Rajasthan the land of Rajasthanis, is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert (Thar Desert), which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with Pakistan. It is one of the most beautiful states of India which attracts very large number of domestic and foreign tourists in India. The state is bordered by Pakistan to the west, Gujarat to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north.
Jaipur is the capital and the largest city of the state. One of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli Range, cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, famous for Dilwara Temples, a sacred pilgrimage for Jains. Eastern Rajasthan has the world famous Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, once famous for its bird life and is a World Heritage Site and two famous national tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska Tiger Reserve. Rajasthan was formed on 30 March 1949, when all erstwhile princely states ruled by Rajputs, known as Rajputana, merged into the Dominion of India.
The history of India has an antiquity going back to five thousand years. Rajasthan played a proactive role in the making of Indian history, its civilization and its culture. Rajasthan’s impressive saga has a heroic past. Its extravagant splashes of bright hues juxtapose against the desert landscape. The miniature elegance of its small villages and impeccably maintained forts bring alive the story of the yore. The imposing appearance of its grand forts perched on rocky hills still tell the tale of the bravery of its men and the silent sacrifices of its women – not to forget the old world chivalry.
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 climate of Rajasthan can be divided into four seasons: summer, monsoon, post-monsoon and winter.
Summer extends from April to June, and is the hottest season, with temperatures ranging from 32°C to 45°C. In western Rajasthan the temperature may rise even to 48°C, particularly in May and June. At this time, Rajasthan’s only hill station, Mt Abu registers the lowest temperatures. In the desert regions, the temperatures drop at night. Prevailing winds are from the west and sometimes carry dust storms (we call them aandhi). The second season, Monsoon, extends from July to September. Temperature drops, but humidity increases, even when there is slight drop in the temperature (35°C to 40°C). 90 percent of rains occur during this period. The Post-monsoon period is from October to November. The average maximum temperature is 33 °C to 38 °C, and the minimum is between 18 °C and 20 °C. Winter season extends from December to March. There is a marked variation in maximum and minimum temperatures and regional variations across the State. January is the coldest month of the year. The temperature may drop to 0°C in some cities of Rajasthan like Churu.
Rajasthan’s economy is primarily agricultural and pastoral. Wheat and barley are cultivated over large areas, as are pulses, sugarcane, and oilseeds. Cotton and tobacco are the state’s cash crops. Rajasthan is among the largest producers of edible oils in India and the second largest producer of oilseeds. Rajasthan is also the biggest wool-producing state in India and the main opium producer and consumer. There are mainly two crop seasons. The water for irrigation comes from wells and tanks. The Indira Gandhi Canal irrigates northwestern Rajasthan.
The main industries are mineral based, agriculture based, and textiles. Rajasthan is the second largest producer of polyester fibre in India. The Bhilwara District produces more cloth than Bhiwandi, Maharashtra and the bhilwara is the largest city in suitings production and export. Several prominent chemical and engineering companies are located in the town of Kota, in southern Rajasthan. Rajasthan is pre-eminent in quarrying and mining in India. The Taj Mahal was built from the white marble which was mined from a town called Makrana. The state is the second largest source of cement in India. It has rich salt deposits at Sambhar, copper mines at Khetri, Jhunjhunu and zinc mines at Dariba, Zawar mines at Zawarmala for zinc, Rampura Aghucha near Bhilwara. Dimensional stone mining is also undertaken in Rajasthan. Jodhpur sandstone is mostly used in monuments, important buildings and residential buildings.This stone is termed as “chittar patthar”.
Some of the companies operating in Rajasthan include Infosys, Genpact, Wipro, Truworth, Deutsche Bank, NEI, MICO, Honda Siel Cars, Coca Cola and Procter and Gamble.
Flora and Fauna
Though a large percentage of the total area is desert, and even though there is little forest cover, Rajasthan has a rich and varied flora and fauna.
The Desert National Park, Jaisalmer, spread over an area of 3162 km, is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert, and its diverse fauna. Great Indian Bustard, Blackbuck, chinkara, desert fox, Bengal fox, wolf, desert cat etc. can be easily seen here. Seashells and massive fossilized tree trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert. The region is a haven for migratory and resident birds of the desert. One can see many eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures. Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), Tawny Eagles (Aquila rapax), Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), Laggar Falcons (Falco jugger) and kestrels are the commonest of these.
The Ranthambore National Park located in Sawai Madhopur, is one of the finest Tiger Reserves in the Country which became a part of Project Tiger in 1973. The Sariska Tiger Reserve located in Alwar district, 200 km from Delhi and 107 km from Jaipur covers an area of approximately 800 km2.The area was declared a National Park in 1979. Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is a very small sanctuary in Sujangarh , Churu District, 210 km from Jaipur, in the Shekhawati region. This sanctuary is home to a large population of graceful Blackbuck. Desert Fox and desert cat can also be spotted along with typical avifauna such as partridge and sand grouse.