Rajasthan, the largest (area-wise) state in India, is located in the north-western part of the subcontinent. It is surrounded on the north and north-east by Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, on the east and south-east by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and on the south-west by Gujarat.
Rajasthan offers tremendous opportunities in the areas of organic and contract farming as well as in infrastructure developments related to agriculture. Rajasthan is the largest producer of rapeseed, bajra and mustard. It is the second largest producer of oilseeds and spices and third largest producer of soya bean and coarse cereals in India.
Rajasthan is a leading producer of limestone, silver, gold, copper, marble, sandstone, rock phosphate, and lignite. The state is the largest producer of cement in India. It has 21 major cement plants, having a total capacity of 55 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). Rajasthan is also the second-largest producer of milk and the largest producer of wool in India.
Rajasthan has reserves of numerous precious and semi-precious stones and is the largest manufacturer of cut and polished diamonds in the country. The world's largest centre for gemstone cutting and polishing is located in Jaipur.
In 2015-16 (up to December 2015), tourist arrivals in the state reached 36.66 million. Historic palaces, especially those in Jaipur and Udaipur, offer opportunities to expand the luxury tourism segment, with increasing number of tourists visiting wild life sanctuaries and desert locations.
People of all ages can enjoy there as it has something for everyone to compliment their interests. There is nothing like best time to visit this majestic land but the period between mid October to mid March is considered as an ideal time for those who are not familiar with the summers of Rajasthan. It is because the weather remains pleasant at this time.
Traveling to Rajasthan in summers is not recommended as it could be an uncomfortable trip for those hailing from cold countries and states. The temperature in Rajasthan varies from 45°C to 48°C during summer. May and June are considered as the hottest months of Rajasthan. During summer, the days remain extremely hot but the nights remain chilled.
Parts of what is now Rajasthan were partly part of the Vedic Civilisation and Indus Valley Civilization. Kalibangan, in Hanumangarh district, was a major provincial capital of the Indus Valley Civilization. Matsya Kingdom of the Vedic civilisation of India, is said to roughly corresponded to the former state of Jaipur in Rajasthan and included the whole of Alwar with portions of Bharatpur. The capital of Matsya was at Viratanagar (modern Bairat), which is said to have been named after its founder king Virata. Bhargava identifies the two districts of Jhunjhunu and Sikar and parts of Jaipur district along with Haryana districts of Mahendragarh and Rewari as part of Vedic state of Brahmavarta. Bhargava also locates the present day Sahibi River as the Vedic Drishadwati River, which along with Saraswati River formed the borders of the Vedic state of Brahmavarta. Manu and Bhrigu narrated the Manusmriti to a congregation of seers in this area only. Ashrams of Vedic seers Bhrigu and his son Chayvan Rishi, for whom Chyawanprash was formulated, were near Dhosi Hill part of which lies in Dhosi village of Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan and part lies in Mahendragarh district of Haryana.
The Western Kshatrapas (405–35 BC), the Saka rulers of the western part of India, were successors to the Indo-Scythians, and were contemporaneous with the Kushans, who ruled the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The Indo-Scythians invaded the area of Ujjain and established the Saka era (with their calendar), marking the beginning of the long-lived Saka Western Satraps state.
Gurjars: Gurjars ruled for many dynasties in this part of the country, the region was known as Gurjaratra. Up to the tenth century almost the whole of North India, acknowledged the supremacy of the Gurjars with their seat of power at Kannauj.
Gurjara-Pratihara: The Gurjar Pratihar Empire acted as a barrier for Arab invaders from the 8th to the 11th century. The chief accomplishment of the Gurjara Pratihara empire lies in its successful resistance to foreign invasions from the west, starting in the days of Junaid. Historian R. C. Majumdar says that this was openly acknowledged by the Arab writers. He further notes that historians of India have wondered at the slow progress of Muslim invaders in India, as compared with their rapid advance in other parts of the world. Now there seems little doubt that it was the power of the Gurjara Pratihara army that effectively barred the progress of the Arabs beyond the confines of Sindh, their first conquest for nearly 300 years.
Hinduism, the religion of most of the population, is generally practised through the worship of Brahma, Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, and other gods and goddesses. Nathdwara is an important religious centre for the Vallabhacharya sect of Krishna followers. There are also followers of the Arya Samaj, a reforming sect of modern Hinduism, as well as other forms of that religion.
Jainism is also important; it has not been the religion of the rulers of Rajasthan but has followers among the trading class and the wealthy section of society. Mahavirji, Ranakpur, Dhulev, and Karera are the chief centres of Jain pilgrimage.
The Dadupanthi forms another important religious sect the followers of Dadu (d. 1603), who preached the equality of all men, strict vegetarianism, total abstinence from intoxicating liquor, and lifelong celibacy.
Islam, the religion of the State's second largest religious community, expanded in Rajasthan with the conquest of Ajmer by Muslim invaders in the late twelfth century. Khwajah Muin-ud-Din Chishti, the Muslim missionary, had his headquarters at Ajmer, and Muslim traders, craftsmen, and soldiers settled there. The State's population of Christians and Sikhs is small.
Festivals of Rajasthan are very colourful and unique. Rajasthan has a fair for every religious occasion, for every change of season and for every harvest. Rajasthan comes alive with exuberant folk dances, melodious music and spectacular festivities. The prominent festivals of Rajasthan are: Pushkar Fair, Camel Festival, Mewar Festival, Nagaur Fair, Kaila Devi Fair, Mahavir Ji Fair, Teej Festival, Summer Festival, Gogaji Fair, Kaliteej, Ramdevra Fair, Marwar Festival, Dusshera, Chandrabhaga Fair, Kolyat Fair, Gangoor Pujan etc.
Rajasthan has a large indigenous populace Minas (Minawati) in Alwar, Jaipur, Bharatpur, and Dholpur areas. The Meo and the Banjara are travelling tradesmen and artisans. The Gadia Lohar is the Lohar meaning ironsmith who travels on Gadia meaning bullock carts; they generally make and repair agricultural and household implements. The Bhils are one of the oldest peoples in India and inhabit the districts of Bhilwara, Chittaurgarh, Dungarpur, Banswara, Udaipur, and Sirohi and are famous for their skill in archery. The Grasia and nomadic Kathodi live in the Mewar region. Sahariyas are found in the Kota district, and the Rabaris of the Marwar region are cattle breeders.
The Oswals hail from Osiyan near Jodhpur are successful traders and are predominately Jains. While the Mahajan (the trading class) is subdivided into a large number of groups, some of these groups are Jain, while others are Hindu. In the north and west, the Jat and Gujar are among the largest agricultural communities. The Gujars who are Hindus dwell in eastern Rajasthan. The nomadic Rabari or Raika are divided in two groups the Marus who breed camels and Chalkias who breed sheep and goats.
The Muslims form less than 10% of the population and most of them are Sunnis. There is also a small but affluent community Shiite Muslims known as Bhoras in southeastern Rajasthan.
The Rajputs though represent only a small proportion of the populace are the most influential section of the people in Rajasthan. They are proud of their martial reputation and of their ancestry.
Rajasthan is culturally rich and has artistic and cultural traditions which reflect the ancient Indian way of life. There is rich and varied folk culture from villages which is both fascinating and mesmerizing. Highly cultivated classical music and dance with its own distinct style is part of the cultural tradition of Rajasthan. The music is of uncomplicated innocence and songs depict day-to-day relationships and chores, more often focused around fetching water from wells or ponds.
The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Folk music is a vital part of Rajasthani culture. Kathputali, Bhopa, Chang, Teratali, Ghindar, Kachchhighori, Tejaji etc. are the examples of the traditional Rajasthani culture. Folk songs are commonly ballads which relate heroic deeds and love stories; and religious or devotional songs known as bhajans and banis (often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar, sarangi etc.) are also sung.
Rajasthan is known for its traditional, colorful art. The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan. Handicraft items like wooden furniture and handicrafts, carpets, blue pottery are some of the things commonly found here. Rajasthan is a shoppers' paradise, with beautiful goods found at low prices. Reflecting the colorful Rajasthani culture, Rajasthani clothes have a lot of mirror-work and embroidery. A Rajasthani traditional dress for females comprises an ankle length skirt and a short top, also known as a lehenga or a chaniya choli. A piece of cloth is used to cover the head, both for protection from heat and maintenance of modesty. Rajasthani dresses are usually designed in bright colours like blue, yellow and orange.
Rajasthan is famous for the majestic forts, intricately carved temples and decorated havelis, which were built by kings in previous ages. Jantar Mantar, Dilwara Temples, Chittorgarh Fort, Lake Palace Hotel, City Palaces, Jaisalmer Havelis are part of the true architectural heritage of India. Jaipur, the Pink City, is noted for the ancient houses made of a type of sand stone dominated by a pink hue. At Ajmer, the white marble Bara-dari on the Anasagar lake is exquisite. Jain Temples dot Rajasthan from north to south and east to west. Dilwara Temples of Mount Abu, Ranakpur Temple dedicated to Lord Adinath near Udaipur, Jain temples in the fort complexes of Chittor, Jaisalmer and Kumbhalgarh, Lodarva Jain temples, Bhandasar Temple of Bikaner are some of the best examples.
Rajasthan is often called a shopper's paradise. Rajasthan is famous for textiles, semi-precious stones and handicrafts. The attractive designs of jewellery and clothes are eye-catching and invite shoppers. Rajasthani furniture has intricate carvings and bright colours. Rajasthani handicrafts are in demand due to the intricate work on them. Above all, Rajasthan's shopping appeals to both tourists and people from other parts of India due to its cheap prices for quality goods.
The main religious festivals are Deepawali, Holi, Gangaur, Teej, Gogaji, Makar Sankranti and Janmashtami, as the main religion is Hinduism. Rajasthan's desert festival is celebrated with great zest and zeal. This festival is held once a year during winters. Dressed in brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing haunting ballads of valor, romance and tragedy. There are fairs with snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels, of course, play a stellar role in this festival.
The Thar desert covers the western half of Rajasthan. The main geographic features of Rajasthan are the Thar Desert and the Aravalli Range, which runs through the state from southwest to northeast, almost from one end to the other, 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 can be seen as outcrops in the form of the Raisina Hill and the ridges farther 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. 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; 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. 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 adds diversity to the landscape of Rajasthan. 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.
The Aravalli Range runs across the state from the southwest peak Guru Shikhar (Mount Abu), which is 1,722 m in height, to Khetri in the northeast. This divides the state into 60% in the northwest of the range and 40% in the southeast. The northwest tract is sandy and unproductive with little water but improves gradually from desert land in the far west and northwest to comparatively fertile and habitable land towards the east. The area includes the Thar Desert. The south-eastern area, higher in elevation (100 to 350 m above sea level) and more fertile, has a very diversified topography. In the south lies the hilly tract of Mewar. In the southeast, a large area within the districts of Kota and Bundi forms a tableland. To the northeast of these districts is a rugged region (badlands) following the line of the Chambal River. Farther north the country levels out; the flat plains of the northeastern Bharatpur district are part of an alluvial basin.
Rajasthan has 32 districts: Ajmer, Alwar, Banswara, Baran, Barmer, Bhilwara, Bikaner, Bharatpur, Bundi, Chittorgarh, Churu, Dausa, Dholpur, Dungarpur, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jhalawar, Jhunjhunu, Jodhpur, Karauli, Kota, Nagaur, Pali, Rajsamand, Sawai Madhopur, Sikar, Sirohi, Tonk, and Udaipur.
Rajasthan is also noted for its national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. There are four national park and wildlife sanctuaries: Keoladeo National Park of Bharatpur, Sariska Tiger Reserve of Alwar, Ranthambore National Park of Sawai Madhopur, and Desert National Park of Jaisalmer. A national level institute, Arid Forest Research Institute (AFRI) an autonomous institute of the ministry of forestry is situated in Jodhpur and continuously work on desert flora and their conservation.
Ranthambore National Park is known worldwide for its tiger population and is considered by both wilderness lovers and photographers as one of the best place in India to spot tigers. At one point, due to poaching and negligence, tigers became extinct at Sariska, but five tigers have been relocated there. Prominent among the wildlife sanctuaries are Mount Abu Sanctuary, Bhensrod Garh Sanctuary, Darrah Sanctuary, Jaisamand Sanctuary, Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Jawahar Sagar sanctuary, and Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary.
Rajasthan is connected by many national highways. Most renowned being NH 8, which is India's first 4–8 lane highway. Rajasthan also has an inter-city surface transport system both in terms of railways and bus network. All chief cities are connected by air, rail and road.
By Air: There are three main airports at Rajasthan- Jaipur International Airport, Jodhpur Airport, Udaipur Airport and recently started Bikaner Airport. These airports connect Rajasthan with the major cities of India such as Delhi and Mumbai. There are two other airports in Jaisalmer, Kota but are not open for commercial/civilian flights yet. One more airport at Kishangarh, Ajmer .i.e. Kishangarh Airport is being constructed by the Airport Authority of India.
Rail: Rajasthan is connected with the main cities of India by rail. Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Ajmer, Alwar, Abu Road and Udaipur are the principal railway stations in Rajasthan. Kota City is the only Electrified Section served by three Rajdhani Expresses and trains to all major cities of India. There is also an international railway, the Thar Express from Jodhpur (India) to Karachi (Pakistan). However, this is not open to foreign nationals.
Road: Rajasthan is well connected to the main cities of the country including Delhi, Ahmedabad and Indore by State and National Highways and served by Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) and Private operators.Now in March 2017,75 per cent of all national highways being built in Rajasthan according to the public works minister of Rajasthan.
Planning a trip to Rajasthan during monsoon that is from July to September will not be a bad idea. During this period, the state observes many fairs and festivals and gives you the opportunity to enjoy to the fullest.
The best way to visit rajasthan during the winter season. Sun basking in the winter months of Rajasthan can be an ultimate experience. Get indulged in outdoor activities, enjoy camel and elephant safari, and witness the fairs and festivals. Go shopping for colorful fabrics, ethnic jewelry, mojaris with intricate designs and traditional handicrafts for yourself or your loved ones. The chilled evenings and nights provide you with the opportunity to sit beside bonfires, enjoying local food and listening to folk music and tales of royal heroism, loyalty & love.