A vividly painted battle scene in the City Palace Museum depicts the attack of Rana Pratap on the commander of the Mughal army Raja Man Singh, at the historic Battle of Haldighati in 1576. Raja Man Singh is seated on the top of an armored elephant, which is being charged by Rana Pratap on his warhorse Chetak. Though Man Singh escaped unhurt, his mahout was slain. The elephant mortally wounded Chetak, who died after carrying Rana Pratap to safety. This famous battle is celebrated throughout the Mewar region and is seen as a significant event in Mewar's resistance of Mughal domination.
Chittor was the former capital of the Sisodia Dynasty of Mewar. Fiercely independent, the fort of Chittor was under siege thrice in its history, and each time resulted in kamikaze attacks by the Rajputs which ultimately led to the fall of the capital. The Rajputs of Chittor always chose death before surrendering against anyone. While the men rode out to suicidal battle against the enemy, the women committed mass immolation called Jauhar, to protect their dignity.
Chittor remained the Mewar capital for 834 years. With only brief interruptions, the fort has always remained in possession of the Sisodias of the Guhilot (or Gehlot/Guhila) clan of Rajputs, who descended from Bappa Rawal. The first attack on Chittor was by made by the forces of Alauddin Khilji in 1303 AD. Though highly unlikely, there is a popular legend of Khilji being drawn to the fort on accounts of the legendary beauty of Queen Padmini. Rani Padmini preferred death to dishonour and committed jauhar along with all the other ladies of the fort. All the men left the fort in saffron robes to fight the enemy unto death. Queen Padmini's palace is located in the middle of a shallow lake in the fort.
It was recaptured in 1326 by the young Hammir Singh, a scion of the same Gehlot clan. The dynasty fathered by him came to be known by the name Sisodia after the village where he was born. By the 16th century, Mewar had become the leading Rajput state. Rana Sanga of Mewar led the combined Rajput forces against the Mughal emperor Babur in 1527, but was defeated at the Battle of Khanua. Later in 1535 Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat besieged the fort causing immense carnage. All 32,000 men then living in the fort donned the saffron robes of martyrdom and rode out to face certain death in the war, and their women folk committed Jauhar led by Rani Karnawati.
The fort other than royal pavilions, tanks, victory towers and Hindu temples, has some beautiful Jain monuments which has survived the ravages of war and weather. Foremost among them is the Kirti Stambh dedicated to Rishabha, the first Tirthankara of Jainism. It was built by a merchant and is decorated with figures form the Jain pantheon. The seven storied pillar has on its four corners engraved idols of Shri Adinathji in Digambar style.
Eklingji, a form of Lord Shiva, is believed to be the ruling deity of Mewar and the Maharana rules as his Dewan. Eklingji is a temple complex built by the Guhila (later called Sesodia) dynasty of Mewar in the 10th century. The beautifully sculpted temple complex includes 108 temples within its high walls. The main temple, which dates to the 15th century, was rebuilt from the ruins of an earlier destroyed temple.
The walled complex is made of marble and granite and has an enormous double-storied, elaborately pillared hall or "mandap" under a vast pyramidal roof, with a four-faced image of Lord Shiva in black marble. The Maharana of Udaipur pays a private visit to the temple on Monday evenings.
Eklingji is located in a beautiful valley between the Aravallis around 22 kilometres north of Udaipur, and attracts throngs of pilgrims throughout the year, particularly on Shivratri, when people from Udaipur and other neighboring places make the journey overnight on foot. The temple complex is located on the banks of the lotus filled Indersagar Lake.
Rajasthan hair home to some of the most important Jain architecture in India. The temples at Dilwara and Ranakpur are an architectural wonder of sculptural detailing. The temples at Ranakpur are acclaimed for their intricate marble work. Surrounded by the Aravallis Ranakpur is located in 95 kms north of Udaipur city, and forms one of the most important Jain pilgrimage places in India. This is the view of the ceiling of the main temple, called Chaumukha, or four-faced.
The temple is said to have been built by Seth Dharna Sah, a Jain businessman, with the aid of Rana Kumbha, who ruled Mewar in the 15th century. The Jain Temples of Ranakpur are wholly constructed in light colored marble and comprises a basement covering an area of 48000 sq feet. There are more than 1400 exquisitely carved pillars that support the temple. Here a priest sits next to a mirror which is used by pilgrims to apply tina on their forehead.
The Chaumukha Temple is dedicated to the Jian Tirthankara Adinath. The temple has 29 halls, 80 domes and the pavilions include 1444 pillars, each of them intricately and artistically carved. The best feature about these pillars is that no two pillars are alike in design and sculptures. Not only the pillars but almost every surface is carved with great intricacy. This detail is called Sahastrafana Parshwanath. The icon has 1008 snakes intertwined in an endless loop, with the image of Parshwanath in the center.
Architects are of the opinion that the Ranakpur temples are probably one of the most complicated and extensive Jain temples in India. Two other temple worth visiting in the complex are the ones dedicated to Parsavanath and Surya God. The former is also known as the Patriyon Ka Mandir and is renowned for its pierced windows studded with Jain figures and pictures of attendants of maidens.
The Shrinathji temple of Nathdwara, is one significant pilgrimage site for Vaishnavs in Rajasthan. Vaishnavs are followers of Lord Vishnu, and Krishna is considered to be an avatar of Vishnu. Nathdwara is one of the foremost places of Krishna worship in India. It is located in Nathdwara, approximately 48km to the north of Udaipur. Nathdwara enshrines Shrinathji - an image of Krishna, which was originally enshrined at Mount Govardhana near Mathura.The name Nathdwara means 'Gate of the Lord'. The image was brought to Mewar, for the sake of protection during the period of Mughal Emperor Aurangazeb.
Legend has it that while the state was being transported from Mathura, the vehicle carrying the statue got stuck in mud. The priest accompanying the image interpreted it to be an indication from the Lord himself. It was understood that the Lord did not wanted to move any further. Hence a temple was established with the permission of the then Rana of Mewar, at Nathdwara. Here brass images of Krishna as a baby holding butter in one hand is being sold in the markets as souvenirs for pilgrims.
The current capital of Mewar is the beautiful city of Udaipur. It was founded by Maharana Udai Singh, who was suggested about the place by a holy man meditating on a hill overlooking the Lake Pichola. The hermit blessed the Maharana and advised him to build a palace at this favourably located spot with a fertile valley watered by the stream. Maharana followed the advice of the hermit and founded the city in 1559 A.D.
A host of schools of miniature painting thrive in Rajasthan and, to a certain extent; they are a quaint mixture of Mughal and indigenous Indian styles. The Indian style dates back to the Jain manuscripts of western India, now preserved in the temples of Rajasthan and Gujarat. These manuscripts are inscribed on palm leaves and are illustrated This style merged with the opulent Mughal court style and several distinct schools of Rajasthan miniatures were born: the Mewar or Udaipur school, the Bundi school, the Kishangarh school, the Bikaner school, the Jaipur school and the Alwar school.
Pichhwai paintings (‘Pich’ means back and ‘wais’ means hanging in Sanskrit) are cloth paintings used as a back drop to adorn the idol of Lord Shrinath at the Nathdwara temple. However another form of graphic narration similar to the pichhwai is used by folk singers during their ballads where they recall heroic tales of the past to audiences using a vividly painted piece of cloth to explain the various events of the tale.
Kathputli is a string puppet theatre, native to Rajasthan, India, and is the most popular form of Indian puppetry. Being a string marionette, it is controlled by a single string that passes from the top of the puppet over the puppeteers. Some scholars believe Kathputli art tradition is more than thousands years old. One finds its reference in Rajasthani folk tales, ballads and sometimes even in folk songs. The tribes of Rajasthan have been performing this art from the ancient times and it has become an integral part of Rajasthani culture and tradition.
Gangaur is a significant festival of Rajasthan, especially meant for the women. Gangaur festival of Rajasthan is widely acclaimed and celebrated throughout the state of Rajasthan. The word Gangaur is derived from two words, 'Gan' and 'Gauri' which are synonyms of 'Siva' and his consort 'Parvati' respectively. Gangaur is celebrated in the honor of Goddess Gauri, who is considered as the symbol of virtue, devotion, fertility and a perfect married woman. Gangaur celebrates the union of the two and is a symbol of conjugal and marital happiness.