Rajasthan is a land of great kings, palaces, and forts and of course, land of desert. Tour to Rajasthan is a great insight into the colorful past of India still having its mesmerizing reflection ever standing monuments, rippling sand dunes and its culture. Rajasthan is the only Indian State that has captured the imagination of the people, rulers and invaders through the ages as well as tourists both national and international. Earlier known as Rajputana or the land of the Rajputs are brave and proud, it is still an exotic and colour vibrant state that has retained the very essence of the bygone royal era. This part of India was dominantly ruled for over 1000 years by the Rajputs, a warrior clan who claim descent from the sun, the moon and the flames of a sacrificial fire.
They have a strict sense of honour and chivalry similar to that of the mediaeval European Knights and preferred to die an honourable death rather than face defeat at the hands of the enemy. The Rajput women on the other hand threw themselves onto immense funeral pyres to escape dishonour at the hands of the enemy. In order to defend their kingdoms the Rajputs built massive forts and fortresses all over this harsh desert land. Though known as the Desert State, Rajasthan has a number of exotic palaces with beautiful gardens, fountains, temples and forts with amazing artistry, mirror walls and galleries, painted streets and kaleidoscopic men and women as if they have walked out of life sized frescos.
Attractions of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is one of the most popular tourist spots in India â€“ well it has so much to offer. From the romantic forts and palaces of Jaipur and Jodhpur, the lake cities of Udaipur and Pushkar, the painted town of Shekhawati, the golden fort and sand dunes of Jaisalmer to the national parks of Bharatpur and Sariska. and not to forget the camels, the widely accepted representative of the state, threading their way through the streets and bazaars, at the traffic signals or making a beautiful silhouette against the sunset on the Sam sand dunes
The Camel Festival is an event organized in Bikaner by the Department of Tourism, Art and Culture, Government of Rajasthan, every year in the month of January. Desert region’s Folk dances and Music, add on to what is otherwise an exclusive camel affair. A festival when the ships of the desert are seen at their best. Camels fascinate tourists from all over the world with their movements, charm and grace. A spectacle of unusual camel performances: camel races, camel dances, and the bumpy, neck shaking camel rides.
The festival starts with the procession of beautifully decorated camels. The procession heads towards the open sand grounds. Here, the festivities begin in earnest. The Camel Pageant is held on the first day wherein the camel owners show off their Camels’ decorations and jewellery. Camel dance performances are also held. A competition for best decorated camel, fur cutting design, camel milking and the best camel hair cut is organized The camels display amazing footwork, dancing gracefully to the slightest direction of their drivers. Colourful bridles, bejewelled necks, jingling anklets and long, lanky camel shadows on dusky sands, cast a magical spell.
Cities of Rajasthan
Ajmer was founded by Raja Ajay Pal Chauhan and it is situated in the green oasis wrapped in the barren hills.Ajmer used to be a major center of the Chauhan power till 1193 A.D. when the Ruler Prithviraj Chauhan lost it to Mohammed Ghauri. After Prithwiraj Chauhan Ajmer witnessed dynasties, which came and left leaving behind indelible marks of their culture and traditions on the cityâ€™s history, converting it to an amalgam of various cultures and blend of Hinduism and Islam.
Today, Ajmer is one of the most significant pilgrimate destination equally important for Hindus as well as Muslims. Especially famous is the Dargah Sharif-tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti.
Ajmer is very close to Pushkar (11 kms) which is significant for the famous fair held normally in the month of October/November. Pushkar, the abode of Lord Brahma, lying to its west with a temple and a picturesque lake. The Pushkar lake is a sacred spot for Hindus. During the month of Kartik (Oct./Nov.) ,devotes throng in large numbers here to take a dip in the sacred lake
- Air: Nearest Airport Jaipur is Jaipur.
- Rail: Ajmer is connected by rail to Delhi, Agra, Ahmedabad, Barmer, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Mount Abu and to Bombay .
- Road: Ajmer is well connected by road with Agra, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Bundi, Chittaurgarh, Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Kota, and Udaipur.
What to see
Adhai-Din-Ka-Jhonpra, Ana Sagar Lake, Circuit House, Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Soniji ka Nasiyan, Mayo College, Swami Dayanand Saraswati Smarak, Taragarh Fort and the Museum. Pushkar 11 kms, Foy Sagar Lake 12 kms and Kishangarh 27 kms.
Bhand Sagar Temple 5 km, Camel Breeding Farm 10 km, Devi Kund 8 km, Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary 32 kms, Deshnok’s Karniji Temple 33 kms.
Bharatpur is considered as the Eastern Gateway to Rajasthan. Bharatpur is popular for its bird sanctuary-the Keoladeo Ghana National Park – finest in Asia rich avian variety. Every year the rare Siberian cranes come to spend the winter in the warmer climate of Bharatpur.
Of the remnants of the royal past remains the marvellous Bharatpur Palace housing a rich repository of a large number of ancient exhibit that date back to the early 15th century.
- Air: The nearest airport, Agra is 54 kms
- Rail: Bharatpur is on Bombay-Delhi sector of Western Rly.
- Road: Bharatpur is well connected by good motorable roads to Agra (54 km), Delhi (182 km), Fatehpur Sikri (20 km), Jaipur (174 km), Mathura (36 km) and Sariska (130 km).
What to see
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary.
The royal fortified city with a timeless appeal. Lying in the north of the desert state, the city is dotted with many sand dunes. Bikaner retains the medieval splendor that pervades the city’s lifestyle. More popularly called the camel country , the city is renowned for the best riding camels in the world. The ship of the desert is an inseparable part of life here. Be it pulling heavy carts , transporting grains or working on wells, camels are the prime helpers. The wells of Bikaner: an important source of water are other attractions of the city. These are built on high plinths with slender minareted towers on each of the four corners and can be noticed even from a distance.
Binaker’s history dates back to 1488 A.D. when a Rathore Prince,Rao Bikaji- a descendant of the founder of Jodhpur(1459 A.D.), Rao Jodhaji, established his kingdom here. Rao Jodhaji had five sons but Rao Bikaji was the most enterprising of them. Bikaji chose a barren wilderness called ‘Jangladesh’ and transformed it to an impressive city, called Bikaner after the founder’s name.
- Air: Nearest Airport is Jodhpur .
- Rail: Bikaner is connected by rail with Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur.
- Road: Bikaner to Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur & Jaisalmer .
What to see
Junagarh Fort, Lalgarh Palace, Bhandeshwar Jain Temples.
Bhand Sagar Temple, Camel Breeding Farm, Devi Kund, Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary, Deshnok’s Karniji Temple.
Rajasthan’s beautiful Pink City Jaipur, was the stronghold of a clan of rulers whose three hill forts and series of palaces in the city are important attractions. Known as the Pink City because of the colour of the stone used exclusively in the walled city, Jaipur’s bazaars sell embroidered leather shoes, blue pottery, tie and dye scarves and other exotic wares. Western Rajasthan itself forms a convenient circuit, in the heart of the Thar desert which has shaped its history, lifestyles and architecture.
Founded in AD 1727 by Sawai Jaisingh II, Jaipur the capital of Rajasthan is popularly known as the Pink City with broad avenues and spacious gardens. The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur is steeped in history and culture. Here the past comes alive in magnificent forts and palaces, blushed pink, where once lived the maharajas. The bustling bazaars of Jaipur, famous for Rajasthani jewellery, fabric and shoes, possess a timeless quality and are surely a treasure-trove for the shoppers. This fascinating city with its romantic charm takes you to an epoch of royalty and tradition.
The old city of Jaipur has neat and broadly laid-out avenues; all painted pink that gives a magical glow to the city, especially in the evenings. Jaipur therefore is blessed with the opulence of cultural and architectural beauty that surpasses most other regions of India. All of this can be easily seen in the various sites of historical and aesthetic significance that dot the city.
- Air: Indian Airlines connect Jaipur with Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Aurangabad, Bombay, Varanasi, Calcutta, Ahmedabad.
- Rail: Jaipur is connected by rail with Delhi, Agra, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Bombay.
- Road: Roads connect Jaipur with Delhi, Agra, Bikaner, Udaipur, Ajmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur, Jaisalmer and Bombay.
What to see?
City Palace & Museum , Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Dolls Museum, Zoo, Amber Pal & Jaigarh Fort, Gaitor, Vidhyadharji Ka Bagh, Jal Mahal, Nawab Ki Haveli, Galta, Sisodia Palace & Garden.
Nahargarh Fort, Sanganer, Ramgarh Lake and Shekhawati
Jodhpur, once the capital of the former princely state of Marwar, is now the second largest city of Rajasthan. Flanked on its western side by the Mehrangarh Fort, and on the eastern side by the stately sandstone Palace of Umaid Bhawan; the monuments temples and gardens of Jodhpur depict a multi-faceted grandeur.
Founded in 1459 AD by the Suryavanshi Rao Jodha, Jodhpur gradually grew around the towering Mehrangarh Fort, built as a stronghold on the advice of a sage. Alongwith Bikaner and Jaisalmer, Jodhpur too is situated on the ancient silk route that linked Central Asia and Northern India with the seaports of Gujarat. As a result it became a major trading centre in the 16th century. Reminiscent of the bygone years is the fact that Jodhpur is still the leading centre for cattle, camels, wood, salt and agricultural crops. The beauty and imagination that has gone into the making of this monumental city proclaim the life-springs of creative genius that appear incongurent with the harshness of this land and its climate.
- Air: Indian Airlines connect Jodhpur with Jaipur, Delhi, Udaipur and Bombay.
- Rail: Jodhpur is connected by rail with Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jaipur, Delhi, Ahmedabad, , Bombay and Udaipur.
- Road: By road Jodhpur to Agra, Ajmer, Barmer, Bikaner, Bombay, Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur.
What to see?
MehrangarhFort, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jaswant Thada, Mehrangarh Fort Museum, Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum, Marwar.
Balsamand Lake and Garden, Mandore, Sadar Samand Lake, Guda Bishnoi, Mahamandir Temple, Kailana Lake, Jhalamand Garh, Luni Fort.
Golden splendor amid the desert Jaisalmer – the golden beauty, etched in yellow sandstone. Perched atop the Trikuta Hill, it stands tall against miles of gleaming sand. Epitomising the desolate, awesome charm of the desert. Jaisalmer, the city of the golden fort is a fantasy in yellow sandstone in the heart of the Thar Desert. The city was founded in 1156 by Rawal Jaisal, a Bhatti Rajput King.
Legend has it, that Lord Krishna – the head of Yadav Clan, foretold Arjuna that a remote descendent of Yadav Clan would build his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill. His prophecy was fulfilled, when in 1156 AD Rawal Jaisal, a descendant of Yadav Clan and a Bhatti Rajput, founded the city of Jaisalmer.
This amber-hued city, in the heart of the desert, dazzles gloriously in the early morning. The sunset has a peculiar glow here. As the night descends, the sky goes up in flames, which fade leaving a few embers, till it becomes black. A breathtaking sight indeed!
Jaisalmer is famous for cobbled streets, strewn with palaces, forts, temples and havelis. Every house, here, is exquisitely carved, having filigreed work all over. These houses date back to 12th – 15th century. And hence Jaisalmer is called ‘the Museum city’.
Filled with colour, festivity and smiles, Jaisalmer is truly a memorable experience across the shimmering sands.
- Air: The nearest airport is Jodhpur
- Rail: Jaisalmer is connected with Jodhpur by night train service.
- Road: Well connected by road with all the major cities of India. Direct bus services to Udaipur, Mount Abu, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Barmer, Ajmer and Jaipur. Ahmedabad and Bhuj (Gujarat),
What to see?
Jaisalmer , Gadsisar , Salim Singh-ki-Haveli , Patwon-ki-Haveli , Jain.
Devikot, Ramdeora , Sam Sand Duna , Lodhruva , Bada Bagh , Wood Fossil Park , Desert National Park , Barmer .
Lying on the main Delhi-Mumbai railway line, Swai Madhopur is the gateway to the world renowned Ranthambhor National Park- the famous Tiger Reserve , just 12 km away from here. Ranthambhor has been a witness to the raise and fall of many rulers and a series of battle scenes. In the 13th century A.D. Govinda, the grandson of Prithviraj Chauhan took over the reign of the land. Later his successor Vagabhatta, beautified the city and built a noteworthy temple at Jhain.In the middle of the 15th century A.D. Rana Kumbha captured the fort and gifted it to his son to be occupied later by the Hada Rajputs of Bundi and Mughal Emperors Akbar and Aurangazeb. Mughal Emperor Shah Alam gifted it to Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur in 1754 and since then it was maintained as the hunting preserve of the Maharaja. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh were part of the royal hunting who stayed here.
- Air: Nearest airport is Jaipur (175 kms).
- Rail: Nearest railhead is Sawai-Madhopur which is on the Bombay-Delhi section of Western Railway.
- Road: Ranthambore is connected by regular bus service to Sawai-Madhopur 12 km, Agra 226 km, Bharatpur 166 km, Delhi 434 km, Kota 217 km, Jaipur 180 km.
What to see?
The Fort Ranthambhor, Ranthambhor National Park.
The best time to visit is between November and April. Jeeps are available to take you around the park.
Amreshwar Mahadev 8 kms, Mahavirji 110 kms, Kela Devi 125 kms, Shivad 30 kms, Khandar 60 kms, Rameshwaram 90 kms in Khandar Area.
The city of Dawn, Udaipur is a lovely land around the azure water lake, hemmed in by the lush hills of the Aravallis. A vision in white drenched in romance and beauty, Udaipur is a fascinating blend of sights, sound and experiences and inspiration for the imagination of poets, painters and writers. Its kaleidoscope of fairy-tale palaces, lakes, temples, gardens and narrow lanes strewn with stalls, carry the flavor of a heroic past, epitomizing valour and chivalry. Their reflection in the placid waters of the Lake Pichhola is an enticing sight. Udaipur is the jewel of Mewar-a kingdom ruled by the Sisodia dynasty for 1200 Years. The foundation of the city has an interesting legend associated with it. According to it, Maharana Udai Singh, the founder, was hunting one day when he met a holy man meditations on a hill overlooking the Lake Pichhola. The hermit blessed the Maharana and advised him to build a palace at this favorable located spot with a fertile valley watered by the stream, a lake, an agreeable altitude and an amphitheatre of low mountains. Maharana followed the advise of the hermit and founded the city in 1559 A.D.
Overlooking the aquamarine expanses of the Lake Pichhola stands the splendid City Palace-a marvel in granite and marble. Of the original eleven gates of the Udaipur City, only five remain. The Suraj Pol the original or Sun Gate on the eastern side is the main entrance to the city. Exquisite lake palaces of Udaipur shimmering like jewels on Lake Pichhola are overwhelming in splendor. Several places of interest around Udaipur, including the majestic, Chittaurgarh, the mountain fortress of Kumbhalgarh, beautiful Jain temple of Ranakpur, Eklingji and Nathdwara and the cool retreat of Mt. Abu, make the visit to Udaipur a memorable one.
- Air: I. A. connects Udaipur with Bombay, Delhi, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Aurangabad.
- Rail: Udaipur is connected by rail with Ahmedabad, Chittorgarh, Bombay via Ahmedabad, Delhi and Jaipur.
- Road: By road Udaipur to Ahmedabad, Bombay, Delhi, Jaipur , Chittorgarh .
What to see?
City Palace, Lake Pichhola, Jag Mandir, Gulab Bagh, Fateh Sagar.
Kankroli, Eklingli, Haldighati, Jaisamand Lake, Nathdwara, Ranakpur, Rishabhdeo
Population: 49.7 million
Area: 3,42,239 sq km
Population Density: 129 (per sq km), Population Growth: 28.4%
Principal Languages: Rajasthani & Hindi
Date of Statehood: November 1, 1956
Religion: Hindu 89%, Muslim 7%, Jain 1.8%, Sikh 1.5%, Christian 0.1%
Best Time To Visit: November-March
Major Crops: Jowar, bajra, wheat, maize, pulses, barley, gram, oilseeds, cotton, tobacco, sugarcane.
Minerals: Gypsum, mica, copper, tungsten, emerald, asbestos, felspar, glass-sand gypsum, iron ore, lead, zinc, limestone, marble, salt, silver, soapstone & marble.
Industries: Textiles, cement, sugar, chemicals, glass, wool, handicrafts.
Roads: 83,469 km
Railways: 6,228 km