REET 2021: History of Rajasthan

By Komal|Updated : March 5th, 2021


The literal meaning of Rajasthan is "land of kings".  Rajasthan was the home to the many great kings. The Rajput's, Meena's, Jat's, Yadav's and Bishnois had a major contribution to the formation of the state of Rajasthan. The state was formed on 30 March 1949. Its capital is Jaipur. The economy of Rajasthan is the ninth-largest state economy in India  Rajasthan ranks 29th among Indian states in the human development index.


Ancient History

Rajasthan was part of the Vedic Civilisation and Indus Valley Civilization Kalibangan, in the Hanumangarh district, was a major provincial capital of the Indus Valley Civilization.  Another archaeological excavation at the Balathal site in the Udaipur district shows a settlement contemporary with the Harrapan civilisation dating back to 3000 – 1500 BC.

The people of the Harappan times were the first to settle on the embankment of the Sarasvati River that originated in the Aravalli mountain range in Rajasthan. However, the region suffered severe climatic changes and was hit by floods, which led to its abandonment in the aftermath.

Later on, tribal communities such as the Bhils and Meena settled in the area. Moreover, the Aryans were believed to have settled in the area in around 2,000 BC, followed by the Mauryan dynasty during 321-184 BCE.

However, due to the strategic location of the state and several ancient rivers, such as the Sarasvati and the Drishadvati flowing through it, the state went on to grab the interest of many empires like Hunas, Arjunyas, Yaudheyas and Saka Satraps.

In 321-BCE Rajasthan was part of the Gupta Empire who built some infesting Buddhist caves and Stupas in Jhalawar. Due to some political unrest in the 6th century, the Gupta Empire started declining. However, the situation became stable when Gujara- Pratiharas came into power in 700 CE. Later on, the army of Gujara- Pratiharas was well settled in Rajasthan.

Medieval History

The Gurjar Pratihar Empire acted as a barrier for Arab invaders from the 8th to the 11th century. The chief accomplishment of the Gurjara-Pratihara Empire lies in its successful resistance to foreign invasions from the west. Now there seems little doubt that it was the power of the Gurjara Pratihara army that effectively barred the progress of the Arabs beyond the confines of Sindh, their only conquest for nearly 300 years.

Prithviraj Chauhan defeated the invading Muhammad Ghori in the first battle of Tarain in 1191. In 1192  Muhammad Ghori defeated Prithviraj at the second battle of Tarain. After the defeat of Chauhan in 1192 CE, a part of Rajasthan came under Muslim rulers.  At the beginning of the 13th century, the most prominent and powerful state of Rajasthan was Mewar. There were some Rajput rulers, like Rao Chandrashekar Rathore (Marwar), Rana Udai Singh (Mewar) and Maharana Pratap (Mewar), who were against Akbar and never bowed down to him. They were in constant war with Akbar. In 1526, a battle between Akbar and Udai Singh took place, in which Akbar took over Chittorgarh, Mewar’s capital. 

Modern History

In 1576, the Battle of Haldighati between Akbar and Maharana Pratap took place, in which Rana Pratap was injured and stayed in recluse for several years. In the meantime, Akbar captured UdaipurKumbhalgarh, Chappan, Gogunda and several other regions. Eventually, in 1582 during the Battle of Dewar, Rana Pratap fought back and freed Mewar and much of Rajasthan from the Mughals. This was the era that witnessed the gallantry and sacrifice of several Rajput rulers. Some of the most prominent ones include Rana Udai Singh, Prithviraj Chauhan, Maharana Pratap, Rana Kumbha and Rana Sanga.

In 1707 Bharatpur city was developed by a Jat (peasant caste) conqueror. By 1803 Maratha conquered some parts of Rajasthan and was led by Peshwa Baji Rao I of Pune. Most of the Rajputs passed under the control of the Maratha Empire and continued to pay tribute. This kept on happening till the British East India Company replaced the Marathas rulers. 

British Rule

In 1857, the British started their rule in India and most Rajput states allied with them. The Association of Rajput and British allowed Rajasthan to continue as independent states, subject to certain political and economic constraints. Under British rule, the nineteen Rajput states signed a treaty and came under an umbrella called Rajasthan. This was a significant identifier, being modified later to Rajputana Province and lasting until the renaming to Rajasthan in 1949.

The Ajmer was the only area under the direct control of the British. Mewar and Jaipur were the most significant in the early 19th century, although it was Mewar that gained particular attention from James Tod.

Alliances were formed between the British East India Company and various princely entities in the early 19th century, accepting British sovereignty in return for local autonomy and protection from the Marathas.  Ajmer became a province of British India, while the autonomous Rajput states, the Muslim state Tonk (princely state), and the Jat state Bharatpur, Dholpur were organized into the Rajputana Agency. In 1817-18, the British Government concluded treaties of alliance with almost all the states of Rajputana. Thus began the British rule over Rajasthan, then called Rajputana.


Gurumukh Nihal Singh was the first governor of the Rajasthan. Tika Ram Paliwal was the first chief minister of the Rajasthan. Currently, including the new district of Pratapgarh, there are

  • 33 districts
  • 105 sub-divisions
  • 37,889 villages
  • 241 tehsils and
  • 222 towns in Rajasthan.


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