Rajasthan, the opulent ‘Land of the Kings’ or the ‘Land of the Kingdoms’, is a centre for ancient traditions, folk cultures and historical architecture. Situated in Western India, it encompasses the Thar Desert, also called the Great Indian Desert. Little wonder that it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of India.
The history of this state begins with one of the oldest civilizations in the world - the Indus Valley Civilisation. Tribal communities of the Bhils and the Minas were the foremost inhabitants of the region. Mighty Aryans conquered Rajasthan and settled in the region of Dundhmer, defeating the Bhils and the Minas. Other communities of the state - the Gujaras and the Partiharas - came to power in 700 AD, giving the region the title of Rajputana, the Land of the Rajputs, a name that is synonymous with the state even today. Thirty one royal clans and twenty one dynasties arose from this powerful lineage, making Rajasthan a battlefield for the Parmars, the Chalukyas, the Chauhans and other Rajputs.
The Rajputs rose to prominence during the 6th century CE and resisted Muslim invasion, but declined with the rise of the Mughal Empire and the Delhi Sultanate. Under the reign of Akbar the Great, Rajput warriors like Rana Pratap, Bhappa Rawal, Rana Uday Singh and Prithviraj Chauhan emerged, finding their place among the immortal legends that this land is known for. With the downfall of the Mughal Empire in 1707, the Marathas came into power and acquired Ajmer in 1775. The British took over the land in the late 17th century and colonised it. The state, as it stands today, was formed in 1956.
The cultural diversity of this state is incredible, as are the traditions that remain strong after centuries. The art of the region is a beautiful concoction of bright colours, traditional prints and gorgeous mirror work. The state is renowned for its block printing, bagru printing, sanganer printing and zari embroidery techniques. These elements together make Rajasthan a shopper’s paradise, offering a variety of textiles, prints, wood work, pottery and carpets.
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