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Rajasthan - Quick Facts

Area: 342239 sq. km.

Population: 73,529,325

Capital: Jaipur

Altitude: 227 m

Annual Rainfall: 40 cm

Climate: Hot & Dry with scorching Summer & Cool Winters

Average Temp: Above 370C

Clothing: Summer- Light cottons, Winter- Woolens

Languages: Rajasthani, Hindi, Marwari

Places Of Interest: It has 2 national Tiger Reserves: Ranthambore & Sariska Tiger Reserve

Religions: Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism

Major Fairs: Pushkar Fair, Nagaur Fair, Banganga Fair, Gogaji Fair, Kapil Muni Fair

Best Time To Visit: Mid Oct-Mid Mar

A Land of Romance – Royalty  Valour  Chivalry

Rajasthan is one of the rich historical and cultural heritage states of India. Jaipur the Pink city is the capital of Rajasthan state. Located in the north-west part of India, Rajasthan shares its boarders with Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, and Delhi. Rajasthan spread in the area of 3, 42,274 sq km. Rajasthan having four Airports Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Jaisalmer. Rajasthan has always fascinating people from all over the world with the grandeur of its forts, palaces and the architecture of its havelis. The rich folk music and dances have tempted millions of tourists every year to come to fairs and festivals in various parts of the states. The exotic is also a treasure trove of handicrafts and a shopper's paradise. The handicrafts of states mainly blue pottery, Lac bangles, stone carvings, thewa, tie and dye and terracotta articles, are unique in many ways. In fact Rajasthan has everything under the sun except beaches and snow-clad mountains. On one hand, there are the vast expanses of the Thar Desert and sand dunes in the west and on the other there are the lakes, hills and greenery around Udaipur in the south. There are renowned National Tiger Parks at Ranthambhor and Sariska and a National Bird Park at Ghana, Bharatpur.

Rajasthan, a legendary land that lives up to the romance and history spelt by its name, An uncompromising land where impregnable fortress and magnificent palaces rise atop steep hills, and beautiful temples lie in peaceful glades. It has an unusual diversity in all its forms-people, customs, culture, costumes, music Manners, dialects, cuisine and physiography.

The state is permanent bastion of Indian culture and spirituality, where relic of its golden Heritage is carefully preserved. Rajasthan, the treasure house of history, is also known for its spell-binding scenic beauty, ranging from the golden glow of desert landscape, to the lofty hills of Arravalis.

Rajasthan has large indigenous populace–The Meo and Minas (Minawati) in Alwar, Jaipur, Bharatpur, and Dholpur areas. The Banjara are travelling tradesmen and artisans. The Gadia Lohar is the ironsmith (lohar) who travels in bullock carts (Gadia); 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 is successful traders and is 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 from less than 10% of the population and most of them are Sunnis. There is also a small but affluent community Shiaite Muslims known as Bhoras in southeastern Rajasthan.

Rajasthan has a rich tradition of cuisines – for this land of princes had some of the finest cooks in the palace3. The common-folk also took epicurean delight in the culinary art. Aptly has it been said that the royal kitchens of Rajasthan raised the preparation of food to the level of a sublime art. It is not surprising therefore that the 'Khansamas' (the royal cooks) who worked in the State palaces kept their most prized recipes to themselves. Some recipes were passed on to their descendants and the rest were passed on as skills to the chefs of semi States and the branded hotel companies.

One special feature of the Rajasthani cooking is that it has its roots in the lifestyle of the medieval Rajasthan when the chieftains were mainly at war. The focus was on edible items that could last for several days and could also be eaten without heating. Food was also prepared out of necessity rather than choice. It depended on the items available in particular regions. Furthermore, the scarcity of water as well as fresh green vegetables has had some impact on their art of cooking.

In the desert belt of Jaisalmer, Barmer and Bikaner, cooks use a minimum of water and prefer, instead, to use more milk, buttermilk and clarified butter. A distinct feature of the Maheshwari (a trading company) cooking is the use of mango powder, a suitable substitute for tomatoes, scarce in the desert, and asafetida, to enhance the taste in the absence of garlic and onions.

There have always been several communities of entertainers in Rajasthan, and they have served at both court and courtyard as they travelled through the state, recounting tales of passion and valour with equal adroitness. For many of these communities, this has been the only source of livelihood. Professional entertainers, who performed a particular type of dance, or entertainment, are to be found in the more fertile tracts of eastern Rajasthan. These include the Bhopas(who sing of Pabuji, accompanied by their phad paintaings), Kalbeliya dancers with their rhythmic snake dances, the Kachhi Ghodi dancers, and the puppeteers.

Traditionally, families would invite the Bhats, Dholis, Nats and Bhands to sing and dance at family celebrations, whether birts or marriages, or other festivities.

One of the most spectacular performances, it sounds of celebration. Its vibrant chords require little sophistry apart from the simple, unsophisticated instruments that include the ravanhatha (a stringed instruments), the morchng ( a Jewish harp), the bankia (trumpet), algoza (twin flutes), the duff (tambourine), and the amazingly innocuous matka (earthen pitcher) which is flipped over to play the most amazingly mesmeric beat. It also consists of veiled women dancers balancing upto seven or nine brass pitchers as they dance nimbly, pirouetting, and then swaying with the soles of their feet perched on top of glass, or on the edge of a sword.

Dancers choreograph deft patterns with their hands while balancing brass pots on their heads.

Drum Dance
Put a naked sword in the mouth of a man, and give him three swords to juggle with his hands while avoiding causing an injury to himself. This to the accompaniment of his troupe that consists of musicians holding aloft drums around their necks and cymbals in their hands.

Fire Dance
These dancers perform on a large bed of flaming coals, their steps moving to the beat of drums that rises in crescendo till the dancers appear to be in a near hypnotic state. These devotional performances are usually to be seen late on a winter's night.

The men wear, pleated tunics that open out into full-length skirts as they move first in clockwise then in anti-clockwise direction, beating their sticks to create the rhythm when they turn. Originally a Bhil dance, and performed at the time of Holi, its variations are the Dandia Gair in the Marwar region and Geendad in the Shekhawati region.

A community dance of the Rajputs, performed by the women of house and traditionally out of bounds for men. A new bride, on being welcomed tothe home of her husband, too is expected to dance the ghoomar as one of th rituals of the new marriages.

Kachhi Ghodi
Originated from the bandit regions of Shekhawati, the dance is performed for the entertainment of a bridegroom's party.

This formal, classical dance evolved as a gharana in the couts of Jaipur.

A tradition of puppeteering has long existed in Rajasthan. It uses the ballads, retold in the voice of the puppeteer who is assisted by his family in erecting a make-shift stage.

A form of court music, the maand is a raga formation that developed in Marwar, and includes a complex inflexion of voices, sung in a deep bass. Sapera Dance: One of the most sensuous dance forms of Rajasthan, performed by the Kalbeliya snake-charmers community.

Terah Taali
Another devotional form of dance practiced by the Kamad community of Pokhran and Deedwan, to honour their folk hero, Baba Ramdeo, it consists of women sitting on the floor before his image.

The mixture and brilliance of Rajasthan's architectural heritage can amaze a visitor. Majestic forts, intricately carved temples and havelis (meaning mansion) and even step wells make Rajasthan a paradise for an architecture buff. The desert State of Rajasthan is a land of irony and extremes. This vibrant and striking region is the home of the Rajput warrior clans who had ruled here for many years. Rajasthan is also home to some of India's most romantic cities. The Rajputs were prolific builders and have dotted the arid Aravali landscape with their legacy of some most imposing and magnificent forts and palaces in the world. Today the structures defy time to tell the story of gallantry, courage and tragedy of the bygone era and its story of survival in the harsh Thar Desert. Some of the prominent structures that represent the architectural heritage of Rajasthan are Jantar Mantar, Dilwara Temples, Chittaurgarh Fort, Lake Palace Hotel, City Palace and Jaisalmer havelis.

Banganga Fair | Chandrabaga Fair | Gogaji Fair | Jambheswar Fair | Kaila Devi Fair | Kapil Muni Fair | Karni Mata Fair | Khatu Shyamji Fair | Khetlaji Fair | Mallinath Fair | Nagaur Fair | Pushkar Fair | Ramdevra Fair | Brij Festival | Camel Festival | Desert Festival | Elephant Festival | Ganesh Chaturthi | Gangaur Festival | Kajli Teej | Kota Dussehra | Marwar Festival | Mewar Festival.

The state enfolds in its lap a diverse kaleidoscope of breathtakingly beautiful and fascinating art-de-facts. The range is unparalleled even while it is sophisticated in its simplicity.

The state has something for every traveller, presenting a vast range of arts and crafts, which is a treat for the visuals and are ready to be picked. The bazaars spill with products and there is a magnificent glow of colours all over. Intricate work carved on handicrafts or the wonders of gems and stones, it has it all and even more. For instance, the colours dancing on the textiles and fabrics with silver or gold thread settings and complimented with variety of silk-threads, beads, gota, zari, zardosi, banarasi, etc. are designed by the age old families of skilled artisans.

Alwar | Banswara | Barmer | Bikaner | Chittaurgarh | Dungarpur | Jaipur | Jaisalmer | Jodhpur | Jhalawar | Jodhpur | Karauli | Kota | Kumbalgarh | Mount Abu | Nagaur | Pali | Pushkar | Ranakpur | Shekhawati | Udaipur.

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