Folklore of heroism and romance resound from the formidable monuments that majestically stand to tell the tale of a bygone era. The magic of vibrant Rajasthan - its rich heritage, colourful culture, exciting desert safaris, shining sand-dunes, amazing variety lush forests and varied wildlife - makes it a destination nonpareil. Rajasthan is often portrayed as one vast open-air museum, with its relics so well preserved that it delights even the most skeptical traveler.
It is an incredible destination for the outdoor-tourist – take a safari on horses, camels, elephants or even in jeeps, with the Aravalis - India`s oldest mountain range as the backdrop. Feast your eyes on spectacular sand-dunes, take the tiger trail, or just watch the birds in the wetlands. You can also choose to pamper yourself in the lavish heritage properties. Rajasthan has something for everyone – one just has to choose an activity appropriate to one`s temperament.
PLACES TO VISIT IN RAJASTHAN
AJMER: A 7th century Chauhan dynasty spanhold, Ajmer is now a pilgrimage center for Muslims, though people from all faiths and religion come to pray at its famous mosque. The British developed Ajmer as an educational center, and Mayo College, once an exclusive school for boys from royal families, is now among the country`s best private schools.
BIKANER: Founded by one of the scions of the house of Jodhpur, Bikaner`s history combines adventure with enterprise. In later centuries, as an ally of the Mughals and the British, is was able to develop as a modern state, though its architectural attractions remain splendidly Rajput. One of the principal outposts of the desert, it is also a major center for camel breeding.
BHARATPUR: The only Jat kingdom in the state, the rock-hard mud fortifications of its fort proved invincible even under repeated siege. The fort houses early remnants of artifacts and sculpture, while the modern palace outside is a sprawling structure. However, Bharatpur is better known for its Bird Sanctuary (Keoladeo Ghana National Park).
CHITTAURGARH: The former capital of the Sisodia rulers of Udaipur, Chittaurgarh perches atop the scraggy spine of the Aravallis. Ransacked by Allauddin Khilji in the 14th century, by the Sultans of Gujarat in the 16th century, and finally by the Mughal Emperor Akbar`s forces, it was abandoned by its rulers who vowed never to return until they avenge their defeat. The few remaining palaces and towers are part of its stirring history.
JAIPUR: The capital of the modern state of Rajasthan, Jaipur is a modern city built according to the specifications laid down in ancient architectural texts Known as the Pink City. Its former capital, Amber consists of fortifications with an interesting range of highly decorated public and private apartments
JAISALMER: The westernmost citadel of the desert, Jaisalmer has an ancient history linked with its development as a trading center. Parts of its `Golden` fort continue to be inhabited, and its cobbled streets lead through a journey of medieval enchantment. Jaisalmer is famous for the exquisite stone-carved havelis or mansions of the merchants who held the reins of its destiny.
JODHPUR:The 16th century capital of the Rathore Rajputs, Jodhpur`s history is evident in the hilltop fort, Mehrangarh, from where its destiny was written. Narrow paths wind up the steep path, leading to the innards of the fort. Once within, the architecture is less formidable, with delicate windows and painted chambers. From its ramparts one has a view of the 20th century art decorum from the Umaid Bhawan Palace.
MOUNT ABU: A summer retreat in the Aravallis with a large lake and several temples, Mount Abu also doubles as a pilgrimage center with its 11th-13th century Delwara Jain temples known for the quality of their sculptures and artifacts.
RANTHAMBOR: The fort of Ranthambhor has been abandoned to nature in the national park, where the Royal Bengal Tiger rules the jungle. One of the country’s finest tiger reserves, its topography of low hills and large lakes provides a tranquil idyll.
UDAIPUR: A lake city, and the capital of the Rana of Mewar, founded in the 16th century, Udaipur is known for its fairytale palaces that nestle along the banks of a lake, or completely cover islands in its midst. The Sisodia rulers of Chittaurgarh who ruled here obviously had more leisure to exercise their taste than at Chittaur where much of their time was spent at war.
KUMBHALGARH: Built in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha of Chittaurgarh, Kumbhalgarh is Rajasthan`s highest fort, and its most formidable. The air here is rife with medieval tales of intrigue and treachery. It is because its history is characterized by some of the pivotal points that characterized the Sisodia dynasty.