Area : 342,236 km² (132,138 sq mi) Capital : Jaipur Largest city Jaipur Established 1956-11-01 Districts : 32 Population : approximately 58 million Language : Most people speak Rajasthani dialects, Hindi and sometimes broken English. In tourist places like Jaipur and Jodhpur, you will find trained English and French guides too. . Cities Jaswant Thada, JodhpurJaipur - the state capital Ajmer , Bikaner - famous for its sweets , Bundi - fort city off the beaten track , Kota Jaisalmer , Jodhpur - the Blue City, site of the spectacular hilltop Mehrangarh Fort Pushkar , Tonk , Udaipur , Karauli , Osiyan , Mount Abu alt 432 , Nathdwara , Ranakpur , Ranthambhore National Park History of Rajasthan Rajasthan has a rich and colorful history making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. 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. Millionsof them were martyred for this land. 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. Get in By plane Rajasthan is one of the larger Indian states and distances are long, making planes a fairly good option for getting in. Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur all have airports with direct links to many major cities, though if coming from a smaller city, one has to go via Delhi. By train Overnight trains from Delhi and Mumbai reach most of Rajasthan's major cities. For points further out, like Jaisalmer, you'll be looking at a second day on the train as well. The Shatabdi and Rajdhani express are excellent trains and have excellent service. Another option is Palace on Wheels which is a week long luxury train ride through Rajasthan. By road The National Highway 8 which runs through Rajasthan is excellent and connects Delhi to Mumbai. Though Mumbai may be too far away, this is the most popular way to travel to travel to Jaipur from Delhi as the road is in excellent condition and the drive can easily be completed in under 4hrs. Get around All the cities have public transports in form of buses.Also available are jeeps on hire. Beware of jeep drivers who charge a bomb from tourists. Otherwise from Delhi various private travel agencies organise trips to Rajasthan but they are rather costly. But if you do not travel alone, it is better to hire a car with a driver (for example a car from Delhi International Airport to Neemrana Village costs 4000 INR for five persons). Besides these government tourism department runs luxury buses to a couple of cities in Rajasthan. The buses originate from Dr. Ambedkar Terminus in the Old Delhi region. Railways can be the better travel mode as it is quick and the service on most trains is excellent. But in Rajasthan, road may be more enjoyable for short distances as the sights of the desert with the hills to be seen are beautiful and the roads are but bearable. A popular road drive is from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer, which is because the flight takes longer overall and the road is excellent. A very popular option is Palace on Wheels which is a week long luxury train ride through interiors of Rajasthan. See Rajasthan is one of the most popular tourist destination to observe Indian heritage and royalty closely. A fortnight should suffice to be able to glimpse the splendor of the state. It has a lot of natural and man made tourist destinations, which include: Amber Fort in Jaipur Jal Mahal in Jaipur The Pink City in Jaipur Camel fair in Pushkar Chittorgarh Fort - A massive structure with numerous gateways, the fort is an outstanding example of Mauryan architecture. Mehrangarh Fort - Located in Jodhpur. Set on the hill top, Mehrangarh Fort is a humongous royal mansion. Junagarh Fort in Bikaner Pichola Lake in Udaipur Bundi Fort in Bundi Jaisalmer Fort - Located in Jaisalmer. This fort is constructed with sand stones and is an important landmark of Jaisalmer city. The Desert landscape in Jaisalmer Umaid Bhawan in Jodhpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Ranthambhore National Park Do Many of the cities and towns in Rajasthan offer a chance to do a camel safari. Another great experience is to explore Rajasthan on horseback. Beginners can go on shorter rides while experienced riders can join horseback safaris running from a couple of days up to 3 weeks. Lady travelers can get brilliant, intricate henna patterns done on their hands and/or feet. Visit the bird sanctuary at Bharatpur and the wildlife park at Ranthambore. Make sure you take the tiger safari at Ranthambore. Shop at the bazaars(local markets) located in most cities in narrow alleys and lanes. You can pick up traditional puppets, tie-and-dye clothes/apparel, kota(also a place) textiles, accessories. Visit fairs arranged for traditional festivals, where you get to see the locals in traditional finery;watch camel races;enjoy traditional folk music. Buy Avoid shopping at outlets guided by the local auto/ricksha drivers or even with the local tour guide you may have hired as these outlets all claim to have some assosiation with the Rajasthan government or the actual artisans which are generaly fabricated claims and you end up paying anywhere between 20-40% above the actual price (including a hefty commission parted by the shopkeeper to the guide/auto driver). The guide is more keen to show you all these shops rather than the places you have travelled to see. Eat Food is generally very spicy - to be enjoyed in moderation for first timers. Dairy based sweet products are very popular in this part of the country. Restaurants are mostly vegetarian. Finding restaurants serving good non-vegetarian food could be difficult, and in general, non vegetarian stuff in road side eateries should be avoided. Bread - both leavened and unleavened is readily available. A typical Rajasthani fare would include daal-baati-churma. Daal is lentil curry;baati is round balls made out of wheat flour and baked in charcoal fire;churma is a dessert made out of crushed wheat balls rolled in jaggery/sugar and topped with ghee. Stay safe As always, be careful when traveling alone, and avoid venturing out late at nights and beware of touts. One of the safest way to travel around Rajasthan is by having a driver who know their ways around Rajasthan. Spitting, urinating and dumping garbbage at public places and streets is very common and you need to watch out for this. Also beware of traffic coming in from the wrong side of the street when walking/driving. Stay healthy There are many clinics and hospitals in major cities which provide quality treatment at affordable prices. Also health tourism is on the upswing. Flora and Fauna Though 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.
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