Rajasthan - Rajputana of OldLand of people who are brave and chivalrous, people with a warlike lifestyle around whom grew the most amazing legends of romance ad heroism. There is a certain magic about traveling through Rajasthan which is unequalled by any other place in the world. It is a land of superlatives
- everything here is breathtakingly beautiful, impressive and fascinating. It is packed with history, art and culture that goes back several centuries.
Rajasthan where the mood and rhythm is so overpowering that is impresses even the most seasoned traveler. It has rightly been called a huge open air museum where the relics of a golden past have bee carefully preserved for the benefit of the tourist. It has something for almost every kind of traveler
- for those looking for an active, action-packed holiday there are several places which allow one to enjoy the great outdoors, there is trekking, there are horse and camel safaris through desert sands or along the Aravallies
- the oldest mountain range in India. take a royal tour and live like a Maharaja or spend a peaceful and quiet holiday in one of the several off-beat destinations in historic towns, wildlife lovers can spot tigers and other rare species in various wildlife sanctuaries. It is well connected with other parts of the country and can be easily approached from Delhi ad Bombay. Fast trains, direct bus and air connection make travel easy and comfortable. Rajasthan is a land where the past still lives on and it is a glorious past, too. It is for this great land that Col. James to add, the writer of "The Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan" has written, "Rajasthan exhibits the sole example in the history of mankind of a people with standing every outrage barbarity can inflict or human nature sustain, ad bent to the earth, yet rising buoyant from the pressure ad making calamity a whetstone to courage." The annals of Rajasthan present golden examples of countless deeds of velour and selfless sacrifice. A visit to this wonderland will leave a lasting spell on your mind.
Rajasthan has a total area of 343,000 sq km and the most striking feature of this land is its division by the majestic Aravalli range which runs from north-east to south-west for about 688 km. It is the backbone of the state ad divides it into two regions which totally different geographical features.
North West of the Aravallis are the Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Barmer and Bikaner regions, it is the home of arid plains and the shifting sad dunes of the great Thar desert. Covering a total area of 196,150 sq km, the hard compact earth here is covered by shifting sand dunes and sparsely dotted with scrub and thorny babool. Water levels are very low and have been for so many centuries. The Italian traveler Manucci, one of the several visitors who came to this area and put their impression on record, came over to this region in the 17th century and noted :
"Wells are so deep that when water is drawn out of them with the help of oxen, those who set these animals to work beat a drum as a warning" that the pot is the mouth of the well and they are about to draw water."
Yet this land with its relentless carpet of sand and arid desert is neither barren nor uninhabited. If anything, the dryness and the heat of this region, the colourless surroundings have driven the people to fill their lives with dramatically brilliant colours. In fact, the colourfully dressed women against the stark backgrounds in one of the first and most lasting of all impressions that one may have to this state. Nothing really seems to dim their zest for living.
The harsh dry climate has, however,
forced the people to evolve a semi-nomadic
lifestyle; when survival becomes difficult
these people move out with their cattle to
more welcoming pastures, some use their
skills as folk performers to earn a
livelihood. The wanderers leave their homes
but carry the desert and its history in
their hearts and follow each custom
scrupulously. They may move far away from
their land but never move away from their
culture. When the desert is a little more
welcoming it becomes a rearing ground for
camels, cows and buffaloes. Lack of
vegetation has been compensated for by the
health of minerals that are to be found in
several parts of this fascinating region.
The other side of the hills is a land rich
is vegetation. Aravalli, or, a beam lying across, has a greater presence here. Hard granite rocks, scattered hillocks, areas rich in silver, zinc and lead deposits.. There are also long stretches of dense forests, lush green valleys are fertile fields. This area is drained by several rivers
- the most important being the mighty Chambal river which hurtles through the rocky terrain of the Hadoti region.
Geologically, many areas in Rajasthan are older than the Himalayas therefore it was only natural that civilization came to Rajasthan much before it came to the rest of India. Excavations at Kalibangan, in Ganganagar district, prove that a fully developed and organized society was in existence in that area much before the Harappan culture. Numerous other prehistoric and proto-historic sites exits in Rajasthan.
The later history of Rajasthan is a history of various kingdoms and their regular wars with one another. It wasn't until the mid-sixth century that the brave Rajputs, warriors par excellence, came to dominate the region and wrote the most glorious chapters of history with their blood and blade. Rajasthan was divided into kingdoms and the valiant Rajputs kept themselves busy with skirmishes amongst the neighboring kingdoms or else they faced the Turks, the mighty Sultans of Delhi lasted Sultanate and later the Great Mughals.
The conflict between the Rajputs and the Muslims Rulers of Delhi lasted for almost 550 years. This period saw the rise of Prithvi Raj Chauhan Maharani Padmini, the beautiful queen of Rana Rattan Singh of Chittaur, Rana Sangha, Man Singh of Ajmer and Rana Pratap of Chittaur, and scores of other names which became hallowed in folk memory. It was a period of fierce loyalties and of death before dishonour.
It is this period in the history of Rajasthan that continues to live on in the proud inhabitants of this region and gives it a special charm of its own, unmatched by any other place, anywhere in the world.