» Destination Rajasthan
Tourist Destination In
So rich is the history of the land that every
roadside village has its own tales of valour
and sacrifice for the telling. However, for
most visitors, lengthy forays would be difficult,
though camel safaris sometimes offer them the
opportunity to interact with people who may
have never stepped out of their villages- or
seen rainfall. A quick reference to the principal
settlements is provided alphabetically below.
A 7th century Chauhan stronghold, Ajmer is a
pilgrimage centre for Muslims though people
from all religious backgrounds come to pray
at its dargah. The British developed Ajmer as
an educational centre, and Mayo College, once
an exclusive school for boys from royal families,
is now among the country's best private schools.
Once known as Mewat, the Rajput kingdom came
under Muslim domination during the 13th-18th
centuries with intermittent attempts to win
it back which, Kachchawaha price succeeded in
doing in 1771. Alwar has some beautiful lakeside
palaces, not all open to the public.
A 13th century fortified town, Barmer is in
the heart of the desert and is known for the
quality of its wood and stone carvings. Earlier
fortifications reveal the far limits where the
Rajputs raised defense out-posts.
Ribbed with streams and covered with dense forests,
Banswara lies off the conventional tourist circuit.
Artificial lakes and dams, and the ruins of
ancient temples make this an exciting place
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 as a bird
sanctuary (Keoladeo Ghana National Park).
Founded by one of the scions of the house of
Jodhpur, Bikaner's 15th century history combines
adventure with enterprise. In later centuries,
as an ally of the Mughals and the British, it
was able to develop as a modern state, though
its architectural attractions remain splendidly
Rajput. One of the principal outposts of the
desert, its is also a major centre for camel
Nestled in a fold of the Aravalli hills, Bundi
bristles with medieval enchantment. Its fortifications
house palaces and apartments, artificial lakes
and water-side pavilions. Ruled by the Hada
Rajputs, Bundi is renowned for its Rasleela
The former capital of the Sisodia rulers of
Udaipur, Chittaur perches atop the scraggy spine
of the Aravallis. Sacked by Allaudin 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 unless
they could avenge their defeat. The few remaining
palaces and towers are part of its stirring
The summer resort of the rulers of Bharatpur,
it is known for its Jat architecture and for
the coloured fountains and pleasure pavilions
that are contained within a fortified environment.
A Bhil stronghold in the foothills of the Aravallis,
this fertile region was created into a state
in the 13th century. Since the natural protection
afforded it isolation, a highly decorative style
of architecture developed.
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 on account of
the flush colour of its sandstone palaces, it
is a major centre for handicrafts. Its former
capital, Amber, consists of fortifications with
an interesting rang of highly decorated public
and private apartments.
The westernmost citadel of the desert, Jaisalmer
has an ancient history linked with its development
as a trading centre. Parts of its 'golden' fort
continue to be inhabited, and its cobbled streets
lead through a journey of medieval enchantment.
Jaisalmer is celebrated for the exquisite stone-carved
havelis or mansion of the merchants who held
the reins of its destiny.
A 19th century offshoot of Kota, its verdant
land-scape is unusual for a desert state. Its
fort functions as a government office but the
9th century Gagron Fort close by is one of the
most important citadels of Rajput history.
The 16th century capital of the Rathore Rajputs,
Jodhpur's history is evident in the hilltop
eyrie, 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 artdeco Umaid
One of few perennial rivers in Rajasthan, the
Chambal is flanked by verdure and fertile plains,
Located on its antecedents are as romantic as
any other Rajput kindom. This is evident in
its many palaces, and the large fort with its
fabulous paintings known for their hunting scenes.
Built in the 15th century by Rana Kumbha of
Chittaurgarh, Kumbhalgarh is Rajasthan's highest
fort, and its most formidable. If its air is
rife with medieval tales of intrigue and treachery,
it is because its history is characterised by
some of the pivotal points that characterised
the Sisdia dynasty.
A summer retreat in the Aravallis with a large
lake and several temples, it also doubles as
a pilgrimage centre with its 11th-13th century
Dilwara Jain temples known for the quality of
Located between Bikaner and Jodhpur, yet largely
bypassed, Nagaur serves as an important link
in the state's martial history, and its fort
has frescos in the Mughal and Rajput styles.
A pilgrimage centre with the only temple in
India dedicated to Brahma, the Creator, Pushkar
is the venue of an annual camel fair.
A 15th century group of temples raised by Jain
merchants, these are characterised by the fine
quality of their carving.
The fort of Ranthambhor has been abandoned to
nature for in this national park, the tiger
has right of stay. One of the country's finest
tiger reserves, its topography of low hills
and large lakes provides a tranquil idyll.
A tiger reserve, Sariska is densely wooded,
making sightings difficult, though the picturesque
park is also home to deer, langurs and avifauna.
A region of small towns, Shekhawati is primarly
known for its havelis or mansions richly ornamented
with frescos that, over time, ranged from the
sacred to the secular, and from the sublime
to the ridiculous.
A lake city, and the capital of the Ranas 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.