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Indian Subcontinent >> India >> Rajasthan >> Sightseeing in Rajasthan

Sightseeing in Rajasthan

The cities of Rajasthan have a medieval ambience even today, offering a traveller with wide range of sightseeing options. Old noisy bazaars, crowds in brightly coloured traditional costumes and vendors of all descriptions sell their wares, and visitors can buy the fabled handicrafts at throwaway prices. The harsh desert conditions seem to have spurred the indomitable people of this land to pour out their creative genius in arts and crafts, music & dance. And with the kings and nobles providing patronage, the arts flourished.

Little wonder that everything in the parched landscape was decorated -- donkeys, elephants, palaces, the interiors of forts and even the mud walls and floors of village huts. In the Shekhawati region in the north, often called an 'open air art gallery', you see 'havelis' decorated with frescoes, and even house facades and doorways embellished with colourful motifs. The state is also renowned for its exquisite miniature paintings from various schools, which flourished from the 16th century onwards.

Heritage towns

Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan is renowned as ‘The Pink City’ because of the colour of its buildings. It is a treasure house of palaces, fortresses, monuments, museums, temples and gardens. Take a sightseeing tour to the lakeside city, Udaipur, set in a valley surrounded by lush hills, and justifiably famous as ‘The Venice of the East.’

In the far west, Jaisalmer rises like a golden mirage in the heart of the Thar Desert, its massive fort in yellow sandstone defying description. And on the eastern edge of the desert, Jodhpur lies at the foot of the soaring Mehrangarh fort, a living testament to sagas of valour and heroism. The other cities of Rajasthan such as Chittaurgarh, Bundi, Bikaner and Bharatpur all have an equally long and colourful history.

Spiritual Stopovers

Devout Indians from different faiths come to Rajasthan’s pilgrim centres. The Dargah (tomb) of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, at Ajmer, considered the holiest Muslim pilgrim centre in the subcontinent after Mecca, draws Hindus as well as Muslims from all over the country; Pushkar is the site of a Brahma Temple, the only one in India where Lord Brahma, the Creator is worshipped, and attracts Hindu pilgrims in large numbers; the stunning Jain temples at Ranakpur and Mt. Abu, visited by Jain devotees, are equally favoured by tourists for their amazing architecture.

National Parks & Game Sanctuaries

Rajasthan’s nature reserves cover a broad spectrum with habitats ranging from the verdant and hilly Mt. Abu to the arid desert wastes of Thar. Protected by law, these habitats harbour a wide range of wildlife. The 800 sq km Sariska Tiger Reserve, just 200 km from Delhi, near Alwar, and the Desert National Sanctuary, 45 km from Jaisalmer are some of the prominent reserves and interesting places to visit in Rajasthan. The Sambhar Salt Lake, 70 km northeast of Ajmer, is one of the six sites in India designated by the World Wide Fund for Nature as a wetland of international importance and attracts several species of migratory birds in winter including flamingos.

The gorges, lakes and jungles of the 400 sq km Ranthambhore National Park are home to the panther, jackal, hyena, deer, marsh crocodile, monitor lizard and several species of resident and migratory birds. Most visitors come here, of course, in the hope of catching a glimpse of its famous resident, the tiger. And it is not uncommon for them to be rewarded!

Famous as a sanctuary for migratory birds from Europe and Central Asia is the bird retreat at Bharatpur, the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Once it was the hunting preserve of the rulers of Bharatpur, where an appalling number of birds used to be killed during shooting parties for royal guests. Today it is 29 sq km of very welcome wetlands for a wide variety of migrant and water birds who come here in thousands. You can go around the Park in a cycle rickshaw, whose driver will probably keep up a running commentary about the birds that you see!

Bird watchers eagerly look forward to the arrival of the celebrated winter visitor, the now endangered Siberian Crane that was spotted in the Park in 1999 after a 6-year gap. Sadly their numbers have severely dwindled due to poaching on the migration route. Other reserves, which you could visit for a quiet communion with nature, if you happen to be in their vicinity, are Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary, Jaisamand Sanctuary, Mt. Abu Sanctuary, Bhensrod Garh Sanctuary and Darrah Sanctuary (near Kota).


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