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Colourful Rajasthan

Folklore f heroism and romance resound from the formidable monuments that majestically stand to tell the tale of a bygone era. The magic of vibrant Rajasthan - its rich heritage, colorful culture, exciting desert safaris, shining sand-dunes, amazing variety lush forests and varied wildlife - makes it a destination nonpareil. Rajasthan is often portrayed as one vast open-air museum, with its relics so well preserved that it delights even the most skeptical traveler. It is an incredible destination for the outdoor-tourist takes a safari on horses, camels, elephants or even in jeeps, with the Aravalis - India's oldest mountain range as the backdrop. Feast your eyes on spectacular sand-dunes, take the tiger trail, or just watch the birds in the wetlands. You can also choose to pamper yourself in the lavish heritage properties. Rajasthan has something for everyone one just has to choose an activity appropriate to one's temperament.

Fairs and festivals of Rajasthan

The Rajasthani’s love for colour and joyous celebrations is proved by the elaborate rituals and the gay abandon with which he surrenders himself to the numerous fairs and festivals of the region. In addition to the festivals celebrated by the Hindus,Muslims and others,there are also the traditional fairs.

There are animal fairs,there are religious fairs and there are fairs to mark the changing seasons. Infact,celebrations occur almost round the year and are a splendid opportunity for the visitor to gain an insight into the life of the Rajasthani. Other than the traditional fairs, recently established festivals which involve elephants, camel races, dance and music have been specially organised for the tourists. Among the better known fairs of Rajasthan are:

Nagaur Fair,Nagaur(Jan-Feb.) : Essentially an animal fair, it provides an opportunity to participate in some of the local sports.

Desert Festival,Jaisalmer (Jan-Feb.): One of the most popular of all festivals it is a journey into the heart of the desert,the golden city of Jaisalmer that has a charm of its own. A true show on the sands which attracts even the much traveled visitor.

Baneshwar Fair,Baneshwar (Jan-Feb.): A religious festival with simple and traditional rituals. This fair is the centre of attraction of a large number of tribals from the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat who join their brethren from Rajasthan in offering prayers to Lord Shiva.

Gangaur festivalGangaur,Jaipur (March-April): A festival devoted to Goddess Parvati,the consort of Lord Shiva. It is time for young girls to dress up in their finery and pray for grooms of their choice while the married women pray for the well-being of their husbands. This 18-day festival is laced with various activities and culminates in a grand procession marking the arrival of Shiva to escort his bride home.

Mewar Festival,Udaipur (March-April): A festival to welcome the spring season. There is song, dance, processions,devotional music and fireworks where almost everybody participates.

Elephant Festival,Jaipur (March-April): A festival to celebrate Holi, this is a great occasion for the visitor to watch several elephant sports and also play this festival of colours. A show is organised with the elephants turning out in their best finery.

Urs Ajmer Sharif,Ajmer (According to Lunar Calendar): Held in the memory of the revered Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti, it is an occasion for thousands of believers to congregate at the shrine and offer their prayers. All of Ajmer seems to take on a festive air and several programmes are organised to mark the festivals.

Summer Festival, Mt.Abu (June): Organised in the only hill station of Rajasthan,this is the coldest place at this time of the year. Folk dances and a general atmosphere of gaiety prevails in this tiny hill resort and the tourist has ample time to relax and enjoy himself.

Teej, Jaipur (July-August): A festival to mark the advent of monsoon.Processions,women dressed in bright colours and a lot of merriment prevails during Teej. Essentially a women’s festival, it is interesting to watch them enjoying in groups and at various bazaars where they turn up to shop in all their finery.

Marwar Festival,Jodhpur (October): A festival devoted mainly to the music and dance of the Marwar region. This is a festival that allows the visitor to understand and enjoy the folk traditions of this part of the state.

Pushkar Fair,Ajmer (November): The well-known and marked with largest participation of all the festivals of Rajasthan,Pushkar is an important pilgrimage as well as the venue of a mammoth cattle fair. Bazaars,auctions,music and sports are highlight of this event.

Camel Festival,Bikaner (January): An enchanting desert city which comes alive with music and dance. It is fast gaining popularity as the visitor finds an opportunity to see some unusual folk performances,camel, race camel dance etc.

Music & Dance

rP1010340-1Rajasthan is culturally rich and has extensive tradition in art and culture, which reflects Indian way life. The dance, music and art forms have been watchfully cultivated and patronised by the erstwhile courts. An equally rich and varied folk culture from villages is both fascinating & mesmerising. The music is of uncomplicated innocence and songs depict day-to-day relationships and chores more often focal around bring of water. Rajasthan's cultural tapestry takes in simple folk to highly cultivated classical music and dance in its own distinct style.

Music sung by women is mostly about water and the style is called panihari. It depicts daily chores and is cantered around the well. In arid area like Rajasthan water is of immense significance. Some of the folk songs also talk about chance encounter with their lover. Some even have snipes at the incorrigible mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.

Music here, also has strong religious flavour and is sung in dedication to various deities. Some religious songs are folk idioms of Saints, Surdas, Kabirdas, Meerabai and others. These songs are mostly heard in nightlong soirées. Lost

Music traditions are kept alive by entertainer like the Langas, Manganniyars, Mirasis and Dholis. The education in music of these groups began early and passed down from generation to generation. The folk musicians are apt in classical tradition. Songs normally began with an alap, which set the tune of the song and then recital of the couplet that is called the dooba. The songs also have the taan, the pitch and the tibias -the triplet, which lends variance to the tune.

Ballad traditions of Rajasthan are also of great attention. Here bards sing heroic tales of folk heroes like Tejaji, Gogaji and Ramdeoji. They sing and narrate heroic tales of battles and even of legendary lovers and their tragedies. To distinctive category in this tradition are the 'Phad' and the puppetry.

The accompanying instruments are of various varieties to repercussion, string and wind and even common use utilities like bells, thali (metal dishes) and earthen pots.

tnh_040101_3093.jpgThe Thar Desert of Rajasthan comes alive when its dancers take the center stage. Rajasthan has great variety of dances, which are simple expressions of celebration and festivity. The dancers, the dances and costumes have made Thar the most colorful desert in the world. Each region adding its own form of dance styles and performers. There are dances that follows a lineage of age old traditions, adhere to religious significance, display their daring attitude as well as complimenting various fairs and festivals.

Ghoomar, a community dance for women performed on auspicious occasions. Gair Ghoomar, Raika, Jhoria and Gauri are particularly of Bhil tribe. Gair is performed on Holi but only by the men folk. Chari dance, with pots on the head and a lighted lamp, is popularly performed on marriage occasions or on the birth of a male child. Kalbelia dance is of the kalbelia tribe, the snake charmers. With numerous pots on the head, women excel the balancing act in the Matka-bhawai. Terah taali, is a ritual for Baba Ramdev, a dance with thirteen manjiras. Other dances are Kachhi-Ghodi, Kathputli (the puppet dance), Fire dance, drum dance and various others pertaining to the particular tribes. Kathhak, a popular dance form being imported from Uttar Pradesh have been revived by the rajputana courts, with a style and theme of its own

Places of Interest

Ajmer

Ajmer has been a great centre of pilgrimage for both Hindus and Muslims. The city is a rich blend of Hindu and Islamic heritage. The sacred lake of Pushkar and the temple of Brahma have been a sacred place of pilgrimage, for Hindus. During the month of Kartik(Oct./Nov.),devotes throng in large numbers here to take a dip in the sacred lake.

The great Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din-Chisti of Persia, was buried here, and his Dargah is revered by followers of Islam, as well as Hinduism. It was a key centre of Chauhan power, along with the twin capital of Delhi. However, with Prithviraj Chauhan's defeat at the hands of Sultan Mohammed Ghori (1193), Ajmer was rendered vulnerable to many an invasion and gory battles.

Ajmer is connected to Delhi, Agra, Ahmedabad, Abu, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaipur, by main highways. Regular train services connect Ajmer with important cities. The nearest airport is Jaipur(132km)

The Dargah of Khwaja Moin-ud-din-Chisti

The tomb of saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din-Chisti, popularly known as Dargah Sharief, is in the heart of the city. It is a pilgrimage and spiritual centre, where followers of every creed and faith, Muslims and non - Muslims visit and pay homage throughout the year.

Shah Jahan's Mosque

This mosque is the most beautiful of all the structures, in the Dargah precinct. It is made of white marble, delicately carved with trellis-work.

Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra

Beyond the Dargah, among narrow and crowded lanes, is a remarkable, early Islamic structure, the Adhai - din - ka - Jhonpra. Mohammed Ghori, with the remains of several neighbouring temples, hurriedly put together, a mosque within two and a half days (Adhai Din). Pillars, from at least thirty temples, must have gone into the making of this elegant monument, a superb example of Indo-Islamic architecture.

The Museum

Emperor Akbar's royal residence, now converted to a museum, houses an excellent collection of Mughal and Rajput armour and some fine sculpture.

Alwar

Located 150Km from Jaipur and 170Km From Delhi, Alwar is nested between clusters of small hills of the Aravalli range. Formerly known as Mewat, Alwar was an ancient Rajput state. The people of the state daringly fought against foreign invasions. In the 12th and 13th centuries, they formed a group and raided Delhi. But Sultan Bulban defeated them and brought Alwar under the rule of the Sultanate. In 1771 A.D. Maharaja Pratap Singh, a Kuchhwaha Rajput belonging to the clan of Jaipur's rulers, won back Alwar and founded a principality of his own. Alwar has a rich natural heritage with beautiful lakes and picturesque valleys thickly wooded in parts.

Delhi (163km) is the nearest airport to Alwar. Alwar is connected to prominent locations in and around the state by rail. Express trains like Shatabdi express, Superfast express and Intercity express connects Alwar to Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, Jodhpur and Ajmer. Alwar is connected to other parts of the state and Delhi with good roads.

The Fort (Bala Quila )

This formidable fort stands 304m above the city with its 6.6km ramparts. It is one of the few forts built before the rise of Mughals. Babar, the founder of Mughal Empire had spent a night at this fort and so did his great grand son Jahangir during his stay in exile. The place where he stayed is called Salim Mahal. Maharaja Pratap Singh finally annexed the fort in 1775 A.D. It is a forbidding structure with 15 large and 51 small towers and 446 openings for musketry, along with 8 huge towers encompassing it. The fort, now houses a radio station and police permission is required for visiting the inside.

City Palace or Vinay Vilas Mahal

This 18th century city palace complex, blending the Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture, sprawls below the fort. Government offices occupy most of the palace structures. The upper part is converted into a Government museum. The museum has a rare collection of ancient Persian, Arabic, Urdu and Sanskrit manuscripts. The exhibits include stunning weaponry, royal ivory slippers, 18th~19th century Mughal and Rajput painting and ancient musical instruments.

Siliserh (13 km)

It is an ideal picnic spot with enchanting landscape of wooded hills and beautiful chhatris on the embankment of the 10.5 sq. km placid lake. Maharaja Vinay Singh built this royal palace and hunting lodge, in 1845 AD, for his queen Shila. Now converted as the Hotel Lake Palace, it offers boating and sailing facilities.

Jai Samand Lake (6 km)

A beautiful artificial lake constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1910 A.D. is a popular spot for outing and picnics. During monsoons, sprawling greenery all around makes it a visual treat.

Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary

Located 35km from Alwar in the picturesque valley of the Aravalis, established in 1955, this 765.80 sq. km. thickly wooded reserve is a sanctuary under the Project Tiger. The wildlife includes tiger, nilgai, sambhar, cheetal, four horned antelope and wild boar.

Sariska Palace

Maharaja Jai Singh built this marvellous palace in the honour of the Duke of Edinburgh during his visit to the sanctuary. Presently, it has been converted into a hotel Sariska Palace.

Bharatpur

Located 57km from Agra, Bharatpur is the eastern gateway to Rajasthan. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was a strong hold oh Jats. The Jats withstood the Mughal attacks in more than one occasion and the British in 1805 and 1825. Bharatpur is popular for its world-renowned bird sanctuary.

The nearest airport is Agra 56km from Bharatpur. Regular rail services connect Bharatpur with several cities on Delhi-Mumbai trunk route, Jaipur and Agra. A network of bus services links Bharatprur with several cities within and outside the State.

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (Keoladeo Ghana National Park)

57km from Agra, this bird sanctuary is situated on the Delhi-Jaipur Highway. Bharatpur is known as one of the finest water bird sanctuaries in the world. It is spread over 40sq.km of swampy and light wooded terrain. The major attraction is the migrating Siberian Cranes in the winter months. Accommodation is available at the forest lodge within the sanctuary or at several hotels and motels.

Lohagarh Fort

The massive iron structure was built in the early 18th century. The fort was conceived and designed by Maharaja Suraj Mal, the founder of Bharatpur. With its impregnable defences it withstood a number of British attacks. Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj are two imposing towers those were built by Maharaja Suraj Mal to commemorate his victories over the Mughals and British respectively. The coronation ceremony of the Jat rulers of Bharatpur was also held at the Jawahar Burj.

Government Museum

The fort has three palaces within its precincts - Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas and Kothi Khas. A rich collection of artefacts, exquisitely carved sculptures and ancient inscriptions are exhibited in the Government Museum located in the in the central part of the palace.

Deeg (32 km)

Once the summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur, it served as the second capital of the region. This interesting town is strewn with massive fortifications, stunningly beautiful gardens, magnificent palaces and a colourful bazaar.

Bikaner

A region coveted by several Rajput clans, Bikaner is known as the land of the finest riding camels. The royal walled city of Bikaner, the northern most point on the triangle of desert cities, was founded in 1488 AD., by Rao Bikaji, a descendant of Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur. It was, once, an important trade centre. The old city is surrounded by 7km long imposing walls and has five entrance gates. The fort and palace, made of reddish-pink sandstone, lie outside the city walls. Bikaner also has several Jain temples and monasteries outside the fort.

The nearest airport is Jodhpur (243 km). Bikaner is well connected with Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur by rail. Regular bus services link Bikaner to Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Ajmer and Kolayat.

Junagarh Fort

Raja Raj Singh built the fort between 1588 and 1593. The fort has a 96 metre -long wall with 37 bastions and two entrances. The Suraj Pol, or Sun Gate, is the main entrance to the fort. The distinctive feature of this fort and its palaces is the unparalleled quality of the stone carving. The Chandra Mahal or Moon Palace, the Phool Mahal or Flower Palace (both decorated with mirrors and carved panels) and the Karan Mahal, which was built to commemorate a grand victory over Aurangzeb are a must visit.

Lalgarh Palace

About 3 km north of the city centre, is the Lalgarh Palace or Red Fort, built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in memory of his father Maharaja Lal Singh. Designed by Sir Swinton Jacob, the palace is an architectural masterpiece in red sandstone. It has exquisite latticework and filigree work.The Bikaner royal family still resides in part of the palace. The rest of the palace has been turned into a luxury hotel, and a museum called the Shri Sadul Museum. The museum houses an immense range of photographs The museum covers the entire first floor of the palace and houses well preserved old photographs and trophies of wildlife and an incredible collection of the former maharaja's personal possessions.

Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum

This is one of the best Rajasthan museums. The museum has a rich collection of terra-cotta ware, weapons, coins and miniature paintings of Bikaner school. The exhibits belong to Harappan civilization, Gupta and Kushan era and sculptures of the late classical time.

Bhandeshwar Jain Temples

Beautiful 16th century Jain temples, dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankar Parshvanathji. Other important shrines of Bikaner include the Lakshminathji, Ratan Biharji, Shiv Bari and Nagnechiji temple. The Bhaironji temple at Kodamesar, about 40 kms from Bikaner is another popular site.

Karni Mata Temple, Deshnoke

This 600 year old temple is dedicated to Karni Mata, a famous mystic of her times, believed to be an incarnation of goddess Durga. Legend has it, that she foretold the victory of Rao Bika. Here, rats are considered holy, and must be looked after.

Bundi

This picturesque little town in Rajastan fills a narrow valley in the Aravallis. Bundi is surrounded by the Aravalli hills on the three sides and is circumscribed by a massive wall with four gateways. . According to legend, in the 12th century, restless young nobles of the warrior Chauhan clan conquered the Bhil and Meena tribes establishing their own kingdom of Hadoti. Later, one group settles around Kota while the other settled in Bundi. Kota was a part of Bundi until it was separated in 1624 at the instistance of Emperor Jehangir.

Jaipur is the nearest airport. The nearest railhead is at Kota. Bundi can be reached by road from different parts of Rajasthan.

Star Fort

The massive Taragarh fort (Star Fort) built in 1354AD, broods over the town in the narrow valley below and the huge palace, which stands beneath it. A steep road leads up to the fort's enormous gateway, topped by rampant elephants. Inside, there are huge reservoirs carved out of solid rock and a famous cannon. Views over the town and surrounding countryside are excellent.

The Palace

The Palace is one of the finest examples of Rajput architecture.Then palace houses some of the superb Bundi murals in the Chitra Mahal , a fascinating pavilion and a gallery of miniature murals built around a sunken court open to the sky. Elaborate colourful paintings on the walls depict scenes from the 'Ragmala' and 'Raaslila' - the Radha-Krishna story. Above the palace, accessed through the impressive Elephant Gate are the royal apartments, murals, balconies, corbels, pavilions, fretted windows and domes.

Raniji-ki-Baori

Bundi has a couple of beautiful baoris (step wells) right in the centre of town. The Rani ki Baori is 46 metres deep and has some superb carving. It is one of the largest of its kind. Rani Nathavatji built it in 1699. This beautiful step well is constructed with torana arches set between soaring pillars to frame the steps leading down to the water.

Other Attractions

Bundi's other attractions are all out of town. The modern palace, known as the Phool Sagar Palace, built in the 20th century in contemporary style, Sukh Mahal, a smaller palace built on Sukh Sagar Lake and Shikar Burj, a small hunting lodge are of interest to have a peek at.

Chittaurgarh

Chittaur is the most romantic name in Rajasthan. It is a symbol of all that was brave, true and noble in the glorious Rajput tradition. Chittaur was attacked and defeated three times, and on each occasion, the ritual of 'Jauhar' was performed. Jauhar is embracing death by throwing oneself into raging fire or a well rather than submit oneself to the enemy. In 1303, when Allauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi, coveted the famous Rajput beauty, Rani Padmini, she led the Jauhar, rather than submit to dishonour. The second instance was in 1533, when the Sultan of Gujarat attacked Bikramjeet of Chittaur. Rani Karnavati led the Jauhar, in which many women and children chose death to defeat. In 1567 A.D. when the Mughal Emperor invaded Chittaur, the ruler of Chittaurgarh fled leaving behind Chittaur to be defended by two 16-years old heroes, Jaimal of Bednore and Patta of Kelwa. These young men displayed true Rajput chivalry and died after performing Jauhar. Immediately after the attack Akbar razed the fort to rubbles. Chittaur was never inhabited again but it was regarded as symbol of the heroic spirit of Rajput warriors.

Udaipur (112 km) is the nearest airport. Chittaurgarh is connected with Ajmer, Jaipur, Alwar, Delhi, Udaipur and Ahmedabad by rails. Good roads connect Chittaurgarh with other parts of Rajasthan.

The Fort

Located on an 180 m high hill, with a distinct Rajput character, the fort is a massive structure with many gateways that were built by the Mauryas in 7th century A.D. The fort, which sprawls over 700 acres, has many architectural attractions. The main gates are Padal Pol, Bhairon Pol Hanuman pol and Ram Pol.

Vijay Sthamb (Victory Tower)

In 1440 A.D, Maharana Kumbha built the tower in commemoration of victory over the Muslim rulers of Malwa and Gujarat. This imposing 37 metres tall, nine-storey structure is covered with exquisite sculputres of Hindu deities depicting episodes from Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Kirti Sthamb (Tower of Fame)

This 22 m high tower was built by a wealthy Jain merchant, in the 12th century A.D., and is dedicated to Adinathji, the first of the Jain Tirthankaras. The tower is decorated with figures from the Jain pantheon.

Rana Kumbha's Palace

Although in ruins, this palace is of historical and architectural interest. The palace is believed to have underground cellars where Rani Padmini and other women committed Jauhar. This palace is the largest structure in the Fort of Chittaur.

Government Museum

The magnificent Fateh Prakash Mahal, has been converted into a museum. The museum has exhibits of example of sculptures from temples and buildings in the fort.

Kalika Mata Temple

This temple of Goddess Kali is a symbol of power and valour. Originally built as a Sun temple in the 8th century, it was converted into the Kalika Mata temple, in the 14th century A.D.

Jaipur

Jaipur, popularly known as the Pink City, is the capital of the state of Rajasthan. It is the third corner of India's Golden Triangle, the others being Delhi at 300km northeast and Agra 200km east. It is a city with a timeless quality to it, a city where the ancient and the modern co-exist in complete harmony. The label of 'pink city' applies specifically to the old walled quarter of Jaipur while the glorious palaces and temples are in the urban area.

Jaipur is one of the most alluring cities of Rajasthan, India. Every year, people from all over the world come to explore the majestic city of Jaipur. There are numerous tourist attractions in Jaipur; still the city offers many other places in the suburbs to satisfy the appetite of tourists. You can visit Abhaneri, a small town, popular for its astonishing step wells and Harshad Mata Temple. On the other hand, Sanganer is famous for manufacturing the quality hand-made paper in India.

Jaisalmer

In 1156 A.D Rawal Jaisal, a Bhatti Rajput and a descendent of the Yadavas, left his fort at Lodurva and founded Jaisalmer, on the Trikuta Hill. Jaisalmer is located deep in the heart of the Thar Desert. This golden city of Rajasthan abounds in ancient palaces, temples and quaint settlements. As the sun sets, the sandstone buildings emitSand Dunes Jaisalmer, Rajasthan a radiant glow, which refers Jaisalmer as the "Golden City". The main income of the Bhatti Rajputs of Jaisalmer was taxes levied on the caravans those crossed the territory on the way to Delhi and Sind. The caravans made them very rich. Many years Jaisalmer thrived without the outside influences. The emergence of shipping as the major means of transportation contributed to the decline of Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer is famous for its intricately latticed havelis, each with a different façade.

Jodhpur (285 km) is the nearest airport. Regular bus services link Jaisalmer to Jodhpur, Ramdeora and Bikaner. Jailsalmer can be reached by rail from Jodhpur. The perfect time to visit the golden city is during the Desert Festival, held in Jan/Feb. every year.

The Fort

This 12th century fort that withstood the ravages of time rises out of the sea of sand. Its rounded battlements of golden sandstone, echoes the colour of the desert. The fort has four approach gateways. Several entrances guard the Megh Durbar and the Jawahar Mahal, which bear the imperial symbols of the Bhatti clan's lunar lineage. Outside the fort, is the main market place called Manek Chowk. From Manek Chowk, one can walk into the lanes, where the famous carved havelis, beautifully sculptured Jain Temples of the 12th -15th century and five interconnected palaces can be found.

Tazia Tower

The pagoda - like five storeyTazia Tower rises from the Badal Mahal (Palace of Clouds). Each storey of the tower has a beautifully carved balcony. Muslim craftsmen built the tower, in the shape of a Tazia and gifted it to their royal patron.

Gadsisar Lake

It is a scenic rainwater lake surrounded with numerous beautiful shrines. The lake is a tranquil spot for outings.

Nathmalji ki Haveli

This late 19th century haveli displays intricate architecture and sheer craftsmanship. One very interesting fact about this haveli is that two brothers carved its two sides. Though not identical they are very similar and in perfect harmony. The interior walls are ornate with splendid miniature paintings. Yellow sandstone elephants guard the building.

Patwon ki Haveli

This is one of the largest and most elaborate havelis in Jaisalmer. Located in a narrow alley, it is five storeys high. It has exquisitely carved pillars and extensive corridors and chambers. One of the rooms is painted with beautiful murals.

Salim Singh ki Haveli

300 years old, this haveli was the residence of the powerful Mohta clan - ministers of the Jaisalmer rulers. The blue cupola roof with superbly carved brackets in the form of peacocks is distinctive, and an exquisite projecting balcony adorns the top storey.

Lodurva (15km)

Lodurva is the ancient capital of Jaisalmer and an important pilgrim centre of the Jains Some of the magnificent Jain temples are located here. The temples have intricate carvings on the arches at the main entrance. A 'Kalptaru' or a divine tree is the main attraction of the temple.

Wood Fossil Park, Aakal (17kms)

This park, located on the Barmer Road, takes you back to the Jurassic period with 180 million year old fossils - It is the geological landmark for the study of the Thar Desert.

Sam Sand Dunes (42 km)

No trip to Jaisalmer is complete without a trip to the sand dunes of Sam. The ripples on the wind-caressed dunes create an enchanting mirage. Camel rides on the sand dunes are a thrilling experience, as is the brilliant sunset.

Desert National Park

An extensive variety of desert bird life is to be found in the National Park. The most remarkable bird of the desert, the Great Indian Bustard can also be sighted here. The wildlife includes desert fox, wolf, blackbuck, chinkara, nilgai, and the crusted porcupine.

Jhalawar

Situated 85km from Kota, Jhalawar was bifurcated from Kota by the British in 1838. Located in the southeast region of Rajasthan, at the edge of the Malwa plateau, Jhalawar has rocky but water-laden lush landscape. With pre-historic painted caves, massive forts, thickly wooded forests and exotic wildlife Jhalawar boasts of rich historic and natural wealth.

Jhalawar is connected to other parts of the state with rails and roads.

Jhalawar Fort (Garh Palace)

The fort is situated in the centre of the town. It houses the district offices. There are some exquisite paintings and mirrors on the walls of ' zanana khas', which can be seen by obtaining permission from the offices located here.

Government Museum

Established in 1915 A.D, this is one of the oldest museums of Rajasthan. The exhibits include a fine collection of paintings, rare manuscripts and idols of deities.

Jhalarapatan (6KM)

This small town within the confines of a wall was built to protect the trade caravans as patan was the junction of caravan routes. A magnificent 10th century Surya Temple (Padam Nath Temple ) is the major attraction of the city. The temple has some splendid sculptures as well as, well preserved idols of Surya.

Jodhpur

The imperial city of Jodhpur, previously known as Marwar, lies at the edge of the Thar Desert. It was the capital of former princely sate of Marwar. This second largest city of Rajasthan is an island of marble palaces, cordoned off from the desert by a colossal wall. Founded in 1459 A.D. by Suryavanshi Rao Jodha, chief of the Rathore clan, Jodhpur gradually grew around the 15th century Mehrangarh Fort. A blooming trading centre of the 16th century, Jodhpur is still one of the major centres in trading wool, cattle, camels and salt. Flanked by the Mehrangarh fort, and the stately Palace of Umaid Bhawan, the monuments, temples and gardens of Jodhpur portray a versatile magnificence.

Jodhpur is one of the three major domestic airports in Rajasthan. Indian Airlines operates flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur and Jaipur. Jodhpur is connected by rail to Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Lucknow. Good roads connect Jodhpur to Delhi, Udaipur, Jaipur and other centres of the State.

Mehrangarh Fort

Located at the very centre of the city, Mehrangarh is one of Rajasthan's three great hilltop forts; others are Kumbhalgarh and Chittaurgarh. The fort has seven gates and three of them each built to commemorate a certain event. Originally built in 1806, the fort has been added to, many times since. Moti Mahal, Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Sileh Khana and Daulat Khana are fitting examples of medieval magnificence of Jodhpur. The palaces within the fort were built in an informal pattern and have their own unique style, with narrow staircases, serving as the only means of access to the royal residences within. The fort has a well-preserved collection of musical instruments, palanquins, furniture and cannons.

Umaid Bhavan Palace

Built in the modern times, this 20th century palace is quite western in its design. It was built, as a famine relief project that gave employment to people for 16 years. The Palace has more than 300 rooms. It has its own theatre, eight dining rooms, and a banquet hall. The palace is considered as one of the finest surviving examples of art deco in the world. This splendid creation in sandstone still the residence of the former rulers and part of it is converted into a hotel and as a museum.

Jaswant Thada

Close to the fort complex lies a cluster of royal cenotaphs in white marble built in 1899 AD in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. Rare portraits of Jodhpur's rulers are, also, to be seen at Jaswant Thada.

Clock Tower and Sardar Market

A prime attraction of the city, is the Clock Tower and the colourful Sardar Market near it. Narrow alleys lead to quaint bazaars selling textiles, antiques, silverware and handicrafts.

Mandore

Mandore, the former capital of Marwar, lies 9 kms north of Jodhpur. The gardens of Mandore house the royal cenotaphs or 'dewals' of the Maharajas. The impressive temple-shaped memorial to Maharaja Ajit Singh is the largest and finest of all. The Hall of Heroes has 15 figures carved out of a rock wall. The vividly painted figures represent Hindu deities or local heroes on horseback.

Osian

55 km from Jodhpur is Osian, a small town, on whose outskirts lie groups of early Jain and Brahmanical temples. Once a great trading centre, the town is a desert oasis and home to numerous peacocks. The largest of the temples is dedicated to Mahavira, the last of the Jain tirthankars. Thge Surya temple in the vicinity has fascinating images of Durga, Surya and Ganesh. The sculptural complexity of the Osian temples rivals that of any of the famous temples of the country.

Balsamund Lake & Palace

Located 7kms from Jodhpur, this lake and garden complex built in 1159 is a popular picnic spot. A palace constructed in 1936, looms over the lake. Now the lake is converted into a public park and bird sanctuary.

Kota

Kota lies along the eastern bank of the Chambal River with its centuries old wealth of impressive forts, magnificent palaces and fabulous temples. Kota is one of the major major industrial centres of Rajasthan.

During the 12th century AD, the Hada Chieftain, Rao Deva, conquered the territory and founded Bundi and Hadoti. In the early 17th century AD during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, the ruler of Bundi, Rao Ratan Singh, gave the smaller principality of Kota to his son, Madho Singh. Since then Kota became a princely state.

Several express buses operate from Kota to Ajmer, Jaipur, Udaipur, Chittaurrgarh, Jodhpur and Bikaner. Many trains from Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur operate to Kota.

Umed Bhawan Palace

Built in 1009 by Maharao Umed Singh II of Kota, Umed Bhawan is one of the most beautiful palaces of Kota. Sir Swinton designed the palace, which has an Edwardian drawing roomand a billiard room. Standing amidst a well-laid garden, the palace has long corridors, courtyard and Italian marble floors.

Brijraj Bhawan Palace

Situated on the bank of river Chambal, Brijraj Bhawan is a colonial style palace built in the nineties. A unique feature of the palace is that almost all rooms overlook the Chambal River providing a fascinating view.

Maharao Madho Singh Museum

Situated in the old palace, the museum has a rich collection of Rajput miniature paintings of the Kota school, exquisite sculptures, frescoes, armoury and other valuable antiques. The blossoming of the Kota School of paintings was an important milestone in the history of medieval Indian art.

Chambal Garden

Chambal Garden is a beautifully landscaped garden at the Amar Niwas with lush surroundings. It is a popular picnic spot and enjoyable boat rides can be arranged.

Jag Mandir

In 1346 by Prince Dher Deh of Bundi constructed this enchanting little palace of Jag Mandir in the middle of the artificial lake of Kishore Sagar The blue waters around the red-sandstone monument enhance its magnificence. Boat-rides can be arranged in the lake. The Keshar Bagh famous for its royal cenotaphs lies in the locality.

Darrah Wildlife Sanctuary (50 km.)

A former royal hunting preserve, Darrah is a thickly wooded sanctuary lying along the southeastern border of Kota near the mountain range. The wildlife includes panther, spotted deer, tiger, wild boar and bear.

Mount Abu

Mount Abu is a green oasis and a hill station in the barren deserts cape of Rajasthan. Situated at the southern tip of the Aravali range, the hill retreat has a cool climate owing to the altitude of the plateau (1220 m above sea level) and surrounding forests, rich in flora and fauna. The winding Ghat road to Mount Abu is overlooking an arid region, strewn by huge rocks of weird shapes.

Mount Abu has been home to many sages and saints. Mt Abu was dedicated to Lord Shiva, before it became a Jain pilgrim centre. The greatest attraction of Abu is the magnificent Dilwara temples.

Udaipur is the nearest airport at 185km. Abu Road, the nearest railhead 29km away, links Ahmedabad, Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur. Abu is well connected with other centres of the state by road.

Dilwara Jain Temples

Built between the 11th and 13th centuries; these temples are famous for their sheer elegance in marble carvings. Vimal Vasahi, dedicated to the first Tirthankara, is the oldest of these Jain temples. Built in 1031 A.D., in the village of Dilwara by Vimal Shah, it is a perfect example of Gurjar-Pratitar temple architecture. The temple has a central shrine, a room with a transept, a large colonnaded area, and an ambulatory lined by 52 small shrines, each housing a statue of thirthankaras. The Lun Vasahi Temple, dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankaras was built in 1231 AD.

Adhar Devi Temple

The temple is chiselled out of a huge rock formed by a natural cleft. A flight of 360 stairs takes one to the sanctum. It is a favourite tourist spot.

Shri Raghunathji Temple

Situated near the 'Nakki' lake, this temple is dedicated to Shri Raghunathji. Shri Ramanand, the famous Hindu preacher, placed the beautiful image of the deity, in the temple, in 14th century A.D.

Nakki Lake

Studded with little islets, the Nakki Lake is located beyond the Raghunath temple. Situated at 1200 m above sea level, as legend has it, the lake was dug out by the gods with their nails.

Gaumukh Temple

A natural stream flowing through the mouth of a sculpted cow gives the shrine its name. It is a beautifully sculpted hill temple of Arbuada. Nearby is the magnificent marble image of Nandi, the celestial bull rescued by Arbuada.

Sunset Point

This viewpoint offers an enchanting view of the crimson colours of dusk, a spectacular sight of the setting sun covering the hills with a golden glow.

Honeymoon Point

Honeymoon Point, also known as Andra Point, provides a pleasant view of the verdant valley and plains. At sunset it looks especially beautiful.

Trevor's Tank (5 km)

Trevor's Tank is a bird-watcher's paradise. Named after the British engineer who constructed it, the thickly wooded hills around it are teeming with pheasants, peacocks and partridges.

Achalgarh (8 km)

Built in the 14th century A.D. by Rana Kumbha the fort has some beautiful jain temples within. Among them are Achaleswar Mahadev Temple (1412 A.D.) and Kantinath Jain Temple (1513 A.D.). Mandakini Kund and a sculpture of Parmar Dharavarsh are situated close to the Achaleswar Mahadev Temple.

Pushkar

The peaceful township of the sacred lake of Pushkar lies 11 km from Ajmer. The Nag Pahar (Snake Mountain) separates Pushkar from Ajmer. This beautiful lake surrounded by bathing ghats, has great religious significance, rooted in a myth. Pushkar is one of the two pilgrim centres dedicated to Lord Brahma.

Jaipur is the nearest airport at 146km. The nearest rail head is ajmer, 11km away. Pushkar can be accessed via road.

Pushkar festival

A lovely and large fair is held every year, on Kartik Poornima (full moon in October-November). More than 1,00,000 pilgrims gather here, to take a dip in the holy lake. The biggest camel fair is also held on these days. Besides camels, horses and bullocks are sold here. The colourfully dressed people enhance the lively mood of the fair. The town reverberates with hectic activity during the festivities. Extensive arrangements are made to cope with the large attendance. A host of cultural programmes are staged to entertain the audience. The biggest draws of the events are the cattle auction and the camel race. Puppet shows are another major event.

Savitri Temple

This is a temple dedicated to Lord Brahma's first wife. It is located on the hill behind the Brahma temple, and one has to climb a long flight of steps to reach the destination. From the temple one can have a panoramic view of the lake and surrounding sand dunes.

Sawai Madhopur

Lying on the main Delhi-Mumbai railway line, Swai Madhopur is the gateway to Ranthambhor National Park. In the 13th century A.D. Govinda, the grandson of Prithviraj Chauhan took over the reign of the land. Later his successor Vagabhatta, beautified the city and built a noteworthy temple at Jhain. In the middle of the 15th century A.D. Rana Kumbha captured the fort and gifted it to his son. Later the Hada Rajputs of Bundi and Mughals occupied it. In 1754, Mughal Emperor Shah Alam gifted it to Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I of Jaipur and since then it was maintained as the hunting preserve of the Maharaja. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh were part of the royal hunters who stayed here.

The Fort

The well-preserved imposing fort, built in 994 AD, stands atop steep high creek 200 metres above sea level. Ruined pavilions, walls, chhatris and splendid monuments are interspersed within the majestic fort. The fort has an 8th century Ganesh temple on an open land.

Ranthambhor National Park

The 392sqkm. park is one of the finest tiger reserves in the country. A system of three pretty artificial lakes is part of the biosphere. Crocodiles can be seen basking on the banks during the winter. The lake also attracts a large number of migratory and local birds. The local fauna of the park includes tiger, sambhar, chital. Nilgai, chinkara, langur, wild boar, leopard, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, sloth bear and a little population of pythons.

Shekhawati

Shekhavati is not the name of particular city or town. In fact, it is the name of an entire region in northern Rajasthan, which was once controlled by the Chief Rao Shekha. Shekhawati, an open air art gallery as it is popularly called, is famous for its painted havelis. This arid region, with historical and social development, has blossomed into a colourful profusion of art and life for almost 2 centuries from 1750 A.D. Jhunjhunu is the capital of Shekhawati, The town was founded by the Kayamkhani Nawabs in the mid 15th century A.D. and remained under their control until it was taken over by the Rajput ruler Sardul Singh in 1730 A.D.

Jhunjhunu

Jhunjhunu is the capital of Shekhawati. The town has a number of beautifully painted havelis. The Khatri Mahal (the Wind Palace), built around 1760 AD, is an interesting monument. The Sri Bihariji Temple noted for its lovely murals, Badalgarh, Jorawargarh, Mertani Baori, Kamruddin Shah ki Dargah, Birdi Chand ka Kaun,Ajit Sagar and a Jain temple are other interesting places for tourists.

Havelis

Unlike other places in Rajasthan where the main attraction is generally forts and palaces, Shekhavati is known for its painted havelis. The whole region of Shekhawati is dotted with elaborately frescoed havelis or mansions, built by rich merchants of the region, displaying a unique architectural style. The havelis are painted predominantly in blue, maroon, yellows, green and indigo. The earlier wall paintings were largely based on the mythological themes, depicting local legends, animals, portraits, hunting and wrestling scenes and a glimpse of everyday life. The turn of the 19th century saw the appearance of new motifs, an outcome of the British Raj's influence upon the Indian culture. The region appears as if it were an open-air Art Gallery.

Other Places

The towns of importance in Shekhawati are Nawalgarh, Dundlod, Mandawa, Mukundgarh, Singhana, Fatehpur, Lakshmangarh and Bissau. Some of the havelis in these towns have now been converted into heritage hotels. Shekhavati also has a number of small fortresses and a deer sanctuary at Tal Chhapar. The best way to visit this region is either on a Horse Safari or a Camel Safari.

Udaipur

Udiapur is the capital of Mewar, a kingdom ruled by the Sisodia dynasty for 1200 Years. It is a lovely lakeside city, encircled by hills and mountains, and set on the edge of three lakes. The city's narrow streets lined by bright coloured stalls, gardens, temples and palaces reflect in the calm blue waters of lake Pichhola. Maharana Udai Singh founded the city in 1559 A.D. Originally there were nine gates to enter the city. Of the remaining five original gates, the Suraj Pol or Sun Gate on the eastern side is the main entrance to the city.

Udaipur is a major domestic airport in the country. Indian Airlines connects Udaipur with Jodhpur, Jaipur, Aurangabad, Mumbai and Delhi with regular flights. Udaipur is directly linked by rail with Delhi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Chittaurgarh, Jodhpur and Ahmedabad. Udaipur is also well connected by road with other major centres of the state.

City Palace

Completely white and majestic, the City Palace complex is an architectural marvel that stands on a hill surrounded by crenallated walls. It is a collection of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens. Its main entrance is through the triple arched gate, the Tripolia with eight marble porticos. The gate was built in 1725. The Maharanas were weighed under the gate in gold and an equivalent amount in value was distributed among the populace. The Suraj Gokhada or the Balcony of the Sun is another fascinating monument. During the times of trouble, it is where the Suryavanshi Maharanas of Mewar, presented themselves to the people to restore their confidence. The 'Mor Chowk' known for its exquisite peacock mosaics in glass and the Chini Chitrashala noted for its blue and white ceramics are other interesting places in the complex.

Jagdish Temple

Built in 1651 AD, by Maharana Jagat Singh I, this Indo-Aryan temple is the largest and most splendid temple in Udaipur. The temple has beautiful sculpted images.

Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandir

This Indian folk arts museum displays a rich collection of folk dresses, ornaments, puppets, masks, dolls musical instruments and paintings.

Saheliyon-ki-Bari

This garden of the maids of honour brings to the front, the unique lifestyle of the royal ladies, who once strolled through these gardens. This magnificent garden has numerous fountains in four pools and delicately chiselled kiosks and elephants.

Fateh Sagar

Built by Maharana Fateh Singh, this beautiful lake is surrounded on three sides by hills, and the Pratap Memorial on the north. In the middle of the lake is Nehru Park, a lovely Garden Island with a boat shaped café. One can indulge in boat rides and row across to the Nehru Park.

Pichhola Lake

Hills, palaces, temples, bathing ghats and embankments envelop this renowned lake that once spellbound Maharaja Udai Singh. Jag Mandir and Jag Niwas(Lake Palace) are the two magnificent palaces in the lake.

Ahar

Located 3 km from Udaipur, Ahar is the ancient capital of Sisodias where stand the royal cenotaphs of the Maharanas of Mewar. It has a small government Museum where a rare collection of antiquities including earthen pots, iron objects and other art items excavated in the region is exhibited

Sajjan Garh

This Monsoon Palace dominating the skyline is visible from most parts of the city. It offers a panoramic overview of the city's lakes, palaces and the surrounding countryside.

Gulab Bagh

It is a spectacular rose garden laid out by Maharana Sajjan Singh. Few gardens in India offer such spectacular beauty, as this garden. A library in the garden has a rare collection of ancient handwritten manuscripts and books.

Eklingji (22 km)

Built in 734 A.D. Eklingji is a beautifully sculpted temple complex with 108 temples within its walls. The temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva. The walled complex encloses and elaborately pillared hall or 'mandap' under a large pyramidal roof and has four-faced image of Lord Shiva in black marble.

Kumbhalgarh Fort (84 km)

Kumbhalgarh is the second principal fortress in Rajasthan after Chittaurgarh, Maharana Kumbha built it atop the Aravallis in the 15th century. The fort extends over 12 km and has many temples, palaces and gardens. The Badal Mahal or Cloud Palace offers a spectacular bird's eye view of the surroundings. The Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary is nearby. The Fort is accessible only by jeep from Kelwara.

Jaisamand Lake (48 km)

Maharana Jai Singh built this artificial lake in the 17th century, the second largest in Asia. Graceful marble chhatris flank the embankment. Beautiful summer palaces for the Udaipur queens are located on the banks of the lake. Jaisamand Island Resort and Jaisamand Wildlife Sanctuary are also worth visiting.

Ranakpur (90 km)

Ranakpur is the home of a group of beautifully sculptured Jain temples those lie in the tranquil valley of the Aravallis. One of the five holiest places of the Jains, the temples are surrounded by a wall. These temples were built in the 15th century during the reign of Rana Kumbha. The principal Chamukha Temple sprawiling over 48000sq.ft, dedicated to Tirthankara Adinath, has 29 halls supported with 1444 pillars. Two temples dedicated to Neminath and Parsvanath, facing the main temple, has beautiful carvings similar to those of Khajuraho. An 8th century sun temple nearby has polygonal walls richly decorated with carvings of warriors, horses and solar deities riding chariots.

Wild Life of Rajasthan

In spite of a comparatively hostile terrain, Rajasthan surprisingly is the abode of a number of mammals and birds. Its vast size and latitudinal variations above the sea level of 1,700m provides it with varied vegetation. It provides semi green forests of Mount Abu to dry grasslands of the desert, and from the dry deciduous thorn forest of Aravali to wetlands of Bharatpur

The Sanctuaries, an isolated landscape with some backdrops, that attracts herds of species from all over to their temporary habitat that provides comfortable subsistence. In the season time, the whole place echoes with enchanting sounds and fascinating visuals against the sprawling meadow of flora. Rajasthan is the haven of the tigers and many endangered species.

The leopard also called the panther here is found in forests and in open degraded forest areas with rocky outcrops adjoining towns and villages. The sneaky predator finds easy prey of unsuspecting village dogs, asses, calves and goats. There five lesser cats besides the two big cats. Besides a host of fauna there is a handsome variety of avian life too. Wetlands at Koeladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary at Bharatpur are bird watcher delight.

Language

The majority of the people of Rajasthan have Rajasthani as their mother tongue. Rajasthani and Hindi(the official language of India) 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.


Art

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

Clothes

Rajastani dressRajastani culture very colorful, and Rajastani clothes use a lot of mirror -work on their embroidery. A Rajastani traditional dress for females comprises of an ankle length skirt and a short top. A piece of cloth is used to cover the head. Rajastani dresses are usually designed in bright colours like blue , yellow and orange .

Shopping

Rajasthan is often called the shoppers paradise. Rajasthan is famous for textile, semi-precious stones and handicraft. The attractive designs of jewellery and clothes are eye-catching and inviting to any shopper. Rajistani furniture has intricate carvings and bright colours. Rajistani handicrafts are always in demand wherever they are sold.