Bikaner

The royal walled city of Bikaner, the northern most point on the triangle of desert cities, was founded in 1488 AD., by Rao Bikaji, a descendant of the founder of Jodhpur, Rao Jodha. Like Jaisalmer, in the south, it was, once, an important trade centre. The old city is bolstered, by 7 km long imposing walls, with 5 entrance gates, built in the 18th century. The fort and palace, made of the same reddish-pink sandstone, as the famous structures in Jaipur, lie outside the city walls. The influence of the outside world is minimal here, and the traditional lifestyle of yore endures.

A region coveted by several Rajput clans, Bikaner is well known as the land of the finest riding camels, in the world. Home to the famous Camel Research Centre, Bikaner also has several Jain temples and monasteries outside the fort.

Junagarh Fort

Junagarh Fort
Built between 1588 and 1593 by Raja Raj Singh, a general in the army of the Mughal Emperor Akbar, the fort has a 96 metre -long wall, with 37 bastions and two entrances. The Suraj Pol, or Sun Gate, is the main entrance to the fort. The distinctive feature of this fort and its palaces, is the unparalleled quality of the stone carving. Amongst the palaces, housed within the structure,( located at the southern end), the ones worth a visit are the Chandra Mahal or Moon Palace, the Phool Mahal or Flower Palace (both decorated with mirrors and carved panels) and the Karan Mahal, which was built to commemorate a grand victory over the Mughal despot, Aurangzeb. Other places of interest, include the Durga Niwas, which is a handsomely painted courtyard, and the Ganga Niwas, another large courtyard, which sports a finely carved red sandstone front.

Lalgarh Palace
About 3 km north of the city centre, is the Lalgarh Palace or Red Fort, built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in memory of his father Maharaja Lal Singh.The palace is made of red sandstone ( hence, its name ), and has exquisite latticework. The palace is a successful blend of oriental facade and occidental interiors. The Bikaner royal family still resides in part of the palace.The rest of the palace, has been turned into a luxury hotel, and a museum called the Shri Sadul Museum. The museum houses an immense range of photographs, and an incredible collection of the former maharaja's personal possessions. There's also an exhibition of Indian wildlife, stuffed and photographed.

Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum
This Museum has one of the richest collections of terracota-ware, weapons and miniature paintings of the Bikaner school.

Devi Kund
This is the site of royal chhatris (cenotaphs) of the House of Bikaji Rathore.

Karni Mata Temple, Deshnoke
This temple is dedicated to Karni Mata, a famous mystic of her times. Legend has it, that she foretold the victory of Rao Bika. Here, rats are considered holy, owing to the belief, that the souls of the devotees of the Mata, are resident in these rats and, consequently, they must be looked after. The huge silver gates to the temple, and the marble carvings were donated by Maharaja Ganga Singh.

National Research Centre on Camels
A Government - managed camel breeding station and centre for research; the only one of its kind in India.

Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary
A wildlife sanctuary, 32 kms from Bikaner, surrounded by hillocks, and a lovely lake by the side. An old royal summer palace stands on the bank of the lake, and is often used as a hotel.

Festivals

Camel Festival

A once-in-a-lifetime experience. A spectacle of unusual camel performances - camel races, camel dances, and the unforgettable camel rides.

Karni Mata Fair

Devotees of the Mata throng Deshnoke, and worship Goddess Durga and her incarnations, offer prayers to the Mata herself, on this occasion, which falls on the 9th day of Navratra. The fair is held twice a year - April / May, October / November.

Access

Air: The nearest airport is Jodhpur (243 km).

Rail: Bikaner is well connected with Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur.

Road : Regular bus services link Bikaner to Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Ajmer and Kolayat.

Accomodation

RTDC Hotel,
Dhola Maru,
Hotel Lalgarh Palace,
Hotel Deluxe,
Hotel Roopam.

Rajasthan