall, one would come across a huge collection of pottery and other artefacts which were found in the nearby area, which take you back to the period of Mohenjo Daro.