Rajasthan is India’s largest state by area with 10.4% of India’s total area. It is located on the western side of the country, where it comprises most of the wide and inhospitable Thar Desert (also known as the “Rajasthan Desert” and “Great Indian Desert”) and shares a border with Pakistan along the Sutlej-Indus river valley.
The Indus Valley Civilization, one of the world’s first and oldest, was in parts of what is now Rajasthan. Rajasthan is culturally rich and has artistic and cultural traditions which reflect the ancient Indian way of life. There is rich and varied folk culture from villages which is often depicted and is symbolic of the state.
Rajasthan’s desert festival is held once a year during winter. Dressed in brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing ballads. There are fairs with snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels play a role in this festival.
Rajasthan attracted 14 percent of total foreign visitors during 2009–2010 which is the fourth highest among Indian states. It is fourth also in Domestic tourist visitors. Endowed with natural beauty and a great history, tourism is a flourishing industry in Rajasthan.
The palaces of Jaipur and Ajmer-Pushkar, the lakes of Udaipur, the desert forts of Jodhpur, Taragarh Fort (Star Fort) in Bundi, and Bikaner and Jaisalmer rank among the most preferred destinations in India for many tourists both Indian and foreign. Tourism accounts for eight percent of the state’s domestic product. Many old and neglected palaces and forts have been converted into heritage hotels. Tourism has increased employment in the hospitality sector.
Rajasthan is famous for its forts, intricately carved temples, and decorated havelis, which were built by Rajput kings in pre-Muslim era Rajasthan. Rajasthan’s Jaipur Jantar Mantar, Dilwara Temples, Chittorgarh Fort, Late Palace, miniature paintings in Bundi, and numerous city palaces and havelis are an important part of the architectural heritage of India.
Jaipur, the Pink City, is noted for the ancient houses made of a type of sand stone dominated by a pink hue. In Bundi, maximum houses are painted blue. At Ajmer, the white marble Bara-dari on the Anasagar lake is exquisite. Jain Temples dot Rajasthan from north to south and east to west. Dilwara Temples of Moutn Abu, Ranakpur Temples dedicated to Lord Adinath in Pali District, Jain temples in the fort complexes of Chittor, Jaisalmer and Kumbhalgarh, Lodurva Jain temples, Mirpur Jain Temple, Sarun Mata Temple Kotputli, Bhandasar and Karni Mata Temple of Bikaner are some of the best examples.