Rajasthan is indeed a fabulous realm of kings and their majestic forts and lavish palaces. The romantic remnants of a rich and glorious past have earned Rajasthan a place on most traveller’s wish lists. It is a land of desert dunes and jungle, camel trains and tigers, glittering jewels, vivid colors and a vibrant culture. There are enough festivals here to fill a calendar and an artist’s palette and the shopping and cuisine are nothing short of spectacular.
As with the rest of the north, Mughal influenced curries and smoky tandoori food is extremely popular, but there are a few favorites with a regional twist that are worth hunting down.
Rajasthan has been home to Rajputs, warrior clans who claim to originate from the sun, moon and fire, and who have controlled this part of India for more than 1000 years. The Rajputs bravery and sense of honor were unparalleled, they fought against all odds and when no hope was left, chivalry demanded jauhar(ritual mass suicide). With the Mughal empire declining, the Rajputs gradually clawed back independence – at least until British arrived. At independence, India’s ruling congress party was forced to make a deal with the nominally independent Rajput states to secure their agreement to join the New India.
Its capital Jaipur, is an enthralling historical city and the gateway to India’s most flamboyant state, named after its founder the great warrior astronomer Jai Singh II who came to power at age 11 after the death of his father, Maharaja Bishan Singh. At the city’s heart, the City Palace, the Jantar Mantar and the honeycomb Hawa Mahal gazes at the bazaar below. And just out of the sight, in the arid hill country surrounding the city, is the fairytale grandeur of Amber Fort.