Rajasthan which literally translates to “Land of Kings” is a state in northern India. Rajasthan occupies about 10.4 percent of the total geographical area of India. It is the largest Indian state by area and the seventh largest by population. It comprises most of the wide and inhospitable Thar Desert and shares a border with the Pakistani provinces of Punjab to the northwest and Sindh to the west, along the Sutlej-Indus river valley. Its capital and largest city is Jaipur. Rajasthan is popular all over the world for its culture and heritage, its palaces, forts, desert and rich traditions and grandeur. Rajasthan houses an amazing display of arts and architecture, courtesy of it being a princely state. Each individual kingdom of Rajasthan has a distinctive style of architecture and arts making it one of the most culturally diverse places in the world.
Rajasthani cuisine is among those rare cuisines boasting of a never-ending platter with a plethora of dishes; ranging from tangy drinks to spicy starters, mouth-watering vegetables and crunchy bread along with added delights of chutneys, pickles, papadam and buttermilk. The delicate desserts and rich crunchy delights that melt in your mouth instantly are a must try. Rajasthani cuisine is influenced by its rich heritage and arid climatic conditions. The little availability of fresh fruits and vegetables distinguishes their cuisine. There is more inclination towards vegetarian food, but various kinds of meat dishes prevail as well. Dal Bati Churma and Ker Sangari Ro Saag are two signature, traditional foods of Rajasthan. Mohan Thaal, known as the royal dessert, Kalakand and Mawa Kachori are must-try desserts. Laal Maas and Mohan Maas are meat dishes for non-vegetarian lovers. Rajasthanis also love their snacks like Pyaaz ki Kachori, Kalmi vada and Mirchi vada. Gatte ki Kadhi and Mangodi ki dal are also famous here. To beat the heat of summer here, jaljeera and masala chhach or buttermilk are enjoyed here. Ghevar, Moong dal halwa and Malpua are some of the other authentic sweets eaten here.
The Language of Rajasthan is Rajasthani. Rajasthani has 9 major dialects according to regional division. Marwadi, Mewadi, Mewati, Godwadi, Shekhawati, Hadouti, Dhundari or Jaipuri, Bagri and Wagdi.
Fairs & Festivals
When we think of Rajasthan, we think of colors and brightness, royalty and hospitality, celebrations and feasts, music and dance, culture and tradition, history and heritage. The festivals here are a celebration of life, culture, heritage, and nature, in true Rajasthani style. The best festivals of Rajasthan include Rajasthan International Folk Festival, patronised by the Maharaja of Jodhpur and Sir Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones and is an annual music and art festival for the promotion of traditional folk music and arts. Pushkar Fair, a camel and livestock fair, Teej Festival, which commemorates two things – a woman’s love for her husband and the advent of the monsoon season, Gangaur Festival, which celebrates the home-coming of Goddess Parvati, Jaipur Literature Festival, a great platform that provides access to some of the greatest authors and thinkers world-wide and gives courage to young minds to dream and imagine, Nagaur Fair, a cattle fair and the Desert Festival, a 3-day extravaganza which celebrates the delights of the desert. The World Sufi Spirit festival is a very exclusive event that attracts a limited number of patrons from across the globe. A few other festivals celebrated here are Camel festival, Brij Holi and the Elephant festival, Kite festival, Kumbhalgarh Festival and Urs Festival amongst others.
The ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur has many famous forts and palaces, with most of them boasting stunning views and elaborate architecture. Some of the tourist attractions are the City Palace, Amer Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Jaigarh Fort, Hawa Mahal, Jal Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Albert Hall Museum, Chokhi Dani and Birla Temple.
Known to be one of the most romantic cities in India, Udaipur is known as the ‘City of Lakes’. The city’s picturesque location at the foothills of the Aravalli Mountains make it breath-taking. The City Palace Complex, where the royal family still lives, Lake Pichola, Lake Palace, Lake Garden Palace, The Royal Vintage Car Museum, Bagore ki Haveli, Saheliyon ki Bari, Jagdish temple, Shilpgram, City Palace Museum and Jag Mandir are some of the famous attractions here.
A remarkable sandstone city that rises magically from the sand dunes of the Thar desert, Jaisalmer looks like it’s straight out of an Arabian Nights fable and gets its name from the golden sands of the Thar Desert and the same golden colored sandstone used in the city’s architecture. It was built as a walled city which makes it one of the largest forts in the world The mesmerizing ancient Jaisalmer Fort, perched high on a pedestal overlooking the city, boasts palaces, several temples, and some exquisite havelis (mansions) as well as shops and other residences. Bada Bagh, Patwon-Ki-Haveli, Sam Sand Dunes, Thar Heritage Museum, Gadisar Lake, Nathmal Ki Haveli, Jain temples, Salim Singh Ki Haveli are some of the must-visits.
Affectionately called the “Blue City” because of its blue painted buildings, Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan. The walled old part of the city is presided over by Mehrangarh Fort, which provides the best outlook across Jodhpur’s blue buildings. It’s one of the largest and best maintained forts in India. Inside are a number of ornate palaces, a museum, and restaurant. Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jaswant Thada, Mandore Gardens, Kailana Lake, Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, Clock Tower, Chamunda Mata Temple, Balsamand Lake and Masuria Hills Garden are some of the tourist attractions here.
The city of Bikaner is known for its forts and food. The various arts and crafts of this place are also unique, especially the intricately carved windowpanes called Jharokhas. Junagarh Fort, Lalgarh Palace, National Research Centre on Camel, Shri Laxminath Temple, Ganga Singh Museum, Sadul Singh Museum are some attractions.
The ancient city of Chittorgarh also known as Chittor, was said to have been founded by the Maurya Dynasty. This is the birthplace of many great warriors and historical figures like the Great Maharana Pratap and the Hindu saint, Meera Bai. Some of the major places to visit in Chittorgarh is the Chittorgarh fort, Rana Kumbha Palace, Fateh Prakash Palace, Meera Temple, Rani Padmini Palace, Vijay Stambh, Kriti Stambh etc.
The holy city of Pushkar, is located at the shores of the Pushkar Lake, which as per Hindu mythology was created by the tears of Lord Shiva. The Brahma temple, Savitri temple, Apteshwar temple, Varaha temple, Man Mahal are some of the major attractions. Camel races at the Pushkar Fair are one of the major attractions as well.
Sawai Madhopur was built by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh. While the town itself doesn’t have any notable tourist attractions, just two attractions have made this city a must visit place in Rajasthan. They are the Ranthambore Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the Ranthambore National park, a tiger reserve.
The only hill station in the desert state of Rajasthan, Mount Abu is situated in the Aravalli mountain range and is a heavenly retreat for the sun scorched people of Rajasthan, with its lush green surroundings and various picnic spots. The Dilwara Jain temples, Guru Shikar, Achalgarh, Nakki Lake, The Brahma Kumari Centre and Toad Rock are some of the sights worth visiting.
Birding enthusiasts will be delighted by Keoladeo Ghana National Park here. One of India’s top bird sanctuaries for birdwatching and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Formerly a duck hunting reserve of the maharajas, this bird sanctuary has more than 370 bird species, including a large congregation of non-migratory resident breeding birds.
Ajmer is surrounded by Aravalli ranges and is a city seeped in both history and culture. It is home to the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti known as Ajmer Dargah Sharif. Besides this, Ajmer is famous for the Taragarh Fort, Akbari Fort and Museum, Anasagar Lake, Dhai din ka Jhopra amongst others.