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. 

What To See

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. Designed by Sir Swinton Jacob, 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 ildlife, stuffed and photographed. A billiards room, a library, a cards room and a smoking room are some of the highlights of the Lalgarh Palace.

Bhandeshwar Jain Temples

Beautiful 16th century Jain temples, dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankar Parshvanathji. Other important shrines of Bikaner include the Lakshminathji, Ratan Biharji, Shiv Bari and Nagnechiji temple. The Bhaironji temple at Kodamesar, about 40 kms from Bikaner is another popular site.

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 600 year old temple is dedicated to Karni Mata, a famous mystic of her times, believed to be an incarnation of goddess Durga. 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. Imperial sand grouse, nilgai, chinkara, wild boar and black buck are soem of the inhabitants of the sanctuary.

Kolayat (50 km)

A sacred spot, dedicated to Kapil Muni. The temple here is the venue for a fair in the month of Kartik (Oct-Nov.) which draws throngs of pilgrims. The site is also an ideal picnic spot.

Shiv Bari Temple (6 km)

Built in the 19th century by Maharaja Doongar Singhji, the temple is encircled by a high wall. Exquisite paintings and a Nandi Bull facing the Shiva lingam are the highlights of the temple.

Kalibanga (205 km)

Remains of the pre-Harappan and Harappan civilisations have been found here, in Hanumangarh District. 

Festivals 

Camel Festival

A once-in-a-lifetime experience. A spectacle of unusual camel performances - camel races, camel dances, and the unforgettable camel rides. The festival is held in the month of January every year on the full moon night.

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.

Kolayatji fair

Held in October-November at Kolayat. devotees throng to take a holy dip in the Kolayat Lake on the full moon of Kartik or Poornima and offer prayers to Karni Mata. 

The Desert Adventure 
Bikaner
Jodhpur
Jaisalmer