|State of India|
Location of Rajasthan in India
Map of Rajasthan
|Coordinates (Jaipur): Coordinates:|
|Established||1 November 1956|
|• Governor||Margaret Alva|
|• Chief Minister||Vasundhara Raje (BJP)|
|• Legislature||Unicameral (200 seats)|
|• Parliamentary constituency||25|
|• High Court||Rajasthan High Court|
|• Total||342,239 km2 (132,139 sq mi)|
|• Density||201/km2 (520/sq mi)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+05:30)|
|ISO 3166 code||IN-RJ|
|HDI rank||21st (2005)|
Rajasthan (//; Hindustani pronunciation: [raːdʒəsˈt̪ʰaːn] ( )), known as "the land of kings",and old name was Gurjar partihar or Gurjar Desh  is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the west of India. It comprises most of the area of the large, inhospitable Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, which parallels the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with Pakistan to the west. Rajasthan is also bordered by Gujarat to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north. Rajasthan covers 10.4% of India, an area of 342,239 square kilometres (132,139 sq mi).
Jaipur is the capital and the largest city of the state. Geographical features include the Thar Desert along north-western Rajasthan and the termination of the Ghaggar River near the archaeological ruins at Kalibanga of the Indus Valley Civilization, which are the oldest in the Indian subcontinent discovered so far.
One of the world's oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli Range, cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, famous for Dilwara Temples, a sacred pilgrimage for Jains. Eastern Rajasthan has the world famous Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, a World Heritage Site known for its bird life. It also has two national tiger reserves, Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar and Ranthambore.
Rajasthan was formed on 30 March 1949, when the region known until then as Rajputana, a name adopted by British government for its dependencies in this region, was merged into the Dominion of India.
The first mention of the place-name Rajasthan appears in James Tod's 1829 publication, Annals and Antiquities of Rajast'han or the Central and Western Rajpoot States of India. Rajasthan literally means a Land of Kingdoms. George Thomas (Military Memories) was the first in 1800 A.D., to term this region as Rajputana. John Keay in his book, India: A History stated that the Rajputana name was coined by the British, but that the word even achieved a retrospective authenticity: in an 1829 translation of Ferishta's history of early Islamic India, John Briggs discarded the phrase Indian princes, as rendered in Dow's earlier version, and substituted Rajput princes. R. C. Majumdar explained that the region was long known as Gurjaratra that is Country protected or ruled by the Gurjars.
The Indus Valley Civilization, one of the world's first and oldest, was in parts of what is now Rajasthan. Kalibangan, in Hanumangarh district, was a major provincial capital of the Indus Valley Civilization, now part of Pakistan. It is believed that Western Kshatrapas (405–35 BC) were Saka rulers of the western part of India (Saurashtra and Malwa: modern Gujarat, Southern Sindh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan). They were successors to the Indo-Scythians and were contemporaneous with the Kushans who ruled the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The Indo-Scythians invaded the area of Ujjain and established the Saka era (with their calendar), marking the beginning of the long-lived Saka Western Satraps state. Matsya, a state of the Vedic civilisation of India, is said to roughly corresponded to former state of Jaipur in Rajasthan and included the whole of Alwar with portions of Bharatpur. The capital of Matsya was at Viratanagar (modern Bairat) which is said to have been named after its founder king Virata.
Traditionally the Meenas, Gurjars, Bhils, Rajputs, Rajpurohit, Charans, Jats, Yadavs, Bishnois and other tribes made a great contribution in building the state of Rajasthan. All these tribes suffered great difficulties in protecting their culture and the land. Millions of them were killed trying to protect their land. A number of Gurjars had been exterminated in Bhinmal and Ajmer areas fighting with the invaders. Bhils once ruled Kota. Meenas were rulers of Bundi and Dhundhar region.
Gurjars ruled many dynasties in this part of the country. In fact this region was long known as Gurjaratra. Up to the tenth century almost the whole of North India, excepting Bengal, acknowledged the supremacy of Gurjars with their seat of power at Kannauj.
The Gurjar Pratihar Empire acted as a barrier for Arab invaders from the 8th to the 11th century. The chief accomplishment of the Gurjara Pratihara empire lies in its successful resistance to the foreign invasions from the west, starting in the days of Junaid. Historian R. C. Majumdar says that this was openly acknowledged by the Arab writers themselves. He further notes that historians of India have wondered at the slow progress of Muslim invaders in India, as compared with their rapid advance in other parts of the world. Now there seems little doubt that it was the power of the Gurjara Pratihara army that effectively barred the progress of the Arabs beyond the confines of Sindh, their first conquest for nearly 300 years.
The earlier contributions of warriors and protectors of the land Meenas, Gurjars, Ahirs, Jats, Bhils were ignored and lost in history due to the stories of great valour shown by certain specific clans in later years, which gained more prominence than older acts of bravery.
Modern Rajasthan includes most of Rajputana, which comprises the erstwhile 19 princely states, two chiefships and the British district of Ajmer-Merwara. Marwar (Jodhpur), Bikaner, Mewar (Udaipur), Alwar and Dhundhar (Jaipur) were some of the main Rajput princely states. Bharatpur and Dholpur were Jat princely states whereasTonk was princely state under a Muslim Nawab. Rajput families rose to prominence in the 6th century CE. The Rajputs put up a valiant resistance to the Islamic invasions and protected this land with their warfare and chivalry for more than 500 years. They also resisted Mughal incursions into India and thus contributed to their slower-than-anticipated access to the Indian Subcontinent. Later the Mughals, through a combination of treachery and skilled warfare, were able to get a firm grip on northern India, including Rajasthan. Mewar led other kingdoms in its resistance to outside rule. Most notably Rana Sanga fought the Battle of Khanua against Babur, the founder of the Mughal empire.
Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, the Hindu Emperor, also known as Hemu in the history of India was born in the village of Machheri in Alwar District in 1501. He won 22 battles against Afghans, from Punjab to Bengal and defeated Akbar's forces twice at Agra and Delhi in 1556, before acceeding to the throne of Delhi and establishing 'Hindu Raj' in North India, albeit for a short duration, from Purana Quila in Delhi. He was killed in the Second Battle of Panipat.)
Maharana Pratap of Mewar resisted Akbar in the famous Battle of Haldighati (1576) and later operated from hilly areas of his kingdom. Bhils were Maharana's main allies during these wars. Most of these attacks were repulsed even though the Mughal forces outnumbered Mewar Rajputs in all the wars fought between them. The Haldighati war was fought between 10,000 Mewaris and a 100,000-strong Mughal force (including many Rajputs like Kachwahas from Dhundhar).
Over the years the Mughals began to have internal disputes which greatly distracted them at times. The Mughal Empire continued to weaken, with the decline of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, Rajputana came under suzerainty of the Marathas, until the Marathas were replaced by the British East India Company in early 19th century.
Following their rapid defeat, the Rajput kings concluded treaties with the British in the early 19th century, accepting British suzerainty and control over their external affairs in return for internal autonomy.
Rajasthan's formerly independent kingdom created a rich architectural and cultural heritage, seen even today in their numerous forts and palaces (Mahals and Havelis) which are enriched by features of Islamic and Jain architecture.
The development of the frescos in Rajasthan is linked with the history of the Marwaris who played a crucial role in the economic development of the region. Many wealthy families throughout Indian history have links to Marwar. These include the legendary Birla, Bajaj and Mittal families.
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The main geographic features of Rajasthan are the Thar Desert and the Aravalli Range, which runs through the state from southwest to northeast, almost from one end to the other, for more than 850 kilometres (530 mi). Mount Abu lies at the southwestern end of the range, separated from the main ranges by the West Banas River, although a series of broken ridges continues into Haryana in the direction of Delhi where it can be seen as outcrops in the form of the Raisina Hill and the ridges farther north. About three-fifths of Rajasthan lies northwest of the Aravallis, leaving two-fifths on the east and south direction.
The northwestern portion of Rajasthan is generally sandy and dry. Most of this region is covered by the Thar Desert which extends into adjoining portions of Pakistan. The Aravalli Range does not intercept the moisture-giving southwest monsoon winds off the Arabian Sea, as it lies in a direction parallel to that of the coming monsoon winds, leaving the northwestern region in a rain shadow. The Thar Desert is thinly populated; the town of Bikaner is the largest city in the desert. The Northwestern thorn scrub forests lie in a band around the Thar Desert, between the desert and the Aravallis. This region receives less than 400 mm of rain in an average year. Temperatures can exceed 45 °C in the summer months and drop below freezing in the winter. The Godwar, Marwar, and Shekhawati regions lie in the thorn scrub forest zone, along with the city of Jodhpur. The Luni River and its tributaries are the major river system of Godwar and Marwar regions, draining the western slopes of the Aravallis and emptying southwest into the great Rann of Kutch wetland in neighbouring Gujarat. This river is saline in the lower reaches and remains potable only up to Balotara in Barmer district. The Ghaggar River, which originates in Haryana, is an intermittent stream that disappears into the sands of the Thar Desert in the northern corner of the state and is seen as a remnant of the primitive Saraswati river.
The Aravalli Range and the lands to the east and southeast of the range are generally more fertile and better watered. This region is home to the Kathiarbar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion, with tropical dry broadleaf forests that include teak, Acacia, and other trees. The hilly Vagad region lies in southernmost Rajasthan, on the border with Gujarat. With the exception of Mount Abu, Vagad is the wettest region in Rajasthan, and the most heavily forested. North of Vagad lies the Mewar region, home to the cities of Udaipur and Chittaurgarh. The Hadoti region lies to the southeast, on the border with Madhya Pradesh. North of Hadoti and Mewar lies the Dhundhar region, home to the state capital of Jaipur. Mewat, the easternmost region of Rajasthan, borders Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Eastern and southeastern Rajasthan is drained by the Banas and Chambal rivers, tributaries of the Ganges.
The Aravalli Range runs across the state from the southwest peak Guru Shikhar (Mount Abu), which is 1,722 m in height, to Khetri in the northeast. This range divides the state into 60% in the northwest of the range and 40% in the southeast. The northwest tract is sandy and unproductive with little water but improves gradually from desert land in the far west and northwest to comparatively fertile and habitable land towards the east. The area includes the Thar Desert. The south-eastern area, higher in elevation (100 to 350 m above sea level) and more fertile, has a very diversified topography. in the south lies the hilly tract of Mewar. In the southeast, a large area within the districts of Kota and Bundi forms a tableland. To the northeast of these districts is a rugged region (badlands) following the line of the Chambal River. Farther north the country levels out; the flat plains of the northeastern Bharatpur district are part of an alluvial basin. Merta City lies in the geographical center of Rajasthan.
Flora and fauna
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Though a large percentage of the total area is desert, and even though there is little forest cover, Rajasthan has a rich and varied flora and fauna. The natural vegetation is classed as Northern Desert Thorn Forest (Champion 1936). These occur in small clumps scattered in a more or less open forms. Density and size of patches increase from west to east following the increase in rainfall.
The Desert National Park, Jaisalmer, spread over an area of 3162 km², is an excellent example of the ecosystem of the Thar Desert, and its diverse fauna. Seashells and massive fossilised tree trunks in this park record the geological history of the desert. The region is a haven for migratory and resident birds of the desert. One can see many eagles, harriers, falcons, buzzards, kestrel and vultures. Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus), Tawny Eagles (Aquila rapax), Spotted Eagles (Aquila clanga), Laggar Falcons (Falco jugger) and kestrels are the commonest of these.
The Dhosi Hill located in district Jhunjunu, known as "Chayvan Rishi's Ashram' where 'Chayawanprash' was formulated for the first time has unique and rare herbs growing
Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is a very small sanctuary in Sujangarh, Churu District, 210 km from Jaipur, in the Shekhawati region. This sanctuary is home to a large population of blackbuck. Desert foxes and the caracal, an apex predator also known as the desert lynx, can also be spotted, along with birds such as the partridge and sand grouse. The Great Indian Bustard, known locally as the godavan, and which is a state bird, has been classed as critically endangered since 2011.
Rajasthan is also noted for National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. There are four national park and wildlife sanctuaries named the Keoladeo National Park of Bharatpur, Sariska Tiger Reserve of Alwar, Ranthambore National Park of Sawai Madhopur, and Desert National Park of Jaisalmer.
Ranthambore National Park and Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary are both known worldwide for their tiger population and considered by both wilderness lovers and photographers as the best places in India to spot tigers. At one point, due to poaching and negligence, tigers became extinct at Sariska, but recently 5 tigers have been shifted here. Prominent among the wildlife sanctuaries are Mount Abu Sanctuary, Bhensrod Garh Sanctuary, Darrah Sanctuary, Jaisamand Sanctuary, Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Jawahar Sagar sanctuary and Sita Mata Wildlife Sanctuary.
Government and politics
Rajasthan is divided into 33 districts and seven divisions:
- Jaipur Division: Jaipur, Alwar, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Dausa.
- Udaipur Division: Udaipur, Banswara, Chittorgarh, Pratapgarh, Dungarpur, Rajsamand
- Ajmer Division: Ajmer, Bhilwara, Nagaur, Tonk.
- Jodhpur Division: Barmer, Jaisalmer, Jalore, Jodhpur, Pali, Sirohi.
- Bikaner Division: Bikaner, Churu, Sri Ganganagar, Hanumangarh.
- Kota Division: Baran, Bundi, Jhalawar, Kota.
- Bharatpur Division: Bharatpur, Dholpur, Karauli, Sawai Madhopur.
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Rajasthan's economy is primarily agricultural and pastoral. Wheat and barley are cultivated over large areas, as are pulses, sugarcane, and oilseeds. Cotton and tobacco are the state's cash crops. Rajasthan is among the largest producers of edible oils in India and the second largest producer of oilseeds. Rajasthan is also the biggest wool-producing state in India and the main opium producer and consumer. There are mainly two crop seasons. The water for irrigation comes from wells and tanks. The Indira Gandhi Canal irrigates northwestern Rajasthan.
The main industries are mineral based, agriculture based, and textiles. Rajasthan is the second largest producer of polyester fibre in India. The Pali and Bhilwara District produces more cloth than Bhiwandi, Maharashtra and the bhilwara is the largest city in suitings production and export and Pali is largest city in cotton and polyster in blouse pes and rubia production and export. Several prominent chemical and engineering companies are located in the city of Kota, in southern Rajasthan. Rajasthan is pre-eminent in quarrying and mining in India. The Taj Mahal was built from the white marble which was mined from a town called Makrana. The state is the second largest source of cement in India. It has rich salt deposits at Sambhar, copper mines at Khetri, Jhunjhunu and zinc mines at Dariba, Zawar mines at Zawarmala for zinc, Rampura Aghucha (opencast) near Bhilwara. Dimensional stone mining is also undertaken in Rajasthan. Jodhpur sandstone is mostly used in monuments, important buildings and residential buildings. This stone is termed as "chittar patthar". Rajasthan is also a part of the Mumbai-Delhi Industrial corridor is set to benefit economically. The State gets 39% of the DMIC, with major districts of Jaipur, Alwar, Kota and Bhilwara benefiting.
Rajasthan is presently[when?] earning 150 million (~ $2.5 million US) per day as revenue from crude oil sector. This earning is expected to reach 250 million per day in 2013 (which is an increase of 100 million or more than 66 percent). The government of India has given permission to extract 300,000 barrels of crude per day from Barmer region which is presently 175,000 barrels per day. Once this limit is achieved Rajasthan will become leader in Crude extraction in Country. Presently Bombay High leads with a production of 250,000 barrels crude per day. Once the limit if 300,000 barrels per day is reached, the overall production of the country will increase by 15 percent. Cairn India is doing the work of exploration and extraction of crude oil in Rajasthan.
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Rajasthan is connected by many national highways. Most renowned being NH 8, which is India's first 4–8 lane highway. Rajasthan also has an inter-city surface transport system both in terms of railways and bus network. All chief cities are connected by air, rail and road.
By Air: There are three main airports at Rajasthan- Jaipur International Airport, Udaipur Airport, and Jodhpur Airport. These airports connect Rajasthan with the major cities of India such as Delhi and Mumbai. There are two other airports in Kota and Jaisalmer, but are not open for commercial/civilian flights yet. Jaisalmer airport is open for civilians but only during season time (from August to March).
By Rail: Rajasthan is connected with the main cities of India by rail. Jaipur, Alwar, Kota, Bikaner, Ajmer, Udaipur, Abu Road and Jodhpur are the principal railway stations in Rajasthan. Kota City is the only Electrified Section served by three Rajdhani Expresses and trains to all major cities of India. There is also an international railway, the Thar Express from Jodhpur to Karachi. However, this is not open to foreign nationals currently.
By Road: Rajasthan is well connected to the main cities of the country including Delhi, Ahmedabad and Indore by State and National Highways and served by Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) and Private operators.
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Rajasthan has a mainly Rajasthani population of approximately 68,621,012. Rajasthan's population is made up mainly of Hindus, who account for 88.8% of the population. Muslims make up 8.5%, Sikhs 1.4% and Jains 1.2% of the population. The state of Rajasthan is also populated by Sindhis, who came to Rajasthan from Sindh province (now in Pakistan) during the India-Pakistan separation in 1947.
Rajasthani (constitutional status is pending) is the main spoken language of the state, although Hindi and English are used for official purposes. It is spoken by 13 million people in Rajasthan and other states of India. A number of “tribal" languages are also spoken in Rajasthan. Some other languages used in Rajasthan are Punjabi, Gujarati, and Sindhi.
Largest cities of Rajasthan with population
- Jaipur- 3,073,349
- Jodhpur- 1,033,918
- Kota- 1,001,365
- Bikaner- 647,804
- Ajmer- 542,580
- Udaipur- 451,735
- Alwar- 341,383
- Bhilwara- 360,009
- Bharatpur – 252,109
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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. Highly cultivated classical music and dance with its own distinct style is part of the cultural tradition of Rajasthan. The music is uncomplicated and songs depict day-to-day relationships and chores, more often focused around fetching water from wells or ponds.
Rajasthani cooking was influenced by both the war-like lifestyles of its inhabitants and the availability of ingredients in this arid region. Food that could last for several days and could be eaten without heating was preferred. Scarcity of water and fresh green vegetables have all had their effect on the cooking. It is known for its snacks like Bikaneri Bhujia, Mirchi Bada, Pyaaj Kachori and ghevar. Other famous dishes include bajre ki roti (millet bread) and lashun ki chutney (hot garlic paste), mawa kachori from Jodhpur, Alwar ka Mawa(Milk Cake), malpauas from Pushkar and rassgollas from Bikaner. Originating for the Marwar region of the state is the concept Marwari Bhojnalaya, or vegetarian restaurants, today found in many part of India, which offer vegetarian food of the Marwari people.
The Ghoomar dance from Udaipur and Kalbeliya dance of Jaisalmer have gained international recognition. Folk music is a vital part of Rajasthani culture. Kathputli, Bhopa, Chang, Teratali, Ghindr, Kachchhighori, Tejaji, etc. are the examples of the traditional Rajasthani culture. Folk songs are commonly ballads which relate heroic deeds and love stories; and religious or devotional songs known as bhajans and banis (often accompanied by musical instruments like dholak, sitar, sarangi etc.) are also sung.
Rajasthan is known for its traditional, colourful art. The block prints, tie and dye prints, Bagaru prints, Sanganer prints, and Zari embroidery are major export products from Rajasthan. Handicraft items like wooden furniture and crafts, carpets, and blue pottery are commonly found here. Rajasthan is a shoppers' paradise, with beautiful goods at low prices. Reflecting the colourfulculture, Rajasthani clothes have a lot of mirror-work and embroidery. A Rajasthani traditional dress for females comprises an ankle-length skirt and a short top, also known as a lehenga or a chaniya choli. A piece of cloth is used to cover the head, both for protection from heat and maintenance of modesty. Rajasthani dresses are usually designed in bright colours like blue, yellow and orange.
The main religious festivals are Deepawali, Holi, Gangaur, Teej, Gogaji, Shri Devnarayan Jayanti, Makar Sankranti and Janmashtami, as the main religion is Hinduism. 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.
Spirit possession has been documented in modern Rajasthan. Some of the spirits possessing Rajasthanis are seen as good and beneficial, while others are seen as malevolent. The good spirits include murdered royalty, the underworld god Bhaironji, and Muslim saints. Bad spirits include perpetual debtors who die in debt, stillborn infants, deceased widows, and foreign tourists. The possessed individual is referred to as a ghorala ("mount"). Possession, even if it is by a benign spirit, is regarded as undesirable, as it entails loss of self-control and violent emotional outbursts.
During recent years, Rajasthan has made significant progress in the area of education. The state government has been making sustained efforts to improve the education standard.
In recent decades, the literacy rate of Rajasthan has increased significantly. In 1991, the state's literacy rate was only 38.55% (54.99% male and 20.44% female). In 2001, the literacy rate increased to 60.41% (75.70% male and 43.85% female). This was the highest leap in the percentage of literacy recorded in India (the rise in female literacy being 23%). At the Census 2011, Rajasthan had a literacy rate of 67.06% (80.51% male and 52.66% female). Although Rajasthan's literacy rate is below the national average of 74.04% and although its female literacy rate is the lowest in the country (closely followed by Bihar at 53.33%), the state has been praised for its efforts and achievements in raising male and female literacy rates.
Rajasthan has nine universities and more than 250 colleges, 55,000 primary and 7,400 secondary schools. There are 41 engineering colleges with an annual enrolment of about 11,500 students. The state has 23 polytechnics and one-hundred and 52 Industrial Training Institute (ITIs) that impart vocational training.
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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, Lake 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 Mount Abu, Ranakpur Temple dedicated to Lord Adinath in Pali District, Jain temples in the fort complexes of Chittor, Jaisalmer and Kumbhalgarh, Lodurva Jain temples,Mirpur Jain Temples, Sarun Mata Temple kotputli, Bhandasar and Karni Mata Temple of Bikaner are some of the best examples.
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- Bhattacharya, Manoshi. 2008. The Royal Rajputs: Strange Tales and Stranger Truths. Rupa & Co, New Delhi.
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