Location: 317 km NW of Jaipur and 243 km from Jodhpur
Popular For: Bikaneri Bhujias & Meethai (sweets & snacks)
What To See: Junagarh Fort, Bhandasar Jain Temple
When To Go: September to February
Junagarh Fort In Bikaner
On the face of it, Bikaner town is thirsty, disheveled at the edges, momentos' of a past grandeur shinning through its old skin, but not quite managing to quash the reckless swelling of modernity. But then, it is a town more known for its savouries than architectural splendour, while they are truly marvellous. Bikaneri bhujia may have become a tourist's choice in the recent years, but once Bikaner's greatest export was its political acumen, raised to an intricate art by Maharajah Ganga Singh, remembered as the founder of the modern city of Bikaner. The desert dominates Bikaner. But over ages, the heat has added to the warmth in relationships, and its dearth has adorned the hospitalilty of the city. As the tourist hype in Rajasthan heightens, Bikaner holiday attractions are cascading more and more into the hearts of travellers. The reason is simple. Bikaner has everything to entertain its guests, who want to enjoy every hour of their jam packed journey - a brilliant fort, camel safaris and 30 km to the south is Deshnoke, where in a marble-fronted temple rats wander around freely, and spotting a white rat is considered lucky.
Set on yellow-gold lapidarian Thar soil, somber yet
colourful Bikaner has a rich history engraved with countless tales of
valour, poise and penitence. The history of Bikaner can be traced back to
the Darbar Hall of Rao Jodhaji, the real founder of Jodhpur state. The
story begins in an unfortunate afternoon that witnessed the walkout of his
second son, Rao Bika, with his uncle, Rao Kandhal and a few kinsmen,
because his father piqued him in open, for whispering in court, asking in
jest whether the two were plotting against their own kingdom. Bika left
Jodhpur in a huff and later settled up his capital in a scrub desert oasis
(Jungladesh) on the waterless palms of Thar.
As time slipped by, the rulers of Bikaner befriended the Mughals and later, the British. Several of Bikaner's rulers even commanded the Mughal armies, combating with great chivalry from Gujarat in the west to the Deccan in the south. One such great ruler, Raja Prithviraj Singh, a poet and a warrior, in fact became one of the "Navaratna" (Nine Gems) of Akbar's court. Maharajah Ganga Singh, came to be known as one of India's principal rulers and statesman. His 'shikar' diplomacy, won him many credits - the chance to build his own railway and start the ambitious Ganga Canal, that later changed the outlook of the parched desert landscape.
Bikaner's history is indispensably linked with the
famous fort, that dominates the horizons of this 'namkeen' (spicy) city.
Besides this, Bikaner tour in Rajasthan will intriduce you to the famous red sand stone fort, Junagarh, that lies at the centre of Bikaner. This once the seat of power of the Marwars, is now quoted as the finest example of Rajput
architecture. Enter through the pompous elephant-flanked gates, Surajpol,
go past the solitary courtyards and reach to the impressive ceremonial
courtyard, where you get a first glimpse of the architectural paragon of
Junagarh. The Anup Mahal, built by Maharajah Karan Singh, displays an
excellent endeavor of gold-craftsmanship; exquisite stone carvings
embellished with delicate patterns and painted with gold leaf. Pay a visit
to the fort museum (open between 10 am and 4:30 pm) filled with eclectic
collection of family and fraternity memorabilia. In the armory are
cyclopean bore guns which were used for shooting from the backs of camels,
as well as the usual collection of diabolic pistols and swords. Don't
forget to visit the Diwan-i-khas, which houses an intricately carved
mammoth sandalwood throne, placed along with three massive arches.
Take a Bikaner tour and see the two Jain temples, located in the south-east end of the walled city. The Bhandasar Jain Temple is as lavish in the interiors as it is huge. The ceilings are embellished with a series of vibrant paintings, while the pillars bear floral carvings which depict the lives of 24 Tirthankars. It is said that 40,000 kg of ghee was used instead of water in the mortar, which locals believe, seeps still through the walls on hot days.
Bikaner tourism guide allows you to see Lallgarh, a huge but compact palace, built entirely of red sandstone bedecked with magnificent filigree work in the pierced stone screens called 'jaalis', a well known feature of Rajasthani architecture, which keep most of the sun out even as they let in the most trivial whiff of breeze. Visit the Sri Sadul Museum, on the first floor, displaying a whole herd of uncanny items. The sight starts with a funky old film projector made in New York in 1921. Other more pedestrian exhibits include Maharajahs' golf tees, swimming goggles, earplugs, sneakers and an electric tooth brush! (Timings 10.00 hrs. to 16.30 hrs and is closed on Wednesday).
Karnimata Rat Temple , Bikaner
Visit the Karni Mata temple at Deshnoke (23 km), better known by its nickname as 'Temple of Rats'. Tourists might not think that rats are worshipped here or they would see a rat idol sitting with its lavish moustaches sprung open. The presiding deity is Karni Mata, an incarnation of goddess Durga. However, the temple complex, with its beautifully carved marble facade, is a home to thousands of mice (known as kabas). These opulent rats, with their mangy coats (because of the handful quantity of sweets they consume), are said to be the souls of those who have served in the goddess's court.
Be In Tune With the Wild Nature
Tourism in Bikaner will lead to Gajner Palace, 32 km away, is a delight for those who love the breezy outdoors. One can make the sun-lit days of a vacation special with a safari into the Gajner wildlife sanctuary. Get a horse or a jeep safari, that go deep into the sanctuary, past the watering holes of the animals. The Gajner Lake attracts hundreds of migratory birds in winter, which can be seen taking flight and then dissppearing into the red horizon. Tourists can also look for black bucks, stags and wild boars that can be spotted by their bright shiny eyes as they dart through the thick bushes in the night. Enjoy a cruise on solar boats, row and relax on the freshness of a cool morning.
Staggering Families of The Desert Ship At Camel Breeding Farm
One can find camel everywhere in Rajasthan, but nowhere is its presence more pronounced as in Bikaner, where there is even a camel regiment - the only one of its kind in the world! Visit the state managed Camel Research Centre, 8 km from the downtown and probably one of its own in Asia. Here camels are bred from pedigree acquired from all over the world. Get to know the ship of the desert more closely. The staff will happily tell you about their intractable nature and ability to survive in harsh desert conditions. Tourists can also enjoy a fantastic camel ride in the vicinity and can savour the sweet, thick camel's milk.
Besides enjoying a Bikaner holiday, another popular attraction is shopping. It is a fun here, because one might end up bargaining for local fabrics, embroidered footwear (jootis) in the
narrow-laned, labyrinthine streets of Katla at Kote gate, a favoured
market place for most Bikanerwallas.the 'jootis' can also be made to order
in 24 hours. On the right-hand side immidiately as you enter the Junagarh
Fort, is a small craftshop called Abhivyakti, run by Urmul Trust - a rural
cooperative in the villages surrounding Bikaner. One can run into a wide
display of rural handicrafts and traditional artifacts, and can browse
here without the constant hassles to buy. For miniature paintings in
Bikaneri style, visit Swami Art at Kirti Stambh on Lallgarh Palace road.
Here one can look for attractive artistry and can also get paintings made
on order. Visit M.G. Road to get some awesome collections of tie-dye
saris, chiffon and georgette.
In the absence of a local audience, there are no stand alone restaurants in Bikaner. Your best bet, therefore, is the dining room in the hotel where you are staying. Bikaner is best known for its savouries, particularly 'bhujia', numerous mouth-watering 'namkeens', 'papads' and 'baris'. Do not forget to check the small shop on Station Road from where the successful food chain Haldirams began its unparalleled journey. Visit the clustered stalls on the Station road which sell a range of sweets including the milk-drowned 'rasmalai' and kesar 'cham cham', the latter is a sausage shaped sticky confection of milk, sugar and saffron, which , when bitten, oozes a sweet syrup that lingers your memories for eternity.
Bikaner Junction lies in the western parts of Rajasthan, and is well connected with Jaipur, Jodhpur, Delhi and Bhatinda. If one is at the national capital of Delhi, catch the Bikaner Mail, which departs from Sarai Rohilla at 9:15 pm and arrives at Bikaner at 8:15 in the morning. Bikaner is around 488 km from Delhi and 330 km from Jaipur. One can drive through NH 8, which connects Agra to Bikaner, and can halt at Jaipur, for a break. Tourists can also catch a bus from Kashmere Gate and Sarai Kale Khan, in Delhi. For more information, one can approach the Tourist Reception Centre, at the Dhola Maru Complex, 1 km from city centre at Pooran Singh Circle.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Bikaner
A Complete Holiday Package In Bikaner
Junagarh Fort - Moment of Fortune
Clarified Butter For Construction
Temple of Rats
Taste the Salt of Bikaner
Rajasthan & The Taj
Wildlife Safari Tour
Mahal - White Wonder
Delhi - Eternal Capital
Sikri - City of Victory
- Out of The World
Madhya Pradesh -
Centre of Attraction