Rajasthan, the Land of the Kings, is the largest state in India in terms of area. It is also the most colorful state with enchanting towns and cities such as blue Jodphur, pink Jaipur, golden Jaisalmer and white Udaipur.Geographical features include the Thar Desert in the west of Rajasthan, which extends into Pakistan and the Aravalli Range, one of the world's oldest mountain ranges. Mount Abu is the highest peak in the Aravalli Range and home to the Dilwara Temple complex. The mountain is also home to several Hindu temples.Rajasthan has several national tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska as well as Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, which is famous for its bird life.
Sariska Tiger Reserve and National Park
Sariska Tiger Reserve and National Park was once the royal hunting grounds and it became a national park in 1979. The park is surrounded by the Aravalli Mountains and has a wilderness area or woodlands, hills, savannah, lakes and watering holes.The sanctuary, Sariska, has the Kankwari Fort within its boundaries. This hilltop fort is where Emperor Aurangzeb imprisoned his brother, Dara, who was the rightful heir to the throne. Bhartihari and Neelkantheshwar are near the fort and have well-preserved ancient temples.The park became part of Project Tiger when the World Wildlife Fund found that there may not be any tigers left on the reserve. Tigers have not been sighted for quite some time and a task force has been set up to find out what happened. Other animals found within Sariska National Park include hyenas, foxes, leopards, wildboar, cheetal and jackals.
Fatehpur was established as capital in 1451 for Muslim ruling princes. Shekhawati Rajputs, who built many havelis throughout Fatehpur, took over the town in the 18th C. These three to five story buildings are similar to Mughal palaces but the highlights of the havelis are the wall paintings. Some have been restored to their former glory, and feature urban and Western cultural images.Haveli Nadine Prince was built in 1802 and owned by Nadine Le Prince, a French artist, who turned it into a gallery.Mahavir Prasad Goenka Haveli features magnificent paintings but quite often is locked and therefore not accessible.Harikrishnan Das Sarogi Haveli has a colorful facade and iron lacework while Nand Lal Devra Haveli features paintings of red and blue.
Mandawa was founded in the mid-18th C and is the busiest tourist destination in the Shekhawati Region of Rajasthan. Mandawa is best known for its famous mansions and havelis. Affluent merchant families built the mansions and havelis, which include monumental façades with elephants and horses and impressive paintings on the interior walls and exteriors of the buildings.Castle Mandawa is located in the center of town, it has some interesting frescoes. Originally the home of a noble, Castle Mandawa is now a heritage hotel that has retained a medieval theme. The walls feature elaborate carvings, lovely paintings and mirror work.The best time to visit Mandawa is between October to March.
Roopangarh is home to a fort that was built in 1648 and named for Maharaja Roop Singh. This nine turreted Fort was built over several generations and features many different styles that are evident in the structure.The Fort has been beautifully restored and renovated into a hotel. The nineteen rooms are decorated to highlight the history and heritage of the Fort.Tourists are welcome to visit nearby Sambhar Lake and experience camel safaris to the marble carved cenotaph in nearby Karkeri.
Sam Sand Dunes National Park
Sam Sand Dunes National Park is located west of Jaisalmer and has become a popular tourist attraction especially for anyone wanting to experience a sunset camel ride on this desolate drifting sandy dunes. Sunrise or sunset is the best time to enjoy Sam Sand Dunes National Park.The Desert Festival is held in Sam Sand Dunes in February each year. It is a big draw for nearby residents and tourists who come to participate in the fun, enjoy the color and laughter, and experience the cultural events and competitions.
Bharatpur was once the capital of the kingdom of Mewat and an important Jat stronghold. From this location the Mughals were successfully opposed and the Iron Fort at Bharatpur was successful in holding off an attack by the British in 1805. Within the walls of the Iron Fort are three palaces, only one is open to the public.The siege of 1825 led to the signing of the first treaty of friendship between the northwestern states in India and the East India Company.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park
Keoladeo Ghana National Park began in 1733 when the Bharatpur maharaja dammed a nearby canal, which created a marshland and attracted many birds. Keoladeo Ghana then became a duck hunting preserve for Maharaja Suraj until 1965 when hunting was banned.In 1983, Keoladeo Ghana became a national park and today is a breeding ground for many birds, over 375 species of birds have been recorded. The best time to visit is between October and February when many migratory birds are visiting. Birds are the most visible in the early morning or evening. Some of the species include heron, egrets, geese, owls, kingfishers, Saras cranes and cormorants.The Keoladeo Ghana National Park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.
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