RAJASTHAN The north-western region of India, which incorporates Rajasthan, remained in early history for the most part independent from the great empires consolidating their hold onthe subcontinent. Buddhism failed to make substantial inroads here; the Mauryan Empire (321-184 BC), whose most renowned emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism in262 BC, had minimal impact in Rajasthan. However, there are Buddhist caves and stupas (Buddhist shrines) at Jhalawar, in southern Rajasthan. Ancient Hindu scriptural epics make reference to sites in present day Rajasthan. The holy pilgrimage site of Pushkar is mentioned in both the Mahabharata and Ramayma.
The first external threat to the dominance of the Rajputs was that posed by the Arabs who took over Sind in 713. The Gurjara Pratiharas' response to the Arab threat was largely defensive. The Arabs were repulsed by the Gurjara Pratiharas led by their king, Nagabhata I, founder of the Pratihara Empire. The Arabs also tested their strength against the Rastrakut as. Unfortunately, when not pitting their wits against the Arabs, the Pratiharas and Rastrakut as were busy fighting each other. By the third decade of the 8th century, anew threat was emerging in the form of the Turks, who had occupied Ghazni in Afghanistan. Around 1001 AD, Mahmud of Ghazni's army descended upon India, destroying infidel temples and carrying off everything of value that could be moved. The Rajputs were not immune from these incursions; a confederation of Rajput rulers assembled a vast army and marched northwards to meet the advancing Turks. Unfortunately, how-ever, it was a case of too little, too late, and they were decisively and crushingly vanquished.
The Pratiharas, then centred at Kanauj, fled the city before the Turks arrived, and in their absence the temples of Kanauj, as with so many others in northern India, were sacked and desecrated, Towards the end of the 12th century, Mohammed of Ghori invaded India to take up where Mahmud of Ghazni had left off. Hemet with a collection of princely states which failed to mount a united front. Although initially repulsed, Ghori later triumphed, and Delhi and Ajmer were lost to the Muslims. Ajmer remained a Muslim stronghold over the centuries, apart from a brief period when it was retaken by the Rathores. Today it is an important Muslim place of pilgrimage.
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. 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 .
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 and is 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. Kathputli , 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.
Rajasthan is known for its traditional, colorful art. The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, and Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan. Handicraft items like wooden furniture and handicrafts, carpets, and 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.
The main religious festivals are Deepawali , Holi , Gangaur , Teej , Gogaji , Shri Devnarayan Jayanti , 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 winter. 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.
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. Rajasthani is used as a medium of instruction, along with Hindi and English, in some schools. Some other languages used in Rajasthan are Gujarati , Sindhi and Punjabi .
Rajasthan is also noted for National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. There are four national park and wildlife sanctuaries named the Keoladeo National Park of Bharatpur , Sariska Tiger Reserve of Alwar, Ranthambore National Park of Sawai Madhopur, and Desert National Park of Jaisalmer.
Ranthambore National Park and Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary both are known worldwide for their tiger population and considered by both wild lovers and photographers as the best places in India to spot tigers.some time before due to poaching and negligence tiger became extinct here, but recently 5 tigers have been shifted here to make them inhabit here. Besides, it houses several small wildlife sanctuaries and eco-tourism parks . Prominent among them are Mount Abu Sanctuary, Bhensrod Garh Sanctuary, Darrah Sanctuary , Jaisamand Sanctuary, Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary , Jawahar Sagar sanctuary and Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary.
Rajasthan is connected by many national highways. Most renowned being NH 8 , which is India's first 4–8 lane highway. Rajasthan also has an inter-city surface transport system both in terms of railways and bus network. All chief cities are connected by air, rail and road.
By Air: There are four main airports at Rajasthan- Jaipur airport, Udaipur airport, Jodhpur airport and Kota airport. These airports connect Rajasthan with the major cities of India such as Delhi and Mumbai.
By Rail: Rajasthan is connected with the main cities of India by rail. Jaipur, Kota, Bikaner, Ajmer, Udaipur and Jodhpur are the principal railway stations in Rajasthan. Kota City is the only Electrified Section served by three Rajdhani Expresses and trains to all cities of India.
By Road: Rajasthan is well connected to the main cities of the country including Delhi , Ahmedabad and Indore by State and National Highways and served by Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation ( RSRTC ) and Private operators.
Rajasthan, land of royals, has a rich past and magnificent heritage. Great personalities ruled various regions of Rajasthan and left marks of bravery, grandeur and valor. Rajasthan forts are the reminders of the great ancient culture and heritage. Every city of Rajasthan has forts be it Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Jodhpur or Bikaner. Forts here are the magnificent marvels of architecture and were generally built over hill tops, in the deserts or inside the jungles
Forts are the identity of Rajasthan and it is not Rajasthan without its array of forts. Every part of Rajasthan has several timeless and magnificent forts having its own history and tales about the bravery of its occupants.
Chittaurgarh Fort Jaisalmer Fort Taragarh Fort Junagarh Fort Mehrangarh Fort Amber Fort