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.
Tourist Places to visit in Rajasthan
Nestling (at a height of 1200 mts) in the Aravalli range passing through Rajasthan, is Mt. Abu. This hill station is popular both with domestic and international visitors. The world famous Dilwara Temple are close by. Many legends talk about Mount Abu, the most famous of these is about how Mount Abu derived its name. The Son of the Himalayas, Arbuda (abu is short) - a serpent, come down to this spot to rescue Nandi, the Wahan (Mount) of Lord Shiva. Hence the name.
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.
Bharatpur being close to Uttar Pradesh, its life style was strongly influenced by it, and was dominated by Jats in the 17th century. It is visited mainly for it's bird sanctuary - Keoladeo National Park. Once the hunting preserve of the princes of Bharatpur, it is one of the finest bird sanctuaries in the world inundated with 400 species of water birds. Exotic migratory birds from Afghanistan, Central Asia, Tibet as well as Siberia and bareheaded geese from China come here in July/August to spend the winter.
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.
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 rises from the heart of the Thar desert like a golden mirage. The city has an interesting legend associated with it, according to which, Lord Krishna - the head of the Yadav clan, foretold Arjuna that a remote descendent of the Yadav Clan would build his Kingdom at top of the Trikuta Hill. In 1156 AD Rawal Jaisal a Bhatti Rajput and descendent of Yadav Clan transferred his Capital from Lodurva and founded his capital here in Jaisalmer. The splendid ancient palaces, temples and settlements can be found in other towns of Rajasthan but not exotic as in Jaisalmer giving it, its special grandeur giving out an aura of magic and mystery, the yellow sand stoned walls of this desert fortress glow in the setting sunlight, endorsing its name Sonar Kila or Golden Fort.
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.
Surrounded by the Vindhyas and the Aravalis, amidst vast, arid and denuded tracts of the desert ecology of Rajasthan, lies the oasis of biomass, the Ranthambhor National Park, spread over an area of 392 sq. kms. of thick forest with nullahs and waterfalls. The herbivorous population includes chital, Sambar, blue bull and chinkara. Sambar deer is the pride of the park. There is no other park in Asia, where these largest of all Asiatic deer can be seen so frequently during day time. Wild boars and langurs are a common sight. Among the reptiles, crocodiles can be seen basking in the sun near the lakes. The tiger is the biggest attraction of this park. According to naturalists, Ranthambhor is one of the best parks in the country for observing and photographing the activities of the tiger.
The wide spectrum and rich population of wildlife in the open dry deciduous forest of Sariska is a marvel of ecological adaptation and tolerance. Sariska Tiger Reserve is situated in the northern part of the Aravali hills, nearly 200 kms. from Delhi on the Delhi -Alwar -Jaipur Road. An area of 800 sq. kms., Sariska was declared a sanctuary in 1955 and it became a Tiger Reserve in 1979. In Sariska, wildlife observation at the water holes is fascinating during the hot days of April, May and June. Water requirements increase and wildlife activities get restricted to the water holes, specially around Kalighati and Slopka. Sambars, chitals, nilgais, chausinghas, jackals, wild boars, langurs etc. visit water holes throughout the day.
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.