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About North India

Rajasthan, a quintessence of Indian culture and heritage, makes you feel like you’re in the world of the 1001 nights. With its magnificent & luxurious Maharajas palaces, superb fortresses, elegant “havelis”, and proud Rajput lords, Rajasthan is one of the most enchanting and chivalrous regions. A mosaic of landscapes awaits you, from the mildness of the wooded and green Aravalli Mountains to the intense aridity of the Thar. Its undulating dunes and elusive villages emerge from the ocean of lifeless sand. It’s also an incredibly human world with its peaceful Rebaris and Bishnois shepherds wearing hugely coloured turbans, the warm welcome of the “Rajputs” for whom honour is more important than life, and the Gadulliya gypsies, nomadic blacksmith or musicians….

Rajasthan, a quintessence of Indian culture and heritage, makes you feel like you’re in the world of the 1001 nights. With its magnificent & luxurious Maharajas palaces, superb fortresses, elegant “havelis”, and proud Rajput lords, Rajasthan is one of the most enchanting and chivalrous regions. A mosaic of landscapes awaits you, from the mildness of the wooded and green Aravalli Mountains to the intense aridity of the Thar. Its undulating dunes and elusive villages emerge from the ocean of lifeless sand. It’s also an incredibly human world with its peaceful Rebaris and Bishnois shepherds wearing hugely coloured turbans, the warm welcome of the “Rajputs” for whom honour is more important than life, and the Gadulliya gypsies, nomadic blacksmith or musicians….

Climate

Climate

Climate
The majestic desert stretching out to the horizon thrives on what the weather gods bestow upon Rajasthan. In Rajasthan the climate varies in an extreme way all through the year. Notably, there are three distinct seasons.

- April to June is the hot season. It precedes the monsoon. Temperatures in the shade reach up to 45 degrees in some areas such as north-western Rajasthan. The heat, however, decreases after dark. This time of the year is also one that experiences dust storms with high winds in the desert areas.

- July to September is the monsoon. It rains in abundance and this the weather remains cool. Although it is not always easy to take a trip during the rainy season, this period has all the same advantages, since the rain lasts only 3 to 4 hours a day and always give way to beautiful sunlight. In addition, wet landscapes exude a charm quite like the gaiety of the inhabitants. In general, the natural beauty of Rajasthan is at its best after the first rains of the year.

- October to March is the cold season, but that’s only a relative term, because it’s still 25 degrees most of the time. The days are marvellous when the weather is sunny. This compensates for the cold that can be felt in the desert at night, sometimes less than 0 degrees too. Diwali marks the beginning of winter and Holi announces the arrival of spring.

Population

Population

People
The state of Rajasthan has about 69 million inhabitants. It is divided into 32 districts, heading each of which is a high official helped by a board of local elected officials. Each village is in turn governed by an elected Board called the Panchayat.
The caste system, though officially abolished by the Constitution after independence, is still found in Rajasthan. The state also has very specific social groups:
The Rajputs (literally, "king’s sons") currently form 10% of the population. Their role in the state’s history is nevertheless essential, since it is they who gave the state its name. Rajasthan can be transliterated as "the land of kings." The Rajputs followed a feudal social organization. Kingdoms and fiefdoms of Rajasthan were ruled by clans who formed the military aristocracy. The Rajputs also left behind great cultural heritage such as temples, forts, crafts, art styles and cuisines.
The Marwaris are the rich merchants of the city of Jodhpur. Known for their involvement in the caravan trade and for their business acumen, their cultural heritage is especially marked in Shekhawati. Transport caravans having declined in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, they moved to Calcutta and Bombay where they did business in finance, commerce and industry.
Rajasthan is a rural state. Consequently, there are many sub-castes (jatis) of farmers like the Bishnois, the Rebaris and the Jats, to name only the best known.
Adivasis (indigenous tribals) also make up 12% of the population. Among the major ethnic groups are the Garasias, the Kalbeliyas (nomad dancers, singers and especially snake charmers), the Meenas, the Gaduliya Lohars (blacksmith nomads) and the Bhils (archers), most of whom are now settled.

Gastronomy

Gastronomy

The cuisine of Rajasthan has been influenced and shaped by the region’s climate and culture. The Rajasthanis have fashioned exotic dishes that belie the dearth of indigenous grains and vegetables. Typical Rajasthani food echoes desert life – a lack of leafy vegetables and meat, pronounced use of lentils, pulses, legumes and using milk, buttermilk and curd in place of water.

The signature Rajasthani platter (‘thali’) is a gastronomic delight - a colourful array of flavoursome, spicy and distinct dishes. Rajasthani hospitality means serious business. They hardly ever take no for an answer, and will keep refilling your plate till you are lying flat on the ground begging for mercy. A classic thali houses aromatic dry and curried vegetables (fenugreek, spinach, squash, potatoes, peas, carrots, green beans, etc.), bread (chapati, puri, paranta, papad or nan), and the indispensable traditional lentil dal. In other parts of India sweets are served as desserts after a meal, but Rajasthan begs to differ. Mouth watering and sinfully glistening sweets include churma, gujia, kheer, imarti, and ghevar.

Rajasthani snacks are popular throughout the country such as Bikaneri Bhujia, Mirchi Bada and Pyaaj Kachori. They love their pickles and chutneys, which can be heady concoctions of tomatoes, garlic, mint, tamarind and other spices. Papadams (thin, crispy crackers) are common accompaniments to the main fare. Delicious flavoured lassi (yoghurt drink) or spiced hot tea is the perfect way to wash it all down.

Rajasthani food is incomplete without the mention of the famed Dal Baati Churma (wheat dumplings served with delicious dal and sweet churma), the pride and joy of this state.

Festivals

Festivals

Rajasthan’s zest for life is manifested in the myriad festivals celebrated all year round. Apart from the usual Hindu and Muslim festivals such as Diwali (November), Holi (March), Teej (August) and Eid-ul-Fitar (August), Rajasthan has a vibrant repertory of its own. In the midst of a harsh climate, inhospitable terrain and arduous lifestyle, Rajasthanis have imbibed the spirit of celebrating every little joy, whether it’s a change of season, religious event or a new harvest. The exact dates of these festivals are determined by the Hindu Lunar calendar and tend to change yearly. These are some of the most popular and pulsating festivals and fairs in Rajasthan, which can be exhilarating experiences for any tourist.

Pushkar Fair
The historic town of Pushkar hosts its namesake fair annually in November. The world’s largest Camel Fair is held for five festive days, bringing together hordes of showcase quality camels, nomads, patrons, tourists and pilgrims.

Nagaur Fair
The fair of Nagaur is the second largest animal fair in Rajasthan after Pushkar. Held every year between January and February, the dusty village of Nagaur is infused with life and laughter as throngs of cattle, horses and camels are bargained for by colourfully turbaned folks. Games and merrymaking inject a joyful spirit into the market.

Desert Festival
Held in Jaisalmer on the full moon in February, the Desert Festival is the ultimate showcasing of Rajasthani fervour. Popular highlights are the Gair and fire dancers who swirl around uninhibited in vivid costumes.

Find the dates of all the festivals here: http://www.shantitravel.com/en/trav...

History

History

Known as the land of royals, Rajasthan has a heroic past that bequeathed it with imperial palaces, indelible forts and ubiquitous chivalry. Its existence dates back to the oldest civilisation in the world, Indus Valley, which was located in parts of present-day Rajasthan. Fast-forward to the twelfth century AD, the warrior clan Rajputs ruled most of Rajasthan. Known for their zealous passion, honour, and indomitable courage, the Rajputs valiantly fought any invading force, including the Mughals. Even when the Mughals eventually superseded the Rajput rulers, they placed the latter in high regard and expanded the empire with their allegiance. With the advent of British rule, most Rajput states allied with the British, allowing them to continue as independent states.

At the time of India’s independence in 1947, Rajasthan was known as Rajputana. To coerce the nominally independent Rajput states to join the new India, ruling party Congress allowed the Rajput rulers to retain titles and property holdings. However in the 1970s, this entitlement was revoked. Once a land of riches and treasures, Rajasthan has a long way to go, with an economy dependent on agriculture and low literacy rates.

Religion

Religion

Religion

In Rajasthan, four religious faiths are distinguished – Hinduism, Islam, Jainism and Sikhism. Hindus account for almost 89% of the Rajasthani population. The Rajput princes were always loyal and ardent defenders of Hinduism and its traditions despite Muslim rule in northern India. Hinduism is ubiquitous in everyday Rajasthani life - the customs, architecture, art, and even cooking. The town of Nathdwara is an important religious centre for the Vallabhacharya sect of Krishna followers.

Muslims form the second largest religious community in Rajasthan, about 8% of the population. They primarily reside in the northeast of Rajasthan, where the influence of the Delhi Sultans and the Mughals was paramount. The city of Ajmer is a major pilgrimage centre as it houses the tomb of the Muslim Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.
Jains represent 1% of the population. You will discover some beautiful Jain temples at Ranakpur, Mahavirji, Dhulev, and Karera. Sikhs, recognisable by their snug turbans, represent 1.5% of the Rajasthani population. They are mostly found in the large cities and in the north, due to its proximity to Punjab. Finally, there are about 30,000 Christians in Rajasthan.
The mother tongue of the majority of people is Rajasthani. English and Hindi are also widely used in the urban cities.

Geography

Geography

Geography
Rajasthan, located in the northwest of India, is the largest state by area, accounting for 10% of the country’s surface. The Aravalli Range, the oldest mountain range in India, runs diagonally through Rajasthan from the southwest peak Guru Shikar (Mt. Abu) to Khetri in the northeast, dividing the state into two parts. The Aravalli’s southwest has a green and wooded facade while its north-eastern portion is reduced to a few disparate undulations. A critical climatic barrier, the Aravalli prevents the monsoon laden winds from reaching the north-western region of Rajasthan, rendering it markedly different from the south-eastern landscape.

Arid, sandy and unproductive, the northwest expanse includes the Thar Desert and gradually improves from desert land in the far west to relatively fertile and habitable tract towards the east. The harshness of the sun and dryness of the sand are intermittently dotted with rolling dunes, thorny bushes, turbaned nomads, water-pot carrying women in vibrant ghaghras and chunky jewellery, and hump-backed camels. Luni is the only river in this region.

Southeast of the Aravalli, the region is more elevated and fertile, leading to a diversified topography. It is home to tropical dry broadleaf forests and rivers, the most important being Chambal, which feeds many dams and canals necessary for irrigation.

Rajasthan is rich in picturesque lakes, mostly artificial and constructed by the former Maharajas as reservoirs for drinking water. Natural lakes are often salted, the largest being the Sambhar Lake near Jaipur, which is used extensively for salt production.

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