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Popular Tourist Destinations in Rajasthan

Rajasthan

Rajasthan, the land of Kings and Warriors, is India at its exotic and colourful best with its palaces of breathtaking grandeur, battled scarred forts and whimsical charm, its riotous colours and even its romantic sense of pride and honour. The city is well known for its deserts, forts and palaces and the royal rajputana hospitality.

The State is diagonally divided into the hilly and rugged south-eastern region and the barren north-western Thar Desert, which extends across the border into Pakistan. There are plenty of historic cities, incredible fortresses awash with legends and rare gems of impressionistic beauty, such as Udaipur. There are also a number of centers that attract tourists from far and wide such as Pushkar with its holy lake and the Desert City of Jaisalmer, which resembles a fantasy from The Thousand & One Nights.

The State is the home of the Rajputs, a group of warrior clans who have controlled this part of India for 1000 years according to a code of chivalry and honour akin to that of medieval European knights. While temporary alliances and marriages of convenience were the order of the day, pride and independence were always paramount. The Rajputs were therefore, never able to present a united front against a common aggressor. Much of their energy was spent squabbling among themselves and the resultant weakness eventually led to their becoming vassal states of the Mughal Empire. Nevertheless, their bravery and sense of honour was unparalleled.

With the decline of the Mughal empire, the Rajputs gradually clawed back their independence, through a series of spectacular victories, but then a new force appeared on the scene in the form of the British. As the Raj expanded, most Rajput states signed articles of alliance with the British, which allowed them to continue as independent states, each with its own Maharaja or similarly titled leader, subject to certain political and economic constraints. These alliances proved to be the beginning of the end for the Rajput rulers. At Independence, India's ruling Congress Party was forced to make a deal with the nominally independent Rajput states in order to secure their agreement to join the new India. The rulers were allowed to keep their titles, their property holdings were secured and they were paid an annual stipend commensurate with their status. But this couldn't last forever, given India's socialist persuasion. The crunch came in the early 1970's when Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of the country abolished both the titles and the stipends and severely sequestered their property rights. While some of the rulers have survived this by converting their palaces into luxury hotels, many have fallen by the wayside, unable to cope with the financial and managerial demands of the late 20th century.

As castle, forts and country estate are steadily being converted into hotels even Rajasthan's most romantically inaccessible outposts are opening up. From the richly painted havelis (mansions) of Shekhawati in the north to the magnificent Jain temples of Mount Abu or Ranakpur in the south, the state's wealth of history and art provides a unique opportunity to see something of a disappearing world.

Fact File

CapitalJaipur
ZoneNorth India
Area342239 Sq. Km.
LanguageHindi
Population56507188 (As of 2001)
Literacy61.03%