Today Rajasthan offers everything to a tourist be in heritage, culture, religious, wildlife, adventure, wellness, business etc. It is known as the world’s richest center for art and craft.
Total area- 132139 sq. miles
Latitude 230 3′ N- 300 -12′ and 690 30′ E-780 -17′
Population- 56.5 million
Population Density- 165/km
Total Districts- 13
Total Divisions – Jodhpur, Bikaner, Kota, Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur.
Largest district is Jaisalmer by land and Jaipur by population and the smallest district is Dholpur by land and Jaisalmer by population.
Forts and Places
Chittaurgarh Fort- The first of the graet Sisodias, Bappa Rawal built the fort of Chittaugrah in the 8th Century. Proudly by raising towards the sky this hill fort, 495 feet high, is enclosed within impressive walls about 3 miles long.
Amber fort– Erected in the 16th century, the Amber fort was extended by Kachhwaha King Mansingh successors Jai Singh I and II all through the 17th and 18th century. The hills are ringed with battlements and watchtowers all around Amber. The remarkable fusion of Rajput and Mughal styles is exemplified in Jas Mandir and Sukh Mandir complex.
Mehrangarh fort (Jodhpur)- Perched on a rocky cliff some 120 meters above the city, Mehrangarh is most stunning hill forts of Rajasthan. It seems to grow out of the hill itself and, in parts the hill face was hewn to from its ramparts. The palatial complex within the fort has most of the buildings dating back to 17 and 18 centuries.
Jaisalmer Fort- The golden fort (Sonar Quila)
The ultimate in desert forts it is situated on a long hill at the edge of the Thar desert. The fort 1485 feet long and 9890 feet wide wall, more than 800 years old is defended by massive bastions, erected to protect the city from repeated attacks by bandits as it was on the main caravan trail up through Afghanistan to the western coast.
Junagarh – A general in the army of the Emperor Akbar Raja Singh build the fort in 1593. It is one of the few forts of Rajasthan built on the desert plains and is much better preserved. Made from red sandstone the several palaces inside illustrate the art of living of the Rathore Rajputs of Bikaner.
Kumbhalgarh- The great Rajput warrior, Rana Kumbha raised this spectacular fort. This mid 15 century fortress withstood several attacks from aggressive neighbors in Gujarat and Marwar and even Mughals. Some consider it to be even more impressive than the Chittaurgarh fort.
Taragarh fort (Bundi)- This imposing Star fort (Tara Garh) was conceived on top of a steep hill b the Hada Chauhans around mid 14th century. Designed in a fashion to provide retreat from the palace in the time of siege, the outer walls of the fort are even 10feet thick at some points and extend along the hillsides for miles.
Lohagarh (Bharatpur)- Ordered by the Jat ruler Raja Surajmal in the 18th century, the name Lohagarh literally means Iron Fort. The fort has two concentric ramparts, made of mud, each protected by deep moats 149 feet wide and 60 feet deep.
Principal places of worship
Brahma Temple– Designated by the name tirtharaj- king of the tirtha (holy places), Pushkar is considered as the home of the God Brahma- the creator. It is at Pushkar, that the only temple consecrate to Brahma in India is located, with as many as more than 500 other temples dotting the bakns of pushkar lake.
During the 17th century, the Mughal Emperor Anurangzeb came to be known for this policy of intolerance and religious discrimination with regard to the Hindus. Unsuccessful in his attempts to convert Hindus to Islam, the fury of Aurangzeb directed towards massive destruction of Hindu temples.
Eklingji has been the tutelary deity of the Sisodia clam of Mewar. Eklingji, an incarnation of Lord Shiva was regarded as the true monarch in whose name the Maharans governed Mewar. The Lord Surveys his kingdom from this temple, actually a complex of 108 small temples coinciding with the number of beads in a rudraksh nechlace the sadhus use for meditation.
Legend has it that once Lord Krishna asked for the head of a Brahmin named Babhruvahan. The Brahmin readily obliged and sacrificed himself. Lord pleased with the Brahmin had his head placed upon a hillock, to be worshipped in his own name.
Karni Mata Temple
Deshnok Among all Rajasthan’s temple the Karni Mata between Bikaner and Jodhpur at Deshnok in Western Rajasthan must be unique for its most important occupants are rars. Karni Mata temple was built in the 16th century. The temple in white marble has lavishly decorated gateway, pavilion, columns and balconies.
Govind Devji Temple
The Govind Devji Temple, the temple of Lord Krishna, in whose name Kachhawaha’s kings of Jaipur used to rule. The image of Govind Deva, the most sacred of the six forms of the eight incarnation of Lord Vishnu-Krishna was sculpted by Vajranath, an unrivalled sculptor of the time, and the great grandson of Krishna himself.
Baba Ramdev Temple
Descendant of the famed Prithviraj Chauhan, Ramdev, a Rajput of the Tomar clan, was born in 1458. He grew to be an invincible hero, devoting his entire life to the poor and the backward castes. Ramdev temple is 13 km from Pokaran between Jodhpur and Jaislamer.
Mt. Abu, Rajasthan’s only hill station, was originally a centre for the Shiva cult by the 11th century it had become an important Jain centre of pilgrimage. The Jain community found patronage in the Rajput regimes and over the next two centuries some of India’s most spectacular marble temples were built at sacred mountain tops.
One of the five places of the Jains, the temple complex of Ranakpur is situated surrounded by forests in Aravali hills, is built on the land within the forested Arawali hills are laid on tract of land which was a gift of the Rana Kumbha of Mewar to the Jains in the 15th century.
Shri Mahavirji Temple
The white marble temple is constructed on the red sand stone foundations. The statue of Mahavir Swami-the twenty four tirthankar in the sanctuary was unearthed by a cowherd who grazed his cows on the mound where the temple now stands. Facing the temple is a pillar of white marble, called the Tower of Glory (Man Stambha) where the footsteps of Mahavir Swami have been consecrated.
The temple complex of Osian is a major pilgrimage centre for both Hindu and Jain. This group of Jain and Hindu temples evolved between 8th-12th century. The 8th century Mahavir Temple of the Jains is best preserved at Osian, and Osian has special significance for it is the originating place of the merchant Jain community of Oswal.
Bhandeshwar and Sandheshwar Temple
These were built by two brothers in Bikaner in the 15-16 century. Larger of the two, Bhandeshwar Temple is dedicated to Parshwanath. The temple stands on a high walled plinth with a domed pavilion over the entrance. This has carved wooden columns with dancing figures surround t he sanctum which is covered with gold chequered designs and a mass of reflecting mirror work mandap features some superb historical events, processions of elephants and camels.
Like many Hindu temples, Jain shrines also have sacred banyan for people tress growing within their precincts. The Jain temple of Parshwantha, rebuilt in 17th century, on the edge of the long buried ancient Bhatti capital of Lodurva is known for the Kalpa Vriksha crowning it.
Within the Jaislamer fort, there are 12 century eight Jain temples of which Sambhavnath is one of the older. It’s unique domed ceiling with beautifully sculpted maidens accompanied by a solitary male musician is noteworthy.
Ajmer, the home of the most famed muslim shrine of Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti is the principal place of Muslim Pilgrimage in India. Khwaja Chishti was born in 1142, a direct descendant of Ali, the son in law of the Prophet Mohammad.
This great mosque was originally a Jain religious college which was damaged by Mohammad Gori when he seized Ajmer in 1153. It is told that together with the ruined college, parts of some 30 damaged temples wee was used to build this mosque, which was miraculously completed in two and half days-hence the name two and a half day shelter.
Fair of Rajasthan
(Baneshwar, Dungarpur, January- February).
A religious tribal festival at the time of Shivratri with simple and traditional rituals. Lord Shiva is locally named as Baneshwar.
In the city of Bikaner-the only one with a camel breeding farm in the country, the festival is an unique celebration highlighting camel. The festival begins with a colorful procession of bedecked camels against the red sandstone backdrop of the Junagarh Fort and advances to the open sand spreads of the ground with camel races and dances.
A unique three days show on the sands, when the desert blooms with the riotous colours of Rajasthan’s deserts heritage. Traditional performers gather in Jaisalmer to celebrate with folk music and dances on the stretching sands and against the golden backdrop of this desert citadel.
One of the largest in the counery, the town of Nagur comes to life at its annual cattle fair. Thousands of cattle and camles are gathered at the cattel fair.
A magnificent spectacle, it unveils the majesty and grandeur of elephants, celebrated around the festival of Holi in Chaugan stadium of Jaipur.
The festival is celebrated through tout the northern part of India to welcome the spring season and the harvest of the winter crop
Staged a few days before the festival of Holi in the brij area around Bharatpur, the festival is in honour of Lord Krishna Marked by verve and zest villagers in gay multihued attire can be seen singing and performing Raslila dance describing immoral love story of Radha and Krishna.
The most celebrated as well as one of the most entrancing distinctively Rajasthani festival, Gangaur commences on Holi, Gan is another a name of Lord Shive and Gaur or Gauri is goddess Parvati, the Shiva’s consort. Festival continue for 18 days.
Another of a religious festival dedicated to Parvati also known as Teej Mata. The festival celebrates the final union of Parvati with her beloved lord Shiva. This time it is married woman who pray for conjugal harmony and liss.
(Chksu, near Jaipur, March- April)
People believe that epidemics spread because of the wrath of Sheetla Mata and a disease like small pox is manifestation of her anger.
Originally known as Mannd Festival, the celebrations are in the memory of the heroes of Rajasthan featuring dances and songs.
This festival celebrated all over India commemorates the killing of ten headed demon king Ravana by Rama, symbolizing the victory of good over the evil.
This is the occasion in the Kartik month for 12 days, where pilgrims from all over the world come to take a dip into holy waters of the legendary Pushkar lake. A ritual so sacred that it is believed to bestow salvation.
Garib Nawaz Urs
Commemorative celebrations are held in the solemn memory of Khwaja Sahib, a respected sufi saint, popularly known as Garib Nawaz. Biggest of all the Rajsthan Muslim festivals is the six day urs at Dargah Sharif in Ajmer commemorating the death of venerated Saint Khwaja Chist, in the muslim month of Rajab.