India isn’t called incredible India for nothing. And Rajasthan conveys you why! The second largest state in India, Rajasthan is a blend of three ‘P’s : Palaces, princesses and peacocks. India, as the westerners behold, is home to cultural heritage sites. Rajasthan bears the importance to one such princely state which has both acquired its name and existence when the four princely states namely Alwar, Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli merged to form Matsya union. Geographically and ethnically, Rajasthan comprises of a green part, Mewar and a desert region Marwar. Since most of Rajasthan’s area is desert land, the climate is eccentric. Summers are awfully hot and sunny, while winters are cold and windy. The most striking feature of Rajasthan is how every prominent place in the state bears the significance of history, art and culture.
The very name, Rajasthan, is synonymous with chivalry, valour, heroism and self-prestige of its inhabitants- the Rajputs- who have given a splendid heritage with their rich tradition, the deserts, the palaces, the forts, the Rajasthani customs, traditions, ballads and peasantry give it vivid colour and makes this state very picturesque. The Rajasthani folks are enigmatic, street-wise and pompous. Also, they are hard-working with good entrepreneurial skills and possess a risk-taking nature and many Rajasthanis today have immigrated to various places in India and abroad in search of employment. Funnily, there’s a saying in Rajasthan which reads, “Jahaan na pohunche bailgadi, waha pahunche marwaadi.” (A Marwadi’s reach is beyond that of a bullock cart’s) Other salient features of Rajasthan are its food and attire. The natives of Rajasthan wear dresses which are pleasing to one’s eyes. The Dandia Angarkha (vest), Potia (turban), Churidar pyjama (tight fitting trousers), Achkan (long coat) of the male and Ghagra (skirt), Kunchli (blouse) and a Dupatta of the women are an outstanding feature of the Rajasthanis.
The women have a fascination for ivory bangles and zinc ornaments (Remember, Balika Vadhu?) It is said that if you leave Rajasthan without devouring Daal baati churma, you commit a crime. You have got to please your taste buds by treating them to this bitter-sweet muddle of finely crushed churma with the pouring of daal onto it, and some chili powder sprinkled on the top to acquire the flavor. Can’t wait to have it, no? Also, take a stroll around the empty streets of Bikaner, and crash at a Street Hawker’s to have Chole Kulcha. Spicy chole along with freshly chopped onion rings served with hot kulcha is nothing short of a delicious cuisine. Kulchas are known for being the Rajasthani “maide ki roti” and will leave you finger-licking. I genuinely feel chat (all kinds of them) is one of the best things to have happened to Indians. North India is where Chats hail from. Needless to say, Rajasthan is one such place which comes to the delight of Chat-lovers. Chole, Ragada, dahi, sev, bhelpuri, etc you name it, and it is there.
Taking into account the geographical area and nature of Rajasthan, much economical or industrial growth cannot be expected. The reason, major part of Rajasthan is desert area. Nonetheless, the state is showing a speedy development with regard to industries like the cement, sugar, glass, copper smelting, textiles, chemicals, synthetic fibre and numerous other industries. Also, tourism management is on the forefront since Rajasthan is home to ample places of tourist interests and is the true preserver of Indian heritage. The best time to visit Rajasthan is between the months of October and March when the burning sun subsides and it’s the beginning or/and ongoing of winter. Jaipur, popularly known as the “pink city” is the capital of Rajasthan. Although there are quite a few reasons why Jaipur is called what is called, the most significant one is that the buildings there are constructed using a rock that appears pink in color, which is exclusive of Rajasthan. Jaipur, known for its enchanting nature, has been bestowed with an exclusive personality as “a lovely lady, beautiful enough to be doing what she wore, instead of clinging to the sage grey and white arid yellows of the ordinary city.”
The magnitude of Jaipur is such that Max Lerner felt that he could die, now that he had seen Jaipur, the beautiful pink city. Sir Hugh Casson a leading British architect, declared that the three cities, he considered most beautiful in the world are Peping, Jaipur and Venice. Here is what your city tour in Jaipur should include: City Palace, Hawa Mahal, Jantar mantar, Ganesh Pol, Jagat Shiromani Vaishnav Temple and The Jaipur museum. Each of the mentioned destinations is affluent with its own history. All the places are rated high on the scales of architecture and maintain a pace with India’s heritage. It is the time to relive your history classes and for all the budding historians, archaeologists, and travel enthusiasts, this is just where your heart and soul belongs. Moving on, Jaisalmer which is sited in the north-western part of Rajasthan is known as Thar or the Great Indian desert. With its temples, fort and palaces all constructed of yellow stone amid the arid vista of yellow sands, this desert city in a remote corner of India has a languorous charm and atmosphere associated with the Arabian nights. If you ask me, Jaisalmer is the place where you get the true Rajasthan touristy feel. Within the city are numerous buildings with excellent carvings and beautiful facades with elaborately carved balconies. The highlights of Jaisalmer are the camel ride, sunset, residing in tents and the folk dances.
The principal city of the great Indian desert, Jodhpur, derives its name from the hand of the Rathore clan of Rajputs, Rao Jodha. Jodhpur is renowned for its tie and dye chunries (saries & scarves) and embroidery work and metal industry. Sightseeing includes the fort, Mandore gardens, Umaid Bhawan and Jaswant Thara. Ajmer, a great centre of pilgrimage for Muslims, this city attracts myriads of pilgrims from every corner of the globe. The city is famous for Qawwalis (religious chorus songs). More or less, every Ajmeri can sing qawwalis. Ajmer also has the world’s biggest Dargah. Many people, both natives and tourists, pay a visit to the Dargah to fulfill their desires. One can have easy access to the places of interest around like Pushkar, Kota, Bundi and Mount Abu by well maintained State Transport Corporation buses and buses under private operation. Local conveyance is essentially Tongas-horse carts and auto-rickshaws.
However taxis are also sparingly available. Pushkar, a picturesque township lying 11km off Ajmer has its mythological origin to Brahma, the creator of the Universe. On the full moon day of Kartik (Oct.-Nov.), every year a mammoth fair is held here. Myriads of people congregate here on this occasion to take a dip in the holy lake of Pushkar. This world-famous fair is an auction to sell and buy cattle. Not only the local masses, but also tourists across the globe mark their presence in the fair. Pushkar, the town of many temples is also known for the Brahma temple which is presumably the only one of its kind in the whole country.
Chittorgarh is the cradle of Rajput courage. It is the ancient capital of Mewar state which epitomizes in its history all the glory, romance and heroism associated with Rajasthan. It was in the land of Mewar that men and women repeatedly gave their lives, preferring death to dishonor and surrender. On one hand, there is the greatness of Maharana Pratap and on the other, the sacrificing nature of the quintessence of beauty Rani Padmini.Indeed, the stories of these true legends leave you at first spell bound and then water-eyed.
Udaipur, “a delicious hatting place” as the French traveler Pierre Doti called it, is an absolute delight. It has been described as the “City of Sunrise”, the “Venice of the East”, and “the city of lakes.” The scenic town stands in a valley on the bank of the charming Pichola Lake and is surrounded by green hills. Places to visit in Udaipur are Maharana’s palace, Jag Niwas Palace, Jagdish temple, Jal Mandir, The Museum, Haldi Ghat, Sahelion ki Bari, Eklingji, Rajsamanda and Nathdwara. Udaipur is the city of splendor and royalty that is home to many palace hotels.
Mount Abu is one of the most captivating hill stations in India. A place of pilgrimage for the Jains, Mount Abu is famed for its five Dilwara temples. They are among the best specimens of Indian sculpture in medieval times. Even today, the temples attract tourists from all over the world to witness their breathtaking exquisiteness. A visit to this globally acclaimed place of marble carvings is sure to make your tour-de-Rajasthan worthwhile. For all the spiritual souls out there, Mount Abu is the origin place of Brahma Kumari and has its main headquarters there.
Rajasthan is famous for Handicrafts. In Jaipur, lac-works, bed-spread, handloom cloth, artificial gemstones are famous. In Jodhpur, white metal is famous in which many presentation articles and decorative pieces are manufactured. Women have a reason to be happy, for Rajasthan is a shopping hub. “Saste mein mast” is how it is. Bandhani, Leheriya are a peculiar feature of the state. Besides, pretty dangling earrings, commonly known as ‘jhumkas’ , colorful ‘Jootis’ or Rajasthani footwear and attractive ‘Shabnams’ or side-bags are also in plenty. But but but… be wise-shoppers and beware of the shopkeepers-in-disguise.
If Indian culture, art and history fascinate you, then Rajasthan is the place you should find yourself in. With people humming to the tunes “Padharo mhaare Des mein…” (of Balika Vadhu fame), with the surveillance of the legendary forts, where you get a chimera of the emperor and queens coming to life, with the splash of colors everywhere, with mother nature embracing you with its open arms, Rangeela Rajasthan says Khamma Ghani, Atithi.