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Bikaner

Founded in 1488,  Bikaner is a desert built on an elevation and surrounded by a long embattled wall pierced  by five gates. A magnificient fort built betwen 1588 & 1593 by Raja Raj Singh  dominates the city. Season: October to March.

Sheer beauty in  the desert is the royal fortified city of Bikaner. Lying at the northern tip of the famous  triangle of the desert cities, Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground and is  circumscribed by a long embattled wall having five entrance gates. 

The genesis of  Bikaner dates back to 1488, when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji, son of Rao Jodhaji of  Jodhpur, chose a barren wilderness called 'Jangladesh' and transformed it to a  charming city called 'Bikaner', after the founder's name. Its location on  the ancient caravan routes, which linked Central Asia and North India with the Gujarat  seaports, made Bikaner a bustling trade centre in the times of yore. 

Bikaner's  forts, palaces and temples magnificent creations in red and yellow sandstone, are  living manifestations of its rich historical and architectural legacy. One can feel the  medieval aura pervading the city's lifestyle.

Not only do the  traditions come alive here in colourful bazaars and havelis, but Bikaner is also famous  for the best riding camels in the world. One can witness gaily caparisoned camels at the  spectacular Camel Festival at Bikaner, held annually. 

PRIME  SITES 

Junagarh Fort
Revel in the architectural splendour, as  you take an intimate look at this imposing fort, built by Akbar's contemporary Raja  Rai Singh. Within the fort are thirty seven palaces, pavilions Suraj Pol or the Sun Gate  is the main entrance to the fort. The palaces worth visiting are Chandra Mahal, Phool  Mahal and Karan Mahal. The palaces, exquisitely built in red sandstone and marble are  ornate with mirror work, carvings and paintings. An array of kiosks and balconies  embellish the fort at intervals, breaking the monotony. A museum with valuable miniature  paintings and rare antiques is also located in the Junagarh Fort. 

Lalgarh Palace
The magnificent fort in red sandstone, a  fascinating juxtaposition of the Oriental style and European luxury that leaves you truly  mesmerised. Designed by Sir Swinton Jacob for Maharaja Ganga Singh almost -90 years ago,  this is an extraordinary monument. The palace has a billiards room, a library, a cards  room and a smoking room. Belgian chandeliers, cut glass ornaments, oil paintings  and lamps add to its charm. 

Bhandeshwar  Jain Temples
(5 km) Beautiful 16th century Jain temples,  dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankar Parshvanathji. 

Other important  temples of Bikaner include the Lakshminathji, Ratan Bihariji, Shiv Bari, and Nagnechiji  temple. The Bhaironji Temple at Kodamdesar, about 40 kms from Bikaner, is another  noteworthy temple.

SIDE  TRIPS 

Short excursions  to the places of cultural and architectural interest around Bikaner can certainly add more  fun to your trip. Some of them being: 

Camel Breeding  Farm (8 km)
Acquaint yourself with the indispensable  ship of the desert at this camel research and breeding centre, the only one of its kind in  Asia. 

Devi Kund (8  km)
This is a royal crematorium with cenotaphs  of the house of Bikaji Rathore. Many decorated Chhatris, built in the memory of the Bika  dynasty, offer splendid example of the Rajput architecture. 

Gajner Wildlife  Sanctuary and Palace
Watch flocks of imperial sand grouse, as  you wander through the lush foliage of woods located on the Jaisalmer road. Gajner is also  home to nilgai, chinkara, wild boar and black buck. Gajner Palace, a summer resort of  kings built on the beautiful lake along the sanctuary, is a spot worth visiting. 

Karni Mata  Temple, Deshnoke (30 km)
Offer your prayers to Karni Mata an  incarnation of goddess Durga, at this 600 year old temple. The temple offers a haven to  rats. Devotees feed the rats, owing to the belief that these rodents will be reincarnated  as holy men. The entrance archway of the temple is intricately carved in marble.

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.), attracting  thousands of pilgrims. Kolayat is an idyllic picnic spot as well.

Shiv Bari  Temple (6 km)
Built in the 19th century by Maharaja  Doongar Singhji, the temple is encircled by a high wall. Beautiful paintings and a Nandi  Bull facing the Shiva Lingam are the attractions of the temple.

Havelis
An array of havelis, built in red stone and  intricately carved, embellish the city. 

Kalibanga (205  km)
The remnants of the pre-Harappan and  Harappan settlements have been found at this place in Hanumangarh District. Surely of  interest to archaeology enthusiasts. 

CELEBRATING  TIME 

Camel Festival  (January) 
Held in the month of January every year on  the full moon night, the festival is dedicated to the indispensable ship of the desert. A  fascinating spectacle of camel performances. Camel races, camel dances and camel rides,  along with the joy, colour and vigour unique to Rajasthan, make this a joyous event.

Kolayatji Fair  (October) 
Held in October-November at Kolayat (53 km.  from Bikaner). Devotees throng here in large numbers to take a holy dip in the Kolayat  Lake on the full moon of Kartik or Poornima and offer prayers to Karni Mata. 

DISTANCES TO  IMPORTANT CITIES 

Delhi 510 km via  Ratangarh, Sardarshahar and Hissar
Jodhpur 256 km. via Nokha, Nagaur 
Jaisalmer 325 km via Phalodi and Pokaran

GENERAL  INFORMATION 

Altitude:  237 mtrs.
Best Season: July-March
Rainfall : 44 cm 
Climate Summer Mean Max. 44 'C  Mean Min. 28 'C Winter Mean Max. 23.2 'C Mean Min. 10 'C
Clothing Summer Light tropical or  cotton Winter Woollen

TRANSPORT &  COMMUNICATION

 

  • Air : Nearest  Airport is Jodhpur 240 kms. 
  • Rail: Bikaner is  connected by rail with Delhi, Jaipur and Jodhpur.
  • Road: Bikaner to  Delhi 949 km,Jaipur 316 km,Jodhpur 240 km & Jaisalmer 330 km.

CONDUCTED TOUR

Places covered  Fare Operator/Resvn.
Junagadh Fort, Lalgarh Palace, Daily Rs.30  R.T.D.C.,
Ganga Golden, Jublee Museum & Parks  Oct-March Tel: 5445,4595.

WHAT TO SEE

Junagarh Fort,  Lalgarh Palace, Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum.

EXCURSION

Bhand Sagar Temple  5 km, Camel Breeding Farm 10 km, Devi Kund 8 km, Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary 32 kms,  Deshnok's Karniji Temple 33 kms.

INFORMATION
(1) Information Centre, Ghinani Area,  Circuit House, Tel: 4595.
(2) Tourist Officer, Tourist Bungalow, Tel:  5445.
 

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