The name of Rajasthan brings to the mind rippling sandy dunes, swirling colourful skirts dotted with mirror work and pots balanced on the heads of peeping veiled women.
There are also hills and forests in this large state of India that had once been parceled out among royal kings. History says that once upon a time the land was fertile but with the change in geological structure of the earth the mythical River Saraswati dried out.
The trickle that is the Ghagra today is said to once a part of the Saraswati. The only lone hill station in Rajasthan is Mount Abu that hosts the famous Jain temple of Dilwara. Predominantly a Hindu state, Rajasthan is dotted with temples and legends of yester years when the Rajputs put up a strong formidable resistance to Muslim invaders.
The story of Rajasthan would be incomplete without a walk through Bishnoi villages. Few hundreds of Bishnois sacrificed their lives to stop a local ruler from destroying trees. Generally the kings maintained awesome forest reserves for their gaming and hunting.
As a result the region is a treasure trove of diverse flora and fauna. The Ranthambore and Sariska Tiger Reserves, the Desert National Park and the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary are famous internationally. All part of the story that is Rajasthan in natural splendour are the water lily and lotus, the peafowl, the tree pie, the dung beetle and the looper caterpillar as well as the cobra and viper – only a few among many.
A click online will connect the interested to innumerable package tours to suit all tastes and pockets. One of the best trips is a drive to Khuri village about 45 km east of Jaisalmer. It still retains its original flavour with clusters of thatched huts and people moving around in traditional clothes.
The Meherangarh fort rises up from the hills. According to legend it was built on the advice of a hermit. The houses are mostly blue in the adjoining area – this being the colour of the stone. Inside the fort are many palaces built up by generations of rulers. There is also a cannon rampart.
En route to Udaipur one halts at Ranakpur where there are Jain temples dating back hundreds of years.
The temple has 29 halls supported on 1,444 pillars – no two pillars being alike. There are fine friezes and sculpted statues. The lake city of Udaipur will take the breath away and the call of Rajastjan might make the visitor want to go on lingering the visit to take in and absorb the land of the kings and gods.