Rajasthan is the largest state of the Republic of India in terms of area but encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert (Thar Desert) which has an edge that parallels the Sutlej-Indus river valley along it’s border with Pakistan. The region borders 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 342,239 km² (132,139 mi²).
The state capital is Jaipur. Geographical features include the Thar Desert along north-western Rajasthan and the termination of the Ghaggar River near the archeological 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, and its world famous Dilwara Temples. Eastern Rajasthan has two national tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska, as well as Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, famous for its bird life.
Rajasthan was formed on 30th March 1949, when all erstwhile princely states merged into India. The only difference between erstwhile Rajputana and Rajasthan is that certain portions governed directly by the British Government Ajmer-Merwara were included and portions lying geographically out of Rajputana and belonging to Tonk state were given to Madhya Pradesh.
Map of RajasthanThe main geographic feature of Rajasthan is the Aravalli Range, which runs through the state from southwest to northeast, almost from one end to another end 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 could be seen as outcrops in the form of the Raisina Hill and the ridges further 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, and most of the region is covered by the Thar Desert, which extends into adjoining portions of Pakistan. The Aravalli Range intercepts the moisture-giving southwest monsoon winds off the Arabian Sea, leaving the northwestern region in a rain shadow. The Thar Desert is thinly populated, and 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, and summer 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.
The Aravalli Range and the lands to the east and southeast of the range are generally more fertile and better watered. This region is home to the Kathiarbar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion, with tropical dry broadleaf forests that include teak, Acacia, and other trees. The hilly Vagad region lies in southernmost Rajasthan, on the border with Gujarat. With the exception of Mount Abu, Vagad is the wettest region in Rajasthan, and the most heavily forested. North of Vagad lies the Mewar region, home to the cities of Udaipur and Chittaurgarh. The Hadoti region lies to the southeast, on the border with Madhya Pradesh. North of Hadoti and Mewar is the Dhundhar region, home to the state capital of Jaipur. Mewat, the easternmost region of Rajasthan, borders Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Eastern and southeastern Rajasthan is drained by the Banas and Chambal rivers, tributaries of the Ganges.
Historical traditions are that Rajputs,Jats, Bhils, Ahirs, Gujars, Meenas and some other tribes had a great contribution in building the state of Rajasthan. All these tribes had to suffer great difficulties to protect their culture and the land. Millions of them martyred for this land. ‘The Hinduan Suraj’ title to Udaipur was due to Bhils. Jats had been fighting since beginning. Gujars had been exterminated in Bhinmal and Ajmer areas fighting with the invaders. Bhils ruled Kota and Bundi one time. Gujars were sardars in Alwar, Jodhpur and Ajmer areas. The earlier contributions of warriors and protectors of the land Jats, Bhils, Gujars and Meenas were neglected and lost in the history.
Rajasthan has a rich and colorful history making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Shown here is an ancient ruin in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
Rajsthan was known as Rajputana before its formation in 1949. You can clearly view the difference between 1909 and 1949.Rajasthan includes most of the erstwhile region called Rajputana, which comprised a number of Rajput kingdoms as well as Jat kingdoms and a Muslim kingdom. The Jats were rulers in Bharatpur andDholpur. Tonk was rulrd by a Muslim Nawab. Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur, and Jaipur were some of the main Rajput states. Rajput families rose to prominence in the 6th century CE, establishing kingdoms in Rajputana and across northern India. The Rajputs resisted the Muslim incursions into India, although a number of Rajput kingdoms eventually became subservient to the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire during those empires’ peak of expansion. Mewar leads others in resistance toward Muslim rule, Rana Sanga was to organise Battle of Khanua against Babur and Maharana Pratap against Akbar in Haldighati. While other rulers like Raja Maan Singh of Amer ware trusted allies. As Mughal empire weakened, the Rajputs reasserted their independence. With the decline of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, Rajputana came under attack from the Marathas and Pindaris, and the Maratha general Scindia captured Ajmer. The Rajput kings concluded treaties with the British in the early 19th century, accepting British sovereignty in return for local autonomy and protection from the Marathas. Following the Mughal tradition and more importantly due to its strategic location Ajmer became a province of British India, while the autonomous Rajput states, the Muslim state (Tonk), and the Jat states (Bharatpur and Dholpur) were organized into the Rajputana Agency.
Rajputana name for Rajasthan prior to independence creates confusion as if Rajput population is in majority in this state. Thakur Deshraj has provided facts that total Jat population in Rajasthan in 1931 census was 11,42,025 where as Rajput population was 6,33,830. Thus Jats were about double the population of Rajputs. Shekhawati was part of Jaipur state, which had the highest Jat population of 3,13,609. In some of the princely states it was about 25 percent of total population, forming the single largest caste. As per Imperial Gazeteer of India v-8, p-22, More than 44 per cent of the population in Bhadra tehsil in 1901, were Jats at that time.
Rajasthan’s former independent kingdoms created a rich architectural and cultural heritage, seen today in their numerous forts and palaces (Mahals and Havelis), which are enriched by features of Muslim and Jain architecture.
Rajasthan’s economy is primarily agricultural and pastoral. Wheat and barley are cultivated in large areas, as are pulses, sugarcane, and oilseeds. Cotton and tobacco are cash crops. Rajasthan is among the largest producers of edible oils in India and the second largest producer of oilseeds. Rajasthan is also the biggest wool-producing state in India. There are mainly two crop seasons. The main source of irrigation is wells and tanks. The Indira Gandhi Canal irrigates northwestern Rajasthan.
The industrilisation of Rajasthan slowly began in 1960s. Mineral based, agro based and textiles are the main industries. Textiles – Rajasthan is the second largest producer of polyester fibre in India. Bhilwara District produces more cloth than Bhiwandi in Maharashtra.
Rajasthan is pre-eminent in quarrying and mining in India. The state is the second largest source of cement. It has rich salt deposits at Sambhar, copper mines at Khetri and zinc mines at Dariba,zawar mines at zawarmala for zinc, rampura aghucha (opencast) near bhilwara.
Dimensional stone mining is also undertaken in Rajasthan: jodhpur sandstone is mostly used in monuments , important buildings,residential buildings etc. this stone is name as “chittar patthar”.
Endowed with natural beauty and a great history, tourism is flourishing in Rajasthan. The palaces of Jaipur, lakes of Udaipur, and desert forts of Jodhpur, Bikaner & Jaisalmer are among the most preferred destination of many tourists, Indian and foreign. Tourism accounts for eight percent of the state’s domestic product. Many old and neglected palaces and forts have been converted into heritage hotels. Tourism has increased employment in the hospitality sector.
A spin-off of tourism has been the growth of the handicrafts industry.
The majority of the people of Rajasthan speak Rajasthani at home. Rajasthani and Hindi, the official language of India, are two widely used languages in Rajasthan. After independence, Rajasthani started to be used as a medium of instruction, besides Hindi and English, in some schools. Some other languages used in Rajasthan are Sindhi, Gujarati, and Punjabi.
Music and Dance
Every region has its very own dialect of music and dance. The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have international recognition. Folk music is a vital part of Rajasthan culture. Songs are used to tell the legendary battles of Rajputs. Folk songs are commonly ballads which relate heroic deeds, love stories, and religious or devotional songs known as bhajans and banis and often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar, sarangi etc.
Rajasthan is known for its traditional and colorful art. The block prints, tie and die prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan. Handicraft items like wooden furniture and handicrafts, carpets, blue potteries are some of the things you will find here. Rajasthan is shoppers’ paradise.
Rajastani dressAs Rajastani culture is one of colour, many Rajastani clothes use a lot of mirror -work on their embroidery. A Rajastani traditional dress for females comprises an ankle length skirt and a short top. There is also a piece of cloth that is used to cover the head. Rajastani dresses are usually designed in bright colours like blue , yellow and orange.
Rajasthan is a colorful land. There are many Holy Festivals of Hindus and Other Religion. The Main festivals are Deepawali, Holi, and Janamasthami.