Indian history is replete with instances of bravery and sacrifice. A large share of these braveries is attributed to the Rajput clan, who greatly valued their military virtues and honor. The literal meaning of Rajput is ‘son of a king,’ indicative of their warrior lineage. According to Rajput legend, this clan was established by a legendary figure named Bappa Rawal during the 8th century. Historians, however, argue with this claim and instead state that the Rajputs originally descended from the numerous foreign invaders, such as the Hunas and Shakas, who gradually merged with the Kshatriyas owing to their warrior characteristics.
The Rajputs were mainly feudal lords under the over-lordship of the rulers belonging to Pratiharas - a dynasty that ruled until the 10th century. Gradually, they attained the status of independent rulers. Their dominion spread over most parts of north India. In the north-west region they ruled over a region known as Rajputana, which comprises the present day Rajasthan and parts of Pakistan.
The Rajput community comprised of the Chauhans of East Punjab, Northern Rajasthan and Delhi, the Rathores of Uttar Pradesh, the Paramaras of Central India and the Tomars of Gwalior and later, Delhi. Of these the Chauhans and the Rathors were the dominant clans. Other clans in this community include Shekhawats of the Shekhawati region, Bhatis, Kachchwahas and Sisodiyas. The Rajput though brave and chivalrous often succumbed to inter-clan rivalries, which proved advantageous for the Muslim rulers during the medieval period.
The Rajputs being a dominant Hindu clan offered heavy resistance to the Muslim rulers who spread their rule over India during the medieval period. The Rajput princes maintained their own independent princely kingdoms. Even during the British rule, some of these states retained their status. The Rajputs rulers were, however, deprived of their power after India attained its independence in 1947.
Some of the brave Rajput rulers who have been made their names eternal in Indian history are Prithviraj Chauhan, Rana Kumbha, Rana Sangram Singh, Rana Udai Singh and Maharana Pratap.
Rajputs developed their own style of art and architecture. Kishangarh Miniatures are the most famous contribution of Rajput art in the history of Indian paintings and artworks. Rajput miniature paintings can be seen in Delhi's National Museum. Some of the most outstanding specimen of Rajput architecture can be seen in Jaipur, Udaipur, Ranakpur, Chittorgarh, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.