Ajmer: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, on a short-visit to India on Sunday, offered prayers at the renowned 13th century shrine of sufi saint Khwaja Moninuddin Chisti in Ajmer.
On a trip aimed at fulfilling a long-standing desire to offer prayers, Zardari offered a special chadar at Moinuddin Chishti`s dargah and also donated USD 1 million to the shrine.
Zardari’s son Bilawal also offered the chadar. Chadar is a ceremonial cloth inscribed with religious verses.
At the end of his visit to the shrine marked by tight security, Zardari said he felt "a great spiritual happiness" after coming to this holy place which was "beyond description".
Clad in a blue shalwar kameez, 56-year-old Zardari, accompanied by his son Bilawal, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and members of his 44-member delegation, stayed inside the Sufi saint`s mausoleum for 20 minutes where he offered a 42-square metre long red `chadar` and floral tributes. Bilawal offered a green chadar.
A chadar was also offered by Union Minister Pawan Bansal on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Bansal, the minister-in-waiting for Zardari`s visit, prayed for peace and
“Is mukaddas mukam par akar mujhe jo ruhani khushi mehsus hui hai wo na kabi e bayan hai. Alla tala se dua hai ki wo tamam insaniyat ke liye asaniya paida kare. Amin" (I feel a great spiritual happiness after coming to this holy place. It is beyond description. I pray to god to create favourable condition for the humanity. Amin," Zardari wrote in the visitors’ book.
Zardari performed `fateha` (supplication) and went around the premises comprising mosques, graves of the Khwaja`s disciples, a pool and two big cauldrons used for cooking food during the annual Urs. Pervez Musharraf and Zia-ul-Haq were the previous Pakistani Presidents to offer obeisance at the revered shrine.
Elaborate security arrangements were in place for the high-profile visit of Zardari to Ajmer.
Earlier, fifty-six-year-old Zardari arrived in Ajmer with a 44-member delegation by helicopters from Jaipur at the Ghughara helipad on the city outskirts.
From the helipad, the Pakistani President`s convoy travelled 12.3 km by road for the dargah.
Multi-tier security arrangements were in place during the visit, with 1,600 police personnel guarding the entire area from the helipad to the dargarh.
The dargah area was turned into a fortress for the VIP visit.
Representatives of Dargah committee, the committee of Khadims, welcomed the VIPs at the dargah.
Earlier in the day, the Pakistani President held one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi. Zardari during the meeting invited the Indian PM to visit Pakistan.
Zardari had landed at 12.10 pm at Palam Air Force Base (technical area) in New Delhi along with his son Bilawal Bhutto, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and some senior officials.
Zardari is the first Pakistani head of state to visit India since 2005, when the then military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, had travelled to New Delhi for talks with the Indian leadership.
Pakistan`s top leadership had described Zardari`s trip as a "private visit" aimed at fulfilling a long-standing desire to offer prayers at the famous Ajmer dargah.
(With PTI inputs)