The History of Rajasthan
The Historical Rajasthan, The Land of the
Kings, battle-scarred forts, palaces of breathtaking grandeur and
whimsical charm, riotous colors and even its romantic sense of pride
The state is diagonally divided into the hilly and rugged
south-eastern region and the barren north-western That Desert, which
extends across the border into Pakistan. There are plenty of
historic cities, incredible fortresses awash with legends, and rare
gems of impressionistic beauty, such as Udaipur. There are also a
number of centers that attract travelers from far and wide, such as
Pushkar with its holy lake, and the desert city of Jaisalmer, which
resembles a fantasy from "The Thousand & One Nights".
Rajasthan is one of India's prime tourist destinations. Nobody
leaves here without priceless memories.
Rajasthan was inhabited long before 2500 BC and the Indus Valley
Civilisation had its foundation here in north Rajasthan itself. The
Bhil and the Mina tribes were the earliest dwellers of this area.
Around 1400 BC the Aryans paid a visit and settled forever in
the area. The local population was pushed down south and towards the
east. Afghans, Turks, Persians and Mughals followed in mixing their
blood, first in war then in peace, with the existing original
inhabitants. This blending gave the martial lineage to the Rajputs.
From the times of Harsha (7 AD) to the founding of the Delhi
Sultanate, Rajasthan was fragmented in competing kingdoms. Perhaps
it was during this era by their influence through wealth and power
the Rajputs persuaded the Brahmins to link them with the sun, the
moon and the fire god.
With the passage of time they were divided into 36 royal clans.
Rajasthan finally settled for a long and lasting reign under the
colourful and vibrant Rajputs. and its a surprise that they lasted
as long as they did. Considering that they were at a constant state
of aggression; if not with a foe, then with each other. After the
14th century their influence declined in the area.
In came the Mughals who gained control of the region through the
clever strategy of Akbar, the Mughal Emperor. He performed
matrimonial alliances with the Rajputs where faced military failure
and thus turned them from fearsome foes to faithful friends. This
proud but very divided race was thus brought to some order under the
imperial Mughals, by the some deft mixing of marital and martial
relations. Akbar gave high offices to many Rajput princes after
seeking reconciliation through marriage to a Rajput princess, Jodha
Bai, the daughter of the Maharaja of Amber. However, the spunk of
the Rajput soul was never really captured, till the spread of the
British colonial power. However, when the Mughals weakened they were
quick to reassert their dominance. The Rajputs as a community thus
has outlived the somewhat tribal Delhi Sultanate, the grand Mughals
and the war-like Marathas. In fact to this day their descendants,
though stripped of their titles and kingdoms, are revered as rulers
by the common man.
Rajasthan - History
Rajasthan is the home of the Rajputs, a group of warrior clans, who
have controlled this part of India for 1000 years according to a
code of chivalry and honor akin to that of the medieval European
knights. While temporary alliances and marriages of convenience were
the order of the day, pride and independence were always paramount.
The Rajputs were therefore never able to present a united front
against a common aggressor. Indeed, much of their energy was spent
squabbling among themselves and the resultant weakness eventually
led to their becoming vassal states of the Mughal empire.
Nevertheless, the Rajputs' bravery and sense of honor were
Rajput warriors would fight against all odds and, when no
hope was left, chivalry demanded that jauhar (mass suicide) take
place. In this grim ritual, the women and children committed suicide
by immolating themselves on a huge funeral pyre, while the men
donned saffron robes and rode out to confront the enemy and certain
death. In some of the larger battles, ten of thousands of Rajput
warriors lost their lives in this way. Three times in
Chittorgarh's long history, the women consigned themselves to
the flames while the men rode out to their martyrdom. The same
tragic fate befell many other forts around the state. It's hardly
surprising that Akbar persuaded Rajputs to lead his army, nor that
subsequent Mughal emperors had such difficulty controlling this part
of their empire.
With the decline of the Mughal empire the Rajputs gradually clawed
back their independence through a series of spectacular victories,
at least until the British arrived. As the Raj inexorably expanded,
most Rajput states signed articles of alliance with the British,
which allowed them to continue as independent states, each with its
own King, subject to certain political and economic constraints.
These alliances proved to be the beginning of the end for the Rajput
rulers. Indulgence and extravagance soon replaced chivalry and honor
so that by the early 20th century, many of the maharajas spent much
of their time traveling the world with scores of concubines and
retainers, playing polo, racing horses, and occupying entire floors
of the most expensive hotels in Europe and the USA. While it suited
the British to indulge them in this respect, their profligacy was
economically and socially detrimental. When India gained
independence, Rajasthan had one of the subcontinent's lowest rates
of life expectancy and literacy.
At Independence, India's ruling Congress Party was forced to make a
deal with the independent Rajput states in order to secure their
agreement to join the new India. The rulers were allowed to keep
their titles, their property holdings were secured and they were
paid an annual stipend commensurate with their status. It couldn't
last forever, however, and in the early 1970s Indira Gandhi
abolished both the titles and the stipends and severely sequestered
the rulers' property rights.
While some of the rulers have survived this by converting their
palaces into luxury hotels, many have fallen by the wayside, unable
to cope with the financial and managerial demands of the late 20th
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