Rajasthan, meaning “The Abode of the Kings,” was formerly called Rajputana, “The Country of the Rajputs” (sons of rajas [princes]). Rajasthan is considered to be one of the most ethnic states in India. Most places in Rajasthan shows a true picture of the rich Indian heritage and culture. The most fascinating aspect about Rajasthan is its forts and havelies. These forts and havelies were built hundreds of years ago still stand tall and preserved so well. They take you back to the time of kings and queens, commoners and ministers. Rajputana consisted of 23 states, one chiefdom, one estate, and the British district of Ajmer-Merwara. The majority of ruling princes were Rajputs, warrior rulers of the historical region of Rajputana, who began to enter the area in the 7th century. The largest states were Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Jaipur, and Udaipur.
Its capital, Jaipur, is known as the ‘Pink City’ as every building within the walled historic centre is painted in pink. The colour pink has historically stood as a symbol of welcome and hospitality. The place is boasts of luxurious palaces that have been converted into hotels and can make guests feel like royalty. Other notable cities in Rajasthan are Jodhpur, Ajmer, Udaipur, and Jaisalmer. While Jaisalmer is known as the ‘Golden city’, the cities of Jodhpur known as “The Blue City and Udaipur is known as ‘The City of Lakes’ respectively.
One might guess the colourfulness of Rajasthan from the names of its cities alone! The Great Indian Desert, or the Thar Desert, occupies a major part of Rajasthan and imparts a mysterious air to this place. Watching the sunset on the Thar Desert as a caravan of camels passes by is an unforgettable experience! Six Hill Forts in Rajasthan have been designated as UNESCO World heritage sites, including notable ones like the Amber Fort in Jaipur, Kumbalgarh Fort in Kumbalgarh, Chittorgarh Fort in Chittorgarh and Jaisalmer Fort in Jaisalmer.
Another interesting monument of Rajasthan is the famed ‘Hawa Mahal’, or ‘The Palace of Winds’. The palace is made of red and pink sandstone. The exterior of this palace looks like a honeycomb, the five storeyed structure has around 953 small windows called ‘Jharokhas’. Jantar Mantar (Observatory)is another architectural delight in Jaipur city, distinguished by around 19 architectural astronomical instruments. The Jantar Mantar features the world’s largest stone sundial and allow the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye. Another renowned splendid architecture is Ranakpur Jain Temple. The structure of Ranakpur Jain Temple is highly complex, having four different doorways to get into the chambers. These chambers ultimately take you to the main hall where the image of Adinath is positioned.
The typical dance of Rajasthan is the ‘Ghoomar’. It is performed by women in circles to celebrate of any auspicious occasion. Another famous dance form is the ‘Kachhi Ghori’, performed by men in colourful attire ride elaborately dressed dummy horses. The most loved of all the Rajasthani dances is the ‘Kathputli’ dance, this is the dance of puppets. Traditional folktales of the valour of the kings are carefully crafted. They are presented with the use of wooden puppets dressed in authentic Rajasthani attire. The songs and dances of Rajasthan are a tribute to the magnificence and valour of the ‘Rajaputana’ traditions.
Rajasthani cuisine is influenced by its rich heritage and arid climatic conditions. Rajasthan has a climate which doesn’t allow cultivation of many crops or spices yet you would never feel the lack of it in their cuisine and its variety of dishes. While there is a magnificent range of Rajasthani vegetarian dishes out there such as dal baati churma, gatte ki sabzi and mirchi vada. There is more inclination towards vegetarian food, but various kinds of meat dishes prevail as well Like Laal Maans, Bhuna Gosht etc..