Rajasthan is the Indian state which borders Pakistan on the western side of the country. Rajasthan was known as Rajputana or the home of Rajputs, a martial community who ruled over this area for centuries.
History of Rajasthan dates back to to the pre-historic times. From 3000 to 1000 BC it had a culture akin to that of the Indus Valley civilization. It were the Chauhans who dominated the Rajput affairs from 7th century and by 12th they had become an imperial power. After the Chauhans it was the Guhilots of Mewar who controlled the destiny of the warring tribes. Besides Mewar other states, also historically prominent, were Marwar, Jaipur, Bundi, Kota, Bharatpurand Alwar. The other small states were only the off-shoots of these. All these states has accepted the British Treaty of Subordinate Alliance in 1818 as it protected the interests of the princes. It naturally left the people discontented.
After the revolt of 1857, the people united themselves under the leadership of Mahatama Gandhi to contribute to the freedom movements. With the introduction of provincial autonomy in 1935 in British India agitation for civil liberties and political rights became stronger in Rajasthan. The process of uniting the scattered states commenced from 1948 to 1956 when the States Reorganisation Act was promulgated.
First came the Matsya Union (1948) consisting of a fraction of the states. Slowly and gradually other states merged with this union. By 1949, major states like Bikaner, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer had joined this Union making it an united state of greater Rajasthan.
Ultimately in 1958 the present state of Rajasthan formally came into being with the Ajmer state, the Abu Road Taluka and Sunel Tappa joining it.
A pleasant retreat set amidst the lush forested hills, Mt. Abu is a green oasis in the barren deserts cape. Situated at the southern tip of the Aravali range the hill retreat owes its cool climate to its rich flora covering the entire hillside that includes coniferous trees and flowering shrubs. The road leading to Mount Abu is a curved one characterized by arid region dotted with huge rocks in weird shapes. The only hill station in Rajasthan, Mount Abu is more than just a summer retreat. Its stunning array of exquisite Dilwara Jain Temples, dating back to 11th- 13th centuries, makes it a popular pilgrimage centre. Abu according to a legend stands for the son of Himalaya, deriving its name from Arbuada, the powerful serpent who rescued Nandi, the sacred bull of Lord Shiva, from a chasm.
Ajmer is famous for the Dargah (Tomb) of the Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. Thousands of pilgrims wend their way to this shrine, with "a wish in their heart". It is a popular pilgrim centre for Hindus and Muslims alike. Ajmer is also a take off point for Pushkar (11 km away), particularly at the time of the famous Pushkar fair held during the months of October/November. The biggest and most colourful Camel/Cattle fair in the world takes place here during the month of Kartik and it is on the Kartik full moon that thousands gather to take a dip in the picturesque lake. It is said that a Lotus fell from Lord Brahma's hand and a lake sprang forth. One of the rarest temples to Lord Brahma is situated here.
Alwar, for many people is "Gateway to the historic and colorful stat of Rajasthan" and for other's it is "The Tiger Gate of Rajasthan". It is flanked by the barren hills of the Aravali range which includes deciduous forests, deep valley and lakes. Alwar has its own heritage, which goes back to the mythological legends of Mahabharata, The Hindu Epic. The city is adorned with architectural splendors and has a number of sites of archaeological importance. The forest is inhabited by many rare species of birds and animals.
The small village of Bhandarej is one of the sparkling gems from the vast treasure trove of this land of Rajputs. Bhandarej tours are an essential part of the tours to Jaipur as this city is located at a distance of 62 kms from the "Pink City" and capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur.
This small village of Bhandarej boasts off the vibrant history that dates back to the 11th century. This small village is replete with a number of temples and monuments of the pre-medieval age.
The beautiful village of Bhandarej is situated on the Jaipur - Agra highway and comes under the Dausa district of Rajasthan. The place with many a wonderful sights and tourist attractions around is perfect place to visit after a hectic schedule. While on Bhandarej tours, tourists can have a peek in to the colourful tribal life as this place has a large tribal population.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary also known as Keoladeo National Park, which was established in 1956. This 29 sq km marshland is one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world with over 360 species of birds, out of which 117 are the local birds. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, it used to be a part of the private shooting reserve of the Maharaja of Bharatpur. Among many bird species to be seen here are storks, ducks, Chinese coots, kingfishers, spoonbills, sarus cranes and several birds of prey, including falcon, marsh harrier and eagle. Alone 80 species of ducks can be spotted here.
The royal fortified city with a timeless appeal. Lying in the north of the desert state, the city is dotted with many sand dunes. It was established by Prince Bika Rathore and came to be called Bikaner after him. Bika was the eldest son of the founder of the Jodhpur State-Rao Jodha. Bikaner was well-protected from its enemies by the harsh deserts. Bikaner was also a major trade centre as it stood on the ancient caravan route which linked Central Asia and North India with Gujarat seaports. It was thereafter a great centre of trade in the ancient world. Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground and is circumscribed by a seven Km long embattled wall with five gates. The magnificent forts and palaces, created with delicacy in reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich historical and architectural legacy. Undulating lanes, colourful bazaars and bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner an interesting experience.
It is one of the unexplored cities of Rajasthan with a rich historical wealth. Once a part of Kota, it was ruled by the Hada Chauhans- an offshoot of the famous Chauhan clan who ruled Delhi and Ajmer. Bundi is surrounded by the Aravali hills on the three sides and is circumscribed by a massive wall with four gateways. Interesting monuments including impressive medieval forts, palaces, havelis, temples with beautiful stone idols and chattris with carved pillars, along with a picturesque lake in the heart of the town, add to its charm. Bundi is very famous for its intricate carvings and murals.
Chittorgarh Fort is considered to be the largest fort of India in terms of area and the grandest in the state of Rajasthan. The imposing and awe inspiring fort stands on a 240-hectares site, on 180m high hill that rises rapidly from the plains. It is stated that the fort was constructed by the Mauryans during the 7th century AD.
The history of Chittorgarh takes us back in time to the 14th century. In 1303 AD, the Muslim King Alauddin Khilji attacked Chittorgarh after he was bowled over by the beauty of Rani Padmini, wife of Maharaja Ratan Singh. To win the Rani, he attacked the Chittorgarh Fort, but valiant Rajputs fought fiercely to death and women folk committed jauhar (self-immolation).
Chittaurgarh epitomizes Rajput spirit, valour, pride and romance. It reverberates with heroism and sacrifice, the tales of which are still sung by the Bards of Rajasthan.
It is a small Rajasthani village steeped in heritage, which is 35 Kms from Jaipur.
Chomu Palace, a reflection of the Royal Palaces of India, is a 300-year old elegant fortified palace hotel. This historic monument is designed according to the Indian "Vastushastra" philosophy. Chomugadh - the suffix 'gadh' gives a clear indication that the palace was fortified strategically, in this case with a 5m thick wall to ward off enemies. The fort has historical importance because it took more than 100 years for its construction to be completed. The foundation of Chomugadh was laid by Thakur Karan Singhji in the 16th century. Chomugadh is a three storied structure with a lot of open spaces like chowks (open courtyards), baradaris (pavilions) and chandnis (semi-covered terraces).
It is situated about 135 Kms north-east of Udaipur. 'The Rawat', chief of Deogarh, was one of sixteen umraos (feudal barons) entitled to wait upon the Maharana of Udaipur, the capital of Mewar. These type of feudal estates, called 'Thikanas' were sanctioned by the ruling Maharana to a nobleman either due to blood relationship or for an act of bravery.
The main attraction of Deogarh is Deogarh Mahal which is a heritage hotel, originally built in the 17th century and now converted into a heritage hotel offering an unforgettable experience & a comfortable stay. It stands atop a hill and offers a commanding view of the surrounding mountain range and the numerous lakes, strewn across the countryside.
Nestled in the Aravali hills, the 18th century Devi Garh palace in the village of Delwara, forms one of the three main passes into the valley of Udaipur. Devigarh, is ready for visitors after years of restoration and rebuilding. The Fort palace was conceived as a place where the past meets the future. This all suite luxury hotel has 39 suites with an emphasis on design and detail, using local marbles and semi-precious stones. The contemporary design showcased within this spectacular heritage property, complemented by personalized and intimate service, creates a new image of India for the 21st century.
Between Gwalior and Agra, actually in a part of Rajasthan that separates Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, Dholpur was the scene of a pitched battle between Aurangzeb's sons to determine who would succeed him as emperor of the rapidly declining Mughal Empire. Dholpur is named as Dhawalpuri after its ruler Dhawal Deo, once the ruler of the city, its name was distorted with passage of time and got its present name Dholpur. One can visit Shergarh Fort, It is an old fort of historic importance, located toward south of Dholpur tower. This monument at Dholpur was built by Sher Shah Suri on the site of an earlier Hindu fortress.
Established by Rawal Veer Singh in 1282, it was one of the major cities of the Vagad region. This region also known as the City of Hills was earlier the home of Bheels, an ancient tribe and later on Veer Singh acquired this place from the chief of the Bheels Dungaria from whom the place got its name.
The city is popular for the unique architectural styles that can be seen in the ancient palaces and Havelis, built by using stone Jharokhas
Standing watch over the small village of Ghanerao is the Ghanerao Rawla (castle). A magnificent showcase of Marble and Red sandstone Rajput Architecture built in 1606 that serves as the home of the royal family who still reside. There is a nostalgic air of past glory and of the royal lifestyle that the Thakurs led. The castle has 17 beautiful rooms, having their own quaint sit outs and verandhas. A recent developing project of the museum is under away, where one can see the old elephant hodas and palkis which were used by the rulers when elephants and horses were the only means of travel.
Set at the edge of the Thar desert, the imperial city of Jodhpur echoes with tales of antiquity in the emptiness of the desert. Once the capital of the Marwar state, it was founded in 1459 AD by Rao Jodha-chief of the Rathore clan of Rajputs who claimed to be descendants of Rama-the epic hero of the Ramayana. This city houses a number of palaces, temples and other architectural monuments which add to its glory. The old city of Jodhpur is surrounded by a 10 kms long wall. From the fort you can see the wall here separating the old city from the new city. The lifestyle in Jodhpur is unusually fascinating with folks wearing lovely multihued costumes, artistically designed. The colourful turbans worn by the men folk add more colour to the city. It was from here that the popularly worn baggy-tight, horse riding trousers- Jodhpuris' took their name.
JAISALMER - Jaisalmer is named after its founder Maharawal Jaisal Singh, a Rajput king.
Jaisalmer" means "the Hill Fort of Jaisal" and is sometimes called the "Golden City of India" because the yellow sandstone used in every architecture of the city gives a yellowish-golden tinge to the city and its surrounding area. Situated in the middle of the vast Thar Desert, it is crowned by a commanding fort etched in yellow sandstone, with all its awesome splendour, dominating the amber-hued city. The fort actually functions as intended and is still the site of an entire living area, home to a quarter of the city's population.
Jaisalmer still retains its medieval charm, which is evident in its colorful narrow streets, splendid forts and palaces, opulent havelis and bazaars. The beautiful havelis which were built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are yet another interesting aspect of the desert city.
The City of Victory was originally Sawai Jaipur, named after its founder Sawai Jai Singh II (1700-1743). It epitomizes the dreams of the visionary Kachhwaha ruler, who wanted to build a new and planned capital city; and the creative ideas of his talented designer builder Vidyadhar. In course of time the sunset-pink tinge of its walls, buildings, temples and emporia gave it the name Pink City, the name in which it became famous throughout the world. Jaipur was built by Vidyadhar in a grid system with wide straight avenues, roads, streets and lanes and uniform rows of shops on either side of the main bazars, all arranged in nine rectangular city sectors (chokris). The city itself is an attractive creation worthy of universal admiration. The principal monuments of Jaipur are concentrated in the centrally situated palace sector (Chokri Sarhad) in and around the City Palace.
It was officially founded in 1348 AD by the Yaduvanshi Rajput, Raja Arjun Pal. However as per legends, Karauli was established by Raja Bijal pal Jadon, the 88th descendent of Lord Krishna, as far back as 995 AD. This holy city was originally known as Kalyanpuri, after the local deity Kalyanji.
While staying in Karauli, you will have the experience of staying in a Heritage Hotel – Bhanwar Vilas Palace. The rooms are furnished in the original style of the 30s and 40s, and you can admire pictures of tiger hunts from these old days hanging at the walls of the corridors.
Khimsar is a small hamlet, located on the edge of the Thar Desert.
The history of Khimsar is linked with the famous Khimsar Fort and dates back to the mid-15th century. The village and the fort have witnessed several battles, evidence of which can be seen on the walls and the parapets of the fort. The village of Khimsar was once an independent entity, which was under the reign of the Thakurs of Khimsar. The fort still serves as the home of the royal family.
The picturesque yet the diminutive town of Kishangarh also known as Marble city of India is 27 kilometers away from Ajmer city. Kishangarh was founded by the prince of Jodhpur Kisan Singh in 1609. It is the birth place of the unique Kishangarh style of painting. Kishangarh is known for the beautiful depiction of a courtesan who was a poet known as Bani Thani. The paintings are very attractive and painted on the background of pristine environment and lusting green landscapes. The famous Kishangarh Radha painting is proposed to be the best works of Kishangarh. A number of forts, palaces and a large lake make the city beautiful.
It is situated along the eastern bank of the Chambal River. It is an amazing example of majestic medieval age and modern industrialization. Kota is located on a high sloping tableland forming a part of the Malwa Plateau. Once the part of the erstwhile Rajput kingdom of Bundi, Kota became a separate princely state in the 17th century. Its wealth of impressive forts, opulent palaces and splendid temples of past centuries retain their former glory.
Positioned in the middle of thirteen mountain peaks of the Aravali range, Kumbhalgarh stands as a symbol of the past glory of the kings. The territory derives its name from the famous Kumbhalgarh Fort, the most magnificent of the 84 forts that stood during the Mewar Kingdom.
Kumbhalgarh Fort stretches across 36 kms of the Aravali Mountains and is 1100 m high from the sea level. It was never conquered, for reasons which become apparent the instant you set your eyes on it. The massive perimeter wall is an astounding 36 kms. Surrounded by thirteen mountain peaks, guarded by seven great gates and seven ramparts, strengthened by rounded bastions and immense watchtowers.
Located 35 Kms from Jodhpur, it is a charming and cloistered village which reflects the royal past of Rajasthan.
In Luni many artisans are still pursuing their ancestral profession of carving metal, clay or wood into intricate forms. Luni's Fort Chanwa is an outstanding piece of elegance and proportion in Indian Architecture of the last century. The village of Luni is situated in the shadow of fort walls, where the village elders solemnly reflect the changing times under the shady trees, while the children enjoy running around the narrow carefree streets.
It is a small town located in the Shekhawati Region of Rajasthan. This region derives its name from MahaRao Shekha, its former ruler.
Shekhawati is also known as the "Open art gallery of Rajasthan", the region is famous for its amazing havelis and forts richly painted and decorated. The havelis of Shekhawati were built by the erstwhile rulers and wealthy merchants of the past. They served as a measure of prosperity and success of the merchants. The grander the haveli, the more prosperous the merchant was believed to be. The Havelis are full of beautiful fresco paintings. Most of the buildings are dated from 18th century to early 20th century.
Mandawa was founded in the mid 18th century amd was once inhabited by the rich merchant families. The wealthy and dominant merchants constructed massive havelis, adorned with beautiful wall paintings, for the purpose of their residence. However, with time, the merchants moved on and migrated to other areas, leaving the beautiful havelis in the shadows of anonymity. Every haveli maintains its individuality and are decorated with wonderful paintings.
The Chokhani and Ladia havelis and the street with Saraf havelis are some of the splendid examples of this region's havelis. The Binsidhar Newatia Haveli has some curious paintings on its outer eastern wall-a boy using a telephone, and a European woman in a car driven by a chauffeur.
Set in the heart of Great Indian Thar Desert, Manvar lies between the cities of Jodhpur, Jaisalmer & Bikaner. It offers a rare opportunity to enjoy Rajasthan's desert life, culture, wildlife and beauty.
Manvar enables you to experience the adventure of being "off the beaten track" among the colorful desert people of Rajasthan. There are no grand sights but that is the point; here you will see a Rajasthan where way of life little-changed over the centuries. The journey into the desert is an opportunity to come in proximity of village life in one of the harshest conditions of the world.
On the wild plains of Rajasthan— just an hour south of Jodhpur—the Mihir Garh is a palatial place where one can take maharajah-worthy journey through the desert. It is a beautifully crafted and presented contemporary interpretation of classic Marwar culture. Mihirgarh stands proudly alone amongst the empty Rajasthan desert plains.
The name Narlai is derived from `Narad'. It is believed that saint Narada - a constant companion of Lord Vishnu, meditated on a hill which lies at the center of the village.
It is a beautiful village surrounded by the Aravali Ranges. This quaint little hamlet is dotted with beautiful old temples, step wells and marble archways. The village is situated at the base of a hillock, on the top of which is a colossal statue of an elephant.
The ancient historical town of Neemrana is situated in Alwar district of Rajasthan, India. Every inch of the place is draped with the rich colorful history. The site of 14th century Hill-Fort of Neemrana was ruled by Chauhans till 1947. The place was a village in the beginning but rose to fame when it was chosen as the capital of the third successor of Prithivi Raj Chauhan in the 15 th century. Kuttu who is only 16 yrs is the owner of Neermana but the fort was sold after the abolition of privy purses. The property was sold to Neemrana Hotels who converted the fort into the oldest heritage resort of India.
Neemrana was the third capital of the descendents of Prithviraj Chauhan III. He was killed by Mohammad Ghori in 1192 AD. It is said that it was Raja Rajdeo who chose the site. The place got its name from a brave local chieftain Nimola Meo. When at the hands of the Chauhans, the chieftain Nimola Meo got defeated, he pleaded his name be given to his lost kingdom.
The branch of the Rathore clan of Rajputs who founded Jodhpur owns the magnificent Nimaj Palace. The Thakurs of Nimaj were one of the eight 'Sirayats' (highest honour given to feudal lords for their bravery and they formed the permanent advisory senate of privileged Thakurs) of the region of Marwar.
In 1708 Nimaj was gifted to Thakur Jagram Singh for his loyalty to Maharaja Ajit Singh of Jodhpur
Fort Pokaran, the 14th century citadel also known as "Balagarh" stands as a paragon amidst the Thar Desert. This monument is the premier fort of The Chief of Mighty Champawats (the clan of Rathores) has to its erstwhile aristocratic title attached the prestigious honour 'Pradhan' (The Premier Noble) to recognize every Thakur of Pokaran as of the first honour in The Darbar (the court) of the state Marwar- Jodhpur. Surrounded with rocky, sandy and five salt ranges, it means "the place of five mirages". It is en route both from Jodhpur to Jaislamer and Bikaner to Jaislamer. It indeed makes an ideal break and offers extended traditional hospitality.
The name Ramathra honours Lord Rama, who, it is believed, camped here while on his epic journey to Lanka. Today, Ramathra Fort belongs to Thakur Brijendra Raj Pal and his family who are descendents of the founder the King of Karauli.
Ramathra lies between two of India's internationally famous wildlife reserves, Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur and Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve in Sawai Madhopur. The closest wilderness area, Kailadevi National Park, is just 15 kms away. The fort, the lake and countryside are the three big attractions of Ramathra.
In a quiet and picturesque glen that runs into the western slopes of the Aravalli hills is a remarkable complex of Jain temples at Ranakpur, one of the five main holy palaces of the Jain sect. Though over 500 years old, the temples here are superbly preserved in a near perfect condition. In the center is the main temple dedicated to Tirthankara Rishabdeo with a chaumukha or four-faced shrine dedicated to Adinath. The most distinctive features are the 29 halls of the temple, which contain 1444 pillars of which no two are exactly alike. Every conceivable surface of the wall pillars, and ceiling is carved and every corner and angle is engraved with Jain images.
Ranthambore National Park is one of the largest and most famous national parks in North India. It is named after the historic Ranthambore fortress that is found within the park. The park covers an area of 392 sq km.
Bound to the north by the Banas River and to the south by the Chambal river, Ranthambore lies at the edge of a plateau. There are several lakes here and it is home to a variety of plants and animals. However, Ranthambore's pride is the population of tigers prowling in their own natural habitat. The other fascinating wildlife, you can see include Leopards, Striped Hyenas, Chital, Chinkara, Sambhar deer, langurs, Civets, Macaques, Sloth bears, Black bucks, Indian Wild Boar, Five-striped Palm Squirrels, Indian Flying Foxes and mongoose to name a few with. A visit to Ranthambore National Park can surely be a rewarding experience for all wildlife enthusiasts.
Although larger than a lot of other National Parks, it is less commercialized and has lesser tigers. It covers an area of 800 sq km in total, with a core area of approximately 500 sq km. The Northern Aravali Hills dominate the skyline with their mixture of sharp cliffs and long narrow valleys. The area was declared a sanctuary in 1955 and became a National Park in 1979.
The landscape of Sariska comprises of hills and narrow valleys of the Aravali hill range. The topography of Sariska supports scrub-thorn arid forests, dry deciduous forests, rocks and grasses. The broad range of wildlife here is a wonderful example of ecological adoption and tolerance, for the climate here is variable as well as erratic.
Sariska National Park is home to numerous carnivores including Leopard, Wild Dog, Jungle Cat, Hyena, Jackal, and Tiger. These feed on an abundance of prey species such as Sambar, Chitel, Nilgai, Chausingha, Wild Boar and Langur. Sariska is also well known for its large population of Rhesus Monkeys, which are found in large numbers.
It is located 40 km North West from Jaipur city. The palace was built in the 19th century and has now been turned into a Heritage Hotel. The history of Samode Palace takes you back to around four and half centuries before when it was awarded to Gopal Singhji, one of the twelve sons of Prithviraj Singh of Amber. Samode Palace is one of the important landmarks of Samode which is recognized for its architectural brilliance and is testimonial to the royal past.
In the 1920's the Rajadhiraj Nahar Singh of Shahpura mortgaged the family's private property and jewels to bring water to his people. Today there are 3 lakes here called, Nahar Sagar, Umaid Sagar, and Arvardh Sagar, as well as many small lakes to be found in this region. It is a luxurious wetland refuge and a must for any birdlife enthusiast. Shahpura was the summer residence of the rulers of Shahpura. The 30 acre estate was granted to an ancestor of the current owners by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1630 AD for successful military campaigns against the Marathas and Afgans.SHAHPURA - In the 1920's the Rajadhiraj Nahar Singh of Shahpura mortgaged the family's private property and jewels to bring water to his people. Today there are 3 lakes here called, Nahar Sagar, Umaid Sagar, and Arvardh Sagar, as well as many small lakes to be found in this region. It is a luxurious wetland refuge and a must for any birdlife enthusiast. Shahpura was the summer residence of the rulers of Shahpura. The 30 acre estate was granted to an ancestor of the current owners by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1630 AD for successful military campaigns against the Marathas and Afgans.
The city of Dawn, Udaipur is a lovely land around the azure water lakes, hemmed in by the lush hills of the Aravalis. Udaipur is the jewel of Mewar-a kingdom ruled by the Sisodia dynasty for 1200 years. The founder, Maharana Udai Singh, was overcome by the misfortune that his old capital Chittorgarh had to face. Repeatedly sacked by the Mughal armies, the fort saw some very fierce battles in 1567, the army of Emperor Akbar sacked the fort and forced Udai Singh to seek refuge in the surrounding Aravelli hills. Udai Singh sought the advice of a holy man and then went building this city on the banks of Pichola Lake. Several places of interest around Udaipur, including the majestic Chittaurgarh, the mountain fortress of Kumbhalgarh, beautiful Jain temples of Ranakpur, Eklingji and cool retreat of Mt. Abu, make the visit to Udaipur a memorable one.