Rajasthan with an area of 342,239 square kilometers, lies between 22 degrees and 30 degrees north latitude and 69 degrees and 78 degrees east longitude. Located in the northwestern part of India, it is bounded on the west and northwest by Pakistan, on the north and northeast by the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, on the east and southeast by the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and on the southwest by the state of Gujarat. The Tropic of Cancer passes through its southern tip in the Banswara district.
Rajasthan is separated from the Ganga basin by the watershed of the Aravali mountains. Rajasthan can be divided into the north eastern hill tract, the Vindhyan Plateau extensions in the south east, the basins of the Chappan and Banas, the Aravalli backbone, the Shekhawati uplands in the northwest and the Luni basin of the south-west which merges into the large desert area of the west.
Travel across this varied landscape usually begins from the East since the gateway to Rajasthan is from Delhi. Known as the Mewar plains to the North and the Chappan plains to the east, the stretch from Jaipur through Tonk and Bhilwara, up to Udaipur, is of speckled granite. For ages, the rocks here have been cut and carried for carvings, and the silver, lead and zinc deposits from Zawar have been used to make the beautiful jewellery Rajasthan is famous for.
Shielding Rajasthan from southern India stands the Vindhayan range-known here as the Hardoti plateau. This area is drained by the river Chambal. The southern hilly region of Rajasthan has conical hills, rugged slopes and sheer vertical scarps, and on the plains are hummocky dunes with sides of granite rock, which are now exposed.
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People & Culture
West of the Aravallis, before entering the Marusthali, or the great desert, is the desert margin. The plains of the river Luni, the Shekhavti region, and in the north, the saddle between Jaipur and Jodhpur, with the Ghaggar plain, is a desert land with several salt lakes.
The land is neither barren nor uninhabited; it is covered with bushes and shrubs and even small trees. The grass on these seemingly immobile sand dunes grow in clumps indicating the availability of water just beneath the sandy soil. This desert is a rearing ground for camels, buffaloes and cows which are known for their strength and size.
The area of Malwa, a tableland extending up to the Vindhayas, is covered with green forests and black lava country because of the rain from the monsoons. The winters that follow the monsoons are the coldest at about 12 degrees C in the north-eastern hill tract and the Shekhavati and Ghaggar plains. The wetter parts east and south east of the Aravallis have taller trees than the drier west. The south and eastern parts have axlewood, dhokra, and dhak forests. Here, the deserts, generally expected to be treeless, have a wide variety of trees, the most common being the babul and the khejra.
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.