Marwar region is situated on the eastern part of the Great desert of Thar. The word "Marwar" has two meanings i.e. the land of desert and the land of death. The typical geographical and climatic features of desert, made the human life very tough but the bigger threat came from invaders who were encroaching very often from all sides of Marwar. The people of Marwar fought against their enemies for centuries. There were endless wars with endless results. The warriors of this land were eating Bajra and Moth and pushing their enemies to the boundaries. All these harsh elements of the land, constituted a very special cultural fabric that is entirely different from the other regions of the world. People of Marwar filled the colours of music, dances and paintings in their dry and hard life. The valour of Marwar soldiers overshadowed the other facets of their personality like artistic excellence and exquisite craftsmanship. Affluent society encouraged artists to produce work, which lent a touch of glamour.
Marwar is laden with great historical and cultural richness that can be economically beneficial to the locals, the state and the nation if optimum utilization of touristic potential is achieved. Marwar region has a great history with it. Nagas, Guptas, Pratiharas, Parmaras and Chouhans rulers ruled over this region for centauries. In 13th and 14th Centaury A.D., Muhamadden invaders also captured some parts of this region. In 15th centaury A.D., the Rathores established their principality in this land, which also was known as Marwar. It was largest in extent among the Rajputana States and third largest princely state in India.
The Principality of erstwhile Marwar
In 13th century A.D. the Rathores came from Badayun in "Thar" desert and started to conquer the land and establish their principality, which also was known as Marwar. The principality of Marwar was situated in western part of Rajputana. On 10th May 1933, Marwar state's name was changed as Jodhpur state, after its capital. Before independence of India, Marwar state or Jodhpur state was the largest in extent among the Rajputana States and third largest princely state in India. The total geographical area of Marwar state was 35,016 sq. miles. In which the area of 160 sq. miles of Sambhar lake is included but the areas of Ajmer-Merwara, Sindh and Umarkot are not included, as these areas were under the direct management of British government. This enormous state was divided into twenty one parganas- Jodhpur, Bilara, Phalodi, Shergarh, (now in Jodhpur district); Nagaur, Merta, Parbatsar, Didwana (now in Nagaur district); Sambhar (now in Jaipur district); Pali, Bali, Sojat, Jaitaran (now in Pali district); Jalore, Jaswantpura, Sanchore (now in Jalore district); Siwana, Mallani, Pachbhadra (now in Barmer district); Sheo and Sankra (now in Jaisalmer district).
The Marwar state had a typical and complex geological and geographical characteristics as well as a very difficult history. The most marked feature in the physical aspect of Marwar was the Luni river, which used to flow in south-westerly direction through the State, losing itself finally in the marshy ground at the head of the Rann of Kutch and its water was, as a rule, saline or brackish; but when it filtered into the wells, some twenty or thirty yards away from the banks of the river, it was comparatively sweet and drinkable. The most important lake in Marwar was the famous salt lake of Sambhar. Two other considerable salt depressions also existed in Didwana and Pachbhadra. There were small depressions of less importance at Sargot, Kuchawan, Phalodi, Pohkaran and Bilara, from where, salt was easily procured. Marble, Sandstone and Multani mitti (fuller's earth) were also found in considerable quantities in the state.
The climate at all seasons was dry, due to wide range and extremes of temperature and the fitful and uncertain rainfall. The country was beyond the range of full force of the south-west monsoon from the Arabian Sea and it was also remote from the influence of the southeast monsoon from the Bay of Bengal. The Luni river, except during the monsoon, contained only scanty pools of water and its tributaries were dry during the greater part of the year. The sandy soil, the brackish water and the prevalence of the saline efflorescence, known as reh, were the principal reasons why there was so little of either wild jungle growth or cultivated ground. Thus, all conditions unite in producing that extraordinary dryness characteristic of Marwar.
The next most striking peculiarity of the climate was the extreme variation of temperature that occurred during the cold season between night and day. Even in the present time, the days have often been marked by a temperature of 90 degree F. in the shade of a tent. Similarly, although hot wind prevails with great violence in the months of April, May and June, the nights are generally fairly cool. During the winter months, from the middle of November to the middle of March, the climate of Marwar region is cold, bracing and well suited for tourists. The hot months are fairly healthy, but the heat becomes very intense on account of the sandstone hills. However, the sandstone hills become well cooled down by the monsoon rains. The climate is often pleasant towards the end of July and throughout August and September. The most areas of the state comprised of the sandy plain or thal, broken by sand hills or teebas. These teebas sometimes rise to 300 or 400 feet and this part resembles an undulating sea of sand. Water is exceedingly scarce throughout the desert and is often from 200 to 300 feet below the surface.
While describing the rural scene of Marwar area, Manucci recorded that— "The lands of the Rathores, who rules nine districts, are for the most part all sand; they have little or no water. The wells in some places are so deep that the water is drawn with the help of oxen. When water is to be drawn, those who set these animals to work beat a drum as a warning that the pot is at the mouth of the well, and they are about to draw water. The cereals grown in the country come up by help of the rain only. There are a great many camels and dromedaries without (long) hair".
Rulers of Erstwhile Marwar Principality
The ruling family of Marwar state were Rathores, of the Surya vansha and they claimed their descent from Kush, the second son of Rama, the celebrated king of Ayodhya. But bhats do not give them this honour. The word 'Rathore' is said to be derived from Rashtrakoot or 'Rashtrwar which means the best among all castes. Kannauj is said to have been conquered by Nenpal of the Rathore clan in 470 a.d. Rathores ruled there for more than 700 years. In 1211 a.d, Siaji and Saitramji, the two grandsons of king Jaichand, left their mother country and proceeded on a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Dwarka. On the entreaties of Paliwal Brahmins, Siaji agreed to settle among them as their protector. Shortly after he took over the area and became master of Pali. He assumed the title of Rao. Among his successor Chunda received Mandore from Parihar Rajputs in 1395 a.d. He established his capital at Mandore and conquered Nagaur, Nandol and many other places; the time of Rao Chunda may, therefore, be credited the actual conquest of Marwar. Rao Jodha, the later king laid the foundation of the Jodhpur city in 1459 a.d., which he established as his capital. Rathores had conquered more than 80,000 square miles of land in three centuries.
Rao Jodha was succeeded by his 36 descendants. Rao Jodha's descendant Rao maldev, was a great Rathore King who sent his forces against Babur in the field of Khanwa as a partner of Maharana sanga of Mewar in 1526 A. D. In his time, the territory of Marwar state was the largest of all time. But his son Udai Singh accepted the subordination of Mughal emperor Akbar in 1583 A.D. Udai Sigh and his descendants served Mughal emperors almost till the death of Muhammdshah Rangeela in 1748 A.D. During the 18th century Rajputan states were severely attacked by Marathas but Rajputs could not check them. Almost during complete 18th century and first 2 decades of 19th century were full of anarchy in Rajputana states. Marwar also had to suffer a lot during this phase. Maharaja Mansingh (1803-1843 A.D.) of Marwar accepted a Political Treaty with East India Company in 1818 A.D. and a new era of peace and development started in the region. The British political officers brought Marwar into the modern world. When the revolution of 1857 was successfully suppressed, the British officers took over the charge of almost complete administration of the state but Rao Jodha's descendants continued to their throne up to 1949 A.D.; when the Marwar was integrated with Rajasthan.
Sculpture of Marwar
The survey of sculpture in Marwar accomplished through the work of General Cunningham, Carlyle and Garrick help us to appreciate the fundamental importance of Marwar sculp¬ture. Similar attempts made since then by other art critics have yielded fruitful results. Similarly, the priceless collections in several museums of Rajasthan and isolated sculptures from various sites have their own tales to tell. Though a large number of such pieces have met their premature death, partly due to the ruthless activities of the invaders and partly due to the unsympathetic concern of public at large, the remnants at our disposal offer clues to the cultural history of that period.
Illustrated Manuscripts and Paintings of Marwar
The Rajasthani paintings which are found in huge collections at various museums, art galleries and private collections of the state are important landmarks in historical studies. They not only represent a variant of the typical styles of different schools of the art, but they also stand as testimony of the age to which they belong. Right from the 14th to 18th century we come across several paintings which depict Rajasthani culture in its true perspective, the account of which is attempted through a few illustrated manuscripts and paintings.
Fairs and Festivals
Festivals and Fairs form an essential aspect of human life in all cultures. In almost all societies of the world, festivals are celebrated and fairs are organised since times immemorial. Festivals and Fairs both are based upon religious beliefs and traditions. A good deal of literature is available on festivals and fairs being celebrated in Marwar, which gives an account of cultural prosperity of the Thar Desert.
Historical and Cultural account of Marwar Region
James Todd (Annals And Antiquities of Rajasthan ), Gouri Shankar, Heera Chand Ojha (History of the Jodhpur State), Vishveshwarnath Reu (Marwar Ka Itihas), Jagdish Singh Gehlot (Marwar Rajya Ka Itihas), Gopinath Sharma (Rajasthan Ka Itihas, Rajasthan Studies), Dashrath Sharma (Rajasthan Through The Ages) and some other historians have described the destinations of historical & cultural importance in Marwar region. Archaeological Survey Reports by Cunningham and R. C. Agarwal, Ajmer Museum Report, District Gazetteers published by Government of Rajasthan and district wise cultural survey of Rajasthan conducted by Jawahar Kala Kendra Jaipur, also give a good account of cultural places of tourism importance. Some study has so far been undertaken regarding some related issues on cultural tourism in Marwar.
Daniel Niumn, Shubha Choudhury and Komal Kothari (Bards, Ballads and Boundaries), Bharucha, Rustom (Rajasthan an oral history) Kalyan Kumar Ganguli (Cultural History of Rajasthan), Rani Laxmi Kumari Chundawat (Rajasthani Lokgeet, Tabran ri vaatan, Rajasthan Ke prasiddh dohe sorthe, Rajasthani Lok Gatha, Gajban, Vaat Karamat, Rajwari lokgeet, Rajasthan ke sanskritik lokgeet, Rajasthan ki rangbhini Kahaniyan, Mumal, Floklores of Rajasthan, Sanskritik Rajasthan, Rajasthan ki prem gathaen, Rajasthani doha sangrah, Cultural Heritage of Rajasthan), Vijay Dan Detha (Batan Ri Phulwari), Harihar Singh (Jaina Temples of Western India), Mohanlal Gupta (Rajasthan Ke Etihasik Durg, Jodhpur Samhag ka Sanskritik Evam Etihasik Adhyayan, Darshniya Jodhpur, Darshniya Jalore, Rajasthan Gyan Kosh, British Shasan me Rajputane ki Rochak Evam Etihasic Ghatnaye, Jalore Ka Rajnitic Evam Sanskritik Itihas, Nagaur ka Rajnitik Evam Sanskritik Itihas, Rajasthan me Van Evam Vanya Jeewan, etc.), H. Bhishmpal (The Temples of Rajasthan, Historical Rajasthan), K. C. Jain (Ancient Cities and Towns in Rajasthan), Jogendra Saksena(Art of Rajasthan), Ram Pande(Sources of Cultural History of Rajasthan), G. S. Gureye(Rajput Architecture) J. S. Mehta (Abu To Udaipur) and many other scholars have done work in different areas related to cultural tourism in Marwar. Some importannt references have also been made available by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur(Etihasik Sthanawali), Raghvendra Singh Manohar (Rajasthan Ke Pracheen Nagar Aur Kasbe, Rajasthan ke Durg) and other writers.
Groudzins Gould, Ann, (1989) in his magnum opus “Fruitful Journeys-The Ways of Rajasthani Pilgrims” has gone much deeper to bring to surface the values, thoughts, traditions, customs and cultural patterns which motivate Rajasthani villagers to embark upon spiritually adventurous pilgrimages to distant places of religious importance. Through interview methodology, the results of prolific interactions with the Rajasthani pilgrims have been narrated in the book. The experiences, religious aims, emotions and concerns of the pilgrims have been beautifully depicted and the causes of their pilgrimages like fertility concerns, cures and divinations, appeasement of the spirit of the dead etc. were all found to be rooted in local and regional cultural values. Scattered emphasis on Marwar’s cultural dimensions has also been made in order to portray the colourful emotions and ethos of the pilgrims of Rajasthan.
K.C. Jain (1992) in his book “Ancient Cities and Towns of Rajasthan” has taken up a unique subject of the holistic scrutiny of Ancient and Medieval towns. Apart from the political and commercial developments of the cities considerable attention has been paid to the vibrant cultural and religious traits of the settlements.
It has been logically proved that an emerging urban centre acts as a magnet to attract cultural, artistic and religious talents into the city. The ancient routs connecting various historical places of Rajasthan have been mapped and described. The author convincingly proves that these routes acted as means of spreading cultural richness to other areas. The towns have been described as socially integrated units wherein the social conditions of the people and their lifestyles have been colourfully portrayed. In fact many pregupta towns like, Mandore and Bhinmal; and post Gupta towns of the later Marwar region like Merta, Didwana, Jalore, Nagaur, Sanchore, etc. have been described in terms of cultural and social developments besides the political aspects. The city has shown to be the career and symbol of civilisation.
Dr. Mohanlal Gupta has given a district wise detailed account of the historical and cultural places, buildings and monuments of Marwar area which still exist and which are center of attraction of the tourists even in the present time. In his books- Darshniya Jalore (1995), Darshniya Jodhpur (2000), Jodhpur Sambhag Ka Etihasik Evam Sanskritik Adhhyan (2001), Discover Jodhpur (2001), Surya Nagari Jodhpur (2001), Rajasthan Ke Etihasik Durg (2016); are important.
Tourism in Marwar
It is said that in 19th century A.D., Colonel James Tod inscripted the political history of this land that attracted the Europeans and the modern tourism activities started. After the independence, domestic tourism also geared-up and tourism have emerged as one of the biggest source of income to the people of Marwar. Marwar finds many eminent tourist places like Jodhpur, Osian, Nakoda, Merta, Ranakpur, Kiradu, Nagaur, Jalore, Sanchore, Bhinmal etc. Over the years these have been steadily surging forward as favoured destinations for the domestic tourists and international tourists. Marwar is richly equipped with forts and palaces of the legendry bravadoes spiced with stories of extraordinary velour, love lore and sacrifices. Costumes, traditions and craft in desert are virtually soothing process for the residents and ever more for the tourists and is often said that the rich folk arts of desert have comprehensively added to its touristic appeal while the tourism itself is actively patronizing the customers.
The history of the land is so rich that every village has its own tales of velour and sacrifice for the telling. The Thar Desert region has enormous scope for travel and tourism industry due to its rich socio-cultural heritage and natural resources potential. Unfortunately, the great cultural region of Marwar, with all her glorious history, dramatically diverse natural manifestations and fabulously rich cultural expressions has shown dismayingly poor performance in national and international tourism. The ultimate success in tourism depends on every common man who plays the role of a socio–cultural ambassador of the destination. Here comes the relevance of initiating and nurturing special drives, campaigns and especially research which highlights the good, the bad and the ugly faces of tourism in a way that the society could aptly understand and assimilate the facts in a realistic manner and comes forward to play an active role, preferably in a critical manner.
The development of tourism in Marwar does not match with its potential. Almost 20 per cent foreign tourists reach Rajasthan every year. In the year of 2012, 22.06 per cent foreign tourists; in 2013, 21.89 per cent foreign tourists and in 2014 20.44 per cent foreign tourists visited Rajasthan but the statistic of the last 10 years shows that tourist arrival in Marwar is in tumultuous phase. For study purpose, we have taken the tourist arrivals at Ranakpur and Jodhpur (both are situated in Marwar) where the tourist statistics is recorded throughout the year. The Marwar's share in Rajasthan's tourism stands nowhere. In 2012, only 7.98 per cent foreign tourists of Rajasthan reached to Ranakpur and 7.62 per cent reached to Jodhpur. Similarly, share of Marwar in domestic tourism is also very low. Only 2.11 percent of Indian tourists of Rajasthan reached to Ranakpur and merely 1.49 per cent Indian tourists of Rajasthan reached to Jodhpur. In 2013, only 6.52 per cent foreign tourists of Rajasthan reached to Ranakpur and 8.34 per cent reached to Jodhpur. Similarly, share of Marwar in domestic tourism is also very low. Only 1.89 percent of Indian tourists of Rajasthan reached to Ranakpur and merely 1.44 per cent Indian tourists of Rajasthan reached to Jodhpur. In 2014, only 8.02 per cent foreign tourists of Rajasthan reached to Ranakpur and 9.15 per cent reached to Jodhpur. Similarly, share of Marwar in domestic tourism is also very low. Only 1.68 percent of Indian tourists of Rajasthan reached to Ranakpur and merely 1.57 per cent Indian tourists of Rajasthan reached to Jodhpur.
The region of Marwar otherwise not so rich in economy, geology has a fabulous tourism resources treasure which if judiciously exploited can not only act as the mainstay for the people but may bring in overall prosperity to the state as a whole. Marwar is rapidly emerging as a major destination of the national and international activities in commerce and trade, oil industry, solar energy, wind energy, education, medical, judiciary, technology and many other fields. Jodhpur city alone has 10 institutes of national importance. Many other institutes and organisations of state importance are also located at Jodhpur. Some more important institutes are in pipeline. The Mangla oil field in Marwar region is the largest onshore hydrocarbon find in India. Government of Rajasthan and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation are going to set-up a Refinery-cum-Petrochemical Complex costing Rs. 37,229 crores in Barmer (which is also a part of Marwar). This venture will generate numerous direct and indirect employment opportunities and the number of visitors will enormously increase in the area. However, considering the rich touristic scope of the area, and rich cultural and fascinated monumental heritage, alongside the unique and colourful folk art and crafts forms, Marwar have a vast scope to increase tourism activities enormously.