Along with Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, Bikaner was one of the three great desert Kingdoms of Rajasthan and, like them, prospered because of its strategic location on the overland caravan trade route to Central Asia and China. It was founded in 1486 by Rao Bika, the disgruntled younger son of Rao Jodha, the ruler of Jodhpur, who left home in search of new territory to conquer.
Somewhat overshadowed by the splendors of Jodhpur and Jaisalmer, Bikaner nevertheless has a great deal to offer visitors, with its old walled town where camels saunter past colorful stalls, its many temples and palaces, and the magnificent Junagarh Fort, perhaps the best preserved and most ornately decorated of all the forts in Rajasthan.
Sightseeing Places in Bikaner, Rajasthan
Constructed between 1587 and 1593 by the third ruler of Bikaner, Rai Singh, Junagarh Fort is protected by a 986 m long sandstone wall with 37 bastions, a moat and, most effectively of all, by the forbidding expanse of the Thar Desert. Not surprisingly, the fort has never been conquered, a fact which explains its excellent state of preservation. Within the fort’s austere stone walls are no less than 37 profusely decorated palaces, temples and pavilions, built by its successive rulers over the centuries, though in a harmonious continuity of style.
Lalgarh Palace, outside the walled town, is a sprawling extravaganza of carved friezes, jails, pillars and arches in the distinctive reddish-pink local sandstone. Constructed between 1902 and 1926, it was designed by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, in a style that combines traditional Rajput and Renaissance European features with Art Nouveau décor inside. Part of it has been converted into a hotel, and another section into a museum with vintage photographs and wildlife trophies. Lalgarh Palaces’ museum and beautiful gardens are open to visitors.
Gajner, 30 km northwest of Bikaner, has the red sandstone Summer Palace of the maharajas, now a luxury hotel, and the Gajner National Park, home to blackbucks, wild boars, desert foxes and a large number of migratory birds.
Camel Breeding Farm
The Camel Breeding Farm, 9 km southeast of Bikaner, is best visited in the late afternoon when the camels return from grazing. Set up in 1975, the farm breeds nearly half the camels found in India, including those for the camel regiment of the Indian Army.
In the old walled city, entered through Kote Gate, is the bazaar, where excellent local handicrafts can be found, such as rugs and carpets, painted lampshades made of camel hide, and beautiful miniatures in the Bikaneri style. Savory snacks are another local specialty, and Bikaneri bhujias are renowned throughout India, as are the sweets made of camel’s milk. The grand 17th and 18th century havelis of Bikaner’s wealthy merchants line the narrow lanes in the vicinity around Rampuria Street.
How to reach Bikaner
The nearest airports are Jodhpur and Jaipur at distances of 252 km and 325 km respectively.
Well connected to Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ajmer, etc., with regular train services like Kalka and Chetak Express.
Well connected, with easily available luxury AC and economical local state buses, plying on the nearest National Highway11.
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