A journey through time.

Pushkar

There is no other region in India more renown for glorious battles and honorable warriors than Rajastan, the Land of Kings. For over 1,000 years Rajastan was dominated by the Rajputs, warrior clans who first settled in Rajastan after fleeing Muslim invaders. The Rajputs subdued the local tribes, the Bhils and the Minas, and established their separate kingdoms throughout the region.

The original 36 clans of Rajputs claimed to be direct descendents of either the Sun Race (Suryavansa) and the god Sri Rama, or the Moon Race (Induvasana) and Sri Krishna, or finally from the Fire Born (Agnikula), arisen from the flames of a holy fire on Mount Abu. These mythological origins may have accounted for their incredible bravery and strong code of honor, which distinguished them throughout India as exceptional warriors. Unfortunately, the Rajputs were never able to unite and often succumbed to clan fighting, which left them vulnerable to outside invasion. Rajastan was the scene for countless battles between the Rajputs themselves and against foreign aggressors; the blood shed did not end until the British occupied India.

Temple festival in Udaipur

Most Rajput clans signed alliances with the British and this allowed them to remain outwardly independent and personally wealthy, but their individual Maharajas were constantly manipulated for the benefit of England and to the detriment of India. The chivalry and honor characterizing the great Rajput warriors gave way to decadence and greed soon after their collaboration with the The Victory-Tower in Chittogargh British, and Rajastan began to decline. Insurgencies by the enslaved population and from the middle-class further weakened Rajastan and after Indian Independence in 1947 all the Rajput states Three wmoen on the Ghatts in Pushkar were integrated into the newly formed national State of India. To encourage the Rajput's cooperation, the Indian government guaranteed them annual stipends as well as protection of their titles and property, but this all came to an end in the 1970's when Indira Gandhi cancelled the Rajput's protection. The more astute businessmen converted their palaces into hotels, while the other Rajputs disappeared impoverished with only the landscape and architecture to remember their historical greatness.

Today, Rajastan is the second largest state in India, second only to Madhya Pradesh. The forts, palaces, castles, historic cities and romantic nostalgia left behind by the Rajput warriors makes this Land of Kings one of the most fascinating areas in all of India. Three women near a desert village Traveling in Rajastan is like traveling back in time to an era marked by historic battles and brave warriors; you become one with the landscape, a historic witness to the Land of King's glorious past. Whether you are traveling in the rugged South, or in the deserts of the North, the color of the local people and the beauty of the architecture will capture your imagination and you may just see an old Rajput warrior out of the corner of your eye, or in the shadows of the grey-yellow desert.

Jauhar

The proud and self-confident character of the Rajput warrior clans is legendary. One of the best illustrations of their bravery and honor is reflected by this historic occurrence, which took place within the walls of Chittorgarh during the 14th century. The Rajputs often fought amongst themselves and this weakened them to foreign invasion, most notably by the Mughals who came to rule most of North India. Only a few of the Rajput empires, including Chittorgarh, continued to resist Mughal foreign rule.

The jewel of the Chittorgarh empire was Padmini, the wife of the Emperor Rattan Singhs. The news of her beauty reached far beyond the borders of the empire and soon the Sultan of Delhi, Ala-du-din Khilji, learned about her and his desire to see the beautiful Padmini grew until he decided to attack Chittorgarh unless he could see her. The Emperor knew Chittorgarh would not be able to resist the military might of the Sultan and quickly gave in to his demand but with one exception: The Sultan was unable to see Padmini directly, he could only view her reflection in a mirror.

The Sultan immediately fell in love and was not satisfied with only seeing her reflection in a mirror - he wanted to possess her. When the Emperor accompanied the Sultan back to the city door, he was captured by the Sultan's soldiers. The Sultan would only release the Emperor if he were given Padmini in exchange. The court of Chittorgarh was up in arms, but fortunately the clever Padmini came up with a brilliant plan. She appeared to agree to the demands of the Sultan and, with an escort of 150 ladies of court, she entered the tent of the Sultan.

Under each of the ladies' skirts were four Chittorgarh soldiers and they succeeded in freeing their ruler and bringing him back to the fort. The angry Sultan attacked the city in earnest this time and it soon became obvious that Chittorgarh would fall to the Sultan's army. The pride of the Rajput warrior clans demanded an honourable death in defeat, not only for the men, but also for the women. When the inevitable time for defeat arrived the women of Chittorgarh decided to perform "Jauhar", or honor suicide.

Pyres were piled in underground alleys and set on fire, the women dressed themselves in their wedding saris and before the eyes of their husbands they threw themselves onto the flames. The men, dressed in their best saffron colored clothes, marched out of the city's doors and into the arms of death.

Rajasthan

The Tour

Our tour will include sightseeing, day trips to remote temples and Havelis (mansions) and, of course, no tour of Rajastan is complete without a camel ride through the desert! We will begin our tour by traveling a half a day by train from Delhi to the wonderful old city of Jaipur, or "The Pink City." After two days of becoming acclimated to India and Rajastan we will jump on our bikes and head off to Jhunjhunu and from here we will continue on to Bikaner and then to Jaisalmer, the romantic desert city that evokes the fantasy from 1,000 and One Nights. From Jaisalmer we will Shopping Paradies Rajasthan ride through Jodhpur, the "Blue City", to Mt. Abu with its ancient Jain temple, then on to Udaipur and its whitewashed temples and amazing palaces. From here we continue on to the little town of Bundi with its medieval feel and colorful night markets until we reach the breathtaking temple city of Pushkar, home of the Holy Pushkar Lake and devoted sadhus (holy men). Finally we will take the train back to Delhi and return home.

Special driving skills are not required for our tour as any good street driver can master the Rajastan stretch easily. The total distance we will cover is about 2,000 km and the longest we will travel in one day is about 330 km. Prepare yourself for high temperatures since we will be traveling in desert country. As for accommodation, we will stay in old, converted palaces, Halevis and excellent hotels. The tour will take place from October - November, the most hospitable time for travel in Rajastan.

Come join us for an unforgettable journey through time in the glorious Land of Kings!

More pictures in our Slide Shows