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Rajasthan

Jaipur

Jaipur is 260 km from Delhi and 240 km from Agra and forms the golden triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. It a bustling capital city and a business centre with all the trappings of a modern metropolis but yet flavoured strongly with an age-old charm that never fails to surprise a traveller. The old Jaipur painted in Pink can grip any visitor with admiration. Stunning backdrop of ancient forts: Nahargarh, Amer, Jaigarh and Moti Doongari are apt testimonials of the bygone era and a reminder of their lingering romance and chivalry.

Places of Interest:

CITY PALACE:
Located in the heart of the walled city, the City Palace Complex gives you an idea about the farsightedness of the founder of Jaipur Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh. He left behind a legacy of some of the most imposing and magnificent architecture in the city. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh built many buildings but some of the structures were also built by later rulers. The palace is a blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture and the ex-royal family still lives in a part of the palace.

On entering the complex and before the proper palace lies the Mubarak Mahal, the palace of welcome or reception. Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh built the palace in the nineteenth century. It was used as a reception centre for the visiting personage. The building now forms the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum and on display here are a wide array of royal costumes, some very exquisite and precious Pashmina (Kashmiri) shawls, Benaras silk saris, Sanganeri prints and folk embroidery. An unusual display is that of voluminous clothes worn by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I (ruled 1750-68).

The Maharani's Palace, the palace of the Queen paradoxically puts on a display of the Rajput weaponry. The inestimable collections of weapons date back to even 15th century and are in a remarkable state of preservation. Remarkable amongst them is scissor-action dagger. This deadly weapon were so designed that the handles were released to spread the blades when thrust into bodies. The dagger was then withdrawn fatally tearing limb to limb of the body of the hapless victim. Other exhibits include protective chain armours, pistols, jewelled and ivory handled swords, a belt sword, small and assorted cannons guns, poison tipped blades and gun powder pouches. The frescoes on the ceiling are amazing and well preserved.

JANTAR MANTAR:

Vrihat Samrat Yantra (Equinoctial Sundial)
  • This is a Sun Dial that can give the time to an accuracy of 2 seconds.
  • Planned around 1732, completed around 1735.
  • Repaired in 1901–1902 with plaster scales of quadrants redrawn and gnomon edges engraved in red stone.
  • Scales surfaced with marble in 1945.
  • Red sandstone lining replaced the earlier masonry plaster surface after 1969 (Volwahsen, 2001)
  • Lime plastered in 2007 and storm water collection was channelised.
Sasthamsa Yantra (60 deg. Meridian Chamber)
  • It is used for measuring the declination and zenith distance of Sun
  • Constructed with the Vrihat Samrat Yantra
  • Initially, scales inscribed on smooth lime plaster surface, as also followed in 1901-1902 restoration. Marble scale introduced later
  • Pointed arches on surface of the eastern Sasthamsa filled up and affixed with doors. This infill removed in 2007 restoration to reveal the original arches
Jai Prakash Yantra (Hemispherical Inst.)
  • These are twin hemispherical bowl instruments, each one is a reflection of sky above
  • Constructed under the supervision of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (before 1743)
  • During later restorations, ten staircases leading to the underground rooms and corridors were walled up
  • Scales of plaster replaced with marble ones, after 1945 or in 1901-1902
  • Plinth protection in stone re-laid during 2007 restoration
Nadivalaya Yantra (Equinoctial Dial)
  • Helps in determining the time
  • Only northern part (Uttari Gola) built originally, southern part and the storage chamber added before the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh, when the whole building was rebuilt (1771)
  • Inscription on plaque on southern plate mentions date of second restoration to be January 25, 1771. First restoration possibly under the supervision of Sawai Madho Singh
  • In 2007, damaged calibrations were refilled with lead and the structure was plastered with lime. The access door was replaced
Horizontal Sun Dial atop Nadivalaya (Palabha)
  • Determines the time on the day of Equinox
  • Possibly constructed with the second restoration in 1771, when the southern face and chamber were added to the Nadivalaya Yantra
  • A cage added on top to protect it, though that prevents its use for observational purposes. The cage was removed during the 2007-2008 restoration work to reveal the instrument
Krantivritta Yantra
  • Measurement of celestial latitudes and longitudes
  • Said to have been built according to instruction of Pandit Jagannath (under Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, before 1743) and never have been completed, with superstructure missing
  • Superstructure not built during 1901-1902 restoration either, as it was assumed to have been too heavy for the support
  • No work carried out in 2007 as it was in good condition
Dakshinottara Bhitti Yantra (Meridian Dial)
  • Measures the altitude or the angular height of celestial bodies when the cross the local meridian
  • Demolished from original location & rebuilt stone-by-stone at present site. Present instrument built in 1876 with marble scales and lead filled engravings, as a replacement for the dilapidated one built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II in 1728 to the north of the small Samrat Yantra
  • Originally, internal rooms were stuccoed with a thin layer of white plaster and red layers were applied later
  • In 2007, the damaged lime plaster was replaced and it was finished with lime wash. A damaged wooden door was replaced and the plinth protection was re-laid in lime.
Yantra Raj (Astrolabe)
  • Used for measuring ascendant altitude, time, position of the sun and that some other celestial objects
  • No record, though Tieffenthaler (1750’s) mentions two large metal astrolabes suspended on iron rings
  • In 2007, the masonry was repaired and damaged timber beams were replaced with matching timber
Chakra Yantra (Measures Declination of a Celestial Body)
  • Measures declination distance from North or South of the celestial equator
  • No records of construction date
  • In 2007, the plinth protection was re-laid in lime and lead was refilled in the calibrations
Digamsa Yantra (Azimuth Circle)
  • Determines the azimuth of a celestial object
  • Constructed under the supervision of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (before 1743)
  • The marble was a part of later additions
  • Only damaged lime plaster was replaced in 2007
Unnathamsa Yantra
  • Measures altitude or angular height of a celestial object
  • Constructed under the supervision of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (before 1743)
  • In 2007, the timber beam was consolidated, lime plaster redone and decorative elephant brackets revealed
Rasivalaya Yantra (Ecliptic Dial)
  • Measures the celestial latitude and longitude of zodiacs
  • Constructed before 1750’s (Tieffenthaler’s visit), though not a part of initial lists from Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh’s time. Repaired in 1870’s under the supervision of Maharaja Ram Singh. Angles altered by Garrett during 1901-1902 restorations – maximum alteration: 0o 29’ in Azimuth and 2o 28’ in Altitude
  • In 2008, the damaged plinth stone on edges were replaced and broken edges of instruments repaired with lime mortar
Kapala Yantra (Hemispherical Dial)
  • Used for measuring the ascendant and zodiacs
  • Constructed under the supervision of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (before 1743)
  • Surfacing with stone done in 20th century In 2007, the plinth protection was relaid in lime and lead was refilled in the calibrations.
Laghu (Small) Samrat Yantra (Equinoctial Sundial)
  • Measures time
  • Possibly constructed under the supervision of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (before 1743)
  • Clad in red and white quartzite under the supervision of Maharaja Ram Singh in 1876
  • Clad in red and white quartzite under the supervision of Maharaja Ram Singh in 1876
  • Now fully restored
Great Ram Yantra (Cylindrical Inst.)
  • This measures the local co-ordinates of altitude and azimuth of celestial objects
  • The original structure in plaster from the period of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II (before 1743), was restored in stone in 1891 under the supervision of Sawai Madho Singh II
  • No intervention in 2007 except pointing of joints with lime mortar
Small Ram Yantras (Cylindrical Inst.)
  • Constructed as models for the rebuilding of the Great Ram Yantras in 1891
  • Date not known, could have been from Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II’s time
  • No work carried out in 2007
Dhruva Darshaka Yantra (North Star Indicator)
  • Determines the position of Pole Star
Disha Yantra/ Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh’s Seat
  • Indicates direction
  • Present in 1750’s when Tieffenthaler visited Jaipur. Circular engraving possibly from 1870’s
  • Recent attempt at repairing the damaged plinth in 2008 has revealed concentric masonry rings below the plinth and experts are trying to decipher the purpose of these rings (possibly to level ground by filling water)

Albert Hall:

Located just outside the walled city is the sprawling Ram Niwas garden, which has always been a place for recreational activities since the reign of Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh. This exquisitely designed garden with four sentry doors and a huge complex with small pools and fountains, flourishing lawns and beautiful flower beds all around was basically a famine relief project. It mostly attracted the British families where they entertained their guests and families quite often with the elaborate gowns of the women and formal colourful attires of the nobles and the high society club members. This park would come alive with the setting sun. Their individual 'Baggis'( horse carriages) were parked outside in a line and the attendants were at the beck and call. The children had a gala time playing around on 'jhulas'(swing) etc. During day time it was opened for the common public and by evening it was available for the exclusive lot.

Situated in the middle of the garden as the centre of attraction is the exquisitely built structure of Albert Hall. It was designed by Sir Swinton Jacob, a British architect who designed many palaces in Rajasthan. Combining the elements of English and north Indian architecture – it was known as the pride of the New Jaipur when it opened in 1887 AD. it is a very well maintained and impressive building displaying a rich collection of artefacts like paintings, carpets, ivory, stone, metal sculptures, colourful crystal works etc. The Albert Hall museum undergoing renovation. Right opposite the Albert Hall is one of the oldest zoos in the country, harbouring different species of birds and animals. Another piece of attraction near Albert Hall is the Ravindra Rang Manch (theatre) with a modern art gallery and a performing arts theatre, both indoor and open air.

Moti Dungri and Ganesh Temple:

In the middle of Jaipur is a small hill Moti Dungri meaning pearl hill, because it looks like a drop of pearl. An exotic palace is perched atop the hill which is a replica of a Scottish castle once occupied by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh. From there on, it remained a private property of the royal family. In the recent past it served as a home for Rajmata Gaytri Devi's only son, the late Jagat Singh. The mere view of this castle is exotic enough. The highlight of this place is the famous and auspicious temple of Lord Ganesh, which is situated at the hill. It is frequented by Jaipurites on religious occasions.

Moti Dungri and Ganesh Temple:

In the middle of Jaipur is a small hill Moti Dungri meaning pearl hill, because it looks like a drop of pearl. An exotic palace is perched atop the hill which is a replica of a Scottish castle once occupied by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh. From there on, it remained a private property of the royal family. In the recent past it served as a home for Rajmata Gaytri Devi's only son, the late Jagat Singh. The mere view of this castle is exotic enough. The highlight of this place is the famous and auspicious temple of Lord Ganesh, which is situated at the hill. It is frequented by Jaipurites on religious occasions.

Hawa Mahal:

The poet king Sawai Pratap Singh built this palace of winds. This is easily the most well-known landmarks of Jaipur and is also its icon. Located in the City Palace complex, it is best viewed from the road outside. This five-storey building overlooking the busy bazaar street is a fascinating example of Rajput architecture and artistry with its delicately honeycombed 953 pink sandstone windows known as 'jharokhas'. It was originally built for the ladies of the royal household to watch everyday life and processions in the city from their veiled comfort.

Most people come here to get a view of the facade but they can also climb to the top for a wonderful view from the latticed windows. There is also a small archaeological museum there.

Jaigarh Fort:

The Jaigarh fort is the most spectacular of the three-hilltop forts that overlook Jaipur. In Mughal times, the Jaipur region was a major weapon-producing centre for the Mughal and Rajput rulers, several of the weapons being on display in the fort's museum. It is one of the few military structures of medieval India preserved almost intact, containing palaces, a granary, a well-planned cannon foundry, several temples, a tall tower and giant mounted cannon-the Jai Ban (Jaivan) which is the largest cannon on wheels in the world. Jaigarh Fort is also known as the fort of victory. The display includes a collection of canons, many of which are exquisitely decorated and were used in the Mughal campaigns led by the Rajput King, Raja Man Singh. The Jaigarh fort is the most spectacular of the three-hilltop forts that overlook Jaipur. In Mughal times, the Jaipur region was a major weapon-producing centre for the Mughal and Rajput rulers, several of the weapons being on display in the fort's museum. It is one of the few military structures of medieval India preserved almost intact, containing palaces, a granary, a well-planned cannon foundry, several temples, a tall tower and giant mounted cannon-the Jai Ban (Jaivan) which is the largest cannon on wheels in the world. Jaigarh Fort is also known as the fort of victory. The display includes a collection of canons, many of which are exquisitely decorated and were used in the Mughal campaigns led by the Rajput King, Raja Man Singh.

Of Jaipur's three forts, Jaigarh is perhaps the most imposing. It does not have those delicate structures or palaces like that of Amber but if you want a quick look at a hard-core fortress, this is it. Jaigarh means `Victory Fort' and was built between the 15th and the 18th century AD, and stands 15 km from Jaipur, amidst rock-strewn, thorn-scrub covered hills, its forbidding stone ramparts being visible from the Jaipur town. A steep road goes up to the main gate, the Dungar Darwaza, from where the view is inspiring.

Nahargarh Fort:

Nahargarh Fort is located on the rugged ridge of Aravali Hills and it forms an impressive northern backdrop of Jaipur. It looks most classy when floodlit at night. The fort overlooks the city and presents a glittering view of the city lights. It was built in 1734 and extended in 1868. Nahargarh meaning abode of the tigers was built by Jai Singh to bolster the defence of Amber. The legend has it that it was named Nahargarh after Nahar Singh, a prince whose spirit would destroy the construction and stall its progress. So after a tantrik invoked the spirit, it agreed to withdraw on condition that the fort would be named after him. The Madhavendra Bhawan, built by Sawai Madho Singh has a unique cluster of 12 identical suites for queens and at the head is a suite for the king himself. The rooms are linked by corridors and retain some delicate frescoes as well as toilets and kitchen hearths. It was used by members of the royal family for excursion in summers and is even now a favoured picnic spot. Durg Cafeteria just above the entrance sells meals and refreshments, while Padao Restaurant on the west sells drinks around sunset.

Amber Palace:

Amber (pronounced Amer) is situated about 11 kilometres from Jaipur and was the ancient citadel of the ruling Kachwahas of Amber, before the capital was shifted to the plains, the present day Jaipur. The Amber Fort set in picturesque and rugged hills is a fascinating blend of Hindu and Mughal architecture. Constructed by Raja Man Singh I in 1592 and completed by Mirja Raja Jai Singh the fort was made in red sand stone and white marble. The rugged forbidding exterior belies an inner paradise with a beautiful fusion of art and architecture. Amber is the classic and romantic fort-palace with a magnificent aura. The interior wall of the palace depicts expressive painting scenes with carvings, precious stones and mirror settings. In the foreground is the Maota Lake providing a breathtaking vista. Built mainly for the warring enemies as a safe place, the heavily structured walls could defend the residents within the ramparts of the fort. All means of survival and luxuries for the royal families and the people who were concerned with the functioning of this small kingdom of the Kachhawas were well provided. The Rajputs who had apparently won a small structure passed on by Meena tribes, later on renovated it into the grand Amber Fort. Holding a history as old as seven centuries, this place vibrates with its legendary past. Although many of the early structures have been literally ruined but at the same time, those dating from 16th century onwards are remarkably well preserved by sincere efforts.

Jaisalmer:

The name Jaisalmer evokes utter magic and vibrancy of the desert. It’s straight out of an Arabian Nights fable. The hostile terrain notwithstanding the warmth and colour of people is simply overwhelming. One of the main draws is the daunting 12th century Jaisalmer Fort. The beautiful havelis which were built by wealthy merchants of Jaisalmer are yet another interesting aspect of the desert city. And you can let your eyes caress the sloping sand dunes while you ramble your way in a camel safari. The desert citadel is truly a golden fantasy in the Thar Desert. Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal, after whom the city finds its name, founded Jaisalmer in 1156 AD.

On advice of a local hermit Eesaal he chose the Tricut Hills as his new abode, abandoning his vulnerable old fort at Luderwa just 16 kilometres northwest. In Medieval times, its prosperity was due to its location on the main trade route linking India to Egypt and Arabia. The Bhati Rajput rulers lined their coffers with gains from traditional taxes levied on passing by caravans. They also amassed wealth through questionable means.

Places of Interest:

Sam Sand Dunes and Camel Ride:

Some 45 kms towards the west of the Jaisalmer city are located the barren yet beautiful shifting sand dunes adjoining the village Sam. Here one can have a ride on camel – the ship of desert in the desert sea. Beautiful folk dancers enrich the visitor's experience with traditional flavour of joy.

Khuri Village & Sand Dunes:

Khuri is a village 45 km south west of Jaisalmer. It is a delightfully peaceful place with mud and straw decorated houses. One kilometre away from the village, patches of sand dunes are additional attractions for the tourists. There is regular bus service that runs from Jaisalmer to Khuri village. Villagers in their rural world can be seen on the way to Khuri.

Jaisalmer Fort:

The Jaisalmer fort, known as Sonar Quila or the Golden fort, rises from the sand and merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience. The setting sun in its most colourful shades gives it a fairy tale appearance. It is simply magical – as the bastions envelop a whole township that consists of the palace complex, the intricately carved havelis of rich merchants, several temples and the residential complexes of the armies and traders placed strategically on the trade route. It was from this trade route that the ancient caravans passed, distributing the riches for the prosperity to an otherwise non resourceful kingdom. These merchants served and acquired a great deal of power and noble status in the royal courts of Bhatti Rajputs who founded the state in the 12th century AD and proceeded further. However, the rich merchants inspired by the classic style of the royals, constructed huge mansions (havelis) adjacent to each other in the nature of medieval culture and profusely decorated the walls and ceilings and intricately carved the outdoors and interiors. The colourful art forms had some how relegated the royal heritage to a position of secondary importance. The craftsmen were usually Muslims who were induced on their journey to exhibit their skills in art forms. The result was an architectural purity that cannot be seen elsewhere.

Government Museum:

Established by the Department of Archeology and Museum. It is another prime attraction for the visitors to Jaisalmer. The trophy of the state bird Godawan - the great Indian bustard, is the most eye catching spot. Traditional house-hold items, rock-cut crockery and jewellery recreate the atmosphere of a by-gone era. A look at the statues of 7th-9th century AD creates a scenario of rich cultural heritage of the time.

Deewan Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli:

Two architect brothers built it in the 19th century. Interestingly, while one concentrated on the right, the other concentrated on the left and the result is a symphony epitomizing the side-by-side symmetry during construction. Paintings in miniature style monopolize the walls in the interior. Mighty tuskers carved out of yellow sandstone stand guard to the haveli. It is a private property.

Patwan Ki Haveli:

A group of apartments, this is one of the largest and most elaborate of Havelis in Jaisalmer and stands in a narrow lane. It is five storeys high and is extensively carved. A part of this beautiful building is owned by the Department of Archaeology and Museum. There are remnants of some paintings on the walls inside as well as some mirror work. This has been the star attraction of Jaisalmer.

Badal Mahal:

The delicate pagoda like Tazia Tower rises from Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace). Rising in its five-tiered splendour, with each storey graced by a delicately carved balcony, the tower is of historical significance. Muslim craftsmen built it in the shape of a Tazia (A float taken in procession Muharram) as symbol of their religion in the town for royal patrons.

Half portion of this palace is converted into a heritage hotel named Mandir Palace and another portion of the palace as Badal Vilas, the residence of the ex-ruler’s family.

Desart National Park:

The Desert National Park is an excellent example of the eco-system of the Thar Desert and its rich fauna. The Sudashri forest post is the most ideal place for observing wildlife in the Desert National Park. Sand dunes form less than 20 per cent of the park, which consists of craggy rocks, pavements and compact salt lake bottoms, inter-medial areas and fixed dunes. 

Its inhabitants include the blackbuck, chinkara, wolf, Indian fox, desert fox, hare and desert cat. Flights of sand-grouse start coming to waterholes from sunrise onwards. One can also hear the morning call of the grey partridge. Blue tailed and green bee-eaters, common and bush quail and Indian rollers are birds, which are commonly found around waterholes. The park is also home to the great Indian bustard – the state bird of Rajasthan. To visit the Desert National Park enclosure at Sudhasari, prior permission is required from the Desert National park office.

Jodhpur:

This bustling desert city is the second largest in Rajasthan after Jaipur. It was founded by Rao Jodha, the leader of the Rathore clan, in 1459 AD. The mammoth, imposing fortress (Meherangarh) has a landscape dominating a rocky ridge with the eight gates leading out of fortress. The new city is outside the structure.

The Rathores enjoyed good relations with the Mughals.  Maharaja Jaswant Singh (1678) supported Shah Jahan in the latter's war of succession. The relations with the Mughals soured during the reign of Aurangzeb who launched a crusade against the Hindus, made preparations to bring the state of Marwar under his control, ordered demotion of temples and revival of Jeziya.   After Aurangzeb's death, Maharaja Ajit Singh drove out the Mughals from Ajmer and added it to Marwar.

In the reign of Maharaja Umed Singh Jodhpur grew into a modern city. The quintessence of Jodhpur was its valour and equestrian skill. Polo has been the traditional sport of the Jodhpur nobility since medieval times.

Places of Interest:

Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur:

Built by Maharaja Umaid Singh ( 1929 – 1942 ) and named after him, this exquisite Palace is also known as Chittar Palace because of the local chittar sandstone used in it. It is a splendid example of Indo-colonial and art deco architecture of the 30s. A unique feature of this palace is the fact that the manually chiselled sandstone blocks have been put together in a special system of interlocking. There is no mortar binding. A portion of the palace has been converted into a hotel, the other remains on view to visitors in the form of an excellent museum which houses model aeroplanes, weapons, antique clocks, bob watches, priceless crockery and hunting trophies. Both sections retain the ambience of royal splendour.

Govt. Bangur Museum:

This Museum was opened for public on 19 July, 1991. The main attractions of this museum are the idol of Sukali Mata brought from Auwa. The idol of Vishnu, paintings from the Jodhpur school of painting and a rich collection of coins and idols are other attractions. It is situated in the Pali City, near the old bus stand.

Mehrangarh Fort

Perched on a 150 m high hill its sprawl is the most formidable and magnificent fort in Rajasthan. Rao Jodha founded it in 1459 but subsequent rulers of Jodhpur have also added to it over the centuries. A meandering road leads to the from the city 5 kms below. Battle scars of canon ball hit by attacking armies of Jaipur can still be seen on the second gate. To the left is chhatri of Kirat Singh Soda, a soldier who fell on the spot while defending the fort against the armies of Amber. There are seven gates, which include Jayapol meaning victory built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies.

Fatehpol also meaning victory gate was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of Mughals. The palm imprints still attract devotional attention and are covered by vermilion paste and paper-thin silver foil.

Fort Museum:

This is one of the finest museums in Rajasthan and certainly the best laid out. In the palanquin section of the fort museum, you can see an interesting collection of old royal palanquins including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin, which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730. The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms.

Phool Mahal:

The grandest of Mehrangarh's period rooms, the Phool Mahal was in all likelihood a private and exclusive chamber of pleasure dancing girls. It has a ceiling rich in gold filigree. The Phool Mahal was created by Maharaja Abhaya Singh (1724-1749) and the gold came from Ahmedabad in Gujarat as war booty after his famous victory over the rebellious Mughal governor, Sarbuland Khan. The paintings, royal portraits and the ever-popular raga mala, came much later, in the reign of Jaswant Singh II.

Jhanki Mahal:

The Jhanki Mahal, from where the royal ladies watched the official proceedings, in the courtyard, today houses a rich collection of the royal cradles. The cradles are decorated with gilt mirrors and figures of fairies, elephant and birds.

Jaswant Thada:

On the way down from the fort, on left is Jaswant Thada, the graceful marble cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. His son Maharaja Sardar Singh built this monument known as the Taj Mahal of Marwar in the memory of Maharaj Jaswant Singh II of Jodhpur. The main memorial has been built like a temple with intricately carved marble stone. A visit to this structure is through the rocky hills giving it a secluded and a mystic aura.

Government Museum:

This museum nestles in the middle of Umaid Public Garden and houses a rich collection of exhibits – armoury, textiles, local art and crafts, miniature paintings, portraits of rulers, manuscripts and images of Jain Tirthankaras. Umaid Public Garden also houses a zoo.

Mandore Garden:

Mandore was the former capital of Maharajas of Marwar and is located about 5 miles north of Jodhpur but was later abandoned for the security of Mehrangarh fort. Here you will find the dewals or cenotaphs of Jodhpur's former rulers.  Unlike the usual chhatri-shaped cenotaphs typical of Rajasthan, they were built along the lines of a Hindu temple, four storeys  high, with fine columns and an elegant spire, all in red sandstone. The most impressive is the dewal of Maharaja Ajit Singh (reigned 1678-1724). These cenotaphs are set in beautiful landscaped gardens. Nearby is the hall of heroes, dedicated to various deities and fabled Rajput folk heroes, whose statues are carved out of rock and painted in bright colours. Next door is a larger hall called "The Shrine of the Three Hundred Million filled with brightly coloured images of the various Hindu Gods. As you climb up the hill, you come to the ruined city of Mandore, with its old palace. The beautiful Maharani's cenotaphs set apart on a rocky outcrop are a ten-minute walk over the hill. Today its extensive gardens with high rock terrace make it a popular local attraction.

Osian:

The ancient town of the Thar Desert was a great trading center between 8th to 12th centuries AD. Today it is a desert oasis with 16 Brahamanical and Jain temples. These are beautifully sculpted and designed, and most of them have stood the ravages of time. The highlight of this place is its camel ride at the time of the sunset. The tourists have the liberty to watch the architectural forms during camel ride and return to the camps or the resorts. This is followed by drinks. The evening is marked by performing arts and choice of oriental cuisines arranged in the ethnic style of that region. The stay at the camps is highly refreshing.

Guda: A Bishnoi Village:

It is the nearest point from Jodhpur to experience exotic wildlife and nature. During the season thousands of birds can be seen here. The demoiselle Crane is a great attraction. There is pond with water for the antelopes and black bucks of nearby area. One can also visit to the villages of potters, weavers, shoe makers, shepherds, Bishnois, etc. in the area around.

Kailana Lake:

Situated on Jaisalmer road, this small artificial lake is an ideal picnic spot. It is like a canvas with a splash of romantic colours. The beauty here will linger on your mind for a long time.Boating facilities are also available.

Mahamandir Temple:

Mahamandir, meaning a great temple, is a sanctified spot where tranquility reigns supreme. Situated on Mandore road, the temple is an architectural wonder, supported by 84 pillars and ornamented with detailed designs and figures depicting various postures of Yoga. The entire structure is marked by a unique style.

Ranakpur Jain Temples:

It is situated about 100 km. south east of Pali and about 9 km. south of Sadri town. The Jain Community, like several others, had always enjoyed the patronage of the ruling family of Mewar and quite a few important positions were held by the Jains. The rulers were also particularly supportive of their temple building activities. In the 15th century, Rana Kumbha of Mewar gave large stretch of land in a quiet and picturesque valley, deep in the Aravalis, to the Jains. This area came to be known as Ranakpur. Located 96 km from Udaipur, this is one of the five main holy places of the Jains. Although over 500 years old, these temples are well preserved and are almost in perfect condition. The central temple is the Chomukha Temple. Dedicated to Adinath, the first Jain Tirthankar (saint), this three-storey temple is the most complex and exquisite in design. It has 29 halls, 80 domes and 1,444 pillars. What is interesting here is the fact that no two pillars are alike. Each one of these pillars is covered with the most intricate carvings.

Somnath Temple:

This temple of Lord Shiva is famous for its historical background and sculptures. It is situated in the middle of the Pali City. It was constructed by the King of Gujarat, Kumarpal Solanki, in the Vikram Samvat 1209. In the premises, there are many small temples of other gods and goddesses.

Terah Tali:

The village Padarla is famous for its “Terah Tali Dance” all over the world because of its unique style. Among the folk dances it has become the symbol of Pali. Other folk dances are Kachi Ghodi of village Mundara, Ghoomer of Bhil Ladies, Gangaur and Gavri dance of Garasias and Ran dance of village Busi.

Machiya Safari Park:

This park lies on the way to Jaisalmer, about 1km from Kailana Lake. The key fauna of the safari park includes, deer, desert fox, monitor lizard, blue bulls, rabbits, wild cats, mongoose, monkeys etc. There is also large number of birds, which can be seen from an exclusive bird watching point. One can also see the sunset from the fort of the park.

Pali:

Pali is named after the Paliwal Brahmins who once inhabited the area. Ancient Pali housed a highly evolved civilization. The land, leased by the then chief of Mandore (the former capital of Jodhpur district), was cultivated diligently by the Paliwals who abandoned their former priestly profession. The temples of Somnath and Naulakha are very old. Naulakha Jain temple has elaborate carvings while Somnath Shiv temple is known for its exquisite sculptures.

Sojat:

The Sojat town is situated on the left bank of the Sukri River near Pali town, known as Tamravati in ancient times. The fort has a big reservoir and several temples like Sejal Mata, Chaturbhuj and others. The old temple of Chamunda Mata is located on the top of one of the hillocks. Dargah of Pir Mastan is the main attraction at the time of Urs. One of the major attractions of this city is the plantation of “Mehendi” trees, a herbal plant where the leaves are squashed into a thin paste and applied on the hands and the feet in various attractive designs. This traditional art form is now known all over the world and has been internationally adopted in the fashion circuit. Many of the foreign tourists who happen to take this particular route are tempted to take a break for decorating their palms and feet with ‘mehandi’ (henna).

Other prominent places to be visited are the temple of Ramdeoji near village Biratiya, the fort of Desuris and Kurki, the birth place of Mirabai. The legendry poetess (Mirabai) dedicated her entire life worshiping lord Krishna and spreading his message all over. Jawai bandh and Jain temples of Narlai are also worth visiting.

Nimaj: 

Nimaj has a temple, dedicated to goddess Durga,  built in 9th century AD. It also covers a unique art gallery showcasing some masterpieces of sculptural art, adorned within natural surroundings.

Nadol:

It is situated on the Rani – Desuri road in the north-west of Desuri. Nadol is now a small village but once it was the capital of the Chauhans of  Shakambhari. The ancient ruins still speak of the past glory, which this place enjoyed. Mahmud of Ghazni on his march against Somnath Temple is said to have passed through Nadol. Later Qutub-Uddin-Aibak, the lieutenant of Mohammad Ghori captured this place.

There are many famous temples in the village and its vicinity. There is a beautiful Jain temple of Padma Prabhunath. The temples of Somnath and Rikheshwar Mahadeo are on the top of a nearby rock. The nearby temple of Ashapura Mataji is a family deity of ex-Chauhan kings of Nadol. On the bank of a pond near the burial grounds is the temple of the Hanumanji which has an exceedingly beautifully carved toran or doorways made of marble.

Ghanerao:

Ghanerao is a village in Desuri tehsil, situated in the south-west of Desuri on the road leading to Sadri. The place was held by a Jagirdar of the erstwhile Jodhpur state prior to independence. There are many Hindu and Jain temples in this village and its vicinity. There are about 11 Jain temples, some of which are quite old. In the village are also Hindu temples of Laxmi Narayanji, Murlidhar and Charbhujaji. On the outskirts of the village is situateda ‘math’ known as Giriji Ki Dhani. A temple of Gajanand here is worth seeing.

Auwa:

Auwa is situated 12 km to the south of headquarter of Marwar Junction Tehsil. Previously, Auwa village was a part of Jodhpur State. The place came into great prominence during the the first war of insependence of 1857 when its Jagirdar Thakur Kushal Singh revolted against the Britishers. He gave a great blow to the British prestige by repulsing the forces led by Brigadier Lawrence. Thereafter, Col. Home with a large force besieged the place and evacuated it. The place has ancient temples of Lord Mahadeo on its outskirts, which is believed to have been constructed in the 11th century AD.

In 1857 mutiny broke out in neighboring Abu and Erinpura. The British dispatched 30,000 troops to quell and capture. Auwa (in Pali district). The British destroyed the fort and the palace. Even temples and their idols were not spared. The statue of goddess Mahakali brought to Ajmer is still kept in the Ajmer Museum.

Nagaur:

The Ahhichatragarh Fort is a medium size fort, built by Mughal Emperors Akbar and Shah Jahan. A well planned Mughal Garden retains its old pleasant appearance even today. The city and buildings show distinct Muslim influence. A five domed mosque built by Emperor Akbar dominates the landscape. The city is best visited during the Ramdeoji Ka mela and Tejaji ka mela (fair) in February and August respectively.

Bikaner:

Lying in the north of the desert State, the city is dotted with scores of sand dunes. Bikaner retains the medieval grandeur that permeates the city's lifestyle. More readily called the camel country, the city is distinguished for the best riding camels in the world and hence boasts of having one of the largest Camel Research and Breeding farms in the world. The ship of the desert is an inseparable part of life here. A camel besides being a mode of transport, also works on wells. These are built on high plinths with slender minarets on each of the four corners and can be noticed even from a distance.

The history of Bikaner dates back to 1486 when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji founded his kingdom. Bikaji was one of the five sons of Rao Jodhaji the illustrious founder of Jodhpur. But Rao Bikaji was the most adventurous of them. It is said that an insensitive remark from his father about his whispering in the Durbar provoked Bikaji to set up his own kingdom towards the north of Jodhpur. The barren wilderness called Jangladesh became his focul point and he transformed it into an impressive city. He accomplished this task with 100 cavalry horses and 500 soldiers, and established his kingdom on 84 villages abandoned by the 'Shankhlas'. When Bikaji died in 1504 his rule had extended to over 3000 villages.

The strategic location of Bikaner on the ancient caravan routes that came from West/Central Asia made it a prime trade centre in those times. Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground and is circumscribed by a seven km long embattledwall with five gates. The magnificent forts and palaces, created with delicacy in reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich historical and architectural legacy. Surging lanes, colourful bazaars with bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner an interesting experience. Modern Bikaner is the result of the foresight of its most eminent ruler Maharaja Ganga Singh (1887-1943) whose reformative zeal set the pace for Bikaner transformation from a principality to a premier princely state. 

Places of Interest:

Junagarh:

It is an unassailable fortress, which had never been conquered. Built in 1593 A.D. by Raja Rai Singh, one of the most distinguished generals in the army of Emperor Akbar, the fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat.

The main entrance to the fort is Karan Pol [gate] that  is facing east. Next to it is the Suraj Pol meaning the sun gate. In the fort complex are some magnificent palaces like Anup Mahal, Ganga Niwas and Rang Mahal or palace of pleasure. The Har Mandir is the majestic chapel for the royal family for worshipping their gods and goddesses. These palaces, constructed in red sandstone and marble, make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows dotted all over the structure. The premises also house a museum, which has an array of rich collection.

Lallgarh Palace:

This grand palace is an architectural masterpiece in red sandstone, and was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the memory of his father Maharaja Lall Singh in 1902. Sir Swinton Jacob designed this oriental fantasy. This architecture is a fusion of  Rajput. oriental fantasy. Mughal and European architecture. The exterior contrasts dramatically with the oriental interiors and amenities. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work, which are the hallmarks of great craftsmanship. The Palace has an amazing collection of well maintained paintings and hunting trophies. Sprawling lawns with blooming bougainvillaea and dancing peacocks make for a visual extravaganza.

Bhandeswar Jain Temple:

It is a fifteenth century temple and is the oldest monument of Bikaner. The temple is decorated with rich mirror work, frescoes and gold leaf paintings.

Havelis are ancient mansions of the noble and wealthy. They are known for their opulent lifestyle and intricate carvings and craftsmanship along with sprawling courtyards. Bikaner is full of such havelis and the notable notable amongst them belong to Kotharis, Rampurias, Vaids and Dagas. To view these havelis, the suggested route is Gogagate, Daddhon Ka Chowk, Rangari Chowk, Assanion Ka Chowk, Mohta Chowk, Binnanion Ka Chowk, Daga Chowk, BK School and Jassuar Gate.

Ganga Government Museum:

Popularly described as the best museum in the State, it displays a rich array of archaeological discoveries from prehistoric Harrapan and early Gupta period. Separate sections put on view paintings, arts and craft, terracotta, pottery, carpets, coins and ancient Rajput weaponry. 

Sadul Museum:

Part of the Lallgarh Palace has been converted into a luxury hotel and a museum known as Shri Sadul Museum. The museum covers the entire first floor of the palace and houses well preserved old photographs and trophies of wildlife.

Prachina Museum:

It's a museum located in the great Junagarh Fort. The museum is dedicated to royal costumes, textiles and accessories. 'Poshaks' or the ladies ensemble displayed are perhaps the last remnants of the traditional designing styles and workmanship. The museum also reveals a study of changing cultural settings in its display of family portraits of the former rulers. Changes inspired by the western influences appear strikingly. The vivid glimpses of legacy that survived in contemporary Bikaner are also visible.

Rajasthan State Archives:

This Directorate is located in Bikaner. The archives have in their custody some very precious administrative record of Mughal period like Persian Farmans, Nishans, Manshurs, Akbarat, Vakil Report, Arzdasht, Khatoot and the record created during administration of the Princely states of Rajasthan such as Bahiat, Pattas, Parwanas, Rukkas, Chithiat etc. Because of this exceptional collection of records the archives is of immense value to researchers all over the world. Facilities like microfilming, reference library and research rooms are also available to researchers. An exhibition of important documents is also set up especially for tourist interest.

National Research Center on Camel:

Spend a day with the indispensable ship of the desert at the camel research and breeding centres which is only one of its kinds in Asia. The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi arid land and is managed by the Government of India.

Mount Abu:

During the period of the Maharaja's, it was used as a place of leisure by the royalties and semi-royalties. The place presents an interesting contrast of British style bungalows and holiday lodges of the royals (Thikhana) with various tribal communities residing amidst the thick lush forest on the hills surrounding region.

The flora and fauna enjoys the adulation of the tourist to the fullest. The highest point of the Aravali is the 'Guru Shikhar' with a vast sanctuary that shelters a number of species like langur, wild boars, Sambar, leopards and many more along with a number of flowering plants and trees, which enhance the beauty of the whole scenery.

A rich collection of monuments of different religious sects like the famous shrines of Jainism are also found here.

The tribal community of this area still maintains its pristine ways of living despite progress of the modern times. The Delwara temple is famous for its architectural splendour. The intricate carving on the marble stone is simply mesmerizing. A cluster of Hindu temples also marks the land with their historical past.

The Brahmkumari ‘Ashram’ is another world famous religious community center.

Places of Interest:

Achalgarh:

Medieval monument of Mt Abu, the Achalgarh fort was commissioned by Rana Kumbha, who was responsible for building dozens of gigantic fortresses in southern Rajasthan. The walls are massive and battlemented. Its location on a mountain peak makes it more imposing. A steeply winding path leads up to the 15th century AD fortress and the temples that are located within the fortified walls.

The carved Jain temples are a ten minute climb known for their sculptures. Nearly is the Achleshwar Mahadev temple. It has a Nandi(bull) said to be made of Panchadhatu i.e. five metals - gold, silver, copper, brass and zinc. The Nandi weighs more than four tons. The temple is believed to have been built in the 9th century AD around a toe print of lord Shiva. A natural Shivalinga with idols of crystal-like stone looks opaque. However when a burning candle is placed behind it, it sparkles like crystal. The pleasant looking Mandakini Kund, with images of buffaloes is enclosed by rocky hills.

Dilwara Temple:

Mount Abu was an important Vaishnava and Shaivite pilgrim centre up to the 11th century AD. Today, it is recognized the world over for its magnificent Jain temples. No visit to Abu can be complete without a trip to the famed Delwara temples. These temples are the greatest draw of Abu, apart from its salubrious clime. Half hidden by mango groves, their sober exterior belies the wealth of their interior ornamentation. Wondrously carved in marble, the Delwara temples enshrine various Jain tirthankaras (saints). Built between the 11th and 13th century AD, they are famous for their superb carvings in marble.

Vimal Vasahi, the oldest temple, built by Vimal Shah, Minister of a Solanki ruler of Gujarat in 1031 A.D., is dedicated to Adinath, the first of the Jain tirthankaras. Constructed out of white marble from Arasoori Hill, near Ambaji, 23 km from Abu Road, it is an outstanding example of Jain temple architecture.

The central shrine has an image of Rishabhdev and a large courtyard with 52 small shrines, each housing a beautiful statue of a tirthankara with 48 elegantly carved pillars from the entrance to the courtyard.

The Luna Vasahi Temple, dedicated to the 22nd tirthankara, Neminath, was built in 1231 AD by two brothers - Vastupal and Tejpal, Minister of Raja Virdhavala, a ruler of Gujrat.

The door casings, friezes, architraves, pillars and the sculptures of porticos are simply astonishing. This structure which is unique would not have been possible without massive effort, inspired commitment and exceptional workmanship. Rewards in the form of silver and gold were offered to the workers. The most striking feature of this Jain temple is the marble pendant in the dome of the porch. It drops from the ceiling like an enchanting cluster of half-open lotuses with cups, so finely carved that they appear to be transparent.

Timing: 1200 to 1500 hrs for Tourists. Photography not allowed.

Gurushikhar(18 km):

The highest peak of the Aravali ranges (1722 mts above the sea level) allows a bird’s eye view of the sylvan surroundings of Mount Abu.

A small shrine and a temple of Dattatreya standing on the shikhar(peak) are worth a visit.

Toad Rock (2 km):

Overhanging the Nakki Lake, it is so called because of its likeness to gigantic toad about to leap into the lake.

Sunset Point (2.5 km)

This point is south-west of Nakki Lake, where the sun gradually sinks itself in the azure sky between the two mountain peaks. The steps lead up to a high terrace which offers an awe-inspiring view of the setting sun.

Ranthambhor National Park:

Ranthambhor National Park, once a princely game conserve is the scene where the celebrated Indian tigers are best seen. Ranthambhor Tiger Reserve lies on the junction of Aravali and Vindhyas just 14 Kms from Sawai Madhopur in Eastern Rajasthan. It sprawls over a varying and undulating landscape. The scenery changes dramatically from gentle and steep slopes of the Vindhyas to the sharp and conical hills of the Aravali. A tenth century fort also blends amicably with the background. Pure sands of Dhok (Anogeissus pendula) interspersed with grasslands at the plateaus, meadows in valleys and luxuriant foliage around the canals make the jungle. Three big lakes – Padam Talab (meaning Lake), Malik Talab and Raj Bagh – are similar turquoises studded in the vast forest that abounds with aquatic vegetation including duckweeds, lilies and lotus.

A significant geological feature within the park is the ‘Great Boundary Fault’ where the Vindhaya plateau meets the Aravali range. The Rivers Chambal in the South and the Banas in the north bound the National Park. The park is dotted with steep rocky hills and the dominating architecture of Ranthambhor Fort (built in the 10th century), adds to its landscape. The rugged park terrain alternates between dry deciduous forest, open grassy meadow, dotted by several lakes and rivers that are only made passable by rough roads built and maintained by the Forest Service.

The tiger is not the only attraction at Ranthambhor. A variety of birds including owlets, the ubiquitous langur (monkey), leopard, caracal, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, marsh crocodiles, wild boar, bears and various species of deer are the other attractions.

The tiger is not the only attraction at Ranthambhor; although it is the one park resident people come to see. We were lucky to see several varieties of birds including these owlets peering through their burrows pictured here on the right and of course the ubiquitous langur monkey. Other animals in the reserve include leopard, caracal, hyena, jackal, jungle cat, marsh crocodiles, wild boar, bears and various species of deer.The main food source for the tiger is the swamp deer like Barasinsga and on occasion the wild buffalo and also wild boar. If you wish to stay near the park, the facilities on offer are superb.

Park Season:
Opened During- 1st October to 30th June
Visiting Shifts- Morning and Afternoon trips
Closed During- 1st July to 30th September

Alwar:

Alwar is known as "Tiger Gate" of San Luis Potosi. Surrounded by lush green Aravali hills and presents a breath taking natural environment. Forests and lakes form the backdrop to this beautiful place. The site is dotted with architectural splendor, surrounded by harsh mountains. The deep valleys and thick forest cover is a haven for many species of birds and animals. It is one of the oldest cities in the state and its prehistoric and historic sites are an archaeologist's delight. Paradoxically, Alwar is both the oldest and the most recent of the Rajput kingdoms of Rajasthan. Trace their tradition back to the realms of Viratnagar that flourished here around 1500 BC It is also known as Matasya Desh, where the Pandavas, the mighty heroes of the Mahabharata, spent the last years of his 13 years of exile.

The grandeur, beauty and delicacy of the design of innumerable palaces and forts in the region, tranquil lakes, majestic hunting lodges, sites of archaeological importance, thick forests, many birds and animals mixed with an equally diverse socio - cultural configuration have made this region a traveler's delight.

Places of Interest:

Bala Qila:

The Bala Qila (young fort) is a towering spellbinding fort that stands atop a hill. Amazing fortifications surround the Nikumbha Mahal Palace at the top, which has graceful Bengal caned marble columns and delicate latticed balconies. The fort is 595 mts. above the city, and extends about 5 Kms from north and south and 1.6 Kms from east and west. The fort has 15 large and 51 small towers, which contains 446 loopholes for the musketry; its eight towers all around are meant for its defence . The most magnificent were 3,599 kanguras, each containing two loopholes for musketry. The fort can be entered through six gates, namely Jai Pol, Suraj Pol, Laxman Pol, Chand Pol, Krishan Pol and Andherl Gate.

City Palace:

The City Palace was built in 1793 A.D. by Raja Bakhtawar Singh. It represents an intermingling of Rajput and Mughal styles. It has graceful marble pavilions set on lotus flower bases in the central courtyard.

Once, this palace was part of the Maharaja's ornate lifestyle and housed, among other things, a drinking cup cut out of a single emerald in its treasury and a mammoth, double storeyed four-elephant carriage in its stables. However, the palaces have since been converted into the district collectorate, and its hall and chambers have been turned into government offices.

The Museum:

The palace Museum has a wonderful collection of exhibits of the personal wealth of the Maharajas of Alwar and some rare manuscripts including an illustrated Mahabharata on a 200 foot long scroll, other prized pieces here are illustrated manuscripts of Gulistan, Shahnama, and on material Emperor Babur’s life. There are also some fine Ragamala paintings and miniatures from the Alwar, Bundi and Mughal School. It has an armory section, which has some historic swords belonging to the likes of Sultan Muhammad Ghori, Emperor Akbar and Aurangzeb.

Rani Moosi Ki Chhatri:

The cenotaph reflects Indo-lslamic style of architecture. The upper portion in marble with columned pavilions and domed arches with exquisite floral tracery rests over the pillared red sand stone story. Mythological and court scenes in fading gold leaf paintings and sculptures adorn the ceiling. The memorial is rated as one of the finest in its class. The picturesque SAGAR is concrete catchments with a pattern of stairs and tiny kiosks in perfect symmetry along the sides.

Tomb of Fateh Jung:

This spectacular tomb has a massive dome, which is a fine blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. Fateh Jung was a minister of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and related to the Khanzada rulers of Alwar.

Purjan Vihar (Company Garden):

The beautiful garden was laid out during the reign of Maharaja Sheodan Singh. Built in1868, the most picturesque place locally known as Simla (the Summer House), was added to the lush greenery of this garden which does not give the blazing sun a chance to peep through. The garden was originally named Company Garden; later Maharaja Jai Singh changed it to Purjan Vihar.

Vijay Mandir Palace:

It is the royal residence of Maharaja Jai Singh built in 1918. The largely uninhabited palace is a window on the lifestyle of the royals. Migratory birds and waterfalls can be observed in the small lake, beside the palace. Vijay Mandir, a sprawling palace with 105 rooms and a beautifully laid out garden lies 6 miles outside Alwar. Reflected picturesquely in the waters of Vijay Sagar Lake, it is said to have been designed along the lines of a ship, like all other ventures of its builder, the dazzling Maharaja Jai Singh.

Sariska Palace

Set inside the Sariska Tiger Reserve, this was Maharaja Jai Singh's hunting lodge. It has beautiful sprawling lawns, antique furniture and interesting photographs of the Royal Shikar of the 1920s. It’s now a heritage hotel.

Pandupol:

The metalled road commencing from the Sanctuary gate ends at this temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. At the Pandupol or Pandu gate, emerges an enchanting spring cascading down from hard and compact rocks. Legend has it that the Pandava brothers took refuge here during their exile.

Kankwari Fort:

Within Sariska Tiger Reserve 18 Kms from the entrance gate lies Kankwari Fort. It is a fine example of a Vanadurg or jungle fort. Highly inaccessible, deep in the tiger infested forest; it was once host to Prince Dara Shikoh, heir to the Mughal throne, held captive by his brother Aurangzeb.

Udaipur:

Udaipur is often called ‘Venice of the East’. It is also the ‘city of lakes’. The Lake Palace (Jag Niwas) located in the middle of Pichola Lake is the finest example of architectural and cultural  marvel. The grand City Palace on the banks of the lake along with the Monsoon Palace (Sajjan Garh) on the hill above enhances the beauty of this magnificent city. Udaipur is also the centre for performing arts, crafts and its famed miniature paintings. The Shilpgram festival is a great crowd-puller on new year.

Maharana Udai Singh  founded Udaipur in 1559 AD. According to a legend Udai Singh was guided by a holy man meditating on the hill near Pichola Lake to establish his capital on that very spot. Surrounded by Aravali Ranges, forests and lakes this place was less vulnerable to external invasion than Chittaurgarh. Maharana Udai Singh died in 1572 and was succeeded by Maharana Pratap who valiantly defended Udaipur from Mughal attacks. Maharana Pratap is the most revered Rajput icon who gallantly fought the Mughals at the battle of Haldighati in 1576. Mewar continuously defied foreign invaders and has a history of bloody battles until the British intervention in thenineteenth century when a treaty was signed to protect Udaipur. Upon independence, Udaipur merged with the union of India.

Places of Interest:

City Palace:

City Palace towers over the Pichola Lake. Maharana Udai Singh initiated the construction of the palace but successive Maharanas added several palaces and structures to the complex but retained remarkable uniformity in the design. The entry to the Palace is from the Hati Pol, the Elephant Gate. The Bari Pol or the Big Gate brings you to the Tripolia, the Triple gate. It was a custom to weigh the Maharaja under this gate in gold and silver, which was distributed to the populace. It is also now the main ticket office. Balconies, cupolas and towers of the palace give a wonderful view of the lake. Suraj Gokhada (or the balcony of the sun) is where the Maharana would grant public audiences mainly to boost the morale of the people in trying times. The Mor Chowk is the Hindi name of peacock square and is named after a vivid blue decorative glass peacock on the wall.

The main part of the palace is now preserved as a museum displaying a large and diverse array of artifacts. As we go down the steps from the entrance is the armoury museum exhibiting a huge collection of protective gears and various kinds of weapons including the lethal two- pronged sword. The City Palace museum is then entered through the Ganesh Deori. This leads to the Rajya Angan or the royal courtyard. This is the spot where Maharana Udai Singh is said to have met the sage who advised him to found a city here. The rooms of the palace are superbly decorated with mirror tiles and paintings. Manak Mahal or the Ruby Palace has a lovely collection of glass and mirror work while Krishna Vilas displays a rich collection of miniature paintings. Moti Mahal (the pearl palace) has beautiful mirror work and the Chini Mahal has ornamental tiles all over. The Surya Chopar (the sun square) depicts a huge ornamental sun symbolising the sun dynasty to which the Maharajas and their ancestors belonged. The Bari Mahal is a central garden giving a view of the city. Some more beautiful paintings can be seen in the ‘Zenana Mahal’ (the ladies chamber). Then, there is the Lakshmi Chowk which is a beautiful white pavilion. 

Shilpgram:

Literally meaning, "Craftsmen's Village" Shilpgram comprises 26 huts set in 70 acres of natural surroundings at the foot of the Aravali Hills. It is a living ethnographic museum depicting the enormous diversity in crafts, art and culture of various Indian states. But the exquisite terracotta work mainly in dark red and dark brown sand material along with the wooden carvings are the forte of this ethnic village.  A colorful craft festival during winter infuses vitality and verve into this village.

Ahar:

Located about 2 kms east of Udaipur, Ahar is an impressive cluster of cenotaphs of the Maharanas of Mewar. There are about nineteen cenotaphs of Maharanas who were cremated there. The most striking cenotaph is that of Maharana Amar Singh who reigned from 1597 to 1620. Nearby lies the Ahar Museum, where display is limited. However it contains very rare earthen pottery, some sculptures and other archaeological finds. Some of the pieces date back to 1700 BC. The tenth century metal figure of Buddha is a special attraction.

Collection of Vintage / Classic Car:

The collection within the grounds of the Garden Hotel comprises a variety of vintage and classic vehicles like Cadillac, Chevrolet, Morris etc owned by the Maharanas of Udaipur. They used these automobiles as their luxurious modes of transport. However, other models are gradually being added to the collection in order to a unique aristocratic safari for the exclusive guests.

Fateh Prakash Palace:

The Fateh Prakash Palace, the grand heritage palace hotel of the HRH group represents the authentic royal luxury at its best. The warmth of royal hospitality greets you as you walk along the corridors lined with large paintings of the Mewar School that flourished through the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.

The lake facing suites in the turrets are suitably appointed with four poster beds and period furniture, festooned with maroon velvet curtains and delicate silk tassels. It's a legacy kept alive since the early decades of the twentieth century when Maharana Fateh Singh (period of reign: 1884 - 1935) used to be the royal occupant of this palace. Till date the formality of royal occasions are maintained.

Crystal Gallery:

Situated in the Fateh Prakash Palace, it has a breath taking collection of crystals. These were ordered by Maharana Sajjan Singh from F & C Osler England but could not live to see them because of his untimely death. The crystal items include tables, sofa sets, dining tables, dressers, fountains and even beds besides a whole array of washing bowls, decanters and perfume bottles. There is also an exquisite jewel studded carpet.

Jag Mandir:

This is the other island palace on Lake Pichola, which was constructed by Maharana Jagat Singh I in the year 1620AD. It also served as a hideout for Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan), during his revolt against his father, Emperor Jehangir. The prince being the son of a Rajput mother received the royal favour. It is also said that Shah Jahan [Prince Khurram] derived some of the ideas for building the Taj Mahal from architectural beauty of this palace when he stayed here during 1623-24. The island has some striking carvings including a row of elephants that look like guarding the island. The exquisitely carved chhatri in grey and blue stone also attracts the visitors.

It is also the place where European families were sheltered by Maharana Sarup Singh during the uprising of 1857 AD.

Sajjangarh:

Outside Udaipur, this 18th century palace was built by Maharaja Sajjan Singh at a height of 2268 ft on the top of Bansdara Mountain. It was originally intended to be a five storey astronomical centre but the plan was shelved due to premature death of the Maharaja. It was later used as a monsoon palace and hunting lodge. The palace majestically dominates the sky line and offers breath taking view of the countryside.

The Lake Palace:

The Lake Palace is located on Jag Niwas Island and covers the whole area (1.5 hectares) of the island in the middle of the Pichola Lake. Built by Maharana Jagat Singh in 1743, it was meant as a royal summer palace but now has been converted into a five star palace hotel. Its superb beauty and enduring charm and its reflection in the middle of the lake is like a leaf straight out of a fairy tale book. With intricate craftsmanship and ethnic themes using textiles and handicrafts all over, its beauty is beyond description. The surrounding lake murmurs pleasantly, with her rippling and lapping waves.

Fateh Sagar Lake:

This delightful lake, bordered by hills and woodlands was constructed by Maharana Jai Singh to the north of Lake Pichola in 1678 AD. This artificial lake was reconstructed by Maharana Fateh Singh (1884-1930 AD). A canal links the two via Swaroop Sagar and Rang Sagar Lakes. The beautiful Nehru Island as well as an islet bearing a solar observatory rise from the lake.

Kumbhalgarh Fort:

Located 84 kms north of Udaipur in the wilderness, Kumbhalgarh is the second most important citadel after Chittaurgarh in the Mewar region. Cradled in the Aravali Ranges the fort was built in the 15th century AD by Rana Kumbha. The inaccessibility and hostility of the topography lends a semblance of invincibility to the fort. It served the rulers of Mewar as a refuge in times of strife. The fort also served as refuge to the baby king Udai of Mewar. It is of immense sentimental significance for the people being the birthplace of Mewar's legendary king, Maharana Pratap.

The fort is self-contained in all respect to withstand a protracted siege. Its defences could be breached only once by the combined armies of the Mughal and of Amber primarily for scarcity of drinking water. There is a magnificent array of temples built by the Mauryas of which the most picturesque place is the Badal Mahal or the palace of the clouds. The fort also offers a superb bird’s eye view of the surroundings. The fort's massive wall stretches some 36 kms with a width enough to take eight horses abreast. Maharana Fateh Singh renovated the fort in the 19th century. The fort's large compound has very interesting ruins and a walk around it can be very educative.

Chittaurgarh Fort:

Chittaurgarh epitomizes Rajput spirit, valour, pride and romance. It reverberates with heroism and sacrifice the tales of which are still sung by the Bards of Rajasthan. The imposing and awe inspiring fort stands on a 240-hectares site, on 180m high hill that rises rapidly from the plains.

It has one kilometre zigzag ascent to it. The road leads through seven gates to the main gate Rampol (meaning Gate of Ram). On the ascent between the second and the third gate, you see two ‘Chattris’ (cenotaphs) built to honour Jaimal and Kalla heroes of 1568 siege by Emperor Akbar. The main gate of the fort itself is Surajpol (meaning Sun Gate).

The fort fell thrice to the enemies in its entire history. The first attack occurred in 1303 when the Sultan of Delhi Ala-ud-din Khilji, overwhelmed by the beauty of Queen Padmini, besieged the fort with sinister design to capture the queen. In 1535 Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat, besieged the fort causing immense carnage. It is said that 32000 men donned the saffron robes of martyrdom and rode out to face certain death. The women folk led by Rani Karnawati committed Jauhar (collective self immolation by fire) to save their honor.

In 1568 Mughal Emperor Akbar conquered it. In 1616, Mughal Emperor Jehangir restored the fort to the Rajputs. Now, a new township sprawls below the hill on the west side.

According to the legend the construction of the fort was started by Bhim, a Pandav hero of mythological epic Mahabharata. The fort has many magnificent monuments. Even though the fort mostly is in ruins, it stands as an overwhelming reminder of its past history of triumph and tragedy and its walls resonate with unbelievable legend of extraordinary men and women and their equally astounding deeds.

Haldighati:

The historical site of Haldighati, situated towards the south west of Nathdwara, witnessed the great legendary battle fought between Maharana Pratap and  the mighty Mughal army in 1576 AD

Here stands a cenotaph with delicate white marble columns, which is dedicated to the indomitable Maharana Pratap's loyal horse, Chetak.

Ajmer:

South west of Jaipur, Ajmer is an oasis wrapped in the green hills. The city was founded by Raja Ajay Pal Chauhan in the 7th Century A.D. and continued to be a major centre of the Chauhan power till 1193 A.D. Then Prithviraj Chauhan lost it to Mohammed Ghori, after which Ajmer became home to many dynasties. Today, Ajmer is a popular pilgrimage centre for the Muslims as well as Hindus. Especially famous is the Dargah Sharif-tomb of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, which is equally revered both by the Hindus and the Muslims. Ajmer is a centre of culture and education.

Ajmer is also the base for visiting Pushkar (14 km.) which has the distinction of having the only Brahma temple in the world. The Picturesque Pushkar Lake is a sacred spot for Hindus. During the month of Kartik (Oct/Nov), devotees throng in large numbers to take a dip in the sacred lake.

Ajmer was also a favourite residence for the great Mughals. One of the first contacts between the Mughal King Jahangir and Sir Thomas Roe took place here in 1616. The Scindias took over the city in 1818 and then handed it over to the British. Thus Ajmer was the only region to be directly controlled by the East Indian Company. 

Places of Interest:

Dargah Khwaja Sahib:

It is the landmark of Ajmer and one of the holiest of Muslim shrines in the country. It has a secular appeal and revered by people of all sects. Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti, a Sufi saint from Persia made this place his abode from 1192 till he died in 1236 AD. Mughal King Humayun completed the construction of the shrine. The Dargah is approached through a massive gate with silver doors built in several stages. Emperor Akbar made an annual pilgrimage to Ajmer. Mughal Emperors Akbar and Shah Jahan have built mosques in the complex. The saint's tomb is in the centre of the second courtyard and the actual tomb inside is surrounded by a silver railing and partly by a marble screen. The tomb is of marble and the dome is gold plated. Offerings generally consist of flowers, mainly roses and sweets. The aroma of burning incense sticks has a mesmerizing effect on the devotees. The mystic atmosphere inside the holy shrine is suffused with serenity, sanctity and spirituality.

As you enter the Dargah courtyard, you see two massive 'degs', meaning cauldrons. Mughal Emperors Akbar and Jahangir donated these cauldrons originally but they were replaced in the nineteenth century. The larger cauldron can hold as much as 4480 kilos of rice while the smaller one contains 2240 kilos of rice.

There is an unending stream of devotees to the shrine throughout throughout the year but its periphery show considerably more heightened all round activity when millions of devotees throng the shrine during the Urs fair. the entire city of Ajmer become alive in their presence. Urs is held on the seventh lunar month according to Islamic calendar but varies according to the solar calendar. Sufis and believers converge from all over India and abroad, as it is believed that those visiting the shrine during Urs receive special blessings of the saint. It is customary to cover your head while inside the complex. Accordingly, remember to carry a skullcap or a scarf. The skull-cap is on sale in the colourful market just outside the Dargah. It is also customary to make floral offerings, mainly of roses, incense sticks and sweets that are locally available.

Ana Sagar:

It is an artificial lake named after Anaji Chauhan. The catchments were built with the help of local populace. The 'Baradari' pavilions were built by Shah Jahan to facilitate his long stay in Ajmer. The Baradari and the adjoining parks are the lungs of city and favourite outing spots.

Pushkar Lake:

The pious Pushkar Lake is believed to have been created by the falling of a lotus from the hand of Lord Brahma. It is said to be as old as the creation itself. As per the Hindu Mythology there are Panch Sarovar (Five Lakes) namely, Man sarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar and Pushkar Sarovar. The lake is considered as one of the most sacred spots. The devotees believe that one dip in the waters of the lake on Kartika Poornima is equivalent to performing yagnas for several hundred years.

The charming lake amidst the hills has fifty-two bathing ghats, built around the lake. The water around each ghat is supposed to have special healing power. 

Manmahal:

Raja Man Singh-I of Amber, built this largest royal house in Pushkar located on the east of Sarovar, the sacred lake in Pushkar. It gives a clear view of the banks and temples located around the lake. It was built as a royal guest house for Raja Man Singh-I on his trips to the holy town.

Adhai- Din- Ka- Jhonpra:

This is a masterpiece of Indo – Islamic architecture. As legend goes, it was constructed in two and a-half days (Adhai-Din). It is a relic of an old mosque consisting of a quadrangle with a front screen wall of seven pointed arches. The distinct pillars and arched screen with its ruined minarets make it a splendid architectural masterpiece.

Bundi:

Bundi is a magnificent town, 36 Kms from Kota, once ruled by the Hada Chauhans. First destination is Hadoti set in a narrow inclining gorge. The palaces and forts have a fairy tale quality about them. Isolated and independent, this picturesque location has much to offer. Rajput architecture shines in the intricately carved brackets and pillars. Interesting places are Diwan-e-aam, Hathia Pol, and Naubat Khana.

The Chitra Shala has a colourful glimpse of history painted on ceilings and walls, making it an open art gallery.

The paintings of Bundi School are famous for their festivals, animals and bird scenes portrayed beautifully.

During the State time, Bundi was popular for hunting. Equally popular were the hunting lodges like Phool Sagar Palace, Sukh Mahal and Shikar Burj.

Places of Interest:

Sukh Mahal:

Sukh Mahals evoke memories of Rudyard Kipling who not only stayed here but found inspiration for his famous work ‘Kim’.

Kshar Bag & Christian Graveyard:

Kshar Bag is situated close to Chhatra Vilas Garden and has the cenotaphs of the former rulers of Kota.

Close to the Nayapura Circle is the graveyard of British soldiers who were killed during the uprising  of 1857 AD.

Garh Palace:

The foremost tourist attraction in Kota is the 'Garh'. This large complex, also called the City Palace is built in a predominantly Rajput style of architecture. The palace is a rambling complex of suites and apartments built by different rulers at different times.

Rao Madho Singh Museum:

Situated in the old palace, it houses a splendid collection of Rajput miniature paintings of the Kota school, fascinating sculptures, arms and valuable antiques.

Mathuradhish Temple:

This is the most important seat of Vallabhacharya sect of the devotees of Lord Krishna. In the 18th century, the then ruler of Kota, Durjanshal brought the image of Lord Krishna from Bundi. Seated in the heart of the city, the Lord bestows his blessings on the masses.

Abheda Mahal & Karani Mata Temple:

Situated about 8 kms from Kota on the bank of a tank. This medieval palace was the recreation spot of the rulers of Kota, where they went to enjoy watching the wildlife and natural beauty. Close to Abheda Mahal is Karni Mata Temple, the reigning deity of Kota.

Dad Devi Temple:

It is situated about 18 kms from Kota. The temple deity of the royal household of Kota is surrounded by thick forests and is an ideal place to spend some quiet moments.

Charan Chauki:

On the way to Dad Devi, 15 kms from Kota City, Charan Chauki marks the legendary spot where Lord Krishna is said to have rested for a brief while travelling to Dwarka from Mathura. The footprints of the Lord have been preserved here.

Safari on Chambal River:

Gods have been very kind to the City of Kota. They have blessed it with life giving water of Chambal River and lots of bright sunshine. Chambal River runs through deep gorges and high rise mud walls, gurgling falls and pebbled ruffles. Its turquoise blue water provides sustenance to jade green forests and bountiful crops.

Phool Sagar:

The Phool Sagar is an excellent and well-planned structure as also the decoration of this Rajput edifice. The same beauty and its excellence lies in the massive  Taragarh fort. This little town has not yet lost a medieval grandeur. Bundi is not exactly a tourist tramping ground but nevertheless, this adds on to its appeal with a curiosity to explore it. The look of the town has a bluish hue similar to that of Jodhpur. The original history claims that Bundi was once the capital of the great Hadoti Kingdom. However Kota, in 1624, was separated and became an independent the beginning State.This marked beginning of downfall of Bundi. 

The exquisite beauty of its surroundings, its isolation from the madding crowd, its rivulets, hills and valleys, lush green fields, its charm during rainy season, rich variety of flora and fauna, magnificent palatial structures, its winding ways and above all, the simplicity of the rural folk lend the city of Bundi a uniqueness that hardly any place of tourist attraction in the state can claim. It was basically for this reason that Rudyard kipling was mesmerized by its beauty which he captured and expressed in this literary works.

Taragarh Fort:

It was built in 1345 and is great to ramble around at leisure. This is rather a ramshackle fort, with its overgrown vegetation.

The view over the town and surrounding countryside from the top are magical, especially at sun set. Inside the ramparts are huge reservoirs carved out of solid rock, and the Bhim Burj, the largest of the battle-fields, on which there is a famous cannon. Taragarh is reached by steep road leading up the hillside to its enormous gateway. Take a path up behind the Chitra Shala; go east along the inside of the ramparts then left up the steep stone ramp just before the Dudha Mahal, a small disused building 200m from the palace.

Kota:

An amazing juxtaposition of majestic medieval age and modern industrialization, mainly the Hydro Electric Plant on the Chambal River and the Nuclear Power Plant. It has a few traces of its past still left. The fort overlooking the river Chambal is the foremost tourist attraction. It also houses the museum with a rich collection of art and artefacts and some elaborately painted chambers.

Earlier it was a part of Bundi State, but later it grew into an independent and bigger State. What retains the past glory are the untouched wealth of impressive forts, opulent palaces and temples dating back to over several centuries. These temples were conquered by the Hada chieftain Rao Deva. It was at the time of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir that Rao Ratan Singh gifted this territory to his son Madho Singh. The Kota State is reflected in the form of a beautiful collection of Stone Idols (murties) in the Raj Mahal, embellished with gold stained glass work on the walls, silver mirror work on ceilings and marvellous wall paintings.

Besides the Akh-ka-Mahal REGALIA shows paraphernalia and the State. Then there is the Badal Mahal (privacy quarter) in Kota models flaunting their beauty. The paintings of the schools in different periods are fixed at the glass walls, the ladies in the eco interactions Zanan Mahal is worth a look.

Other buildings of the bygone era are represented in Brij Raj Bhawan Palace, Jaguar Mandir, a palace on the island and a magnificent Haveli (mansion) with beautiful frescos and royal cenotaphs. Kota is now well known for its famous dams and Kota Doria saris, woven in the nearby village Kaithoon. These are made of cotton and silk in an assortment of colors, and delicate gold thread. Miniature paintings of hunting scenes depicting the forest that attracted many of the aristocracy and royalty to engage with passion in this sport wild calling Kota, magic along the Chambal River.

Bharatpur:

In 1733 AD, Raja Badan Singh 's adopted son, Suraj Mal had shown signs of promise, when he captured the fort of Bharatpur from Khemkaran, the rival chief, whom he killed and thus laid the foundation of Bharatpur City.

Maharaja Suraj Mal displayed immense courage and carved a niche for himself in the midst of political disorder. Gathering around him fiercely martial Jat peasants, he went from one success to another. He accompanied Emperor Muhammed Shah against Ali Muhammed Ruhela and in 1748 AD, at the battle of Bagru, he led the Jaipur vanguard against the Marathas. He also defeated the commander-in-chief of the Mughal emperor. Despite being a very religious man he was secular.

The history of Bharatpur dates back to the epic age, when the Matsya Kingdom flourished here in the 5th century BC The matsya were allies of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata war. According to tradition the name of Bharatpur is traced to Bharat, the brother of lord Rama of Ayodhya whose other brother Laxman was given the high place of family deity of the ruling family of Bharatpur. His name also appears in the state seals and coat-of-arms. 

Bharatpur is also called the Eastern gateway of Rajasthan. Maharaja Suraj Mal. Apart from being a brave General was also a great builder. He built numerous forts and palaces across the kingdom including the Pleasure Palace complex at Deeg. Bharatpur is today known the world over for its Keoladeo Ghana National Park.

Places of Interest:

Bharatpur Palace:

It is a fine fusion of Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture and was built in various phases by different  maharajas. The magnificent apartments are richly decorated with patterned floor tiles having exquisite and intricate designs. The museum occupies the main central wing displaying collections dating back to the 2nd century AD which demonstrates the art and skill of the region.

Government Museum:

The building – Kamra Khas, within the fort, has been converted into a museum displaying a rich collection of antiquities, exquisite sculptures and some ancient inscription.

The sculptures speak volumes about the art and culture that flourished here in those times. The inscriptions are of immense historical value and help in tracing the royal lineage and local life.

Ganga Mandir:

Maharaja Balwant Singh started the construction of this big temple in 1845. The construction was carried out by a unique method, where all persons employed in the service of the state, were asked to donate one month’s salary of their service or any raise in pay towards the shrine. The temple is a beautiful piece of architecture.

Laxman Mandir:

This temple is famous for beautiful stone work with elaborate carvings from doorways to ceilings, pillars, walls and arches. The temple is dedicated to Laxman, brother of Lord Rama.

Bharatpur Sanctuary:

As the monsoon arrives, birds from every part of the country start flying into the Park. Migratory waterfowls – even though the Siberian Cranes, once the pride of Keoladeo – are not coming for the past few years – are a major attraction. These waterfowls visit the Park in hordes during the month of October. The rosy starling marks the beginning of the arrival of migratory birds. The most noticeable waterfowls coming to the Park are the bar- headed and grey lag geese. The ducks spotted here are pintail, common teal, ruddy shelduck, mallard, widgeon, shoveler, common shelduck, red crested pochard, gadwall etc. Predatory birds like the imperial eagle, steppe and tawny eagle, spotted eagle, marsh harrier and laggar falcon are attracted towards the Park, completing the avian food chain of the ecosystem. Some of them, like the short – toed eagle lesser spotted eagle and shikra, are the residents of the Park.

About 11sq. Kms of the Park is covered by water; the remaining portion is rich in birds like the kingfisher, red-vented and white-cheeked bulbuls, babblers, quails, partridges, sunbirds, sparrows, parakeets and orioles, which live in bushes and burrows. These winged beauties carry on their activities all the year round, thus making this Park a pilgrimage for bird lovers and an ornithologist’s delight. Animals like the black buck, sambar – largest Indian antelope, spotted deer and nilgais also show their presence here, though they are greatly outnumbered by the winged fraternity. Pythons can also be observed, at some places, lazing in the sun.

Saras cranes, the tallest flight birds, nest in exposed and open areas; both partners share the duty of hatching; while changing incubating duties, they come together, raise their neck and give out shrill trumpeting calls in unison, fanning their feathers at the same time .The newborn chicks are only 10 cm. in size but grow up to one metre in height within a year.

Vehicles are only permitted up to Shanti Kutir inside the Park. The Electra Van of the Forest Department in the Sanctuary can be engaged, although the best way to explore the Park is on foot, bicycle or cycle rickshaws which are available on hire.

Lohagarh Fort or Iron Fort:

Conceived and designed to last for years-Lohagarh Fort, true to its name, stood solidly against many attacks by the British, frustrating them to no end. It faced the British onslaught four times and after a long siege they had to withdraw, but finally it was captured by Lord Lake for the British. 

It is very different from the other forts in the State. There is no flamboyance associated with this fort but it radiates an aura of strength and magnificence. The fort is surrounded by a moat, which was filled with water to ward off the enemy attacks. Sandy battlements strengthened the sandy ramparts, thus the enemy guns proved of no avail.

Some interesting monuments in the fort are Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas, Moti Mahal and Kothi Khas. Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj, inside the fort, were built by Suraj Mal to commemorate the victories over the Mughals and the British. The Ashtadhatu (eight-metal) gateway has paintings of huge elephants.

Deeg Palace:

This fort built by Raja Suraj Mal, stands majestically over a slightly elevated point. It is surrounded by impressive moats, ramparts and gateways. The interiors are mostly in ruins now, but the watch tower still stands keeping an eye over the city and the palace. A gun captured from Agra Fort is placed here. Another defunct cannon, which was captured from Ahmad Shah Abdali (1761 AD) – who seized the fort for six months guards the vantage point.

Sariska:

This park is situated only 200 km from Delhi and 107 kms from Jaipur. Although larger than Ranthambhor, it is less commercialised and has less tigers but a similar topography. It covers an area of 800 sq km in total, with a core area of approximately 500 sq km. The Northern Aravali Hills dominate the skyline with their mixture of sharp cliffs and long narrow valleys. The area was declared a sanctuary in 1955 and became a National Park in 1979.

The landscape of Sariska comprises of hills and narrow valleys of the Aravali hill range. The topography of Sariska supports scrub-thorn arid forests, dry deciduous forests, rocks and grasses. The broad range of wildlife here is a wonderful example of ecological adoption and tolerance, for the climate here is variable as well as erratic.

It is located in the contemporary Alwar district and is the legacy of the Maharajas of Alwar. Pavilions and temples within Sariska are ruins that hint at past riches and glory. The nearby Kankwadi Fort has a long and turbulent history.

In morning and evening, wildlife in Sariska heads towards the many water holes, which litter the park, thus providing the guests with their best chance of viewing game. At some of these watering holes it is possible to book ‘hides’ which are situated in prime spots for wildlife viewing.

The park is home to numerous carnivores including Leopard, Wild Dog, Jungle Cat, Civets Hyena, Jackal, and Tiger. These feed on species such as Sambar, Chital, Nilgai, Chausingha, Wild Boar and Langur. Sariska is also well known for its large population of Rhesus Monkeys, which are found around Talvriksh.

The avian world is also well represented with Peafowl, Grey Partridge, Bush Quail, Sand Grouse, Tree Pie; Golden backed Woodpecker, crested Serpent Eagle and The Great Indian horned Owl.

The park is open almost whole year-round, but for wildlife viewing and your comfort it is best to visit from October to April. Safaris are provided by jeep.


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