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Rajasthan Heritage Tours

The Rajasthan Heritage Tours are very popular in India because many tourists book this tour. Rajasthan Heritage Tours include visits to places like Ajmer, Alwar, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Chittaurgarh, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Mandwa, Mount Abu, Pushkar, Ranthambore, Samode, Sariska and Udaipur. Most of the cities in Rajasthan Heritage Tours are adorned with temples, palaces and forts that depict intricately carved architectural beauty that seems unmatched. Rajasthan Heritage Tours is ideal for people seeking to get a glimpse of India's architectural and cultural beauty in its full bloom. Rajasthan is a state of colors and is adorned with a magnificent architectural wealth that can catch an eye of every onlooker.

PLACES TO SEE/VISIT IN RAJASTHAN

Ajmer is a blend of Sufi culture and Hindu religion. Ajmer has always been a coveted and strategic place for the Rajputs, the Mughals and the Marathas. Ajmer was the seat of administration for the Chauhans till Prithviraj was defeated in 1193 AD by Mohammad Ghauri. It then became a part of the Delhi Sultanate.
However, Rana Kumbha of Mewar and Raja Maldeo again established Rajput rule over Ajmer. The annual Urs at Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is held on a grand scale and attracts pilgrims from all over the world irrespective of their caste and religion. .

Ajmer-e-Sharief Dargah - At the foot of a barren hill, is situated India's most important pilgrimage center for people from all faiths. It is the splendid tomb of the Sufi saint Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti more popularly known as Khawaja Saheb or Khawaja Sharif. The shrine is next only to Mecca or Median for the Muslims of South Asia. Emperor Akbar used to make a pilgrimage to this Dargah from Agra once a year.

Adhai-Din-Ka Jhonpara - One of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture, this mosque was a Sanskrit college in the 12th century. In 1193 AD Mohammad Ghori destroyed the college and a mosque was built in its place. The mosque is built on pillars and surprisingly no two pillars are alike. The archways are finely engraved with Kufi and Jughra inscriptions from the Holy Quran (also spelt as Koran).

Nasiyan (Jain Temple) - This red colored Jain temple was built in the late 19th century. The wooden gilt in the double Storeyed hall depicts scenes from the Jain mythology. The beauty of this temple is widely acclaimed..

MUSEUMS

Govt. Museum - The Royal palace of Akbar was converted into a museum and today it houses a rich collection of Mughal and Rajput armory. Some of the fine and delicate sculptures of the region have been displayed here. The building itself has been constructed of red sandstone, which have been laid down in a square pattern giving it a fabulous look.

LAKES

Ana Sagar Lake - This lake was built by Anaji during 1135-1150 AD. Later the Mughal Emperors made additional constructions to beautify the lake. The 'Baradari', a marble pavilion was built by Shah Jahan and the Daulat Bagh Gardens were laid by Jehangir. This lake is located towards the north of Ajmer city.
Taragarh Fort - Built in the 7th century by Ajaipal Chauhan, the fort gives a bird's eye view of the city. Taragarh Fort or the 'Star fort' is situated on a hill and to reach there, one has to take winding bridle path.

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Alwar

Alwar is nestled between a cluster of small hills of the Aravalli range. Perched on the most prominent of these hills is a massive ancient fort that whispers tales of the rich history of the city.

Once an ancient Rajput state, formerly known as Mewat, Alwar was nearest to the imperial Delhi. The people of the state did not accept any external interferences and daringly resisted all foreign invasions. In the 12th and 13th centuries, they formed a group and raided Delhi. But finally, Sultan Balban (1267 AD - 1287 AD) suppressed them, bringing the area under the Muslim rule.

In 1771 AD, Maharaja Pratap Singh, a Kuchhwaha Rajput belonging to the clan of Jaipur's rulers, won back Alwar and founded a principality of his own.

Apart from its long history, the city has a rich natural heritage with some beautiful lakes and picturesque valleys thickly wooded in parts.

Some of the finest varieties of birds and animals are spotted here. Alwar has one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in Rajasthan - Sariska, which is an excellent tiger country

Jaisamand Lake: 6-km from the city, Jaisamand Lake makes a beautiful artificial lake constructed by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1910 AD; a popular spot for outings and picnics. During monsoons, sprawling greenery all around makes it a visual treat. This place is easily accessible by road from Alwar

The Fort: This huge fort with its ramparts stretching 5-km from north to south and 1.6 kms from east to west, stands 304m above the city and 595m above the sea level, constructed before the rise of the Mughal Empire. Babar had spent a night at this fort and took away the hidden treasures to gift to his son, Humayun. Akbar's son, Jehangir had also stayed here for some time during his exile. The place where he stayed is called Salim Mahal. The fort was finally annexed by Maharana Pratap Singh in 1775 AD

Vijai Mandir Palace: Situated 10-km away from the city this palace is a splendid palace, built by Maharaja Jai Singh in 1918 AD. A picturesque lake overlooking the palace makes it a fascinating sight.

A fabulous Sita Ram Temple in the palace attracts number of devotees, especially during Ramnavami. One needs prior permission form the Secretary to visit the palace. The fort has several gates - Jai Pol, Suraj Pol, Laxman Pol, Chand Pol, Kishan Pol of Jal Mahal, Nikumbh Mahal, Salim Sagar, Suraj Kund and many temples.

BHARATPUR

Bharatpur is popular for its bird sanctuary near the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, which is the finest in Asia with a rich avian variety. Every year, the rare Siberian cranes come to spend the winter in the warmer climate of Bharatpur.

Of the remnants of the royal past remain the marvellous Bharatpur Palace housing a rich repository of a large number of ancient exhibits that date back to the early 15th century.

FORTS
Lohagarh Fort: The massive iron structure built in the early 18th century. With its impregnable defences, it sustained itself even after a number of British attacks. The fort was conceived and designed by Maharaja Suraj Mal, the founder of Bharatpur. The fort has three palaces within its precincts - Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas and Kothi Khas.
Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj: A few of the eight imposing towers still stand erect within the glorious ramparts of the fort. Especially two of them - Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj are of special interest. These were built by Maharaja Suraj Mal to commemorate his victories over the Mughals and British respectively.

BIKANER

Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji, hence the name Bikaner. Bikaji was son of Rao Jodhaji who had asked his son to establish a kingdom of his own. The challenge was accepted and Bikaji choose the wild country 'Jangaldesh' as his territory and thus the city of Bikaner came into existence.

A seven-kilometer wall with five entrances was built to protect the city from the vagaries of the desert and any external aggression. The city flourished as an important trade center between Gujarat seaports and West Asian countries. The unbroken line of descendants of Bikaji ruled Bikaner till India got Independence. Bikaner is known for good breed of riding camels, which are among the best in the world. The Camel Festival held every year is famous all over the globe. Bikaner has many magnificent buildings made of Reddish Pink sandstone that transcends the surrounding barren wilderness. Unlike other cities of Rajasthan India Tours, Bikaner has been able to preserve its traditional aura of the medieval era, which makes a visitor come here year after year.

Junagarh Fort: One of the most imposing forts of northern India-- Junagarh Fort-- has remained unconquered till date. This fort was built in 15th century by one of the most able and trusted generals of Akbar, Raja Rai Singh.

Lalgadh Palace: Designed by a Britisher for Maharaja Ganga Singh, this palace displays a magnificient blend of Oriental and European style.

Bhandeshwar & Sandeshwar Temples: Five kms from the city, these temples are the oldest surviving monuments of aesthetic heritage. These were built by two brothers and the temples carry their names. The mirror work and the gold leaf paintings in the tesmple are noteworthy. The temples are dedicated to 23rd Jain teerthankar, Parsvanathji.

Camel Breeding Farms: Take a ride on one or watch the calves gambolling, or submit to a Raika or a Rebari from traditional camel breeder, over a cup of camel's milk at the camel breeding farms just eight kms away from the city. This farm is the only of its kind in Asia.

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Devi Kund: This is the royal crematorium with a number of cenotaphs. The 'chhatri' of Maharaja Surat Singh is most imposing. One cannot miss the spectacular Rajput paintings on the ceilings. 8 kms from Bikaner

CHITTAURGARH

The pride and glory of Rajasthan. Chittaur echoes with the tales of romance and valour unique to the Rajput tradition. A ruined citadel, where the royal past lives in its imposing forts, graceful palaces and spectacular 'chhatris'.

This fortified settlement has been ravaged thrice and each time the outcome was 'Jauhar' - when women and children immolated themselves on a huge funeral pyre while men donned in saffron robes of martyrdom rode out of the fort towards a certain death.

Alauddin Khilji was the first to sack Chittaur in 1303 AD, overpowered by a passionate desire to possess the regal beauty, queen Padmini. Legend has that he saw her face in the reflection of a mirror and was struck by her mesmerising beauty. But the noble queen preferred death to dishonour and committed 'Jauhar'.

In 1533 AD during the rule of Sikramjeet, came the second attack from Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat. Once again, Jauhar was led by Rani Karnvati, a Bundi princess. Her infant son, Udai Singh was smuggled out of Chittaur to Bundi who survived to inherit the throne of the citadel. He learnt from his traumatic childhood that discretion is pr eferred to valour so, in 1567AD when the Mughal Emperor invaded Chittaur; Udai Singh fled to establish a new capital, Udaipur - a beautiful lake city, leaving behind Chittaur to be defended by two 16 year old heroes. Jaimal of Bednore and Patta of Kelwa. These young men displayed true Rajput chivalry and died after 'Jauhar' was peformed. Immediately thereafter, Akbar razed the Fort to a rubble.

Chittaur was never inhabited again but it always asserted the heroic spirit of Rajput warriors

The Fort: The indomitable pride of Chittaur, the fort is a massive structure with many gateways built by the literary rulers in 7th century AD. Perched on a height of 180 m high hill, it sprawls over 700 acres. The tablets and 'chhatris' within are impressive reminders of the Rajput heroism.

The main gates are Padam Pol, Bhairon Pol, Hanuman Pol and Ram Pol. The fort has many magnificent monuments - all fine examples of the Rajput architecture. The ancient ruins of the fort are worth spending few moments in solitude.

Vijay Stambh(Victory Tower) :The imposing 37 metres high structure with nine storeys, covered with exquisite sculptures of Hindu deities and depicting episodes from the two great epics -Ramayana and Mahabharata.

It was built in 1440 AD by Maharana Kumbha, a powerful ruler of Mewar to commemorate his victory over the Muslim rulers of Malawi and Gujarat.

Kirti Stambh (Tower of Fame): The22 metres high tower built by a wealthy Jain merchant in the 12th century AD The tower is dedicated to Adinathji, the first of the Jain Tirthankaras and is decorated with figures of the Jain pantheon.

Rana Kumbha's Palace: The ruined edifice of great historical and architectural interest, bring the most massive monument in the fort of Chittaur. The palace is believed to have underground cellars where Rani Padmini and other women committed 'Jauhar'

Jaimal and Patta Palaces: The ruins of palaces of Rathore Jaimal and Sisodia Patta are witness to the gallantry of these great warriors.

Built beside a pool, the palace is a magnificent one. It was here that Rana Ratan Singh showed a glimpse of queen Padmini to Alauddin Khilji. Rani Padmini stood in 'Zanana Mahal' - a pavilion in the centre and her reflection was visible to Alauddin Khilji in a mirror placed in the main hall. After having glimpse of the legendary beauty, Alauddin went to the extent of ravaging Chittaur in order to possess her.

JAIPUR

The Rose Pink City founded by Maharaja Jai Singh II (1693-1743), is the capital of Rajasthan. It is a major attraction for the first-time visitor. Jaipur is surrounded on all sides by rugged hills, crowned with forts & enclosed by embattled walls. Houses with latticed windows line the streets with their rose pink colour, lending enchantment to the scene, which is almost magical at sunset.

The Old City (Known as the Pink City) is a great place to wander around. The whole city was painted in Pink colour by Maharaja Man Singh II when Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, visited Jaipur in 1876 AD. Today, every home within the city is obliged by law to maintain its facade. It is a very well planned city laid out in a grid pattern and was designed by a young Bengali engineer and scholar by the name "Vidyadhar Bhattacharya".

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Jaipur was and remains the only city in the world, symbolising the nine divisions of the universe, through nine rectangular sectors sub-dividing it. Jaipur is a royal city & this is its most noticeable aspect, small buildings & festivals testify it.

Jaipur & its surroundings are rather like an endless museum. The city also offers an endless variety of crafts. Jewellers here still fashion the beautiful enamel-on-gold pendants, studded on the reverse with precious stones or pearls & turquoise that one sees in miniature paintings. Jaipur's lacquer bangles are famous all over the world. This is a city to be visited.

Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh: Has beautiful gardens, fountains, pools & some magnificent pieces of sculpture

Amer Palace: The magnificent fort with its huge ramparts & watchtowers, overlooking the Delhi-Jaipur Highway. It is believed to have been the capital of the "Minas", the original inhabitants of Rajasthan.

City Palace: Nakkarkhana-ka-Darwaza, the imposing gateway of the City Palace guarded by stone elephants, is monumental.

Hawa Mahal: A Pandora's box of wonders, the enchanting Hawa Mahal is a multi-layered palace, with a profusion of windows and stone screens.

Jai Garh: Built on a peak, Jai Garh overlooks the palace & city of Amber below. Jal Mahal is Jaipur's lake palace. It is surrounded with water.

Nahargarh Fort: Originally called Sudarshan Garh, it affords a splendid view of Jaipur

Jantar Mantar: The amazing astronomical three-storey-high observatory, of an 18th century Rajasthani king, named Jai Singh

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JODHPUR

Jodhpur city is surrounded by a 10 km long wall with eight gates serving as entrances. The new city is settled around this walled area. The Maruthal or 'land of death' , came into life when the Rathores of Kanauj moved in. But the city of Jodhpur was founded by Rao Jodhaji in 1459 AD.

In Jodhpur, the genius of its sculptors comes to life in its exquisite palaces, forts, temples and havelis, which stand testimony to the imperial grandeur. The most alluring part of Jodhpur is the traditional lifestyle, festivity and the smiling people who treasure this former princely state.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

FORTS

Mehrangarh Fort - Situated on a steep hill, Mehrangarh fort is one of the largest forts in India. The beauty and the grandeur of numerous palaces in the fort narrates a saga of hard sandstones yielding to the chisels of skilled Jodhpuri sculptures.

PALACES

Umaid Bhawan Palace - The only palace built in 20th century under the famine relief programme, has now been converted into a hotel with some parts being retained as a museum. 

Jaswant Thada - The 19th century royal cenotaph is built in white marble, in commemoration of Maharaja Jaswant Singh. Some rare portraits of the rulers of Jodhpur are also displayed here.

MUSEUMS

Government Museum - This museum has a rich collection of weapons, textiles, miniature portraits, local crafts and images of Jain Tirthankars. It is situated in the middle of the Umaid public gardens.

OTHERS

Clock Tower & Sadar Market - In the old city, clock tower is a prominent land mark. But main attraction is the Sadar Market. The market has kept alive the old 'haat bazaar' culture.
Ossian
: 65-km from Jodhpur, lie ruins of an ancient city called Ossian. This city is famous for Brahmanical and Jain temples, which belong to 8th and 11th century. Surya or Sun temple and the Sachiya temples are famous for their beauty. The 'shikhar' of Sachiya temple is clustered by two rows of turrets, an ambulatory and a large assembly hall with an elaborate ceiling.
TRIBES

Guda Bishnoi : The villages are inhabitated by the Bishnoi tribe who are staunch believers in the sanctity of plant and animal life. Villages are marked by Khejri trees and deers, which thrive there. 25 kms from Jodhpur

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MANDWA

Known as one of the finest nestled in the Shekhawati region, Mandawa is not only famous for its royal castle, but also for its innumerable Havelis where painted facades offer a great variety of surprises.

Mandwa was founded by Thakur Nawal Singh, a descendant of Rao Shekha after whom the whole Shekhawati region was named. Today this small town has come out as a major centre of handicrafts and furniture industry.

Castle Mandawa

This castle was built in the year 1755 and is approachable through two gateways mounted with cannons. Several narrow staircases and courtyards connect the dinning room with the rest of the rooms, which were added to the palace over the centuries. A terrace offers a view over the entire town. Now converted into a charming heritage hotel, do not miss to enjoy the dinner in the open environment of the castle's back lawns.

Camel Safari in the Thar

Do you get lured with the mystified and unexplored beauty of the desert region? Shekhawati is one the best regions of the state of Rajasthan to enjoy a camel Safari. Mandawa works as an ideal getaway destination to get experience the desert horizons.

Nawalgarh is situated around 37 km south of Mandawa and is famous for its fort, built in 1737. Other attractions here include havelis of Anandi Lal Poddar, Aath Haveli, Hem Raj Kulwal Haveli, Bhagton Ki Haveli, and Khedwal Bhavan.

Parsurampura is located some 43 km south east of Mandawa and has the distinction of having the best-preserved and oldest paintings in the Shekhawati region.

Mukundgarh is around 25 km southeast of Mandawa and is a tiny village famous for its fort and havelis.

Dundlod is situated around 30 southeast of Mandawa and is famous for its fort and havelis. The attractions in this place include the Jagathia Haveli, Satyanarayan Temple, and Tuganram Goenka Haveli apart from the Dundlod fort and palace.

Fatehpur was established in 1451 as a capital for Muslim nawabs but was taken by the Shekhawat Rajputs in the 18th century. Some of the attractions include the Mahavir Prasad Goenka Haveli, Gauri Shankar Haveli, Nand Lal Devra Haveli, and Harikrishnan Das Sarogi Haveli apart from a 17th century baoli.

Jhunjhunu is the district headquarters and the largest town in the Shekhawati region. The town was founded by the Kaimkhani nawabs in the mid-15th century, and stayed under their control until it was taken by the Rajput ruler Sardul Singh in 1730. The major attractions in the city include the Khetri Mahal, Bihariji Temple, Modi Haveli, and Kaniram Narsinghdas Tiberwala Haveli.

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MOUNT ABU

Mount Abu huddles among the rocks on a 1,220-m granite table mountain at the far southwestern end of the Aravalli hills. The only hill station in Rajasthan. It is built around a lake and is surrounded by forested hills. According to a legend, the place derives its name from Arbuda, a serpent who descended to the spot to rescue Shiva's bull, Nandi. Besides having all the features of a pleasant hill resort, Mount Abu is also well known for the famous Dilwara temples and many more archaeological remains. There are interesting treks and picnic spots, romantic royal retreats of the various erstwhile families of bygone Rajputana and some relics of the Raj period. The scenic landscapes include gigantic blocks of rocks in weird shapes, an array of coniferous trees, flowering shrubs, lovely lakes and the cool climate much in contrast to the arid environs of the state.

Dilwara Temples: This complex consisting of five marble Jain temples is one of the finest in Rajasthan, worth braving the queues and ferocious guards. These beautifully carved temples built between 11th & 13th century AD are sheer elegance in marble, dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. The Vimal Vasahi Temple is the oldest of these, dedicated to the first Tirthankara. Built in 1031 AD (by Vimal Shah- a merchant and representative of the then Gujarat ruler), it is a superb example of temple architecture.

Gaumukh Temple: Dedicated to Rama, this small temple (the cow's mouth) is centred on a spring gushing from the mouth of a marble cow. In the Hindu creation myth, the world is formed by a cow, licking salt; the source of the Ganges has the same name. This is said to be the site of the ancient 'agnikund' fire rituals. It is 4 kms south of Mount Abu. Open, free access, down 700 very steep steps.

Nakki Talav: This holiday centre of Mount Abu, is virtually in the heart of the town. This sparkling blue artificial lake is said to have been gauged from the earth by the gods, using their fingernails ('nakh' means nail). Nearby is the 14th century Raghunath Temple.On the western edge of the town centre, Nakki Lake Road circles the entire lake. Rowing boats are available for hire from the jetty by Gandhi Park

View Points: Several points around the edge of the plateau offer spectacular views across the plains. The best are Honeymoon Point (Anadra Point) and Sunset Point, where hundred of people gather to watch the sunset every evening in a carnival atmosphere of pony rides and souvenir sellers. Baylay's Walk is a pleasant 5 km route from Nakki Lake to Sunset Point. Honeymoon Point, 2.5 kms northwest on Ganesh Road; Sunset Point, 2 km southwest on Sunset Point Road. Open, free access.

Achalgarh (8-km): An impressive fort with some beautiful Jain temples enclosed within. Among the noteworthy temples are Achaleswar Mahadev temple (1412 AD) and Kantinath Jain temple (1513 AD). The latter has a gold plated image. The fort was built in the 14th century AD by Rana Kumbha and is approachable by a motorable road.

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PUSHKAR

One of the most sacred lakers in india is that of pushkar, which is only rivalled by the lake of Mansourwar, in Tibet. It is situated in a narrow valley surrounded by immense mounds of shifting sand; and a few isolated peaks stand out on its borders with great effect. Its form is nearly a perfect oval, and at its southern extremity it empties itself by a narrow canal into an immense marsh. The origin of this lake is attributed to Lord Brahma.

The story goes that the god, wishing to celebrate sacrifice of Yug, stopped for that purpose in the valley, having first placed genii at the entrance of all passes to keep off the evil spirits. Just as he was going to perform the cermony, he perceived that his wife Saraswati had not accompanied him; and, as the presence of a woman is necessary, he employed one of the Apsaras. Saraswati was so grieved at this infidelity that she hid herself in the mountains to weep, and was transformed into a fountain. Several centuries after, one of the Purihara Kings of Mundore lost his way while hunting, and, feeling healed of a disease previously incurable, and recognised the miraculous property of the spring. Shortly afterwards he returned, and had a basin dug out to receive the waters, which now from the lake of pushkar.

This lake soon become a favourite resort of pilgrims, and during the midlle Ags temples and cenotaphs. Gradually quite a town of relegious buildings sprang up, peopled by Brahmins. The wealthy pilgrims from all parts of India brought untold riches to Pushkar, and the princes spared no expense to enrich the holy inhabitations of the sacred town. Padma Purana, elaborately describes the origin and importance of this lake. It says that Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, was once contemplating to locate a suitable spot on earth to perform a 'Yajna' (sacrificial ritual), the lotus fell from his hand and rebounding, struck the earth at three places within a circuit of kms. Water issued forth, from all the three places and the Creator called all the three as Pushkar (lotus) distinguishing them as 'Jyeshtha' (elder), 'Madhya' (central) and 'Kanishtha' (younger).

The festivity advances to the open sandspreads of the Polo Grounds, followed by camel races, camel milking, fur cutting design, the best breed competition, camel acrobatics, camel bands and watching all this, are the gaping spectators. The camel display amazing foot-work, dancing gracefully to the slightest direction of their riders.

Colourful bridles, bejeweled necks, jingling anklets and long, lanky camel shadows on dusky sands, cast a magic spell. The jubilant, skirt-swirling Gair dancers, the awe inspiring Fire dance, and dazzling fire-works light up the fortified desert city of Bikaner.

According to mythology, he performed the 'Yajna' at Jyeshtha Pushkar from Kartik Shukla Ekadashi to Purnima. Lakhs of devotees assemble and bathe in the holy waters during this period of the year; but bathing on the last day which is the full moon (Purnima) day, confers special blessings.

One of the major attractions in Pushkar is the Pushkar Fair the cattle fair is held here on this occasion, where other animals like camels and horses are also bought and sold. It is attended by people from far and wide.

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RANTHAMBORE

Ranthambore is a heritage site because of the picturesque ruins that dot the park. There are lake palaces, 'chhatris', old fortifications and a majestic 1,000-year-old fort overlooking the park. The lovely Jogi Mahal is located at the foot of the fort and gives magnificent view of the Padam Talao, painted white with water lilies.

It has a chequered history and was the stronghold of the Yadavas in the 8th century. It came under Chauhans, and was ruled by them 10th century onwards. The Mughal emperors Akbar and Aurangzeb also occupied the magnificent fort.

The park is famous for tigers and due to conservation efforts, the tiger population has stabilized if not increased here. The tigers can be spotted quite often even during the day, at their normal pursuits-- hunting and taking care of their young ones.

Ranthambore is one of the best places to see these majestic predators. Old crumbling walls, ruined pavilions, wells, and other ancient structures stand witness to the region's glorious past. The entire forest is peppered with the battlements and spillovers of the Ranthamboree fort - tigers are said to frequent these ruins, too.

Ranthambore National Park: Ranthambore National Park is an outstanding example of Project Tiger's efforts at conservation in the country. The forests around the Ranthamboree Fort were once, the private hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur. The desire to preserve the game in these forests for sport was responsible for their conservation, and subsequent rescue by Project Tiger. In 1972, it was estimated that there were around 1927 tigers in India, of which Rajasthan had 74, and the number of big cats in Ranthamboree Sanctuary was 14. 1972 was also the year that Project Tiger was launched, and this sanctuary was taken into its wings, alongwith seven other sanctuaries and national parks.

As a result of stringent efforts in conservation, tigers, the prime assets of the park, have become more and more active during the day. More than in any other park or sanctuary in India, tigers are easily spotted here in daylight. They can be seen lolling around lazily in the sun, or feverishly hunting down Sambhar around the lakes. Therefore, Ranthamboree is probably the ideal park for wildlife photography, and it does attract professional wildlife photographers, from all over the globe.

The Fort: Steep crags embrace a network of lakes and rivers, and atop one of these hills, is the impressive Ranthamboree Fort. Built in the 10th century, the fort is considered to be one of the oldest forts in the state. Strategically built on the border of Rajasthan and Malwa, the fort houses some splendid monuments, within its precincts. The terrain fluctuates between impregnable forests and open bush land. The forest is the typically dry deciduous type, with Dhok, being the most prominent tree.

The Jogi Mahal: The entry point to the park, goes straight to the foot of the fort and the forest rest house, Jogi Mahal. The latter boasts of the second-largest Banyan tree in India.

The Badal Mahal: The "palace of the clouds", situated in the fort has a very interesting location and seems as if hanging out in space. The famous 84-column 'chhatri' of King Hammir stands out magnificently where he used to hold an audience. The Padam Talab, the Raj Bagh Talab and the Milak Talab are some of the lakes in the area worth seeing.

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SAMODE

THE ORNATE PALACE

Samode Palace set amidst fairy tale surroundings. Its history goes back more than four and half centuries. Prithviraj Singh ji of Amber, the seventeenth Prince of the house of Kachhawaha Rajputs, had awarded Samode to one of his twelve sons, Gopal Singhji, along with the hereditary title of Rawal Saheb. Nestled picturesquely amidst rugged hills, Samode Palace with its stately grandeur and frescoed walls is one of the most impressive small palaces in whole of Rajasthan.

The palace is full of architectural delights - the paintings on the walls of Sultan Mahal, the dinning room with its stained glass windows, the Durbar Hall with its painted ceilings and intricately carved walls. The chandeliers give the palace its old world charm. The Palace has a front lawn, terrace and boasts of hosting number of incentives every year. Encircled by hills, it is a refreshing treat with spectacular landscapes. The 400-year-old palace has a wealth of frescoes, many of them depicting religious subjects. The ornate interiors are a fine example of the Rajput haveli architecture.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

GARDENS

Samode Bagh: Built more than 400 years ago by Rawal Sheo Singhji, it is modelled on the geometric style of the Mughal Garden. Members of the Samode family came here to enjoy rare moments of privacy and relax in the airy pavilions, surrounded by rippling water fountains. A special feature of the stay here is the accommodation being provided in the tents. Meeting point at the Bagh is the elegantly furnished Durbar tent. Dune coloured tents, all luxuriously furnished with every comfort, the lawns, fruit trees, grape vines, and the flowering shrubs make the stay here a memorable one. Evenings come alive with local folk music and dances in the magic of a camp fire. One can swim in the private pool or take camel rides to explore the countryside. Other entertainment activities available here include camel safaris, a visit to the village and the Samode Palace which is just 3 kms away.

PALACES

Samode Palace: The history of Samode Palace goes back to more than four and a half centuries. Prithviraj Singhji of Amber, the seventeenth prince of the house of Kachhawah Rajputs, had awarded Samode to one of his twelve sons - Gopal Singhji alongwith the hereditary title of Rawal Saheb. Set cosily in the scenic rocky hills, Samode Palace with its stately majesty opens a grand journey into the glorious past through its frescoed corridors. The palace is full of architectural delights. The birds, animals and flowers painted on the walls of the Sultan Mahal, the dining room with its stained glass windows and its collection of old family portraits, the Durbar Hall with its painted ceilings and intricately carved walls and beautiful chandeliers, give this palace its ethnic charm. Each room is done up in traditional Rajasthani style and the antique furniture blends well with the surroundings. A traditional welcome with camel carts, buggies, elephants and local musicians is organized on preference. Camel safaris are available.

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EXCURSIONS

Ramgarh: The huge artificial lake, which fills in the rainy season, makes it a favourite spot for the locals.

OTHERS

Bagru: The village on the Ajmer Road is known for its block prints called as the “bagru” prints.

Sanganer: It is another well-known place for hand block-printed textiles and hand made paper. This place is also famous for its historical ruins and Jain temples.

SARISKA

Located 107 kms from Jaipur, the Sariska National Park is in a wooden valley, surrounded by barren mountains. The dry deciduous forests of the ancient Aravalli range cover the area of the Sariska National Park and Tiger Reserve.

The main fauna in the park includes the Tiger, Panther, Hyena, Jungle Cat, Civet, Sambhar, Chinkara, Nilgai and Four-Horned Antelope. Declared a Sanctuary in 1955, it became a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger in 1979.

The other great predator of Sariska's forests is the leopard besides the ferocious tiger. Sariska has a healthy porcupine population, and this tiny creature often pits itself against the tiger, which is particularly fond of porcupine flesh. The 'Chowsingha' (four horned antelope) is commonly found at Sariska; exclusively Indian, it is the world's only wild creature, which has two pairs of horns. The Park's terrain is also congenial to the Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) and Nilgai.

Remarkable for their lack of timidity are the Rhesus and Langur, which, at Sariska tolerate human closeness with astonishing equanimity.

The birdlife comprises of the Pea Fowl, Gray Partridge, Quail, Sandgrouse, Tree Pie, White-Breasted Kingfisher, Golden-Backed Woodpecker, Crested Serpent, Eagle and Great Indian Horned Owl.

VIEWING THE WILD

The best way to visit the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary is by jeep and these can be arranged at the Forest Reception Office on Jaipur Road.

Booking a `hide', overlooking one of the waterholes, can provide an excellent opportunity for viewing and photographing wildlife. So, pick up your sleeping bag and some food and settle down to watch.

PRIME SITES:

Within the park are the ruins of many temples.

The KANKWARI FORT

The Sariska Park has historic overtones. Here, Emperor Aurangzeb once imprisoned his brother, Dara Shikoh.

THE ANCIENT SHIVA TEMPLES in the precincts of the park, Neelkanth temples (6th-13th century AD), which are now in ruins, afford a wonderful sight to the visitors.

THE PALACE

Sariska was once the royal reserve of the rulers of Alwar. This palace built by the Maharajas of Alwar, has now been converted into a hotel.

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UDAIPUR

Udaipur is situated around the shimmering clear blue water lakes, which whisper the mood of a bygone era.

The city was founded in 1567 AD by Maharana Udai Singh on the advice of a sage. Udaipur was last of the numerous Mewar capitals. It was in Udaipur that legendary Maharana Pratap was born. He was obsessed with Chittaur and the past glories of the Sisodia clan possessed his mind. Maharana Pratap left Udaipur to win back Chittaur from the Mughals. But he failed in his attempts and Udaipur remained the capital of Mewar till India got her independence.The memory of the failure of noble Pratap gives Udaipur its pervading mood of nostalgic wistfulness.

The city acquires its scenic beauty from the Aravallis. Three lakes- Pichola, Fateh Sagar and Udai Sagar make it an oasis in the desert.

Udaipur is known as the ' City of Lakes'. The two most scenic and famous lakes of the city are Lake Pichola and Lake Fateh Sagar.

Lake Pichola is surrounded by hills, palaces, temples, bathing ghats and has two island palaces- Jag Niwas and Jag Mandir. Lake Fateh sagar lies to north of Pichola and was built by Maharana Jai Singh but it got the name of Fateh Singh who rebuilt its dam. Both the lakes are breathtakingly beautiful and one can take a cruise on their waters. The sunset over these lakes is a sight to be cherished.

City Palace: This majestic white royal building towers itself on a hill and is surrounded by crenellated walls. The palace stands along the shores of Pichola.

Lake Palace: This former summer residence of the royal family has now been converted into a fabulous hotel.

Sahelion-Ki-Bari: On the shores of Fateh Sagar Lake was built a garden for the 48 young girls waiting to be sent to the royal house as part of dowry. This garden is laid with extensive lawns, fountains and shady walking lanes. There are four pools with dainty kiosks and fountains with elephant trunks for spouts. These gardens appear discrete and impeccable in taste.

Bharatiya Lok Kala Mandal: This is a museum of folk arts, which has rich collection of folk dresses, ornaments, puppets, masks, dolls, folk musical instruments and paintings. World famous puppeteers put shows here, on request in advance.

Pratap Memorial: Erected atop Modi Magri is this equestrian bronze statue of the valiant hero, Maharana Pratap. Sajjan Garh, Gulab Bagh, Dudh Talai Park, the Sunset point are also the places to be seen.

Jagdish Temple: Dedicated to Vishnu, this temple was built in 1651 AD by Maharana Jagat Singh.

Jaisamand lake: 48 kms from the city, this artificial lake was built in 17th century by Maharana Jai Singh. The marble 'Chhatris' along the embankment add grace to this second largest lake in Asia. On either sides of the lake were built the palaces for the favourite queens of the King. People of the Bhil tribe still inhabit the islands in Jaisamand lake.

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