Parts of Rajasthan may have been occupied by the Indus Valley Civilization (Harappans). Excavations at Kalibanga in northern Rajasthan around 1998 revealed the existence of human settlements of Harappan times on the banks of a river that dried up later, which some people believe to be the Saraswati, archaeologists hope the Saraswati will unlock mysteries of the past. Rajasthan’s geographic position in India has caused it to be affected by the expansionist efforts of various empires. It was a part of the Maurya Empire around 321-184 BCE.
Since the early 1700s, the Maratha Empire began expanding northwards, led by Peshwa Baji Rao I of Pune. This expansion finally brought the newly founded Hindu Maratha Empire in contact with the Rajputs. Rajasthan saw many invasions by the Marathas, under military leadership of Holkars and Scindhias. Most of Rajputana passed under the control of the Maratha Empire and continued to pay tribute to Pune till the British East India Company replaced the Marathas as paramount rulers.
The decline of the 300-year-old Gupta Empire in the 6th century led to the political unrest in the Northern India and was followed by an epoch of instability as numerous chieftains tried to gain power. The situation was stabilized when the Gurjara-Pratiharas emerged around 700 CE. Gurjar pratihars were well known for their hostility towards Arab invaders.The Arab chronicler Sulaiman describes the army of the Gurjar Pratihars as it stood in 851 CE, The king of Gurjars maintains numerous forces and no other Indian prince has so fine a cavalry. He is unfriendly to the Arabs, still he acknowledges that the king of the Arabs is the greatest of kings. Among the princes of India there is no greater foe of the Islamic faith than he. He has got riches, and his camels and horses are numerous.
The arrival of the British East India Company in the region led to the administrative designation of some geographically, culturally, economically and historically diverse areas, which had never shared a common political identity, under the name of the Rajputana Agency. This was a significant identifier, being modified later to Rajputana Province and lasting until the renaming to Rajasthan in 1949. The Company officially recognised various entities, although sources disagree concerning the details, and also included Ajmer-Merwara, which was the only area under direct British control. Of these various areas, Marwar and Jaipur were the most significant in the early 19th-century, although it was Mewar that gained particular attention from James Tod, a Company employee who was enamoured of Rajputana and wrote extensively, if often uncritically, of the people, history and geography of the Agency as a whole. Alliances were formed between the Company and these various princely and chiefly entities in the early 19th century, accepting British sovereignty in return for local autonomy and protection from the Marathas. Following the Mughal tradition and more importantly due to its strategic location Ajmer became a province of British India, while the autonomous Rajput states, the Muslim state Tonk (princely state), and the Jat states 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.
The name of Rajasthan was probably popularised by Tod and during his lifetime some people believed that he had coined itAlthough he claimed that it was the classical name for the region, the term seems first to be documented in an inscription dating from 1708 and to have become popular by his time.
It took seven stages to form Rajasthan as defined today. In March 1948 the Matsya Union consisted of Alwar, Bharatpur, Dhaulpur and Karauli was formed. Also, in March 1948 Banswara, Bundi, Dungarpur, Jhalawar, Kishangarh, Kota, Pratapgarh, Shahpura and Tonk joined the Indian union and formed a part of Rajasthan. In April 1948 Udaipur joined the state and the Maharana of Udaipur was made Rajpramukh. Therefore in 1948 the merger of south and southeastern states was almost complete. Still retaining their independence from India were Jaipur and the desert kingdoms of Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. From a security point of view, it was vital to the new Indian Union to ensure that the desert kingdoms were integrated into the new nation. The princes finally agreed to sign the Instrument of Accession, and the kingdoms of Bikaner, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Jaipur were merged in March 1949. This time the Maharaja of Jaipur, Man Singh II was made the Rajpramukh of the state and Jaipur became its capital. Later in 1949, the United States of Matsya, comprising the former kingdoms of Bharatpur, Alwar, Karauli and Dholpur, was incorporated into Rajasthan. On January 26, 1950, 18 states of united Rajasthan merged with Sirohi to join the state leaving Abu and Dilwara to remain a part of Greater Bombay and now Gujarat.
In November 1956, under the provisions of the States Re-organisation Act, the erstwhile part ‘C’ state of Ajmer, Abu Road Taluka, former part of Sirohi princely state (which were merged in former Bombay), State and Sunel Tappa region of the former Madhya Bharat merged with Rajasthan and Sirohi sub district of Jhalawar was transferred to Madhya Pradesh. Thus giving the existing boundary Rajasthan. Today with further reorganisation of the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Rajasthan has become the largest state of the Indian Republic.
The princes of the former kingdoms were constitutionally granted handsome remuneration in the form of privy purses and privileges to assist them in the discharge of their financial obligations. In 1970, Indira Gandhi, who was then the Prime Minister of India, commenced under-takings to discontinue the privy purses, which were abolished in 1971. Many of the former princes still continue to use the title of Maharaja, but the title has little power other than status symbol. Many of the Maharajas still hold their palaces and have converted them into profitable hotels, while some have made good in politics. The democratically elected Government runs the state with a chief minister as its executive head and the governor as the head of the state. Currently, including the new district of Pratapgarh, there are 32 districts, 105 sub-divisions, 37,889 villages, 241 tehsils and 222 towns in Rajasthan.
Gurumukh Nihal Singh was appointed as first governor of Rajasthan. Hiralal Shastri was the first nominated chief minister of the state, taking office on 7 April 1949. He was succeeded by two other nominated holders of the office before Tika Ram Paliwal became the first elected chief minister from 3 March 1951.