Rajasthan is India's largest state, located on its north-western border with Pakistan. It is surrounded by the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. Rajasthan is bisected by the Aravalli hills, dividing it into two distinct landscapes. On the west is Rajasthan's unique feature, the Thar Desert an area of sand, scrub and thorn. The other is the region to the east of the Aravallis, which is more rain fed and hospitable.
The culture of Rajasthan is defined by the Rajputana kingdoms that ruled it for centuries; the word Rajput meaning sons of royalty. The Thar Desert region saw the Desert Kingdoms of Marwar (modern Jodhpur), Jaisalmer, and Bikaner. The east saw the kingdoms of Mewar (modern Chittor and Udaipur), Amber (modern Amber and Jaipur), and Hadoti (modern Bundi, Kota and Jhalawar) among many others. As a result, Rajasthan has a larger concentration of forts, palaces, and royal riches than any other place in India. This is the reason why tourism is a primary pillar of the economy; apart from agriculture and cattle rearing. Several palaces or abandoned fortresses have been converted to Heritage Hotels to attract visitors and provide an income for the erstwhile princes.
The capital Jaipur, with its many imposing buildings made of rosy sandstone, is called Pink City. The City Palace complex and Hawa Mahal are examples of Rajasthani-Mughal architecture. The old parts of town offer shopping such as jewellery, hand-dyed clothes, precious stones and craftwork. Jaipur has an international airport.
Udaipur has many lakes, lakeside palaces, and the largest palace complex (City Palace) in Rajasthan. Jaisalmer fort is made of yellow sandstone such that it's called the Golden Fort. Jaisalmer also gives access to pristine sand dunes of Sam and Khuri, with camel safaris and nomadic music. The Amber Fort (near Jaipur, 16thcentury); the Chittor Fort; Junagarh Fort (at Bikaner); Mehrangarh Fort, (at Jodhpur, 15thcentury) are among the main fortress attractions.
The Shekhawati region in the north east offers painted havelis belonging to old business families. Ranthambore and Sariska National Parks are for tiger reserves while Keoladeo Ghana National Park (or Bharatpur) is a bird-rich wetland, where over 375 species of migratory birds visit each year. Mt Abu is the only hill station in Rajasthan.