Rajasthan (“Land of Kings”) is India’s largest state by area (342,239 square kilometres (132,139 sq mi) or 10.4% of India’s total area). It is located on the northern side of the country, where it comprises most of the wide and inhospitable Thar Desert (also known as the “Rajasthan Desert” and “Great Indian 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. Elsewhere it is bordered by the other Indian states: Punjab to the north; Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to the northeast; Madhya Pradesh to the southeast; and Gujarat to the southwest. Its features include the ruins of the Indus Valley Civilization at Kalibanga; the Dilwara Temples, a Jain pilgrimage site at Rajasthan’s only hill station, Mount Abu, in the ancient Aravalli mountain range; and, in eastern Rajasthan, the Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, a World Heritage Site known for its bird life. Rajasthan is also home to two national tiger reserves, the Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur and Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar.
The state was formed on 30 March 1949 when Rajputana – the name adopted by the British Raj for its dependencies in the region – was merged into the Dominion of India. Its capital and largest city is Jaipur, located on the state’s eastern side.
Culture of Rajasthan
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 often depicted and is symbolic of the state. Highly cultivated classical music and dance with its own distinct style is part of the cultural tradition of Rajasthan. The music has songs that depict day-to-day relationships and chores, often focused around fetching water from wells or ponds.
Rajasthani cooking was influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this arid region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred. Scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. It is known for its snacks like Bikaneri Bhujia, Mirchi Bada, Pyaaj Kachori and ghevar. Other famous dishes include bajre ki roti (millet bread) and lashun ki chutney (hot garlic paste), mawa kachori from Jodhpur, Alwar ka Mawa(Milk Cake), malpauas from Pushkar and rassgollas from Bikaner. Originating for the Marwar region of the state is the concept Marwari Bhojnalaya, or vegetarian restaurants, today found in many part of India, which offer vegetarian food of the Marwari people.
Dal Bati Choorma
Dal-Bati-Churma is very popular in Rajasthan. Traditional way to serve it is to first coarsely mash the Baati then pour pure Ghee on top of it. It is served with the daal (lentils) and spicy garlic chutney. Also served with Besan (gram flour) ki kadi. It is commonly served at all festivities, including religious occasions, wedding ceremonies, and birthday parties in Rajasthan. “Dal-Baati-Churma”, is a combination of three different food items — Daal (lentils), Baati and Churma (Sweet). It is a typical Rajasthani dish.
“Up-down” dolls are found in the roadside shops of Jaisalmer.
The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Folk music is a large part of Rajasthani culture. Kathputli, Bhopa, Chang, Teratali, Ghindr, Kachchhighori, and Tejaji are examples of 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 which are often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar, and sarangi are also sung.
Traditional musical instruments of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is known for its traditional, colourful art. The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, and Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan. Handicraft items like wooden furniture and crafts, carpets, and blue pottery are commonly found here. Shopping reflects the colorful 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.
Festivals in Rajasthan
The main religious festivals are Deepawali, Holi, Gangaur, Teej, Gogaji, Shri Devnarayan Jayanti, Makar Sankranti and Janmashtami, as the main religion is Hinduism. Rajasthan’s desert festival is held once a year during winter. Dressed in costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing ballads. There are fairs with snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels play a role in this festival.
During recent years, Rajasthan has worked on the state of education. The state government has been making sustained efforts to improve the education standard.
In recent decades, the literacy rate of Rajasthan has increased significantly. In 1991, the state’s literacy rate was only 38.55% (54.99% male and 20.44% female). In 2001, the literacy rate increased to 60.41% (75.70% male and 43.85% female). This was the highest leap in the percentage of literacy recorded in India (the rise in female literacy being 23%). At the Census 2011, Rajasthan had a literacy rate of 67.06% (80.51% male and 52.66% female). Although Rajasthan’s literacy rate is below the national average of 74.04% and although its female literacy rate is the lowest in the country (followed by Bihar at 53.33%), the state has been praised for its efforts and achievements in raising male and female literacy rates.
In 2009, Central University of Rajasthan a central university fully funded by Government of India, came into force near Kishangarh in Ajmer district.
In rural areas of Rajasthan, the literacy rate is 76.16% for males and 45.8% for females. This has been debated across all the party level except BJP, when the governor of Rajasthan set a minimum educational qualification for the village panchayat elections.
Tourism in Rajasthan
Rajasthan attracted 14 percent of total foreign visitors during 2009–2010 which is the fourth highest among Indian states. It is fourth also in Domestic tourist visitors.Tourism is a flourishing industry in Rajasthan. The palaces of Jaipur and Ajmer-Pushkar, the lakes of Udaipur, the desert forts of Jodhpur, Taragarh Fort (Star Fort) in Bundi, and Bikaner and Jaisalmer rank among the most preferred destinations in India for many tourists both Indian and foreign. Tourism accounts for eight percent of the state’s domestic product. Many old and neglected palaces and forts have been converted into heritage hotels. Tourism has increased employment in the hospitality sector.
Pushkar Lake, a sacred Hindu lake, is surrounded by more than fifty bathing ghats.
Rajasthan is famous for its forts, carved temples, and decorated havelis, which were built by Rajput kings in pre-Muslim era Rajasthan.Rajasthan’s Jaipur Jantar Mantar, Dilwara Temples, Chittorgarh Fort, Lake Palace, miniature paintings in Bundi, and numerous city palaces and havelis are part of the 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. In Bundi, maximum houses are painted blue. At Ajmer, there is white marble Bara-dari on the Anasagar lake. Jain Temples dot Rajasthan from north to south and east to west. Dilwara Temples of Mount Abu, Ranakpur Temple dedicated to Lord Adinath in Pali District, Jain temples in the fort complexes of Chittor, Jaisalmer and Kumbhalgarh, Lodurva Jain temples, Mirpur Jain Temple, Sarun Mata Temple kotputli, Bhandasar and Karni Mata Temple of Bikaner are some of the best examples.