Rajasthan Attractions

Historical Rajasthan

The north-western region of India, which incorporates Rajasthan, remained in early history for the most part independent from the great empires consolidating their hold onthe subcontinent. Rajasthan's geographic position in India has caused it to be affected by the expansionist efforts of various empires. It was a part of the Mauryan Empire around 321-184 BCE.It had also been a part of Republics like Arjunyas, Hunas, Kushans, Malavas, Saka Satraps and the Yaudheyas. The Guptas reigned in the 4th century. Some Buddhist caves and Stupas have been found in Jhalawar, in the southern part of Rajasthan.

The decline of the 300 year old Gupta Empire in the 6th century led to the political unrest in the Northern India and was followed by an epoch of instability as numerous chieftains tried to gain power. The situation was stabilized when the Gurjara-Pratiharas emerged around 700 CE. Gurjar pratihars were well known for their hostility towards Arab invaders. The Arab chronicler Sulaiman describes the army of the Gurjar Pratihars as it stood in 851 CE, The king of Gurjars maintains numerous forces and no other Indian prince has so fine a cavalry. He is unfriendly to the Arabs, still he acknowledges that the king of the Arabs is the greatest of kings. Among the princes of India there is no greater foe of the Islamic faith than he. He has got riches, and his camels and horses are numerous.

Prithviraj Chauhan defeated the invading Muhammad Ghori in the First Battle of Tarain in 1191 and in fifteen further battles before himself being defeated when he was betrayed by one of his own. After the defeat of Chauhan around 1200, a part of Rajasthan came under Muslim rulers. The principal centers of their powers were Nagaur and Ajmer. Ranthambhor was also under their suzerainty. At the beginning of the 13th century, the most prominent and powerful state of Rajasthan was Mewar. The Rajputs resisted the Muslim incursions into India, although a number of Rajput kingdoms eventually became subservient to the Delhi Sultanate. Mewar led others in resistance to Muslim rule: Rana Sanga fought the Battle of Khanua against Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire.

Between 1540-1556, Afghans were in control of most of North India. Rajasthan-born Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (also called Hemu) held various official positions in the capital at Delhi with Islam Shah and Adil Shah, who ruled from Punjab to Bengal. Hemu crushed the first rebellion in 1553 at Ajmer where he killed the Afghan Governor Junaid Khan and appointed his own man as governor. Hemu won 22 battles against Afghan rebels and the Mughal king Akbar, losing none. He defeated Akbar's army at Agra and Delhi in 1556, and became a 'Vikramaditya' king after 350 years of foreign rule at Purana Quila in Delhi. Hemu was eventually defeated at the Second battle of Panipat on 7 November 1556, and was killed.

Akbar arranged matrimonial alliances to gain the trust of Rajput rulers. He himself married the Rajput princess Jodha Bai, the daughter of the Maharaja of Amer. He also granted high offices to a large number of Rajput princes and this maintained very cordial relations with them. Before long, these actions caused many previously hostile Rajputs to be his friends, and many of them surrendered their kingdoms to him. Rulers like Raja Maan Singh of Amer were trusted allies. However, some Rajput rulers were not ready to accept Akbar’s dominance and preferred to remain independent. One such ruler was Raja Uday Singh of Mewar, who founded the city of Udaipur. He never accepted Akbar's supremacy and was at constant war with him. Akbar forcefully seized Chittor, his capital. After his death, this struggle was continued by his son – Rana Pratap. He fought a terrible battle with Akbar at the Haldighat pass where he was defeated and wounded. Since then Rana Pratap remained in recluse for 12 years and attacked the Mughal ruler from time to time. He fought valiantly throughout his life never ceded his independence to the Mughal ruler.