Bikaner the land of the camel safaris and an oasis in the midst of the desert is located in northwestern Rajasthan. Relatively less crowded than other Rajasthan destinations such as Jodhpur, Jaisalmer or Jaipur, Bikaner has its own treasure trove of historical forts, museums, temples and old city charm.
WHAT TO SEE
The city was founded by Rao Bikaji in 1486, one of the five sons of Maharaja Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur. Bikaji did not want to inherit from his father and decided to build his own fortunes. He founded Bikaner from the large land spaces of Jangladesh. Hundred years after Bikaji, Bikaner flourished under the sixth king, Rai Singhji who had an understanding with the Mughal Empire and held a high rank in Akbar’s court. Known for his military exploits and valor, Rai Singhji built the famous Junagarh Fort. Subsequent kings added many more monuments and architecture to the city, making Bikaner a great destination to view the temples, forts and monuments in true Rajasthani style.
How to reach
Bikaner is well connected by air to domestic and international cities. It is also accessible by rail and road from major Indian cities.
Things to do
The Junagarh Fort is the most prominent landmark of the city. Built by Raja Rai Singh the fort is a historical monument with a museum that sheds light on the royal family of Bikaner. One of the few forts in India that remained undefeated the fort also has a number of features within its premise. The Karan Mahal was the Diwan-i-Aam built in the 17th and 18th century, the Anup Mahal with its beautiful jharokas and screens, the Badal Mahal whose walls are painted beautifully with cloud motifs, the Gaj Mandir, the Ganga Durbar Hall, Karan Prole the main entranc , the Prachina Musuem with its display of items of the royals and the Vikram Vilas Durbar Hall are some of the notable features within the fort.
Lalgarh is a fort that was home to the Rajput royal family. The Laxmi Niwas Palace the residence of Maharaja Ganga Singh is also a part of the Lalgarh Palace and is currently a luxury hotel.
The Old City of Bikaner is a maze of alleyways, winding lanes holding within its folds various erstwhile havelis, Jain temples encircled with a 7 km wall and five entrance gates. A must visit area that gives the feel of the old city and a sense of its lost glory.
Rampuria Havelis is a popular cluster of havelis built from red sandstone and looking regal with their latticed windows, jharokhas and exotic entrances and basements. The wood carvings, gold work as well intricate designs make the closely knit havelis a magnificent sight.
Bhandasar Temple is a magnificent Jain temple with the yellow stone carvings and pretty painting. The interiors are absolutely amazing with pillars adorned with floral designs and life stories of the Jain tirthankars.
Lakshminath Temple is a Hindu temple built by Rao Lunkaran in the 16th century. Lakshminath was considered as the main deity of the Bikaner rulers.
Ganga Government Museum is a wonderful assortment of displays of the Gupta period, traditional Rajasthani musical instruments, local paintings, carpets, miniature models of the Lallgarh and Gajner palaces and more.
Bikaner Camel Research Center is the breeding ground of the camels and a great place to learn more about these animals. The camel milk ice cream as well as a museum and gift shop is included within the center.
Safaris, Street Food and Festivals
Bikaner is also popular for its camel safaris and is a good alternative to the camel safaris of Jaisalmer.
Bikaner is also known for its authentic Rajasthani cuisine and the Chai Patti is a must visit destination for food lovers.
Bikaner is also famous for its various festivals, such as the annual Camel Festival and the Kolayat Fair where devotees take a holy dip in the Kolayat Lake and tourists get a chance to watch the culture of Rajasthan up close.
The Kodamdesar Temple located 24km is where Bikaji had planned to lay the original site of the city.
6km from the city is the Shiv Bari Temple enclosed with high walls. The beautiful wall paintings on the red sandstone walls are the main attraction of the temple.
Devi Kund Sagar 8km away was the royal crematorium has a lot of chhatris that are worth a visit.
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary at 32km from Bikaner is home to the nilgai, wild boar, black buck and many migratory and local bird species.
The Katariasar village 45km from the city is the village of the Jasnathjis, the traditional dancers. The sand dunes and village homes bring one close to the local cultural and traditional life of the villagers. Chinkaras, rabbits, peacocks, desert foxes and other animals are also spotted quite easily in the village.
Jorbeed 12km from Bikaner is a birding paradise. Known for predator birds such as the Griffon Vultures, Egyptian vultures, Steppe Eagles Jorbeed is where these raptor birds flock in hordes to devour their meal.
From Bikaner, one can also visit Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur and other popular Rajasthan cities.
Bikaner is a perfect holiday destination, with its formidable forts, museums, beautiful havelis and palaces. Explore the ethnic Rajasthani cuisine, the traditions, fairs and festivals as you maneuver through its old town or visit its sprawling lakes and spaces.