• »
  • HOME
  • »
  • Rajasthan History

Rajasthan History

The history of rajasthan is very vast.The Indus Valley Civilization, one of the world's first and oldest civilizations, was located in parts of what is now Rajasthan. Kalibangan in Hanumangarh district, Rajasthan was a major provincial capital of the Indus Valley Civilization. It is believed that Western Kshatrapas (35–405 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 establish the Saka era (with Saka calendar), marking the beginning of the long-lived Saka Western Satraps state.

Traditionally the Meenas, Rajputs, Yadavs, Jats, Bhils, Gurjars, 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 martyred trying to protect their land. 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, owned supremacy of Gurjars with their seat of power at Kannauj. Gurjar Pratihar Empire acted as barrier for Arab invaders from 6th to 11th century. The chief credit of Gurjara Pratihara empire lies in its successfully resistance to the foreign invasions from the west, from the days of Junaid. Historian Majumdar, say that this was frankly recognized by the Arab writers themselves. He further clears 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 can be little doubt that it was the power of the Gurjara Pratihara army that effectively barred the progress of the Muslims beyond the confines of Sindh, their first conquest for nearly three hundred years.

The earlier contributions of warriors and protectors of the land Vishnois, Ahirs, Gurjars, Jats, Bhils and Meenas were neglected and lost in history due to stories of valour shown by certain specific clans in later years graining more prominence over older acts of bravery.

Rajasthan means the Land of the Kings. Modern Rajasthan includes most of Rajputana, which comprises mainly the erstwhile Rajput kingdoms as well as two Jat kingdoms and a Muslim kingdom. Marwar (Jodhpur), Bikaner, Mewar (Udaipur), Alwar and Dhundhar (Jaipur) were some of the main Rajput states. The Jats were rulers in Bharatpur and Dholpur. Tonk was ruled by a Muslim Nawab. Rajput families rose to prominence in the 6th century CE. The Rajputs put a very 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, but contributed to the slower than anticipated access to the Indian Subcontinent. Later the Mughals, with a technique based on a combination of treachery and skilled warfare were able to set firm a grip on northern India, including Rajasthan. The fighter spirit and valour of Rajputs impressed the Mughals to such an extent that even after defeating the Rajputs, the Mughals held their valour and value in the highest esteem. 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 the year 1501. He had won 22 battles against Afghans, from Punjab to Bengal and had 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 evenly met as 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 took their concentration away at times. The Mughal Empire eventually weakened to which several groups across their kingdom saw opportunities to establish their power whilst the army was fighting somewhere else. The Rajputs saw this as an opportunity to reassert their independence. With the decline of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, Rajputana came under attack by the Marathas and Pindaris, and the Maratha general Scindia captured Ajmer.

The Rajput kings following a rapid defeat, concluded treaties with the British in the early 19th century, accepting British sovereignty in return for local autonomy. Following the Mughal tradition as well as its strategic location Ajmer became a province of British India, while the autonomous Rajput states, the Muslim state Tonk, and the Jat states (Bharatpur and Dholpur) were organized into the Rajputana Agency.

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 Muslim and Jain architecture. The development of the frescos in Rajasthan is linked with the history of the Marwaris, who have also played a crucial role in the economic development of the region. Many wealthy families throughout Indian history have links to Marwar. These families include the legendary Birla, Bhandari, Bajaj, Mittal and Mirza families.