Jodhpur (जोधपुर)

Jodhpur (जोधपुर), is the second largest city in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It was formerly the seat of a princely state of the same name, it is the capital of the kingdom known as Marwar. Jodhpur is a popular tourist destination, featuring many palaces, forts and temples, set in the stark landscape of the Thar desert

The city is known as the Sun City for the bright, sunny weather it enjoys all year. It is also referred as the Blue City due to the indigo tinge of the whitewashed houses around the Mehrangarh Fort. Jodhpur lies near the geographic center of Rajasthan state, which makes it a convenient base for travel in a region much frequented by tourists. The old city of Jodhpur is surrounded by a thick stone wall.

History

This area was part of the Gurjara - Pratihara empire and till 1100 CE was ruled by a powerful Bargujar King. Jodhpur was founded in 1459 by Rao Jodha, a Rajput chief of to the Rathore clan. Rao Jodha succeeded in conquering the surrounding territory and thus founded a state which came to be known as Marwar. As Rao Jodha hailed from the nearby town of Mandore, that town initially served as the capital of this state; however, Jodhpur soon took over that role, even during the lifetime of Rao Jodha. The city was located on the strategic road linking Delhi to Gujarat. This enabled it to profit from a flourishing trade in opium, copper, silk, sandals, date palms and coffee.

Early in its history, the state became a fief under the Mughal Empire, owing fealty to them while enjoying some internal autonomy. During this period, the state furnished the Mughals with several notable generals such as Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Jodhpur and its people benefited from this exposure to the wider world: new styles of art and architecture made their appearance and opportunities opened up for local tradesmen to make their mark across northern India.

Aurangzeb briefly sequestrated the state (c.1679) on the pretext of a minority, but the rightful ruler was restored to the throne after Aurangzeb died in 1707. The Mughal empire declined gradually after 1707, but the Jodhpur court was beset by intrigue; rather than benefiting from circumstances, Marwar descended into strife and invited the intervention of the Marathas, who soon supplanted the Mughals as overlords of the region. This did not make for stability or peace, however; 50 years of wars and treaties dissipated the wealth of the state, which sought and gratefully entered into subsidiary alliance with the British in 1818.

During the British Raj, the state of Jodhpur had the largest land area of any in Rajputana. Jodhpur prospered under the peace and stability that were a hallmark of this era.The land area of the state was 23543 mi² its population in 1901 was 44,73,759. It enjoyed an estimated revenue of £35,29,000/. Its merchants, the Marwaris, flourished without let or limit and came to occupy a position of dominance in trade across India. In 1947, when India became independent, the state merged into the union of India and Jodhpur became the second city of Rajasthan.

Oswal Jains were mainly concentrated in Gorwar Region which was again ruled by Maharaja of Jodhpur . And Oswal jains also played main role in strengthening foundation of Jodhpur by donating mass wealth , gems to Maharaja of Jodhpur & in turn Maharaja of Jodhpur used to honour these wealthy Oswal Jain Merchants as Nagar Seth or various other honourable titles.

Geography and climate

Jodhpur is located at 26°17′N 73°02′E / 26.29°N 73.03°E. It has an average elevation of 232 metres (761 feet).

The climate of Jodhpur is generally hot and arid but with a rainy season from late June to September (Köppen BWhw). Although the average rainfall is around 360 millimeters (14 in), it is extraordinarily variable. In the famine year of 1899, Jodhpur received only 24 millimeters (0.94 in), but in the flood year 1917 it received as much as 1,178 millimeters (46.4 in).

Temperatures are extreme throughout the period from March to October, except when monsoonal rain produces thick clouds to lower it slightly. During these periods of heavy rain, however, the generally low humidity rises and this adds to the normal discomfort from the heat.

Monuments

A number of historical monuments dot the city and surrounding region. Some of these monuments are described here.

Umaid Bhawan Palace

The Umaid Bhawan Palace is not only one of India's most imposing palaces but also among its most recent. This lavish art deco monument to royal living had an improbable conception: it was built as a public relief and employment project during a long period of drought. Over one million square feet (90,000 m²) of the finest marble was used in the construction of the palace. A special type of sandstone, called Chittar sandstone, has been used in constructing the palace and this gives it a special effect. For this reason, it is also referred to as Chittar Palace by the locals. Its style of construction, with beautiful balconies, charming courtyards, green gardens and stately rooms, makes it a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The project employed three thousand artisans over a period of 15 years (1929-1943). The palace is named after its builder, Maharaja Umaid Singh (1876-1947), who was incidentally the president of the British Royal Institute of Architects. In 1977, the palace was segmented into the royal residence, the Heritage Hotel and a museum. It has total 347 rooms.It is the biggest private residence in the world, out of which 98 air-conditioned rooms are elegantly decorated with antique furniture as well as all the other amenities for a five star hotel.

Mehrangarh Fort

The Mehrangarh Fort lies at the outskirts of Jodhpur city and is located atop a 125 m high hill. The magnificent Mehrangarh Fort (Jodhpur ka kila) is the most majestic and one of the largest forts in India. It was originally started (c.1459) by Rao Jodha, founder of Jodhpur. However, most of the extant fort dates from the period of Jaswant Singh (1638-78). The walls of the fort are up to 36 m high and 21 m wide; they enclose some exquisite structures. The fort museum houses an exquisite collection of palanquins, howdahs, royal cradles, miniatures, musical instruments, costumes and furniture. The ramparts of Mehrangarh Fort provide not only excellently preserved cannons but also a breath-taking view of the city.

* 2008 Jodhpur stampede

Jaswant Thada

The Jaswant Thada is architectural landmark found in Jodhpur. It is a white marble memorial built in 1899 in memory of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The monument, in its entirety, is built out of intricately carved sheets of marble. These stones are extremely thin and polished so that they emit a warm glow when the sun's rays dance across their surface. Within this cenotaph, there are also two more tombs.
The Osiyan temple is one of the most famous temples in Jainism.

Kaman Art Gallery

The Kaman art gallery is indian contemporary art gallery .There has held several significant exhibitions that let the viewers explore the oeuvre of most talented and dynamic artists on India's contemporary art scene and see many famous indian contemporary artists paintings.This gallery location near clock tower jodhpur,Old fort Road,kili khana

Osiyan Temple

An ancient temple, well worth the visit, lies in the village of Osiyan, about 60 km outside Jodhpur. It is believed that all the Oswal (a Major Jain community) originated from Osiyan only. There are many sections of this temple, which was built in several distinct phases.

Other

* Girdikot and Sardar market
* Maha Mandir ( temple)
* Government Museum
* Mandore park
* Kailana lake

Demographics

As of 2001 India census, Jodhpur had a population of 846,408. Men constitute 53 percent of the population and women 47 percent. Jodhpur has an average literacy rate of 67 percent, higher than the national average of 59.5 percent: male literacy is 75 percent, and female literacy is 58 percent. In Jodhpur, 14 percent of the population is under six years of age.

Economy

The Handicrafts industry has in recent years eclipsed all other industries in the city. By some estimates, the furniture export segment is a $200 million industry, directly or indirectly employing as many as 200,000 people. Other items manufactured include textiles, metal utensils, bicycles, ink and sporting goods. A flourishing cottage industry exists for the manufacture of such items as glass bangles, cutlery, carpets and marble products.

After handicrafts, tourism is the second largest industry of Jodhpur. Crops grown in the district include wheat and the famous Mathania red chillies. Gypsum and salt are mined. The city serves as an important marketplace for wool and agricultural products. The Indian Air Force, Indian Army and Border Security Force maintain training centres at Jodhpur.

Excursions

* Mandore
* Kaylana Lake and Garden
* Balsamand Lake
* Sardar Samand lake and palace
* Dhawa (Dholi) forest area
* Khichan
* Osian

Fairs and festivals

* Marwar festival
* Gangaur
* Teej
* Nag Panchmi fair
* Mahaveer Jayanti
* Shietla Mata
* Baba Ram Dev
* Jodhpur RIFF (Rajasthan International Folk Festival)

Cuisine

A number of Indian delicacies have originated in Jodhpur . To name a few, the delectable Makhaniya Lassi, Mawa Kachori, Pyaaj Kachori, Hot & Spicy Mirchibada (A preparation made with potato, onion, chilli and gramflour), Dal Baati Churma, Panchkuta, Lapsi (a special kind of dessert made with wheat, Jaggery, and ghee), kachar mircha curry (made with chilli and kachar, a special type of vegetable grown in desert area) and Kadhi (made with gramflour, curd and chilli), Baajre ka sogra.

Military

Due to its strategic location in Western Rajashtan, Jodhpur has a large presence of Indian Air Force, Indian Army and Border Patrol Service.

Jodhpur AFS

Jodhpur saw a plethora of training institutions in its time. The RAF had its No.1 Elementary Flying Training School (No.2 EFTS) during WW2 which imparted training in the Fairchild Cornell aircraft. Later on, No.2 Air Force Academy was set up by the IAF after Independence which used the Percival Prentice, and Harvard aircraft to provide the flying training. No.2 AFA was later redesignated as Air Force Flying College (AFFC) to impart advanced training on the Harvard.

Flying training ceased after the 1965 Indo Pakistan war and but an Air Force Station is maintained there under the aegis of South Western Air Command. SWAC before moving to Gandhinagar had its Headquarters in Jodhpur. At the erstwhile HQ was a SWAC HQ Museum which housed some artifacts including the wreckage of a F-104 Starfighter from the 1971 War. It is not clear whether the Museum is still in Jodhpur or has moved to Gandhinagar. In Sept 2001, A new Heritage Museum was opened in the erstwhile Command house. This museum houses three aircraft and also is believed to hold the F-104 Wreck.

Judiciary

* Rajasthan High Court

Education

* Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur erstwhile Jodhpur University
* National Law University, Jodhpur
* Dr. S.N. Medical College, Jodhpur, Jodhpur
* MBM Engineering College, Jodhpur
* Lachoo Memorial College,Jodhpur

Rājasthān (Devanāgarī: राजस्थान)

Rājasthān (Devanāgarī: राजस्थान), is the largest state of the Republic of India in terms of area. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert (Thar Desert), which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with Pakistan. The region borders Pakistan to the west, Gujarat to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north. Rajasthan covers an area of 132,150 sq mi or 342,269 km² (about the size of Germany).

The state capital is Jaipur. Geographical features include the Thar Desert along north-western Rajasthan and the termination of the Ghaggar River near the archaeological ruins at Kalibanga, which are the oldest in the subcontinent discovered so far.

One of the world's oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli Range, cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, and its world-famous Dilwara Temples, a sacred pilgrimage for Jains. Eastern Rajasthan has two national tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska, as well as Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, once famous for its bird life.

Rajasthan was formed on 30 March 1949, when all erstwhile princely states ruled by Rajputs, known as Rajputana, merged into the Dominion of India. The only difference between erstwhile Rajputana and Rajasthan is that certain portions of what had been British India, in the former province of Ajmer-Merwara, were included. Portions lying geographically outside of Rajputana such as the Sumel-Tappa area were given to Madhya Pradesh.

History

The Indus Valley Civilization, one of the world's first and oldest civilizations centred around Rajasthan. Kalibangan in Hanumangarh district, Rajasthan was a major provincial capital of the Indus Valley Civilization. Traditionally the Rajputs, Naths, Jats, Bhils, Ahirs, Gujars, Meenas and some other tribes made a great contribution in building the state of Rajasthan. All these tribes suffered great difficulties to protect their culture and the land. Millions of them were martyred for this land. ‘The Hinduan Suraj’ title to Udaipur was due to Bargujars and Bhils. Jats had been fighting since beginning. Gujars had been exterminated in Bhinmal and Ajmer areas fighting with the invaders. Bhils once ruled Kota and Bundi. Bargujars were sardars in Alwar, Jodhpur and Ajmer areas. Bargujars and Meenas were ruler of Dhundhar region, Bundi. The earlier contributions of warriors and protectors of the land — Bargujars, Jats, Bhils, Gujars and Meenas — were neglected and lost in history.

Rajasthan includes most of Rajputana, which comprises a number of Rajput kingdoms as well as Jat kingdoms and a Muslim kingdom. The Jats were rulers in Bharatpur and Dholpur. Tonk was ruled by a Muslim Nawab. Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur, and Jaipur were some of the main Rajput states. Rajput families rose to prominence in the 6th century CE. The Rajputs resisted the Muslim incursions into India, although a number of Rajput kingdoms eventually became subservient to the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire during those empires' peak of expansion.

Mewar led others in resistance to Muslim rule: Rana Sanga fought the Battle of Khanua against Babur with Bargujar allies, the founder of the Mughal empire; and Maharana Pratap Singh resisted Akbar in Haldighati, the Bargujars were Rana's main allies. Other rulers like Raja Maan Singh of Amber were trusted allies of Muslims rulers. As the Mughal empire weakened, the Rajputs reasserted their independence. With the decline of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, Rajputana came under attack from the Marathas and Pindaris, and the Maratha general Scindia captured Ajmer. The Rajput kings concluded treaties with the British in the early 19th century, accepting British sovereignty in return for local autonomy. Following the Mughal tradition as well as its strategic location Ajmer became a province of British India, while the autonomous Rajput states, the Muslim state Tonk, and the Jat states (Bharatpur and Dholpur) were organized into the Rajputana Agency.

The Marwaris (people from Marwar) and Rajasthan's formerly independent kingdoms created a rich architectural and cultural heritage, seen today in their numerous forts and palaces (Mahals and Havelis) which are enriched by features of Muslim and Jain architecture. The development of the frescos in Rajasthan is linked with the history of the Marwaris, who have also played a crucial role in the economic development of the region.

Geography

The main geographic features of Rajasthan are the Thar Desert and the Aravalli Range, which runs through the state from southwest to northeast, almost from one end to the other, for more than 850 km. Mount Abu is at the southwestern end of the range, separated from the main ranges by the West Banas River, although a series of broken ridges continues into Haryana in the direction of Delhi where it can be seen as outcrops in the form of the Raisina Hill and the ridges farther north. About three-fifths of Rajasthan lies northwest of the Aravallis, leaving two-fifths on the east and south.

The northwestern portion of Rajasthan is generally sandy and dry. Most of the region is covered by the Thar Desert, which extends into adjoining portions of Pakistan. The Aravalli Range does not intercept the moisture-giving southwest monsoon winds off the Arabian Sea,as it lies in a direction parallel to that of the coming monsoon winds, leaving the northwestern region in a rain shadow. The Thar Desert is thinly populated; the town of Bikaner is the largest city in the desert. The Northwestern thorn scrub forests lie in a band around the Thar Desert, between the desert and the Aravallis. This region receives less than 400 mm of rain in an average year. Summer temperatures can exceed 45 °C in the summer months and drop below freezing in the winter. The Godwar, Marwar, and Shekhawati regions lie in the thorn scrub forest zone, along with the city of Jodhpur. The Luni River and its tributaries are the major river system of Godwar and Marwar regions, draining the western slopes of the Aravallis and emptying southwest into the great Rann of Kutch wetland in neighboring Gujarat. This river is saline in the lower reaches and remains potable only up to Balotara in Barmer district. The Ghaggar River, which originates in Haryana, is an intermittent stream that disappears into the sands of the Thar Desert in the northern corner of the state and is seen as a remnant of the primitive Saraswati river.

The Aravalli Range and the lands to the east and southeast of the range are generally more fertile and better watered. This region is home to the Kathiarbar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion, with tropical dry broadleaf forests that include teak, Acacia, and other trees. The hilly Vagad region lies in southernmost Rajasthan, on the border with Gujarat. With the exception of Mount Abu, Vagad is the wettest region in Rajasthan, and the most heavily forested. North of Vagad lies the Mewar region, home to the cities of Udaipur and Chittaurgarh. The Hadoti region lies to the southeast, on the border with Madhya Pradesh. North of Hadoti and Mewar is the Dhundhar region, home to the state capital of Jaipur. Mewat, the easternmost region of Rajasthan, borders Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Eastern and southeastern Rajasthan is drained by the Banas and Chambal rivers, tributaries of the Ganges.

The Aravali Range runs across the state from the southwest peak Guru Shikhar (Mount Abu), which is 1,722 m in height, to Khetri in the northeast. This divides the state into 60% in the northwest of the range and 40% in the southeast. The northwest tract is sandy and unproductive with little water but improves gradually from desert land in the far west and northwest to comparatively fertile and habitable land towards the east. The area includes the Thar Desert. The south-eastern area, higher in elevation (100 to 350 m above sea level) and more fertile, has a very diversified topography. in the south lies the hilly tract of Mewar. In the southeast, a large area within the districts of Kota and Bundi forms a tableland. To the northeast of these districts is a rugged region (badlands) following the line of the Chambal River. Farther north the country levels out; the flat plains of the northeastern Bharatpur district are part of an alluvial basin.Major tribe in region Ajmer is Rawat.

Districts

Seven divisions of the districts.
Rajasthan is divided into 33 districts and seven divisions:

* Ajmer Division: Ajmer, Bhilwara, Nagaur, Tonk.
* Bharatpur Division: Bharatpur, Dholpur, Karauli, Sawai Madhopur.
* Bikaner Division: Bikaner, Churu, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh.
* Jaipur Division: Jaipur, Alwar, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Dausa.
* Jodhpur Division: Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jodhpur District, Pali, Sirohi.
* Kota Division: Baran, Bundi, Jhalawar, Kota.
* Udaipur Division: Banswara District, Chittorgarh District, Pratapgarh District, Dungarpur District, Udaipur, Rajsamand

Government and politics

The Umaid Bhawan Palace is one of the largest royal palaces in the world. Rajasthan's royal families continue to play a major role in the state's politics.
The Kings had much power even after Independence until Indira Gandhi took away much of their power.
The Jain temple of Ranakpur.

Rajasthan's politics has mainly been dominated by the two state stalwarts, namely, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Mohan Lal Sukhadia of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress respectively. Shri Sukhadia ruled Rajasthan for 17 years and died in February 1982 while Shri Shekhawat is now in the national political horizon. The earlier politics were dominated by the Congress party. The main opposition party was the Bharatiya Jansangh, headed by Rajasthan's most popular leader Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and the Swatantra party headed by former rulers of Rajasthan. The Congress rule was untouched till the year 1962. But in the year 1967, Jansangh headed by Shekhawat and Swatantra party headed by Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur reached the majority point, but couldn't form a government. In 1972, the Congress won a landslide victory following the victory in the 1971 war. But after the declaration of emergency, Shekhawat became immensely popular, especially after he was forced to be arrested and was sent to Rohtak Jail in Haryana. As soon as the emergency was lifted, a joint opposition Janta Party won a thundering landslide victory winning 151 of the 200 seats. Shekhawat became the Chief Minister. The government was dismissed by Indira Gandhi in 1980 after she restored power in Delhi. In the 1980 elections, the Janta Party split at the centre giving the Congress a victory in Rajasthan.

Indira Gandhi was assassinated in the year 1984, and in the year 1985, a sympathy wave let the Congress sail through in the elections. But in 1989, which could be called a Shekhawat wave, the BJP-JD alliance won all 25 Lok Sabha seats and 140 of 200 seats in the assembly. Shekhawat became the Chief Minister for the second term. Though Janta Dal took back its support to the Shekhawat government, Shekhawat teared apart the JD and continued to rule as the Chief Minister thus earning the title of master manipulator. After the Babri Mosque demolition in Ayodhya, Shekhawat government was suspended by the P.M., Narsimha Rao and President's rule was enforced in Rajasthan. Election took place in the year 1993 in which his party won even after the breaking of its alliance with the Janta Dal.But the then governor Bali Ram Bhagat didn't allow Shekhawat to form the government, but after immense pressure from Shekhawat, who reached the majority point after supports from independents like Sardar Gurjant Singh,Rani Narendra Kanwar, Sujan Singh Yadav, Rohitashva Kumar Sharma, Kr. Arun Singh, Sundar Lal etc. crossed the majority line of 101 seats in the assembly. Shekhawat became the Chief Minister for the third term. This time he ran a successful third term. This was pehaps the diamond phase for Rajasthan as it led to all-round development and Rajasthan also gained identity on the globe as a rapidly developing and beautiful state.Shekhawat introduced Heritage, Desert, Rural, Wildlife tourism to Rajasthan In 1998 elections, the BJP lost heavily due to the onion price rise issue. Ashok Gehlot ran a 5 year government.But he lost the Lok Sabha elections in 1999, only 6 months after its victory in the assembly elections. Shekhawat became the Vice-President of India in the year 2002 so he had to leave Rajasthan politics and the BJP. He appointed Vasundhara Raje as his successor. She led the BJP in 2003 elections and led it to a victory. She was the Chief Minister of Rajasthan from 2003 - 2008. Narpat Singh Rajvi was the Health Minister, Ghanshyam Tiwari was the Food Minister, and Gulab Chand Kataria was the Home Minister. The BJP won the 2004 Lok Sabha elections from here as well. But the tables turned in December 2008, when the infighting within the BJP, Raje's perceived autocratic and despotic rule, and the police excesses in the Gujjar-Meena agitation combined to overcome the incumbent Raje government's development and growth planks, and the Congress emerged victorious with the support of some independent MLA's. Ashok Gehlot was sworn-in as the new Chief Minister of Rajasthan.

Economy

Rajasthan's economy is primarily agricultural and pastoral. Wheat and barley are cultivated over large areas, as are pulses, sugarcane, and oilseeds. Cotton and tobacco are cash crops. Rajasthan is among the largest producers of edible oils in India and the second largest producer of oilseeds. Rajasthan is also the biggest wool-producing state in India and the main opium producer and consumer. There are mainly two crop seasons. The water for irrigation comes from wells and tanks. The Indira Gandhi Canal irrigates northwestern Rajasthan.

The main industries are mineral based, agriculture based, and textiles. Rajasthan is the second largest producer of polyester fibre in India. The Bhilwara District produces more cloth than Bhiwandi, Maharashtra. Several prominent chemical and engineering companies are located in the town of Kota, in western Rajasthan. Rajasthan is pre-eminent in quarrying and mining in India. The state is the second largest source of cement in India. It has rich salt deposits at Sambhar, copper mines at Khetri and zinc mines at Dariba, Zawar mines at Zawarmala for zinc, rampura aghucha (opencast) near Bhilwara. Dimensional stone mining is also undertaken in Rajasthan: Jodhpur sandstone is mostly used in monuments, important buildings, residential buildings, etc. This stone is termed 'chittar patthar'.

Endowed with natural beauty and a great history, tourism is a flourishing industry in Rajasthan. The palaces of Jaipur, lakes of Udaipur, and desert forts of Jodhpur, Bikaner & Jaisalmer are among the most preferred destination of many tourists, 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. Rajasthan is now the preferred destination for IT companies and North India's largest integrated IT park is located in Jaipur and is named as Mahindra World City Jaipur covering nearly 3,000 acres (12 km2) of land. Some of the companies operating in Rajasthan include Infosys, Genpact, Wipro, Truworth, Deusche Bank, NEI, MICO,Honda Siel Cars, Coca Cola , Gillete etc.

Demographics

Rajasthan has a mainly Rajasthani population. Hindus account for 88.8% of the population. Muslims make up 8.5%, Sikhs 1.4% and Jains 1.2% of the population. The state of Rajasthan is also populated by Sindhis, who came to Rajasthan from Sindh province (now in Pakistan) during the India-Pakistan separation in 1947.

The mother tongue of the majority of people in Rajasthan is Rajasthani. Rajasthani and Hindi are the most widely used languages in Rajasthan. After independence, Rajasthani was used as a medium of instruction, along with Hindi and English, in some schools. Some other languages used in Rajasthan are Sindhi and Punjabi.
See also: List of people from Rajasthan

Culture

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 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 is uncomplicated and songs depict day-to-day relationships and chores, more often focused around fetching water from wells or ponds.

The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Folk music is a vital part of Rajasthani culture. Kathputali, Bhopa, Chang, Teratali, Ghindar, Kachchhighori, Tejaji etc. are the examples of the 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 (often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar, sarangi etc.) are also sung.
A decorate Indian elephant during a fair in Jaipur, India

Rajasthan is known for its traditional, colorful art. The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan. Handicraft items like wooden furniture and handicrafts, carpets, blue pottery are some of the things commonly found here. Rajasthan is a shoppers' paradise, with beautiful goods found at low prices. Reflecting the colorful Rajasthani 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.

Rajasthan is famous for the majestic forts, intricately carved temples and decorated havelis, which were built by Bargujar kings in previous ages, they were the soul of pre-muslim era Rajasthan. Jantar Mantar, Dilwara Temples, Chittorgarh Fort, Lake Palace Hotel, City Palaces, Jaisalmer Havelis are part of the true 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. At Ajmer, the white marble Bara-dari on the Anasagar lake is exquisite. Jain Temples dot Rajasthan from north to south and east to west. Dilwara Temples of Mount Abu, Ranakpur Temple dedicated to Lord Adinath near Udaipur, Jain temples in the fort complexes of Chittor, Jaisalmer and Kumbhalgarh, Lodarva Jain temples, Bhandasar Temple of Bikaner are some of the best examples.

Rajasthan is often called a shopper's paradise. Rajasthan is famous for textiles, semi-precious stones and handicrafts. The attractive designs of jewellery and clothes are eye-catching and invite shoppers. Rajasthani furniture has intricate carvings and bright colours. Rajasthani handicrafts are in demand due to the intricate work on them. Above all, Rajasthan's shopping appeals to both tourists and people from other parts of India due to its cheap prices for quality goods.

The main religious festivals are Deepawali, Holi, Gangaur, Teej, Gogaji, Makar Sankranti and Janmashtami, as the main religion is Hinduism. Rajasthan's desert festival is celebrated with great zest and zeal. This festival is held once a year during winters. Dressed in brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing haunting ballads of valor, romance and tragedy. There are fairs with snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels, of course, play a stellar role in this festival.

Flora and fauna

Though a large percentage of the total area is desert, and even though there is little forest cover, Rajasthan has a rich and varied flora and fauna. The natural vegetation is classed as Northern Desert Thorn Forest (Champion 1936). These occur in small clumps scattered in a more or less open forms. Density and size of patches increase from west to east following the increase in rainfall.

Some wildlife species, which are fast vanishing in other parts of India, are found in the desert in large numbers such as the Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps), the Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), the Indian Gazelle (Gazella bennettii) and the Indian Wild Ass.

The Desert National Park, Jaisalmer, spread over an area of 3162 km², is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert, and its diverse fauna. Great Indian Bustard, Blackbuck, chinkara, desert fox, Bengal fox, wolf, desert cat etc. can be easily seen here. Seashells and massive fossilized tree trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert. The region is a haven for migratory and resident birds of the desert. One can see many eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures. Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), Tawny Eagles (Aquila rapax), Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), Laggar Falcons (Falco jugger) and kestrels are the commonest of these.

Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is a very small sanctuary in Churu District, 210 km from Jaipur, in the Shekhawati region. This sanctuary is home to a large population of graceful Blackbuck. Desert Fox and desert cat can also be spotted along with typical avifauna such as partridge and sand grouse.

Transport

Rajasthan is is connected by many national highways. Most renowned being NH-8, which is India's first 4-8 lane highway. Rajasthan also has a good inter city surface transport system both in terms of railways and bus network. All important and tourist cities are connected by air, rail and road.

Statistics

* Population: 56.47 million (2001 Census, estimated at more than 58 million now)
* Cities and Towns: 222
* Major cities: Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Kota, Ajmer, Bikaner, Sikar, Churu, Bharatpur, Bhilwara, Alwar, Sri Ganganagar ,Pali,Makrana, Bundi,chittorgarh, Didwana, Sujangarh, Nagaur, Sikar
* Roads: 61,520 km. (2,846 km National Highway)
* National highways crossing Rajasthan: Delhi-Ahmedabad, Agra-Bikaner, Jaipur-Bhopal and Bhatinda-Kandla
* Climate: Generally dry with monsoon during July-August
* Districts: 33
* Languages: English and Hindi commonly used, as well as indigenous Rajasthani languages
* Literacy: 61.03%
* In the Indian province of Rajasthan alone for instance, between the years 1999 and 2002, crimes against Dalits by upper caste average at about 8024 a year, with 76 killings and 1838 cases of rape.


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