Capital : Jaipur
Largest city : Jaipur
District(s) : 32
Population : 56,473,122 (8th)
Density : 165/km² (427/sq mi)
Language(s) : Hindi, Rajasthan & Gujarati is also spoken
Established : 1956-11-01
Rajasthan is the largest state of the Republic of India in terms of area. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert (Thar Desert), which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with Pakistan. The region borders Pakistan to the west, Gujarat to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north. Rajasthan covers an area of 342,239 km² (132,139 mi²).
The state capital is Jaipur. Geographical features include the Thar Desert along north-western Rajasthan and the termination of the Ghaggar River near the archeological ruins at Kalibanga, which are the oldest in the subcontinent discovered so far.
One of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli Range, cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, and its world-famous Dilwara Temples, a sacred pilgrimage for Jains. Eastern Rajasthan has two national tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska, as well as Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, famous for its bird life.
Rajasthan was formed on 30 March 1949, when all erstwhile princely states merged into India. The only difference between erstwhile Rajputana and Rajasthan is that certain portions governed directly by the British Government, in the former province of Ajmer-Merwara, were included. Portions lying geographically outside of Rajputana and belonging to Tonk state were given to Madhya Pradesh.
Rajasthan has a rich and colorful history making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Shown here is the Chittorgarh Fort.Historical traditions are that Rajputs, Nath, Jats, Bhils, Ahirs, Gujars, Meenas and some other tribes made a great contribution in building the state of Rajasthan. All these tribes suffered great difficulties to protect their culture and the land. Millions of them were martyred for this land. ‘The Hinduan Suraj’ title to Udaipur was due to Bhils. Jats had been fighting since beginning. Gujars had been exterminated in Bhinmal and Ajmer areas fighting with the invaders. Bhils once ruled Kota and Bundi. Gujars were sardars in Alwar, Jodhpur and Ajmer areas. Meenas were ruler of Dhundhar. The earlier contributions of warriors and protectors of the land Jats, Bhils, Gujars and Meenas were neglected and lost in history.
Rajasthan includes most of Rajputana, comprised of a number of Rajput kingdoms as well as Jat kingdoms and a Muslim kingdom. The Jats were rulers in Bharatpur and Dholpur. Tonk was ruled by a Muslim Nawab. Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur, and Jaipur were some of the main Rajput states. Rajput families rose to prominence in the 6th century CE. The Rajputs resisted the Muslim incursions into India, although a number of Rajput kingdoms eventually became subservient to the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire during those empires’ peak of expansion.
The Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur was built by Rao Jodha in 1498.Mewar led others in resistance to Muslim rule: Rana Sanga fought the Battle of Khanua against Babur, the founder of the Mughal empire; and Maharana Pratap Singh resisted Akbar in Haldighati. Other rulers like Raja Maan Singh of Amber were trusted allies. As the Mughal empire weakened, the Rajputs reasserted their independence. With the decline of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, Rajputana came under attack from the Marathas and Pindaris, and the Maratha general Scindia captured Ajmer. The Rajput kings concluded treaties with the British in the early 19th century, accepting British sovereignty in return for local autonomy. Following the Mughal tradition as well as its strategic location Ajmer became a province of British India, while the autonomous Rajput states, the Muslim state [Tonk]), and the Jat states (Bharatpur and Dholpur) were organized into the Rajputana Agency.
Rajasthan’s formerly independent kingdoms created a rich architectural and cultural heritage, seen today in their numerous forts and palaces (Mahals and Havelis) which are enriched by features of Hindu, Muslim and Jain architecture.
Rajasthan has a mainly Rajasthani population. Hindus account for 88.8% of the population . Muslims make up 8.5%, Sikhs 1.4% and Jains 1.2% of the population . Rajasthan state is also populated by Sindhis, who came to Rajasthan from Sindh province (now in Pakistan) during the India-Pakistan separation in 1947.
The mother tongue of the majority of people in Rajasthan is Rajasthani. Rajasthani and Hindi are the most widely used languages in Rajasthan. After independence, Rajasthani was used as a medium of instruction, along with Hindi and English, in some schools. Some other languages used in Rajasthan are Sindhi, Gujarati and Punjabi.
The Thar desert near Jaisalmer. Rajasthan is culturally rich and has artistic and cultural traditions which reflect the ancient Indian way of life. There is rich and varied folk culture from villages which is both fascinating and mesmerizing. Highly cultivated classical music and dance with its own distinct style is part of the cultural tradition of Rajasthan. The music is of uncomplicated innocence and songs depict day-to-day relationships and chores, more often focused around fetching water from wells or ponds.
The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Folk music is a vital part of Rajasthani culture. Kathputali, Bhopa, Chang, Teratali, Ghindar, Kachchhighori, Tejaji etc. are the examples of the traditional Rajasthani culture. Folk songs are commonly ballads which relate heroic deeds and love stories; and religious or devotional songs known as bhajans and banis (often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar, sarangi etc.) are also sung.
Rajasthan is known for its traditional, colorful art. The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan. Handicraft items like wooden furniture and handicrafts, carpets, blue pottery are some of the things commonly found here. Rajasthan is a shoppers’ paradise, with beautiful goods found at low prices. Reflecting the colorful Rajasthani culture, Rajasthani clothes have a lot of mirror-work and embroidery. A Rajasthani traditional dress for females comprises an ankle length skirt and a short top, also known as a lehenga or a chaniya choli. A piece of cloth is used to cover the head, both for protection from heat and maintenance of modesty. Rajasthani dresses are usually designed in bright colours like blue, yellow and orange.
The Udaipur PalaceRajasthan is famous for the majestic forts, intricately carved temples and decorated havelis, which were built by kings in previous ages. Jantar Mantar, Dilwara Temples, Chittorgarh Fort, Lake Palace Hotel, City Palaces, Jaisalmer Havelis are part of the true architectural heritage of India. Jaipur, the Pink City, is noted for the ancient houses made of a type of sand stone dominated by a pink hue. At Ajmer, the white marble Bara-dari on the Anasagar lake is exquisite. Jain Temples dot Rajasthan from north to south and east to west. Dilwara Temples of Mount Abu, Ranakpur Temple dedicated to Lord Adinath near Udaipur, Jain temples in the fort complexes of Chittor, Jaisalmer and Kumbhalgarh, Lodarva Jain temples, Bhandasar Temple of Bikaner are some of the best examples.
Rajasthan is often called a shopper’s paradise. Rajasthan is famous for textiles, semi-precious stones and handicrafts. The attractive designs of jewellery and clothes are eye-catching and invite shoppers. Rajasthani furniture has intricate carvings and bright colours. Rajasthani handicrafts are in demand due to the intricate work on them. Above all, Rajasthan’s shopping appeals to both tourists and people from other parts of India due to its cheap prices for quality goods.
The main religious festivals are Deepawali, Holi, Gangaur, Teej, Gogaji, Makar Sankranti and Janmashtami, as the main religion is Hinduism. Rajasthan’s desert festival is celebrated with great zest and zeal. This festival is held once a year during winters. Dressed in brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing haunting ballads of valor, romance and tragedy. There are fairs with snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels, of course, play a stellar role in this festival.
Flora and fauna
Great Indian BustardThough a large percentage of the total area is desert, and even though there is little forest cover, Rajasthan has a rich and varied flora and fauna. The natural vegetation is classed as Northern Desert Thorn Forest (Champion 1936). These occur in small clumps scattered in a more or less open forms. Density and size of patches increase from west to east following the increase in rainfall.
Some wildlife species, which are fast vanishing in other parts of India, are found in the desert in large numbers such as the Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), the Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), the Indian Gazelle (Gazella bennettii) and the Indian Wild Ass.
The Desert National Park, Jaisalmer, spread over an area of 3162 km², is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert, and its diverse fauna. Great Indian Bustard, Blackbuck, chinkara, desert fox, Bengal fox, wolf, desert cat etc. can be easily seen here. Seashells and massive fossilized tree trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert. The region is a haven for migratory and resident birds of the desert. One can see many eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures. Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), Tawny Eagles (Aquila rapax), Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), Laggar Falcons (Falco jugger) and kestrels are the commonest of these.
Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is a very small sanctuary in Churu District, 210 km from Jaipur, in the Shekhawati region. This sanctuary is home to a large population of graceful Blackbuck. Desert Fox and desert cat can also be spotted along with typical avifauna such as partridge and sand grouse.