The royal fortified city with a timeless appeal lying in the
north of the desert state, dotted with many sand dunes. Bikaner
retains the medieval splendour that pervades the city’s lifestyle.
More popularly called the camel country, the city is renowned
for the best riding camels in the world. The ship of the desert
is an inseparable part of life here. Be it pulling heavy carts,
transporting grains or working on wells, camels are the prime
helpers. The wells of Bikaner – an important source of water
are other attractions of the city. These are built on high
plinths with slender minarated towers on each of the four
corners and can be noticed even from a distance.
Bikaner’s history dates back to 1488 A.D., when a Rathore
Prince, Rao Bikaji – a descendant of the founder of Jodhpur
(1459 A.D.), Rao Jodhaji, established his kingdom here. Rao
Jodhaji had five sons but Rao Bikaji was the most enterprising
of them. Bikjaji chose a barren wilderness called ‘Jangladesh’
and transformed it to an impressive city, called Bikaner after
the founder’s name. The strategic location of Bikaner on the
ancient caravan routes that came from West / Central Asia,
made it a prime trade center in those days. Bikaner stands
on a slightly raised ground and is circumscribed by a seven
km long embattled wall with five gates. The magnificent forts
and palaces, in reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to
its rich historical and architectural legacy. Undulating lanes,
colourful bazaars and bright, cheerful and hospitable folk
make Bikaner an interesting experience.
Places to visit
for its finest quality of stone carvings this fort and its
palaces were 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 main entrance of the fort is Suraj Pol, or Sun Gate. The
fort encompasses many palaces amongst which the most spectacular
ones are the Chandra Mahal or Moon Palace, the Phool Mahal
or Flower Palace, both ornated with carved panels and mirrors
and the Karan Mahal. Karan Mahal was built in remembrance
of the celebration of the grand victory over Aurangzeb. Durga
Niwas, a fabulously painted courtyard and Ganga Niwas which
housed a finely carved red sandstone front, are the other
places of attraction in this fort.
The Suraj Pol or Sun Gate
It is the main entrance to the fort. Among the more notable
of these palaces are the exquisitely beautiful Chandra Mahal
or the Moon Palace with marvelous paintings, mirrors and carved
marble panels and the Phool Mahal or Flower Palace ornate
with glass and mirror work. Other palaces worth visiting are
the Anup Mahal, Karan Mahal, Dungar Niwas, Ganga Niwas, Gaj
Mandir and Rang Mahal. Gigantic columns, arches and graceful
screens adorn the palaces from within.
The Har Mandir is the
majestic chapel for the royal family for worshipping their
gods and goddesses.
Timings : 10.00 hrs. to 16.30
hrs. Entry fee Rs. 50.00 for complete museum with guide, Rs.
10.00 for part of museum, Rs. 5.00 for students and military
officials Rs. 30.00 for camera & Rs. 50.00 for movie camera.
Lal Garh Palace
This architectural masterpiece in red sandstone, was built
by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the memory of his father Maharja
Lal Singh. The palace was designed by Sir Swinton Jacob and
displays exquisite oriental facade and ornate interiors. The
palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work. Sprawling
lawns with blooming bougainvillea and dancing peacocks make
it a no-to-be-missed visual treat. The Royal family of Bikaner
still resides in part of the palace. The first floor of the
palace is turned into a museum called the Shri Sadul Museum
and a part of the palace has been converted into a luxury
hotel. The museum displays a collection Maharaja's personal
possessions. It also houses a range of Indian animals stuffed
and photographed. The palace also holds a billiards room a
cards room, a library and a smoking room.
Timings for the museum:- 10.00 hrs. to 16.30 hrs.Entry
fee Rs. 5.00 (closed on Wednesday).
Bhandeshwar Jain Temples
This temples were built during the 16th century, dedicated
to 23rd Tirthankar Parshvanathji. The temples have some intricate
carvings. Lakshminathji, Ratan Biharji, Shiv Bari and Nagnechiji
temple are other shrines located in Bikaner. 40 kms from here
is another famous temple of the Bhaironji temple at Kodamesar.
Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum
It is the best Rajasthan museum, having one of the richest
collections of terracotta ware, weapons, miniature paintings
of Bikaner school and coins. The exhibits are splendid masterpieces
of Harappan civilization, Gupta and Kushan era and sculptures
of the late classical time.
Timings 10.00 hrs. to 16.30 hrs.
Entry fee Rs. 3.00 (Closed on Friday). The museum has a separate
section displaying exclusive arts and crafts of the region.
Devi Kund (8 km)
A royal crematorium with several ornamented cenotaphs of ‘chhatris’
built in the memory of the Bika dynasty rulers. Maharaja Suraj
Singh’s chhatri is the most impressive of all, created entirely
in white marble with spectacular Rajput paintings on the ceiling.
Mata Temple, Deshnoke
This temple is dedicated to Karni Mata, who, according to
the legends, foretold the victory of Rao Bika. This temple
is 600 years old and ornated by huge silver gates and marble
carvings. These were donated by Maharaja Ganga Singh. The
belief here that, the souls of the devotees of Mata reside
in rats and so rats are considered to be holy here.
Camel Research Farm (8 km)
Spend a day with the indispensable ship of the desert at their
camel research and breeding center – one of its kind in Asia.
The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi arid land and is
managed by the Central Government. The Camel Corps of Bikaner
were a famous fighting force during the ‘Raj’ and are still
an important part of the desert warfare and defence through
the Border Security Force (BSF).
Timings 15.00 hrs. to 17.00 hrs.
(Closed on Sundays and Government holidays). Photography prohibited.
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary (32 km)
This place of scenic beauty, with hillocks encompassing it
and housing a lovely lake. On the banks of this lake is an
old summer palace which is used as a hotel now. In the sanctuary
you can even see wild boar, black bucks, the majestic sand
grouse, nilgai and chinkara. The Gajner Palace, a summer retreat
of the kings, stands on the bank of the lake and has been
converted into a hotel. Entry fee into the palace area is
Rs. 100/- per head.
Kolayat (50 km)
50 km from Bikaner is a sacred spot, dedicated to Kapil Muni.
It is an ideal place for picnic lovers. The fair in the month
of Kartik (oct-Nov) draws thousands of pilgrims.
Shiv Bari Temple (6 km)
Surrounded by a high wall, this temple was built in the 19th
century by Maharaja Doongar Singhji. It is 6 kms from Bikaner.
The temple is ornately covered by fascinating paintings facing
the Shiva Lingam.
Kalibanga (205 km)
This place lies 205 km away from Bikaner. In the Hanumangarh
district here, remains of pre-Harappan and Harappan civilisations
have been found.