Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert (Thar Desert), which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with Pakistan. It is one of the most beautiful states of India which attracts very large number of domestic and foreign tourists in India. The state is bordered by Pakistan to the west, Gujarat to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north. Rajasthan covers an area of 132,150 sq mi or 342,239 km². The proportion of the state's total area to the total area of the country is 10.41 per cent.
- Jaipur - The capital of Rajasthan, famous for its wealthy history and royal structural design.
- Jodhpur - stronghold-city at the edge of the Thar Desert, famous for its blue homes and building.
- Udaipur - identified as the "Venice" of India.
- Jaisalmer - well-known for its golden fortress, havelis and some of the oldest Jain Temples and libraries.
- Bikaner - Famous for its havelis, palaces and temples.
- Mount Abu - Highest climax in the Aravalli Range of Rajasthan. Famous for 11th century Dilwara Jain Temples.
- Pushkar - It has the first and one of the very little Brahma temples in the world.
- Ranakpur- Large Jain Temple multifaceted with near 1444 pillars and beautiful marble carvings
- Nathdwara - This town near Udaipur hosts the famous temple of Shrinathji.
- Ranthambore - Situated near Sawai Madhopur, this town has one of the largest and most famous national parks in India.
- Shekhawati - Located are small towns such as Mandawa and Ramgarh with frescoed havelis between 100 years to 300 years old.
- Barmer - Barmer and surrounding areas offer perfect picture of typical Rajasthani villages.
South west of Jaipur, Ajmer is an retreat wrapped in the green hills. The metropolis was founded by Raja Ajay Pal Chauhan in the 7th Century A.D. and constant to be a main centre of the Chauhan power till 1193 A.D. Then Prithviraj Chauhan vanished it to Mohammed Ghori, after which Ajmer became home to many dynasties. Today, Ajmer is a popular pilgrimage place for the Religions Muslims as well as Hindus. Especially well-known is the Dargah Sharif-tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, which is evenly revered both by the Hindus and the Muslims. Ajmer is a centre of civilization and education. The British chose Ajmer for its esteemed Mayo College, a school completely for Indian dignity at one time. However, now it is one of the best public schools in the country. Ajmer is also the base for visiting Pushkar (14 km.) which has the difference of having the only Brahma temple in the world. The Picturesque Pushkar Lake is a sacred spot for Hindus. During the month of Kartik (Oct/Nov), devotees throng in large numbers to take a dip in the sacred lake.
Viratnagar is located on the Jaipur -Alwar state highway at a remoteness of about 75 Kms from Jaipur. It is in the environs of important and recognized tourist destinations such as Sariska (a Project Tiger sanctuary), Siliserh, Ajabgarh- Bhangarh and Alwar. There is some very exclusive and historical Venus at Viratnagar which have largely escaped tourist attention. These venues are not only of great historical magnitude but are also in a logically good state. They can be easily opened to the ever- increasing tourist traffic to the colorful state of Rajasthan. Being close to Jaipur, Alwar and Delhi they can also serve as a welcome break for the tourists already traveling on this circuit. A complex of rock protection and usual cave shelters found in different hills of Viratnagar indicate the presence of prehistorical people from the starting of early Stone Age up to late Stone Age. The city is said to have been founded by King Virat in whose kingdom the five pandavas spent the thirteen-year of their exile in disguise (Agyatwas). The place Viratnagar assumed a special significance during the period of Mahabharata. At a site known as Bhim Ki Dungari or Pandu's Hill a large cave exists here as the adobe of Bhim and several smaller rooms and the dwellings of his brothers, as also Kichak's palace. It was at Viratnagar that parleys were conducted to avoid the war, which later came to be known as Mahabharata -one of the most destructive war and yet fought within the best rules of kthe game. King Virat known for his velour and sagacity played as important role in the peace parleys which finally failed and the war bring about a total obliteration of a great community. There are some very historical and important sites at Viratnagar, which need to be tinted not only for the tourists but also for the local population and the relaxed visitors to Viratnagar.
Jaipur is the capital and the largest city of the state. Geographical features include the Thar Desert along north-western Rajasthan and the termination of the Ghaggar River near the archaeological ruins at Kalibanga, which are the oldest in the subcontinent discovered so far.
One of the world's oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli Range, cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, famous for Dilwara Temples, a sacred pilgrimage for Jains. Eastern Rajasthan has the world famous Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, once famous for its bird life and is a World Heritage Site and two famous national tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska Tiger Reserve. Rajasthan was formed on 30 March 1949, when all erstwhile princely states ruled by Rajputs, known as Rajputana, merged into the Dominion of India.
It was essentially the country of the Gurjars. Historian R. C. Majumdar explained that the region was long known as Gurjaratra (Country protected by the Gurjars or Gurjar nation), early form of Gujarat, before it came to be called Rajputana, early in the Muslim period.The historian John Keay in his book, India: A History stated that, Rajputana name was given by Britishers and The word even achieved a retrospective authenticity, in 1829 translation of Ferishta's history of early Islamic India, John Briggs discarded the phrase Indian princes, as rendered in Dow's earlier version, and substituted Rajpoot princes.
The only difference between erstwhile Rajputana and Rajasthan is that certain portions of what had been British India, in the former province of Ajmer-Merwara, were included. Portions lying geographically outside of Rajputana such as the Sumel-Tappa area were included in Madhya Pradesh
The main 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 km. Mount Abu is 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.
The northwestern portion of Rajasthan is generally sandy and dry. Most of the 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 Bikaner is the largest city in the desert. 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 exceed 45 °C in the summer months 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 neighboring 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 Saraswati river.
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 is often depicted and is symbolic of the state. Highly cultivated classical music and dance with its own distinct style is part of the cultural tradition of Rajasthan. The music is uncomplicated and songs depict day-to-day relationships and chores, more often focused around fetching water from wells or ponds.
The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Folk music is a vital part of Rajasthani culture. Kathputli, Bhopa, Chang, Teratali, Ghindar, Kachchhighori, Tejaji etc. are the examples of the 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 (often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar, sarangi etc.) are also sung.
Rajasthan is known for its traditional, colorful 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 handicrafts, carpets, and blue pottery are some of the things commonly found here. Rajasthan is a shoppers' paradise, with beautiful goods found at low prices. Reflecting the colorful Rajasthani 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 celebrated with great zest and zeal. This festival is held once a year during winter. Dressed in brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing haunting ballads of valor, romance and tragedy. There are fairs with snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels, of course, play a stellar role in this festival.