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Rajasthan: The Land of Palaces, Maharajas and History

Rajasthan: The very word means ‘the land of rajas!’

It is very difficult to concentrate on a single topic when writing about the largest Indian state with such a glorious past!

Archaeological evidence indicates that early humans lived in the region nearly a hundred thousand years ago. Remnants of the ancient past in Kalibangan (near modern Udaipur) speak volumes about the rich heritage of ‘the land of kings’. The period in between the 7th and 11th century was very significant. This is when Rajput dynasties came to rule different parts of the region. Rajput glory reached its acme under the leadership of King Rana Sanga of Mewar sometime in the 16th century.

Rajasthan: The Land of Palaces, Maharajas and History

Located at the remotest western fringe, Rajasthan is an exciting juxtaposition of the past with present. The landscape is varied, deserts, mountains, wildlife reserves, lakes, and plains enchant with glorious tales of the past. The entire landscape is dotted with imposing forts and awe inspiring structures from the medieval era.

The moment travelers set foot on the land of Maharajas; they feel enveloped in an aura heavy with whispers of the rich culture, glorified history and exotic culinary delights.

When talking about Rajasthan, we must never forget to mention about the great rulers. Hindu Indians call their kings- Maharajas. Maharajas of Rajasthan built several monuments, temples, forts and palaces that are still there and tell stories of a glorified past when the rulers of Mewar, Bikaner, Ajmer, Jaisalmer used to live there with their wives, princes and princesses.

If all the famous Rajasthan queens, Rani Padmini of Chittor deserves a special mention. They say she was the most beautiful among women.. Bards sing of her beauty and glory as she jumped into a pyre to save herself from dishonor at the hands of Sultan Alauddin Khilji.

The famous Bengali Oscar winning film director Satyajit Roy made Jaisalmer fort more appealing to the mass. He shot the film ‘Sonar Kella’ (Golden Fort) in Rajasthan. He focused on the Jaisalmer Fort. Even today the locals refer to it as ‘sonar kella’ to tourists.

Top Tourist Attractions in Rajasthan

Though tourists can set off on off-the-beaten track and explore the fascinating land. Top tour attractions include:

Jaipur

The capital city is also known as ‘pink city’is a planned settlement. It was built under the patronage of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in the 18th century.

Top attractions: Amber Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Nahargarh Fort, City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Moti Doongri, Galtaji, Sisodia Rani Bagh etc.

Jodhpur

The historic city was founded in 1459 AD by Rao Jodha. Affectionately referred to as the ‘Blue City’ Jodhpur is known for its medieval mansions, forts and temples. Top attraction: Mehrangarh Fort, Chamunda Mataji Temple, Mandore, Khejarla Fort, and the Umaid Bhawan Palace.

Bikaner

A Camel ride on the desert will be a great experience. The ideal time to visit is winter. Besides history, the place is also blessed with magnificent but rugged geography. Located at the foothills of the Aravalis, the ancient residual mountains, the western sides of Rajasthan are completely covered by the Thar Desert.

Top local attractions: The Junagarh Fort, Laxmi Niwas Palace, Lalgarh Fort and the Shivbari Temple.

Mount Abu

is the only hill station in Rajasthan. Top attractions: Dilwara Temples, Nakki Lake, Adhar Devi Temple, Guru Shikhar, Sri Raghunathji temple, and Shankar Math.

Udaipur

‘The city of dawn’ was founded by Maharana Udai Singh. According to popular legend Udai Singh met a hermit while on a hunting tour in the Aravalli hills. The holy man blessed the king and advised him to build a new city on the fertile valley. The Dhuni Mata shrine marks the spot where the king met the hermit.

Top attractions: City Palace, Bagore ki Haveli, Ambrai Ghat, Fateh Sagar Lake, Lake Pichola, Jagdish Temple, and the Monsoon Palace.

Wildlife Reserves

For those with an adventurous streak the forests of Ranthambore, Sariska, Bharatpur, Kumbhalgarh, Jaisamand, Tal Chappar and the Dessert national Sanctuary are perfect getaways. Enjoy exciting wildlife safaris and stay at jungle resorts.

Tourists from the western world are fascinated with the colors of India. What better way than to see the colors of Rajasthan? ‘Holi’ is the Indian festival of colors. People across the land throw colors at each other with ‘gulal’ and ‘pichkaris’. The local people come down on roads and play with friends, family and spouse. Western travelers flock down during this festival to experience holi and indulge themselves in with festival of colors. Besides, there are several other festivals such as the kite festival of Makar sankranti and all are pretty gaudy and fun.

The traditional Rajasthani Thali is must! Though it is full of pure ghee and chilies, still when people are in Rajasthan they should taste the exotic Marwari veg khana. Listening to the rustic local music and enjoying the dance, tourists are served dinner at desert resorts or even in the palaces.

Most of the great palaces of Rajasthan have now been converted into heritage hotels and they believe in the Indian proverb-“Atithi Devo Bhava”. Once the Privy Purse for the maharajas was abolished, most royal families converted their palaces, mansions and forts into heritage hotels. This way they preserve the glory of these great homes and earn their living as well