Exploring The Real Rajasthan
Rajasthan – the land of royal trappings, chivalry and romance – is a feast for the senses. It has the largest concentration of monuments of historical and architectural interest in India. Amber Fort (Jaipur), the Golden Fort (Jaisalmer) and Mehrangarh Fort (Jodhpur) are among the most magnificent royal forts in the world, perched on high mountain tops and towering protectively over ancient living walled cities. Rajasthan is also famous for its exquisitely painted and carved palaces, like the Hawa Mahal and City Palace (Jaipur), and the Lake Palace (Udaipur). Similarly notable are the havelis (mansions) of aristocrats and merchant princes, such as the Chitrashala of Bundi and the painted havelis of Shekhawat
Bazaars brim over with beautiful handicrafts – nurtured by centuries of royal patronage and secure trade routes -, and the dramatic colour and fragrance of spices.
The royal courts and feudal fiefdoms supported distinctive urban traditions of classical music and dance, as well as rural communities of itinerant bards who recorded the exploits of the aristocracy through poetry and music. The courts also spawned the art of fine miniature painting on silk – representing gods, humans, animals, trees and flowers, and abstract themes such as musical ragas (arrangements of musical notes in the Indian classical music traditions) – in luminous colours extracted from precious stones and other minerals.
Rajasthan’s western desert districts have been home to India’s largest concentration of nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes. Historically breeders of fine horses, camels, milch cattle, sheep and goats, these tribes are a rich repository of folk culture – haunting music that rings across the sandy wastes, mesmerising dances, colourful wool-based weaves, brilliant embroidery on fabric and leather, and much more…and folk knowledge about local animal and plant forms.
Several of the luxury boutique heritage hotels of Rajasthan are converted royal palaces and aristocratic havelis. Themselves places of elegance and beauty,a few of them facilitate easy access to historical monuments, palaces and bazars and, simultaneously, bring the visitor face-to-face with the real people at the grassroots. Set amid the vast hereditary estates that the nobility historically controlled, a select few of these hotels are located just outside the main cities and are thus within easy reach of city life and its attractions while also being integrated with local rural communities of farmers, animal herders, artisans and folk musicians.