Rajasthan is the largest state of the Republic
of India in terms of area. It borders Pakistan to the west, Gujarat
to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and
Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north. Rajasthan covers
an area of 342,239 km² (132,139 mi²).
The state capital is Jaipur. Geographical features include the Thar
Desert in western Rajasthan and the termination of the Ghaggar
River. One of the world's oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli
Range, cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, and
its world famous Dilwara Temples. Eastern Rajasthan has two national
tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska, as well as Keoladeo
National Park near Bharatpur, famous for its bird life.
Rajasthan has a rich and colorful history making it one of the most
popular tourist destinations in India. Shown here is an ancient ruin
in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Rajasthan was earlier called Rajputana
(state of Rajputs) after the ruling class of Rajputs. Rajput
literally means 'son of kings'. Rajput clans rose to prominence in
the 6th century, establishing kingdoms in Rajasthan and across
northern India. The Rajputs resisted Muslim incursions into India,
although a number of Rajput states became tributaries to the Delhi
Sultanate and Mughal Empire during those empires' peak of expansion.
As these empires weakened, the Rajputs reasserted their
With the decline of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century,
Rajputana become more and more independent. The Rajput kings
concluded treaties with the British in the early 19th century,
accepting British sovereignty. Ajmer became a province of British
India, while the autonomous Rajput states and a few non-Rajput
states (Tonk, Bharatpur, and Dholpur) were organized into the
Rajasthan's independent kingdoms created a rich architectural and
cultural heritage, seen today in its numerous forts, palaces and
Havelis, which are complemented by exceptional examples of Muslim
and Jain architecture.