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Rajasthan

CAPITAL JAIPUR
AREA IN Sq. km 342,000
PRINCIPAL LANGUAGES HINDI AND RAJASTHANI

 

Rajasthan is located in the northwestern part of the subcontinent. It is bounded on the west and northwest by Pakistan, on the north and northeast by the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, on the east and southeast by the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and on the southwest by the state of Gujarat. The Tropic of Cancer passes through its southern tip in the Banswara district. The state has an area of 132,140 square miles (342,239 square kilometres). The capital city is jaipur.

In the west, Rajasthan is relatively dry and infertile; this area includes some of the Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert. In the southwestern part of the state, the land is wetter, hilly, and more fertile. The climate varies throughout Rajasthan. On average winter temperatures range from 8 to 28 C (46 to 82 F) and summer temperatures range from 25 to 46 C (77 to 115 F). Average rainfall also varies; the western deserts accumulate about 100 mm (about 4 in) annually, while the southeastern part of the state receives 650 mm (26 in) annually, most of which falls from July through September during the monsoon season.

Rajasthan has a single-chamber legislative assembly with 200 seats. The state sends 35 members to the Indian national parliament: 10 to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and 25 to the Lok Sabha (Lower House). Local government is based on 30 districts.

History

Archaeological and historical evidence shows a continuous human habitation of the area dating back 100,000 years. Between the 7th and the 11th century AD, several dynasties arose, with Rajput strength reaching its peak at the beginning of the 16th c. Emperor Akbar brought the Rajput states into the Mughal empire; by early 19th c, they allied with the Marathas. With the decline of the Mughals, the Rajputs gradually clawed back their independence through a series of spectacular victories, but, by then a new force to reckon with, had emerged on the scene in the form of the British. Most Rajput states entered into alliances with the British, which allowed them to continue as independent states, each with its own maharaja, subject to certain economic and political constraints. These alliances proved to be the beginning of the end of the Rajputs, and soon the extravagance and indulgence of the rulers led to the disintegration of the Rajput kingdoms.The present form of Rajasthan came into being after the Independence.

Society and Culture

The Rajputs (Rajputs) though representing only a small percentage of the population, are the most important section of the population in Rajasthan. They are proud of their warlike reputation and of their ancestry. The Brahman class is subdivided into many gotras, while the Mahajan (the trading class) is subdivided into a bewildering number of groups. Some of these groups are Jainas, while others are Hindus. In the north and west the Jats and Gujars are among the largest agricultural communities.

Aboriginal peoples in the Alwar, Jaipur, Bharatpur, and Dholpur areas include the Minas (Mewatis); the Banjaras, who are traveling tradesmen and artisans; and the Gadia Lohars, another itinerant tribe, who make and repair agricultural and household implements. The Bhils, one of the oldest peoples in India, inhabit the districts of Bhilwara, Chittaurgarh, Dungarpur, Banswara, Udaipur, and Sirohi and are famous for their skill in archery. The Grasias and nomadic Kathodis live in the Mewar region. Sahariyas are found in the Kota district, and the Rabaris of the Marwar region are cattle breeders.

The principal language of the state is Rajasthani, comprising a group of Indo-Aryan dialects derived from Dingal, a tongue in which bards once sang of the glories of their masters. The four main dialects are Marwari (in western Rajasthan), Jaipuri or Dhundhari (in the east and southeast), Malvi (Malwi; in the southeast), and, in Alwar, Mewati, which shades off into Braj Bhasa in Bharatpur district. The use of Rajasthani is declining with the spread of modern education, and its place is being taken by Hindi (the official state language of Rajasthan). Hinduism, the religion of most of the population, is generally practiced through the worship of Brahma, Siva, Sakti, Vishnu (Visnu), and other gods and goddesses. Nathdwara is an important religious centre for the Vallabhacarya sect of Krishna followers. There are also followers of the Arya Samaj, a reforming sect of modern Hinduism, as well as other forms of that religion. Jainism is also important; it has not been the religion of the rulers of Rajasthan but has followers among the trading class and the wealthy section of society. Mahavirji, Ranakpur, Dhulev, and Karera are the chief centres of Jaina pilgrimage. Another important religious sect is formed by the Dadupanthis, the followers of Dadu (d. 1603), who preached the equality of all men, strict vegetarianism, total abstinence from intoxicating liquor, and lifelong celibacy.

Islam, the religion of the state's second largest religious community, expanded in Rajasthan with the conquest of Ajmer by Muslim invaders in the late 12th century. Khwajah Mu'in-ud-Din Chishti, the Muslim missionary, had his headquarters at Ajmer, and Muslim traders, craftsmen, and soldiers settled there. The state's population of Christians and Sikh is small.

The typical folk dance of Rajasthan is the ghoomar, which is performed on festive occasions only by women. The geer dance (performed by men and women), the panihari (a graceful dance for women), and the kacchi ghori (in which male dancers ride dummy horses) are also popular. The most famous song is "Kurja," which tells the story of a woman who wishes to send a message to her absent husband by the kurja (a type of bird), who is promised a priceless reward for his service. Rajasthan has made its contribution to Indian art, and there is a rich literary tradition, especially of bardic poetry. Chand Bardai's poem Prithvi Raj Raso or Chand Raisa, the earliest manuscript of which dates to the 12th century, is particularly notable. A popular source of entertainment is the khyal, a dance drama composed in verse with festive, historical, or romantic themes. Rajasthan abounds in objects of antiquarian interest, including early Buddhist rock inscriptions, Jaina temples, forts, splendid princely palaces, and Muslim mosques and tombs.

The spring festival Gangaur during late March to early April and the Teej festival between early and late August are important. The Teej welcomes the monsoon, when the state's many lakes become full. The Pushkar camel and cattle fair during mid-November, the Nagaur festival during late January to early February and the Koolyat Fair at Bikaner during mid to late November are well known fairs. The Desert Festival at Jaisalmer during early to mid-February is a famous modern fair.

Economy and Infrastructure

Rajasthan's economy is mainly agricultural; millet, wheat, maize (corn), and cotton are grown. Though parts of the state are extremely dry, and are covered by the Thar desert, the total cultivable area in the state is 27,465 thousand hectares, and the sown area, 20,167 thousand hectares. Tourism is also an important part of the economy.

Primarily an agricultural and pastoral economy, Rajasthan have good mineral resources. Rajasthan accounts for India's entire output of zinc concentrates, emeralds and garnets, 94% of it's gypsum, 76% of silver ore, 84% of asbestos, 68% of felspar and 12% mica. It has rich salt deposits at Sambhar and elsewhere and copper mines at Khetri and Dariba. The white marble is mined at Markana near Jodhpur. The main industries are textiles, the manufacture of rugs and woolen goods, vegetable oils and dyes. Heavy industries includes the construction of railway rolling stock, copper and zinc smelting. The chemical industry also produces caustic soda, calcium carbide and sulphuric acid, fertiliser, pesticides and insecticides. The principal industrial complexes are at Jaipur, Kota, Udaipur and Bhilwara.

Having much arid land, Rajasthan needs extensive irrigation. It receives water from the Punjab rivers and also from the Western Yamuna (Haryana) and Agra canals (Uttar Pradesh) and from the Sabarmati and Narmada Sagar projects to the south. There are thousands of tanks (village ponds or lakes), but they suffer from drought and silt. Rajasthan shares the Bhakra Nangal project with the Punjab and the Chambal Valley project with Madhya Pradesh; both are used to supply water for irrigation and for drinking purposes. The Rajasthan Canal, renamed the Indira Gandhi Canal in the mid-1980s for the late prime minister, carries water from the Beas and Sutlej rivers in Punjab some 400 miles to irrigate desert land in northwestern and western Rajasthan.

Electricity supplies are obtained from neighbouring states and from the Chambal Valley project. There is a nuclear energy plant at Rawatbhata, near Kota. Rajasthan is well connected by rail, air and roads. Total length of roads was 77,347 km as on March 1999. Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bikaner, Kota, Sawai Madhppur and Bharatpur are main rail junctions of the state. Regular air services connect Jaipur, Jodhpur and udaipur with Delhi and Mumbai.

Tourist centres

Rajasthan has several tourist sights, especially in ancient and medieval architecture. Places of interest are Mount Abu, Ajmer, Alwar(Sariska tiger sanctuary), Bharatpur (Keoladeo bird sanctuary), Bikaner, Jaipur (the Pink City), Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pali, Jaisalmar and Chittorgarh. Tourism was given industry status in 1992.