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iXiGOers Dec 09 2012

What is the history and culture of Alwar?

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The little known city of Alwar frequently gets sidelined by the more popular Jaipur and Udaipur. Located at a distance of 160 km from the national capital Delhi and 150 km south of Jaipur, the story of Alwar begins long before written history and has its roots in events dating from the times of Mahabharata. Its a tale of battles, kings, colonizers and honour and pride.
Pieces of Past: A part of the ancient agglomeration, Alwar together with Jaipur, Bharatpur and Viratnagar formed Matsya desh. The Nikumbha Rajput’s were first here and remnants of the fort built by them can still be seen. Then came the Mughals who made it their strategic base to launch attacks on the fort of Ranthambhore and expand their base. Eventually, Alwar became a major bone of contention between the Mughal empire and the Rajput rulers. Finally, Rajput king, Pratap Singh, of the Naruka clan of the Kachwaha lineage, having gained independence from Jaipur, declared Alwar the capital of his state in 1770. He built magnificent palaces across the city, still standing strong, and his son, Bakhtawar Singh, for political and economical reasons joined hands with the British East India Company. Bakhtawar Singh came to the aid of the British against the Marathas and defeated them in the Battle of Laswari, following which they gained the British as allies, but lost on autonomy and freedom in the process as British frequently interfered with their internal affairs.

Eventually, following India’s independence in 1947, Alwar acceded and in 1949 united with certain other princely states and the territory of Ajmer to form the present-day Rajasthan. Though since 1971, India has done away with the official symbols of princely India, Alwar still is represented in the Indian parliament by its titular Maharaja, Jitendra Pratap Singh Prabhakar Bahadur.

Present: Today, Alwar retains much of its traditions and culture through its people who are staunch and easygoing in equal measure. Ensconced within Aravalli hills, Alwar is home to a wide array of nomadic tribes- Ahirs,Rajputs, Gujjars, Jats, Mewatis, Banjaras, Meos and Minas. Skilled craftsmen, the men can be spotted from afar in white dhoti and kurta with a blazing, vibrant red turban, while the women in equally dazzling tie-and dye saris, lehengas, dupattas, with their bangle and jewellery clad arms and ankles making their own tunes with every step they take.

Peaceful and more low key than that of the rest of Rajasthan, you will find Alwar to be soothing and stunning in equal measure. Bring a sense of adventure, a talent for haggling and patience for a bumpy, but thrilling ride. You can take a look at Rajasthan packages for more fun filled trips in and around Alwar.

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