Rajasthan

About

Known to be the most colourful region of India, Rajasthan is synonymous with majestic forts, royal palaces, lakes, sand dunes, camels and people dressed in brightly-colored costumes. The richness of Rajasthan’s art and culture is reflected through the colorful attires, impressive folk music and dances, different languages and dialects, spicy sumptuous cuisine and above all, its inviting and cheerful people.

From the imposing forts and delicate palaces in Jaipur and Jodhpur, the lake cities of Udaipur and Pushkar, the painted towns of Shekhawati, the sand dunes of Jaisalmer to the national parks of Ranthambore, Bharatpur and Sariska Rajasthan has it all to entertain and dazzle the tourists from all over the world. The magnificient fairs and festivals of Rajasthan marked with interesting competitions and performances add to the spark of golden sand dunes. Every nook and corner of Rajasthan enthralls and compels visitors to fall in love with it.

Regions

Cities

Here are nine of the most notable cities.

  • 1 Jaipur — the state capital, also known as the Pink City
  • 2 Ajmer — tomb of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, famous pilgrimage for both Hindus and Muslims
  • 3 Bharatpur — location of a famous bird sanctuary
  • 5 Chittorgarh — the site of multiple battles by Maharana Pratap against Mughal emperor Akbar
  • 6 Jaisalmer — the Golden City, famous for its Havelis, and the Thar desert Safaris
  • 7 Jodhpur — the Blue City, site of the spectacular hilltop Mehrangarh Fort
  • 8 Kota — home to the Darrah Wildlife Sanctuary, various temples and parks
  • 9 Udaipur — known as City of Lakes, including Pichola and Fateh Sagar lakes

Other destinations

  • 1 Alwar — former capital of the princely state of Alwar or Ulwar in British India
  • 2 Bamnera — small village located in the Pali District of Rjasthan with several Hindu temple sites
  • 3 Darrah National Park — consists of 3 wildlife sanctuaries. The park contains a large tract of forest land and was once the hunting grounds for the Maharaja of Kota
  • 4 Desert National Park — located near Jaisalmer, it is a great ecosystem example of sand dunes and theThar Desert. Smaller mammals and a surprising number of birds may be found here
  • 5 Jaisamand Lake (Dehbar Lake), Alwar — second largest man-made lake in Asia. The Dhebar Lake Marble Dam is considered a Heritage Monument of India
  • 6 Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary (Keoladeo National Park) — a globally important reserve also called Keoladeo Ghana National Park,
  • 7 Mount Abu (Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary) — spreading out onto a plateau, this park is rich in varieties of plants and animals. A single unique variety of orchid can also be seen in this park
  • 10 Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary (Pratapgarh District) — a densely forested area, home to a large number of residential and migratory birds. One may see a flying squirrel sailing through the air as well as deer and other mammals
  • 11 Thar Desert (Great Indian Desert) — a large dry desert that has a wide variety of plants, animals and birds. Part of the Thar Desert is protected and contained in the Desert National Park

History

Ancient

Parts of what is now Rajasthan were partly part of the Vedic Civilisation and Indus Valley Civilization. Kalibangan, in Hanumangarh district, was a major provincial capital of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Matsya Kingdom of the Vedic civilisation of India, is said to roughly corresponded to the former state of Jaipur in Rajasthan and included the whole of Alwar with portions of Bharatpur. The capital of Matsya was at Viratanagar (modern Bairat), which is said to have been named after its founder king Virata.

Bhargava identifies the two districts of Jhunjhunu and Sikar and parts of Jaipur district along with Haryana districts of Mahendragarh and Rewari as part of Vedic state of Brahmavarta. Bhargava also locates the present day Sahibi River as the Vedic Drishadwati River, which along with Saraswati River formed the borders of the Vedic state of Brahmavarta. Manu and Bhrigu narrated the Manusmriti to a congregation of seers in this area only. Ashrams of Vedic seers Bhrigu and his son Chayvan Rishi, for whom Chyawanprash was formulated, were near Dhosi Hill part of which lies in Dhosi village of Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan and part lies in Mahendragarh district of Haryana.

The Western Kshatrapas (405–35 BC), the Saka rulers of the western part of India, were successors to the Indo-Scythians, and were contemporaneous with the Kushans, who ruled the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The Indo-Scythians invaded the area of Ujjain and established the Saka era (with their calendar), marking the beginning of the long-lived Saka Western Satraps state.

Classical

Gurjars

Gurjars ruled for many dynasties in this part of the country, the region was known as Gurjaratra.[17] Up to the tenth century almost the whole of North India, acknowledged the supremacy of the Gurjars with their seat of power at Kannauj.

Gurjara-Pratihara

The Gurjar Pratihar Empire acted as a barrier for Arab invaders from the 8th to the 11th century. The chief accomplishment of the Gurjara Pratihara empire lies in its successful resistance to foreign invasions from the west, starting in the days of Junaid. Historian R. C. Majumdar says that this was openly acknowledged by the Arab writers. He further notes that historians of India have wondered at the slow progress of Muslim invaders in India, as compared with their rapid advance in other parts of the world. Now there seems little doubt that it was the power of the Gurjara Pratihara army that effectively barred the progress of the Arabs beyond the confines of Sindh, their first conquest for nearly 300 years.

Medieval and Early Modern

Historical tribes

Traditionally the Rajputs, Gurjars, Jats, Meenas, Bhils, Rajpurohit, Charans, Yadavs, Bishnois, Meghwal, Sermals, PhulMali (Saini) and other tribes made a great contribution in building the state of Rajasthan. All these tribes suffered great difficulties in protecting their culture and the land. Millions of them were killed trying to protect their land. A number of Gurjars had been exterminated in Bhinmal and Ajmer areas fighting with the invaders. Bhils once ruled Kota. Meenas were rulers of Bundi, Hadoti and the Dhundhar region.

The powerful Meenas ruled over Dhundhar region, Hadoti and many other places in Rajasthan until 12th century.

Major rulers

  • Hemu, the Hindu Emperor, was born in the village of Machheri in Alwar District in 1501. He won 22 battles against Afghans, from Punjab to Bengal including states of Ajmer and Alwar in Rajasthan, and defeated Akbar’s forces twice at Agra and Delhi in 1556 at Battle of Delhi[21] before acceding to the throne of Delhi and establishing the “Hindu Raj” in North India, albeit for a short duration, from Purana Quila in Delhi. Hem Chandra was killed in the battlefield at Second Battle of Panipat fighting against Mughals on 5 November 1556.
  • Maharana Pratap of Mewar resisted Akbar in the famous Battle of Haldighati (1576) and later operated from hilly areas of his kingdom. The Bhils were Maharana’s main allies during these wars. Most of these attacks were repulsed even though the Mughal forces outnumbered Mewar Rajputs in all the wars fought between them. The Haldighati war was fought between 10,000 Mewaris and a 100,000-strong Mughal force (including many Rajputs like Kachwahas from Dhundhar).
  • Jat king Maharaja Suraj Mal (February 1707 – 25 December 1765) or Sujan Singh was ruler of Bharatpur in Rajasthan. A contemporary historian has described him as “the Plato of the Jat people” and by a modern writer as the “Jat Odysseus“, because of his political sagacity, steady intellect, and clear vision.

Rajput martial history

Rajput families rose to prominence in the 6th century CE. The Rajputs put up a valiant resistance to the Islamic invasions and protected the Indian subcontinent with their warfare and chivalry for more than 700 years. Later, the Turks, Afghans and Persians through skilled warfare, were able to get a firm grip on northern India, including parts of Rajasthan. The Rana’s of Mewar led other kingdoms in its resistance to outside rule. Rana Hammir Singh, defeated the Tughlaq dynasty and recovered a large portion of Rajasthan. The indomitable Rana Kumbha defeated the Sultans of Malwa and Gujarat and made Mewar the most powerful Rajput Kingdom in India. The ambitious Rana Sanga united the various Rajput clans and fought against the foreign powers in India. Rana Sanga defeated the Afghan Lodi Empire of Delhi and crushed the Turkic Sultanates of Malwa and Gujarat. Rana Sanga then tried to create an Indian empire but was defeated by the first Mughal Emperor Babur at Khanua. The defeat was due to betrayal by the Tomar king Silhadi of Raisen. After Rana Sangas death there was no one who could check the rapid expansion of the Mughal Empire.

During Akbars reign most of the Rajput kings accepted Mughal Suzerainty, but the rulers of Mewar (Rana Udai Singh II) and Marwar (Rao Chandrasen Rathore) refused to have any form of alliance with the Mughals. To teach the Rajputs a lesson Akbar massacred the citizens of Rajasthan in large numbers. Akbar killed 30,000 unarmed citizens in Chittor alone.

Maharana Pratap took an oath to avenge the citizens of Chittor, he fought the Mughal empire till his death and liberated most of Mewar apart from Chittor itself. Maharana Pratap soon became the most celebrated warrior of Rajasthan and became famous all over India for his sporadic warfare and noble actions. According to Satish Chandra, “Rana Pratap’s defiance of the mighty Mughal empire, almost alone and unaided by the other Rajput states, constitutes a glorious saga of Rajput valour and the spirit of self sacrifice for cherished principles. Rana Pratap’s methods of sporadic warfare was later elaborated further by Malik Ambar, the Deccani general, and by Shivaji”.

Rana Amar Singh I continued his ancestors war against the Mughal’s under Jehangir, he repelled the Mughal armies at Dewar. Later an expedition was again sent under leadership of Prince Khurram, which caused much damage to life and property of Mewar. Many temples were destroyed, several villages were put on fire and ladies and children were captured and tortured to make Amar Singh accept surrender.

During Aurangzebs rule Rana Raj Singh I and Veer Durgadas Rathore were chief among those who defied the intolerant emperor of Delhi. They took advantage of the Aravalli hills and caused heavy damage on the Mughal armies that were trying to occupy Rajasthan.

After Aurangzebs death Bahadur Shah I tried to subjugate Rajasthan like his ancestors but his plan backfired when the three Rajput Raja‘s of Amber, Udaipur and Jodhpur made a joint resistance to the Mughals. The Rajputs first expelled the commandants of Jodhpur and Bayana and recovered Amer by a night attack. They next killed Sayyid Hussain Khan Barha, the commandant of Mewat and many other Mughal officers. Bahadur Shah I, then in the Deccan was forced to patch up a truce with the Rajput Rajas.

Over the years, the Mughals began to have internal disputes which greatly distracted them at times. The Mughal Empire continued to weaken, and with the decline of the Mughal Empire in the late 18th century, Rajputana came under the influence of the Marathas. The Maratha Empire, which had replaced the Mughal Empire as the overlord of the subcontinent, was finally replaced by the British Empire in 1818.

In the 19th century the Rajput kingdoms were exhausted, they had been drained financially and in manpower after continuous wars and due to heavy tributes exacted by the Maratha Empire. In order to save their kingdoms from instability, rebellions and banditry the Rajput kings concluded treaties with the British in the early 19th century, accepting British suzerainty and control over their external affairs in return for internal autonomy.

Modern

Modern Rajasthan includes most of Rajputana, which comprises the erstwhile nineteen princely states, two chiefships, and the British district of Ajmer-Merwara. Marwar (Jodhpur), Bikaner, Mewar (Chittorgarh), Alwar and Dhundhar (Jaipur) were some of the main Rajput princely states. Bharatpur and Dholpur were Jat princely states whereas Tonk was a princely state under a Muslim Nawab.

Rajasthan’s formerly independent kingdoms created a rich architectural and cultural heritage, seen even today in their numerous forts and palaces (Mahals and Havelis), which are enriched by features of Rajput and Jain architecture.

The development of frescos in Rajasthan is linked with the history of the Marwaris (Jodhpur-pali), who played a crucial role in the economic development of the region. Many wealthy families throughout Indian history have links to Marwar. These include the legendary Birla, Bajaj, Dalmia, and Mittal families.

Geography

The geographic features of Rajasthan are the Thar Desert and the Aravalli Range, which runs through the state from southwest to northeast, almost from one end to the other, for more than 850 kilometres (530 mi). Mount Abu lies at the southwestern end of the range, separated from the main ranges by the West Banas River, although a series of broken ridges continues into Haryana in the direction of Delhi where it can be seen as outcrops in the form of the Raisina Hill and the ridges farther north. About three-fifths of Rajasthan lies northwest of the Aravallis, leaving two-fifths on the east and south direction.

The northwestern portion of Rajasthan is generally sandy and dry. Most of this region is covered by the Thar Desert which extends into adjoining portions of Pakistan. The Aravalli Range does not intercept the moisture-giving southwest monsoon winds off the Arabian Sea, as it lies in a direction parallel to that of the coming monsoon winds, leaving the northwestern region in a rain shadow. The Thar Desert is thinly populated; the town of Jodhpur is the largest city in the desert and known as the gateway of thar desert. The desert has some major districts like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer, Bikaner and Nagour. This area is also important defence point of view. Jodhpur airbase is Indias largest airbase and military, BSF bases are also situated here. A single civil airport is also situated in Jodhpur. The Northwestern thorn scrub forests lie in a band around the Thar Desert, between the desert and the Aravallis. This region receives less than 400 mm of rain in an average year. Temperatures can sometimes exceed 54 °C in the summer months or 129 degrees Fahrenheit and drop below freezing in the winter. The Godwar, Marwar, and Shekhawati regions lie in the thorn scrub forest zone, along with the city of Jodhpur. The Luni River and its tributaries are the major river system of Godwar and Marwar regions, draining the western slopes of the Aravallis and emptying southwest into the great Rann of Kutch wetland in neighbouring Gujarat. This river is saline in the lower reaches and remains potable only up to Balotara in Barmer district. The Ghaggar River, which originates in Haryana, is an intermittent stream that disappears into the sands of the Thar Desert in the northern corner of the state and is seen as a remnant of the primitive Sarasvati river.

The Aravalli Range and the lands to the east and southeast of the range are generally more fertile and better watered. This region is home to the Kathiarbar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion, with tropical dry broadleaf forests that include teak, Acacia, and other trees. The hilly Vagad region, home to the cities of Dungarpur and Banswara lies in southernmost Rajasthan, on the border with Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. With the exception of Mount Abu, Vagad is the wettest region in Rajasthan, and the most heavily forested. North of Vagad lies the Mewar region, home to the cities of Udaipur and Chittaurgarh. The Hadoti region lies to the southeast, on the border with Madhya Pradesh. North of Hadoti and Mewar lies the Dhundhar region, home to the state capital of Jaipur. Mewat, the easternmost region of Rajasthan, borders Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Eastern and southeastern Rajasthan is drained by the Banas and Chambal rivers, tributaries of the Ganges.

The Aravalli Range runs across the state from the southwest peak Guru Shikhar (Mount Abu), which is 1,722 metres (5,650 ft) in height, to Khetri in the northeast. This range divides the state into 60% in the northwest of the range and 40% in the southeast. The northwest tract is sandy and unproductive with little water but improves gradually from desert land in the far west and northwest to comparatively fertile and habitable land towards the east. The area includes the Thar Desert. The south-eastern area, higher in elevation (100 to 350 m above sea level) and more fertile, has a very diversified topography. in the south lies the hilly tract of Mewar. In the southeast, a large area within the districts of Kota and Bundi forms a tableland. To the northeast of these districts is a rugged region (badlands) following the line of the Chambal River. Farther north the country levels out; the flat plains of the northeastern Bharatpur district are part of an alluvial basin. Merta City lies in the geographical centre of Rajasthan.

State symbols of Rajasthan
Formation day 1 November
State animal Chinkara and Camel
State bird Godavan (great Indian bustard)
State flower Flower – Rohida
State Tree Khejri

Flora and fauna

Though a large percentage of the total area is desert with 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 form. The density and size of patches increase from west to east following the increase in rainfall.

The Desert National Park in Jaisalmer is spread over an area of 3,162 square kilometres (1,221 sq mi), is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert and its diverse fauna. Seashells and massive fossilised 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, kestrels and vultures. Short-toed snake eagles (Circaetus gallicus), tawny eagles (Aquila rapax), spotted eagles (Aquila clanga), laggar falcons (Falco jugger) and kestrels are the commonest of these.

The Ranthambore National Park located in Sawai Madhopur, one of the finest tiger reserves in the country, became a part of Project Tiger in 1973.

The Dhosi Hill located in the district of Jhunjunu, known as ‘Chayvan Rishi’s Ashram’, where ‘Chyawanprash‘ was formulated for the first time, has unique and rare herbs growing.

The Sariska Tiger Reserve located in Alwar district, 200 kilometres (120 mi) from Delhi and 107 kilometres (66 mi) from Jaipur, covers an area of approximately 800 square kilometres (310 sq mi). The area was declared a national park in 1979.

Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is a very small sanctuary in Sujangarh, Churu District, 210 kilometres (130 mi) from Jaipur in the Shekhawati region. This sanctuary is home to a large population of blackbuck. Desert foxes and the caracal, an apex predator, also known as the desert lynx, can also be spotted, along with birds such as the partridge and sand grouse.[33] The great Indian bustard, known locally as the godavan, and which is a state bird, has been classed as critically endangered since 2011.

Wildlife protection

Rajasthan is also noted for its national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. There are four national park and wildlife sanctuaries: Keoladeo National Park of Bharatpur, Sariska Tiger Reserve of Alwar, Ranthambore National Park of Sawai Madhopur, and Desert National Park of Jaisalmer. A national level institute, Arid Forest Research Institute (AFRI) an autonomous institute of the ministry of forestry is situated in Jodhpur and continuously work on desert flora and their conservation.

Ranthambore National Park is 7 km from Sawai Madhopur Railway Station. it is known worldwide for its tiger population and is considered by both wilderness lovers and photographers as one of the best place in India to spot tigers. At one point, due to poaching and negligence, tigers became extinct at Sariska, but five tigers have been relocated there. Prominent among the wildlife sanctuaries are Mount Abu Sanctuary, Bhensrod Garh Sanctuary, Darrah Sanctuary, Jaisamand Sanctuary, Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Jawahar Sagar sanctuary, and Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary.

Communication

Major ISP and Telecom companies are present in Rajasthan including Airtel, Data Infosys Limited, Reliance Limited, Jio, RAILTEL, Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), Tata Telecom and Vodafone. Data Infosys was the first Internet Service Provider(ISP) to bring internet in Rajasthan in April 1999 and OASIS was first private mobile telephone company.

Email in Hindi

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan launched one Free Email address @rajasthan.in and @राजस्थान.भारत domain. Rajasthan state became the World’s first state to provide email address to every citizen in their own language.

Map

Culture

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 are often depicted as a symbol of the state. Highly cultivated classical music and dance with its own distinct style is part of the cultural tradition of Rajasthan. The music has songs that depict day-to-day relationships and chores, often focused around fetching water from wells or ponds.

Rajasthani cooking was influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this arid region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred. The scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. It is known for its snacks like Bikaneri Bhujia. Other famous dishes include bajre ki roti (millet bread) and lahsun ki chutney (hot garlic paste), mawa kachoriMirchi Bada, Pyaaj Kachori and ghevar from Jodhpur, Alwar ka Mawa(Milk Cake), Kadhi kachori from Ajmer, malpauas from Pushkar and rassgollas from Bikaner. Originating from the Marwar region of the state is the concept Marwari Bhojnalaya, or vegetarian restaurants, today found in many parts of India, which offer vegetarian food of the Marwari people.Sawai Madhopur is famous for it good quality Guava. Around 30 km around the city the farmers are growing the Guava of good quality and they are supplying thought the Rajasthan.Dal-Bati-Churma is very popular in Rajasthan. The traditional way to serve it is to first coarsely mash the Baati then pour pure Ghee on top of it. It is served with the daal (lentils) and spicy garlic chutney. Also served with Besan (gram flour) ki kadi. It is commonly served at all festivities, including religious occasions, wedding ceremonies, and birthday parties in Rajasthan. “Dal-Baati-Churma”, is a combination of three different food items — Daal (lentils), Baati and Churma (Sweet). It is a typical Rajasthani dish.

The Ghoomar dance from JodhpurMarwar and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Folk music is a large part of Rajasthani culture. Kathputli, Bhopa, Chang, Teratali, Ghindr, Kachchhighori, and Tejaji are examples of 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 which are often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar, and sarangi are also sung.Rajasthan is known for its traditional, colourful art. The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, and Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan. Handicraft items like wooden furniture and crafts, carpets, and blue pottery are commonly found here. Shopping reflects the colourful 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 main religious festivals are Deepawali, Holi, Gangaur, Teej, Gogaji, Shri Devnarayan Jayanti, Makar Sankranti and Janmashtami, as the main religion is Hinduism. Rajasthan’s desert festival is held once a year during winter. Dressed in costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing ballads. There are fairs with snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels play a role in this festival.The phenomenon of spirit possession has been documented in modern Rajasthan. Some of the spirits that are claimed to possess Rajasthanis are seen as good and beneficial while others are seen as malevolent. The good spirits include murdered royalty, the underworld god Bhaironji, and Muslim saints. Bad spirits include perpetual debtors who die in debt, stillborn infants, deceased widows, and foreign tourists. The possessed individual is referred to as a ghorala (“mount”). Possession, even if it is by a benign spirit, is regarded as undesirable, as it entails loss of self-control and violent emotional outbursts.

Sightseeing              

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:

  • Chittorgarh Fort – A massive structure with numerous gateways, the fort is an outstanding example of Mauryan architecture.
  • Dilwara Temples in Mount Abu
  • Jaisalmer Fort – Located in Jaisalmer. This fort is constructed with sand stones and is an important landmark of Jaisalmer city.
  • Mehrangarh Fort – Located in Jodhpur. Set on the hill top, Mehrangarh Fort is a humongous royal mansion.
  • Wildlife Sanctuary in Ranthambhore National Park Ranthambore wildlife sanctuary was established in 1957. In 1974 this park came under the campaign of “Tiger Reserve”. Visitors can easily see many water bodies, everywhere inside the park, which is the perfect destination to relax during the summer for the wildlife animals.
The Sariska Tiger Reserve was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1955 and received the status of national park in 1979. The park is famous for both its wildlife and historical monuments and temples.

How to reach

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.

By car

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 Jaipur from Delhi as the road is in excellent condition and the drive can easily be completed in under 4 hrs.

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 rs4000 for five persons).

By bus

Rajasthan Tourism and Rajasthan State Transport operate luxury air conditioned Volvo bus services between Delhi and Jaipur. The first bus departs at 5:25 and the last, at 01:00, with a frequency of approximately every half hour daily. This bus is equipped with personal LCD TV, charger and (in some trips) Wi-Fi. These buses are very comfortable and the most desired travel option between Delhi and Jaipur. Tickets can be booked online on the Rajasthan State Transport website or a visit to Scindhia House New Delhi (near India gate). Buses start and end at Scindia House in Delhi and Sindhi Camp in Jaipur. Private agents generally not allowed to book tickets for this route, so if anybody offers to book a ticket for you, be wary. Rajasthan Tourism and Rajasthan State Transport also operates luxury air conditioned Volvo bus services between Delhi and other cities in Rajasthan, with 2 or 3 trips per day. These buses may depart from any of several different areas of Delhi (Scindia House, Kashmiri Gate ISBT, and Sarai Kale Khan ISBT); a phone call to Rajasthan State Transport office will give you all the information.

Get around

All the cities have public transport in form of buses. Also available are jeeps on hire, but beware of jeep drivers who overcharge tourists.Railways can be the better travel mode as it is quick and the service on most trains is excellent. But in Rajasthan, roads may be more enjoyable for short distances as the sights of the desert with the hills are beautiful. A popular 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.

Best Time to Visit

October to March is the best time to visit Rajasthan.October to March is the best time to visit Rajasthan. While Rajasthan summers are sweltering and dry, the temperature remains warm and pleasant throughout the day during winters which is the perfect time to visit all the palaces, temples, and forts. Also, all the major fairs and festivals of Rajasthan are celebrated around this period only. The nights during winters get very chilly, and one should avoid getting out during the nights.

Rajasthan in Summer (March – June) Summer season in Rajasthan starts setting in from March onwards and lasts until June. This season is quite harsh, and you may witness the bright sun right over your head. The scorching heat makes it uncomfortable to explore the state. The temperature sometimes goes up to 48 degrees Celcius. It is better to avoid visiting cities like Jaipur, Bikaner or Ajmer during summers. However, there are certain destinations which offer a suitable climate for exploring like Mount Abu, Kumbhalgarh or Ranakpur. Therefore, it is better to first check the temperature of the place before heading out.

Rajasthan in Monsoon (July – September) July marks the beginning of monsoon season in Rajasthan which lasts till September. Temperatures drop across the state, and some parts witness heavy showers in this period. Hailstorms are also common. However, the national parks and lakes of the state are mesmerising at this time. Also, you can get a scintillating view from various forts like Nahargarh Fort or Chittorgarh Fort.

Rajasthan in Winter (October – February) From October, winters start taking over the monsoon season, and they last till February. Temperature sometimes drops to 0 degrees Celcius and below. This is the best time to visit Rajasthan since days are pleasant, and deserts are not too hot. You can easily explore the state as rainfall level also falls. However, it is better to check the temperature of the place before visiting because the too cold weather can obstruct outdoor activities.

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.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.Travel in Palace on Wheels- Palace on wheels is one of most luxurious train in the world, equipped with all sort of luxurious comfort. This train is the most memorable and pleasing way to explore the beauty of Rajasthan. This train has exact replica of almost everything as kings used to have in their palaces. This train covers the area of Jaipur, also known as Pink City, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Ranthambhore National Park, Chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Bharatpur and Agra before ending its Journey to Delhi.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 textiles, accessories. Pick up excellent and beautifully done block print textiles from where it originates. The art has been initiated by the villagers of Pipar Village.Visit fairs arranged for traditional festivals, where you get to see the locals in traditional finery.Watch camel races.Enjoy traditional folk music.Go on a jeep safari, night safari or a nature hike in the Aravalli Mountains visiting some of the interesting wildlife sanctuaries there such as Sita-Mata, Kumbhalgarh or Jaisamand.Hot Air Ballooning. 3. A breathtaking experience of hot air ballooning over the heritage sites and seeing a totally different perspective of Jaipur. Mesmerising should be the word for the entire 3 hour experience. 10000. editRanthambore National Park was declared as an Indian Wildlife Sanctuary in 1957 and in 1974 it gained the protection of “Project Tiger”. There are many water bodies located all over the park, which provide perfect relief during the extremely hot summer months for the forest inhabitants.

Desert safari

is the best way to explore the world famous “Thar Desert”, located in Rajasthan. Tourists can explore the real beauty of Rajasthan villages, their culture, tradition and colours through this amazing ride. Multiple operators run services for Camel Safaris into the Thar desert, which is generally followed by a cultural folk music evening, accompanied by dinner featuring local Rajasthani cuisine. Traveling by Camel was once the norm in Rajasthan. Roads and railroads connecting Jaisalmer to the rest of Rajasthan were built ‘recently’; many older Rajasthani’s remember a life without electricity, roads, and trains. If you wanted to travel from Jaisalmer to Jodphur, an 8-day camel ride was the quickest way to go only 60 years ago (currently 8 hours by bus).

Nowadays, however, multi-day camel safaris are primarily for the tourists, and a massive industry has been built up around them. With this has come high-pressure tactics and shoddy operators. An amazing, authentic camel safari is possible, but tourists should spend time researching guides, companies, and/or routes. Your best bet is to talk to other tourists who have recently completed a camel safari, and ask their advice.

Camel safaris are often loved or hated. Some people stay an extra day or two in the desert after already being out for 4 days, others find the camel foul-smelling and excruciatingly painful to ride. For those considering a 4-5 day trek, a two-hour ride may answer many questions.

The highlights of a camel safari include amazing desert scenery, the experience (however jarring) of riding a camel, Dal and Chapati cooked over an open fire, incredible star-gazing (no ambient light and no pollution), and a flavor of a different world.

Most of the preparation is in picking the length of safari (ranges from 4 hours to 5 days), the tour operator, and the city to start from (some people feel that smaller cities offer less touristy experiences). Generally, the tour operator arranges transportation, and the Camel Driver chooses your itinerary. Be clear from the beginning, before you pay, if the trip involves stops in handicraft stores.

Because of the importance of tourism upon Rajasthan’s economy, tourists are fairly safe on a camel safari in terms of physical safety. Sufficient bottled water, sunscreen, a hat, a flashlight, and warm clothes for the cold night air are important. Solo female travelers should exercise caution when selecting a camel driver/guide, but otherwise should be safe.

If you have problems, or feel you have been cheated, be firm with the tour operator, and if necessary threaten going to the police/tourist office, and be willing to actually go. Many tourist offices, such as Jaisalmer’s, make efforts to keep tourists safe and happy.

Buy

Avoid shopping at outlets guided by the local auto/rickshaw drivers or even with the local tour guide you may have hired as these outlets all claim to have some association with the Rajasthan government or the actual artisans which are generally 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.

Bargain is the key word. If you are buying jewellery, artefacts, handicrafts, etc. definitely bargain. Most tourist shops will bargain up to 30–50%, although some shops, mostly big ones such as National Handloom, Bhandari Exports, Jaipur Rugs, India Crafts, Government organizations, have fixed rates with little or no scope discount on bulk buying.

Eat

Savory food is generally very spicy – to be enjoyed in moderation for first timers. Dairy-based sweets are also 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 fare in road side eateries should be avoided. Bread, both leavened and unleavened, is readily available.

A typical Rajasthani meal would include daal-baati-churma. Daal is lentil curry; baati are round balls made out of wheat flour and baked on a 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 travelling alone, avoid venturing out late at nights and beware of touts. One of the safest ways to travel around is by having a driver who knows their way around Rajasthan.

Spitting, defecating & urinating and dumping garbage in public places and streets is common.

Stay healthy

There are many clinics and hospitals in major cities which provide treatment of reasonable quality at relatively inexpensive prices.

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