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About Rajasthan

Camal Safari, Rajasthan

Rajasthan or Rajputana of old is the most colourful and exotic of all Indian states. A land which bore a race of people known for their bravery and their chivalry. Yes, the Rajputs. A clan which maintained a high code of honour and conduct for themselves and for others. The Rajputs were a a martial race with a surprisingly keen sense of beauty, are and culture. They received their inspiration from their own life style, from birds and beasts, from the earth and the sky and the vast expanse of sand around them. Their colourful festivals and fairs reflect all that they assimilated from their surroundings.

Massive fortresses spanning wide hilltops, beautiful temples and monuments stand stoically in the inhospitable and formidable sands of the Thar Desert. In that barren land were built luxurious palaces, lakes and fountains and pleasure resorts. Almost every town is marked by strong fortresses, which also served as palaces, covered with exquisite filigree and latticed and mosaic work.

These walls have seen history in the marking. The cannon-grazed and battle-pocked walls of Chittorgarh still preserve tales of valour. Hand imprints on them speak of brave women who chose to commit jauhar (self-immolation), when their menfolk died bravely on the battle-field, rather than accept promises of a pleasurable life in the hands of the enemy.

The Dilwara Temples of Mount Abu a re-reminiscent of a people who were keenly religious and get were lovers of art and sculpture. The heavy chunky jewellery of Rajasthan is a favourite with all who visit this land.

Location
Rajasthan is situated in the northwestern part of India. It is bounded on the west and northwest by Pakistan, on the north and northeast by the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, on the east and southeast by the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and on the southwest by the state of Gujarat.

Cities Of Rajasthan
Following are the famous cities of Rajasthan

Ajmer Alwar Bali
Banswara Baran Barmer
Banswara Beawar Bharatpur
Bhilwara Bhinmal Bikaner
Bilara Falna Hanumangarh
Harsawa Jaipur Jaisalmer
Jaitaran Jalore Jhalawar
Jhunjhunu Jodhpur Mahwa
Mount Abu Nagaur Nawalgarh
Pali Pokaran (Pokhran) Pratapgarh
Pushkar Rani Raniwara
Sadri Sanchore Sardarshahar
Sikar Sirohi Sojat
Sriganganagar Sumerpur Suratgarh
Takhatgarh Thathawata Udaipur

Places Of Interest

City Guide
Hawa MahalJaipur –Named after King Sawai Jai Singh II (1683-1743 A.D.) – who was famous as a brave warrior, a great scholar, a mathematician, an astronomer and a town planner – Jaipur is the present capital of Rajasthan. It is also called the Pink City, and its planning and architecture is indeed remarkable. Wide streets, well-constructed houses and a general air of peace and quiet are the outstanding features of the city. The wide avenues of the city divide it into near rectangles. When, towards evening, the setting sun lights up the pink buildings, the effect is almost magical.

The Old city is encircled by a wall with seven gates and the Iswari Minar Swarga Sul, the “minaret piercing heaven” near the Tripoli Gate, was built by Maharaja Madho Singh (1751-1768) mainly to enable the ladies to watch processions.

An eleven km drive north of Jaipur brings you to Amber with the royal place atop a hill. The palace is in the form of a large fortress with massive thick walls and gateways. An image of Durga – which was brought from Bengal by Akbar’s brilliant general Raja Man Singh – is seated within. The palace has a Diwan-i-aam or Hall of Audience with a double row of columns and latticed galleries above.

Palace of Interest : The Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds, the Jantar Mantar, The City Palace, the Central Museum, The Amber Palace, The Jaigarh Fort, The Ram Niwas Gardens and Sangarner are the famous palace in Jaipur.

Udaipur -In the heart of the desert of Rajasthan is this lake city of Udaipur – the capital of the erstwhile state of Mewar. Variously described as the “City of Sunrise”, the “City of Dreams” and the “City of Enchantment”, Udaipur is beautifully set amidst wooded hills and slopes encircling a scenic lake. Unique and charming places of yore entice the traveler. This beautiful city was founded by Maharana Udai singh and its fame rests on his brave son Maharana Pratap. Exquisite carvings and mosaic ornament, the numerous courts, saloons, corridors, pavilions, balconies and terraces all mark Udaipur’s two important palaces – the Lake Palace, in the centre of the Pichola Lake, which has now been converted into a luxury hotel and the City Palace which now houses a museum. The Lake Palace was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II in 1754, and covers the whole island - the largest complex in Rajasthan – stands proudly on the shore.

Place of Interest: The Udaipur Lake Palace, The City Palace and Museum, Jagdish Temple, Lake Fateh Sagar, Pratap Smarak, Bhartiya Lok Kala Museum, Saheliyon ki Bari.

Jodhpur -The largest city in Rajasthan after Jaipur, Jodhpur (about 305 km from Jaipur) stands at the edge of the Thar Desert. This kingdom of the Rathore kings was one known as Marwar, the ‘Land of Death’. Named after Rao Jodha (1459), Jodhpur’s houses and temples, palaces and havelis still retain and preserve the age-old traditions. Jodhpur is protected from the desert by a massive 10 km long wall. The massive fort atop rocky hill dominates the city. A picturesque road wind up through various gates and walls.

Place of Interest: Meherangarh Fort, Jaswant Thada, Clock Tower and Markets, Umaid Gardensand Museum, Umaid Bhawan Palace.

Alwar - Alwar lies equidistant form Delhi and Jaipur. Alwar is a city carved out of the jagged, rocky Aravalli Hills where gruesome battles were fought. The city nestles between several small hills, on the most prominent of which stands a dramatically forbidding fort. The royal ambience still pervades the city, marked by a number of structures of historical significance. Lakes and valleys thickly wooded in parts, have made this area the haunt of animal and birds. Rich in wildlife, Alwar has one of the finest sanctuaries in Rajasthan.

Alwar, amongst the Rajput principalities was closest to imperial Delhi, influencing the people and history of the region, formerly known as Mewat. The people of Alwar never submitted to alien rule and often rebelled as they had developed a hardy, but carefree attitude to life. During the 12th and 13th centuries, they often acted as adventurers and marauders and used to raid Delhi at night. The western gates of the capital had to be completely shut every evening to bar them from entering. Sultan Balban (1267-1287) finally crushed their disorganized resistance and as a result they came under Muslim rule. In 1771, Maharaja Pratap Singh won back Alwar and founded a principality of his own.

Places of Interest: Alwar Fort, City Palace or Vinay Vilas Mahal, Government Museum and Purjan Vihar or Company Garden.

Ajmer -It is the place where two cultures meet. With temples and mosques close to each other, the harmonious blend of Hinduism and Islam gives this town a unique character. Undoubtedly, Ajmer is a true amalgam of rich Hindu and Islamic heritage. The sacred lake of Pushkar is believed by Hindus to be as old as creation, as the temple of Brahman has been a place of pilgrimage from time immemorial. The great Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti of Persia was buried here and his Dargah is equally sacred to the followers of Islam as well as Hinduism. The Emperor Akbar made an annual visit to the shrine of the saint, sometimes on foot, as an ordinary pilgrim would.

Ajmer was a key centre of Chauhan power along with the twin capital of Delhi. Ajmer was founded by Raja Ajai Pal Chauhan in the 7th century. The Chauhans reigned here till 1193.

Prithviraj Chauhan, the last Hindu ruler of Delhi, lost it to Mohammed Ghori. Then it became part of Delhi Sultanate. Rana Khumba of Mewar and Raja Maldeo of Marwar re-established Rajput rule over Ajmer.

Places of Interest: Dargah of Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Shah Jahan’s Mosque, Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra or Hut of two-and-a-half-days, Taragarh Fort or Akbar’s Fort, The Museum, Mayo College, and the Circuit House.

Bharatpur -Located about 55 km by road from Agra on the Jaipur highway, the town of Bharatpur is an eastern gateway to Rajasthan. The Bharatpur Palace houses a large number of exhibits dating back to early 15th century. Bharatpur, however, is famous for its proximity to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park which has the largest concentration and variety of birdlife in Asia. This 29 sq. km. sanctuary is also the breeding ground for the rare Siberian crane.

Palace of Interest : Lohagarh Fort, Government Museum, Jawahar Burj, The Palace, and Keoladeo National Park.

Bikaner -A city, awesome and beautiful. A vast expanse of rippling sand and scorching sun. and arid, rocky scrub-land. It is surrounded by a seven km long wall with five gates. Bikaner was founded by Rao Bikaji in 1488, one of the descendants of Jodhaji, the founder of Jodhpur. The Bikaner region is known for the best riding camels in the world. Bikaner is situated directly on the ancient caravan routes connecting West/Central Asia. It was therefore a great centre of trade in the Old World. The fortified city of Bikaner is encircled by imposing battlements and stands on a slight eminence. Its roads undulate through colourful bazaars and the predominant hue of the buildings is the strong reddish-pink of local sandstone. It is the fourth largest city of Rajasthan.

Places of Interest : Junagarh, Lalgarh Palace, Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum and Gardens, and parks.

Bundi : Bundi and Kota were once a single principality ruled by the Hada Chauhans, an offshoot of the famous clan of Chauhans who ruled Delhi and Ajmer. After the defeat of Prithvi Raj Chauhan by Sultan Mohammed Ghori in 1193, the Chauhan nobles sought sanctuary in Mewar. They were welcomed and provedallies to the Rana. Yet some young warriors ventured on their own, overpowered the Meena and Bhil tribals of the Chambal Valley and established the kingdom of Hadavati or Hadoti. Later two branches of the Hadas formed two separate states on either side of the Chambal. These were Kota and Bundi.

Places of Interest: Taragarh or the Star Fort, The Palace, Chitrashala, Chattar Mahal or Palace of Towers, Ratan Daulat, Nawal Sagar, Raniji-ki-Baoti, Sukh Mahal, Phool Sagar, Shikar Burj, Shar Bagh, and the Eighty-four Pillared centotaph.

Chittaurgarh: Chittaur is more than a ruined citadel; it is a symbol. It stands for all that was brave, true and noble in the Rajput tradition. Chittaur was sacked three times, and on each occasion the rite of Jauhar was performed.

Synonymous with the tradition of valour and chivalry, Chittaurgarh or Chittaur, the capital or Mewar, was under Rajput rule from the 7th to the 17th century. Allauddin Khilji was the first to attack it in 1303; he wanted to abduct Queen Padmini, who, preferring death to dishonor, committed self-immolation along with other royal ladies. It was plundered again in 1535 by Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and Akbar in 1567.

Places of Interest: The Fort, Vijay Stambh or Victory Tower, Kirti Stambh or Tower of Fame, Rana Kumbh’s Palace, Meera and Kumbha Shyam Temple, Kalika Mata Temple, Government Museum, Jaimal and Patta Palaces, Meerabai’s Temple and Gardens and Parks.

Jaisalmer - Jaisalmer is said to owe its origin in a prophecy by Lord Krishna. The whole place is festooned with forts, palaces and temples. The beauty is etched in yellow sandstone lending it a golden aura.

Rawal Jaisal laid the foundation of this city in 1156. Trikuta hill was chosen for the site of the new city and Jaisal abandoned his old fort at Lodurva and came here. Because of its remote location, jaisalmer for years remained untouched by outside influences and during the British Raj, the Rulers of Jaisalmer were the last to sign the Instrument of Agreement with the British.

Palace of Interest: The Fork, Manak Chowk, and Havelis, Gadsisar Lake, Tazia Tower, Havelis, Nathmalji-ki-Haveli, Patwon-ki-Haveli, Salim Singh-ki-Haveli, Jain temples, and Gyan Bhandar or Library.

Kota - Kota is a fascinating mixture of medieval grandeur and modern industrialisation. An impressive fort stands like a sentinel over the present day Chambal Valley Project with its many dams – Kota Barrage, Gandhi Sagar. An old palace, Harawati or Hadoti dating back to the time when Kota was part of the Hada Rajput fiefdom – overlooks the Kota Barrage on the turbulent Chambal river.

However, modern Kota is all hustle and bustle as befits a town which boasts of Asia’s largest fertilizer plant, a precision instrument unit, and an atomic power station for power generation and nuclear research.

Palace of Interest: Chambal Garden, Maharao Madho Singh Museum, the Government Museum, Jag Mandir, Haveli of Devtaji, Kota Barrage, Kansua temple, Bhitiria Kund, Adhar Shila and Budh Singh Bafna Haveli.

Mount Abu - Mount Abu lies at the southern extremity of the Aravalli range. Surrounded by fine forests rich in flora and fauna, Mount Abu is a resort as well as a place of Rajput and Jain Pilgrimage. The altitude of this plateau, 1220 meters, and abundant vegetation, have endowed Abu with a pleasant climate.

According to the legend, Abu means ‘Son of Himalaya’. It derives its name from Arbuda – a powerful serpent who rescued Nandi, the sacred bull of Shiva from a Chasm. While, according to another legend, the lake at Mount Abu was dug by the gods with their fingernails, or ‘Nakh’. Therefore, it ias been named as ‘Nakki Lake’. Before it became a Jain pilgrimage centre, Mount Abu was dedicated to Lord Shiva. Many sages and seers also had their retreats on Mount Abu, the most famous being sage Vashishta.

Palaces of Interest: Dilwara Jain Temple, Adhar Devi Temple, Nakki Lake, Gaumukh Temple, Sunset Point, Honeymoon Point, Shri Raghunathji temple, Gardens and Parks, and Museum and Art Gallery.

Shekhawati - Shekhawati which is spread over Jhunjhunu, Sikar and Churu districts in north-western Rajasthan, is known for its beautifully painted havelis. This semi-arid region of Shekhawati had only a blank monochromatic palette to offer in the beginning. Although no school of painting thrived here, a series of historical, social developments took up this colourless place and made it blossom with art for almost two centuries – from 1750 to 1930. This region may very well be regarded as the ‘Open-air art Gallery of Rajasthan’ today.

Palace of Interest: At Sikar – Harsh Nath Temple, Jeen Mata Temple, Lachhmangarh, Fatehpur, Ramgarh, Khatu Shyamji and Sakambhari.
At Jhunjhunu – Mandawa, Mukundgarh, Dundlod, Nawalgarh, Bagad Chirawa, Pilani, Surajgarh and Kajra, Alsisar and Malsisar, Bissau and Mehansar.
At Churu – Salasar Balaji, Ratangarh, Sardarshashar, Dudhwa Khara and Tal Chhappar.

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