Rajasthan Cultural Tours
Rajasthan is a potpourri of diverse cultures and traditional arts. It is a state with an exotic musical culture that uses indigenous musical instruments. Also, many fascinating dance forms have originated from here. When on Rajasthan cultural tours, you can see that Rajasthan retains the strong culture that existed when it was being ruled by the Rajputs during the medieval period.
One of the ways it is being preserved through is various fairs and festivals. It is being passed on from one generation to another. This cultural tours are a way to experience this vibrant culture. It provides visitors and tourists an opportunity to experience exotic locales, music, arts, dance, and crafts of Rajasthan.
Best time to visit : September to March
Distance from Major Cities :
- Delhi to Jaipur : 274 kms
- Agra to Jaipur : 235 kms
Cultural Ethnicity of Rajasthan
Rajasthan’s cultural ethnicity and the culture of Rajasthan is currently a blend of the present and past. The state’s history has been largely influenced by the Rajputs. This was a warrior clan that ruled Rajasthan and many surrounding regions during the medieval times.
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Popular Ethnic Groups of Rajasthan
Apart from Rajputs, Rajasthan also has a substantial number of the Bhils population. Along with them are the Gaduliya Lohars, Damors and Sidhis. The cultural ethnicity of Rajasthan is evident from the costumes being worn. The dressing style of the people of Rajasthan is unique and engaging.
Ethnic Wear of Rajasthan
The people of the royal families wear brocade garments. Locals wear dyed ghagra choli. Almost all of them wear cotton clothing. Also on display on them are silk brocades. All women wear colourful dupattas. During special occasions, they wear mirror embroidered blouses.
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When on Rajasthan cultural tours, you can witness that Rajasthan people can’t go without their accessories as well. Women wear silver bangles on their hands and feet. Their footwear is made of camel skin and is called jootis. The men wear colorful turbans. As much as the women are elaborate in their dressing, so are the men. Both the sexes take equal pride in dressing up for any occasion.
Art and Architecture of Rajasthan
Photo Credit: Honza Soukup - Flickr
When it comes to art and architecture, Rajasthan is one of the richest regions in the country. The creative senses of the people are still as sharp as before. The arts and architecture reflects the lifestyle of the people that existed once upon a time. This was when kings and elephants walked the land. That culture of war and the preparation for it still exists today.
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Architecture of Rajasthan
The architecture in Rajasthan is comprised of different type of buildings. They are classified as secular or religious. The secular buildings have different types to them. The way towns are built, wells are made, gardens are developed, and palaces are constructed differs when it comes to the secular type of approach. Secular buildings and structures were meant for the public and served civic needs. Even though some of the forts were classified as secular buildings, they were used in military defense.
Art of Rajasthan
Religions buildings are the mosques, temples, and tombs. Unlike secular buildings, religious buildings do not have variety. They are more or less predictable and have limited set of styles.
The art of Rajasthan’s origins dates back to as early as the sixth century. The art form was colloquially known as Maru Gurjara given that Rajasthan and Gujarat had similar ethnic and cultural fabric. Marudesh and Gurjaratra were the ancient names of Rajasthan and Gujarat. From the Maru Gurjara art tradition, Rajasthan broke away and developed its distinct art style that is evident in the various paintings by prominent Rajasthani painters.
Musical Instruments of Rajasthan
Photo credit : Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
The culture of Rajasthan has always been about wars, palaces, attractive villages, music and merry. The haunting rhythms of folk music and musical instruments were a perfect getaway from the severities of the desert. Over hundreds of years, this region developed a unique style of music. This led to the creation of multiple musical instruments with some of them being specific to this region.
Famous Musical Instruments of Rajasthan :
- Morchang – also called as Morching is a wind percussion instrument.
- Naad – is a vertical flute with a hollow tube. Produces evocative sounds.
- Sarangi – is the most important instrument in Rajasthani music and has different manifestations.
- Kamayacha – has a large circular resonator which produces a deep bass-full sound.
- Rawanhattha – an instrument with a bow. Considered to be the precursor of the violin.
- Algoza – earthenware pots and their openings covered with membranes.
- Khartal – is a pair of castanets made of wood and with bells attached to them.
- Poongi – used by snake charmers. It is a wind instrument.
- Bankia and Daf – is a wind instrument used to produce an eerie and enchanting sound.
- Baara – is used along with the algoza to produce beats.
- Jantar – made of two gourds, strings of four and sixteen frets.
- Ghoralio – is like a Jewish harp and is played by the Bhils.
- Jhalar – is also called as the ghanta, thali, or tasli and is a common musical instrument.
- Jaltall – is part of the many assortments of musical instruments in folk music.
- Ektara – an ancient musical instrument used by folk singers.
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Dance forms of Rajasthan
1) Bhawai Dance
Bhawai Dance is a genre of traditional Rajasthani dance featuring its distinct movements and style. It is popular throughout the state. The dance is characterized by the nimble footedness and balancing skills of the dancers. Male and female dancers balance earthen pots on their heads as they dance to the beats of music. The dancing takes multiple contortions. Dancers even walk on a sword, or trudge on glass. They sway themselves in multiple angles. They bend their bodies and yet balance the earthen pots on their heads.
This is a delightful form of dance for the audience on Rajasthan cultural tours. The sheer artistry of dancing immaculately and balancing the pots is amazing. It is evident that this form of dancing takes many years of practice. And no, it is not a circus act. It is as good as any dancing form. The audience is entertained with the rhythmic moves of the dancers. Their costumes and paraphernalia accentuate the dancing experience they provide.
Sometimes the women dance on a plate also called as the thali. Male performers sing songs and play ethnic instruments. Some of the instruments used in the Bhawai Dance are sarangi, dholak, and pakhawaj. This dance form was traditionally performed by women. Only a certain sect of people such as Bhils, Meena, and Raigar performed this dance form. But soon many other communities embraced this dance form and this led to its popularity.
2) Chari or Pot Dance of Rajasthan
Photo Credit : Piyush Kumar
Chari is a popular pot dance that is famous in the country and the outside of it. It represents the grace of the women of Rajasthan and the culture of Rajasthan. This is a sprightly dance performed with great precision. The dance is performed whilst they carry urns on their heads. In the urn is placed lighted lamps.
All throughout the dance, the lighted lamps are never extinguished. Throughout the dance, the urn is illuminated by this oil lamp. The perfect balance and light footedness of the dancers are appreciated and applauded by the audience.
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The dance is reserved for special occasions. The dance is characterized by immaculate deftness of the limbs. The knees of the dancers swirl and turn with grace while pulsating music is played in the background. Each move of the dancer is controlled and in sync with the beats of these instruments. Chari dancers are trained from childhood. Initially they are only trained at balancing the pot on their heads. Later they graduate to balance lighted pots.
A majority of women from the Kisherigarh area are involved in this dance form. This Kisherigarh area has produced some of the best pot dancers in India. Sometimes the diya is not used. Oil rich cottonseed is used in place. This item is burnt and placed inside the urn. The illumination that is produced is truly spectacular. The grace, music, and pure magic of Chari dancers are unforgettable.
3) Dandiya of Rajasthan
Photo Credit : anurag agnihotri
Dandiya is a popular dance form in Rajasthan. Dancers dress in colourful costumes and play with sticks in their hands. With skill and artistry, dancers play with each other by gently tapping each other’s sticks. Graceful movements and deft touches characterize these movements. Large sticks or short sticks are used. Adults and children play this dance. There is no restriction as to who can dance. Everybody is invited.
Meddale is the musical instrument played when dandiya is being played. A drummer plays this instrument. There could be many drummers playing this instrument at a single point of time. Sometimes drummers flip and do circular jumps when drumming. As with the others, drummers are dressed to detail. Their costumes are extravagant and flamboyant. Not only are their turbans colourful, they have flowing male dupattas and embroidered external wear.
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Dandiya is played by forming two circles. One circle is formed by men and the other by women. They move in clockwise and anticlockwise directions. Holding sticks called dandiyas in their hands they meet dancers in a sequential manner and spend a few seconds tapping each other’s dandiyas in graceful and defined movements.
Generally, the song sung on the night of dandiya is a romantic one. With all essences of energy, colour, and charisma, the song and dance routine accentuates the dandiya dancing experience. Participants on Rajasthan cultural tours are encouraged to be part of the dance.
4) Ghoomar of Rajasthan
Photo Credit : Bipin Gupta
Ghoomar is a folk dance in Rajasthan that describes the culture of Rajasthan when it comes to its women. It was originally started by the Bhils, an indigenous tribe. Later it was adopted in wide scale by all the communities in the region.
Mainly women perform it. They wear swirling robes and dance to the tune of music. Men and women sing when women perform their dances. Ghoomar is a derivative of Ghoomna which means to pirouette. Women wear the Ghaghara during the dance. The Ghaghara is a skirt that has been beautifully embroidered.
While the women swirl, their also show their ghagharas. Their faces are covered in veil and Their steps are fluent and measured. As the rhythmic music accompanies them, women are in sync. Their dance moves are well choreographed. Nowhere during the act is a lull moment.
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Each minute of the dance routine is engaging. Not only do they deftly swirl their bodies, but they also beat their palms and snap their fingers. Some of them also sing songs. Although the dance is for revelling, it has a religious twist to it. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped during the song.
Ghoomar has been adjudicated by many international tourists on a heritage tour of Rajasthan as an engaging dance form. It is truly feminine and brings out the womanliness in the dancers. The dance has been rated as among the top ten amazing local dances by many international travel websites. The dance is displayed at international arts and culture festivals as well.
5) Kachhi Ghodi
If you are in Rajasthan, and you see men on dummy horses dancing, then rest assured you are seeing Kachhi Ghodi. Men wear extravagant costumes. Their dresses are embroidered with intricate mirror work. Even the dummy horses are draped with elaborate costumes. All of this is an explosive display of mind boggling artistry.
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The dancers are seen to be engaging in a mock dancing routine on the horses. In their hands are swords. They move the horses as if they are riding it. They swirl the swords in their hands in sync with the beats of music.
As part of the heritage of Rajasthan this dance is performed when the groom is getting married. It is performed at the party given by the bridegroom. The dancers conduct mock fights amongst themselves. They enact many scenes of real-life wars that happened. The men don’t necessarily look like warriors. They more or less look like dancers.
Therefore, the mock fighting is taken lightly and in its true essence. Most dancers wear red turbans and their dhotis and kurtas are designed to perfection. They ride their decked dummy horses rhythmically. Alongside them drummers and singers accompany their acts providing background music.
This dance originated in the Shekhawati region. It is a vigorous dance although there is a lot of colour involved. Dancers display aggression and purpose. Although they are dancing, they are also fighting. They gently balance both these acts with finesse.
6) Fire dance of Rajasthan
Photo Credit : Arian Zwegers
Performed by the banjara community in Rajasthan, the fire dance is a daring act that is also a dance. On the difficulty level, this dance is definitely a difficult one. It can only be performed by trained dancers. Objectively, this dance is to relate the living ways of the Jasnathis. An enchanting dance, the fire dance is said to be performed based on the innate tantric powers that the Jasnathis have. The dance is performed on an open ground. Live wood and charcoal is used in the dance.
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Men jump on the firewood in a rhythmic fashion accompanied by the beats of music. After this, a slew of breath-taking fire stunts are performed. Dancers fill their mouths with kerosene. They hold fire-laden rods in their hands and ignite the kerosene in their mouth. The ignited kerosene is spewed out like a dragon spewing out fire from its mouth. The dancers perform all these stunts without any protection. It is said that they only seek the protection of the almighty for their acts.
During late nights in the winter season during Rajasthan cultural tours, the fire dance can be seen being performed in open grounds in Rajasthan. Accompanying fire dancers are dhol and nagada musicians. Their drumbeats provide the background tempo for the fire dance. After some time, the beats reach a crescendo. At this juncture, the fire dancers get into a trance like behaviour.
Cuisine of Rajasthan
Rajasthan’s medieval era experienced a lot of wars. Probably this is one of the influencing factors in Rajasthani cuisine. The inhabitants of Rajasthan had lifestyles that were tailor-made for war preparation and war waging.
Therefore, they indulged in certain types of food. Some types of food could be stored for days together. Some foods could be eaten without much heating. Rajasthan is not abundant in water so even this has an influence on the cooking. Despite all these limitations, Rajasthani cuisine is sumptuous and nutritious.
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Rajasthan has some famous snack items. Some of them are namely Mirchi Bada and Bikaneri Bhujia. Some Rajasthani dishes are served in international restaurants as well. Mawa Kachori is one of them. Rajasthanis love sweets and there are scores of sweet items in Rajasthani cuisine. Some of the sweet dish items are Jhajariya, Alwar ka Mawa, Feeni, and Imarti.
As much as Rajasthanis love their sweets, they like curries too. There are scores of curries in Rajasthani cuisine, each with its own taste. It is difficult to adjudicate the best among them. Amongst all dishes, Karhi is known in Rajasthan and outside of it.
Also known as Khatta, the main ingredient of this dish is yoghurt. The dish is prepared with a combination of mustard seeds, garlic, and chickpea flour. Most Rajasthani dishes are cooked over a slow and low flame. This technique cooks the ingredients in a better manner and increases the taste.
Famous cuisines of Rajasthan :
1) Bajre ki Khichdi
2) Dal Bati
3) Gatte ki Sabji
5) Papad Ka Shaak
Famous sweet dishes of Rajasthan :
3) Besan Chakki
4) Milk-Cake (Alwar ka Mawa)
Famous snacks of Rajasthan :
1) Bikaneri Bhujia
2) Mirchi Vada
3) Pyaaj Kachori
Fairs and Festivals of Rajasthan
Fairs and festivals are very much a part of the lifestyle of the people of Rajasthan. Some parts of the state are desert region. As it stretches for miles and miles, there is one thing apparent, there is no colour. It is due to this that the people here love colour. Festivals and fairs are the main source of entertainment and bonding for people.
Most of the festivals and fairs are traditional. There are ones that have been introduced by the tourism department to increase the touristic potential of the state for Rajasthan cultural tours. The following are some of the important festivals and fairs of Rajasthan.
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Some of the famous Fairs and festivals of Rajasthan :
1) Desert Festival – Held in Jaisalmer, this festival is packed with traditional dances, competitions, and musical performances. Gair dancers entertain audiences with their fluent moves. The festival concludes on the golden sand dunes. Musical performances and folk songs are the main attractions during this time.
City : Jaisalmer
Month : Feb
2) Elephant Festival – Beautifully decked and extravagantly dressed elephants are on full display during this festival. The festival is about elephant processions, polo events, and musical performances. Elephants are the cynosure of attention. They are paraded through Jaipur with a trail of festival revellers behind them.
City : Jaipur
Month : February/March
3) Nagaur Fair – This festival is held in Nagaur and is essentially a cattle fair. But amazingly it attracts visitors from all over the world. Over a period of four days, many events are held. Some of them are tug-of-war, cock fights, and camel racing.
City : Nagaur
Month : January - February
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