State : Rajasthan
Bikaner, situated in the northern part of Rajasthan, was founded
in 1486 AD by the Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji, hence the name Bikaner.
Bikaji was son of Rao Jodhaji who had asked his son to establish
a kingdom of his own. The challenge was accepted and Bikaji choose
the wild country 'Jangaldesh' as his territory and thus the city
of Bikaner came into existence. A seven-kilometres wall with five
entrances was built to protect the city from vagaries of the desert
and any external aggression. The city flourished as an important
trade centre between Gujarat seaports and West Asian countries.
The unbroken line of descendants of Bikaji ruled Bikaner till India
got Independence. Bikaner is also called the camel country, being
renowned for the best riding camels in the world. It is also the
birthplace of the world famous Bikaneri bhujia and namkeen (a salted
snack made of lentils). The Camel Festival held every year is famous
all over the globe. Bikaner has many magnificent buildings made
of Reddish Pink sandstone that transcends the surrounding barren
Music & Dance
Bikaner is primarily an agrarian economy, dependent on farming.
Cereal crops such as wheat, barley and millet are mainly cultivated,
while the Rajasthan Canal provides irrigation to the arid town of
Bikaner. Bikaner’s folk traditions, interlinked with Rajasthan’s
have developed over the centuries. Itinerant balladeers like the
Bhopas, Bhatts, Charans and Bandis developed their distinctive styles.
In fact Karni Mata, the Kuldevi (family deity) of the Rathore clan
of Bikaner was a daughter of a Charan (bard). Also, while in Bikaner
don’t miss the fire dancers who keep their audiences enthralled
as they tap-dance over red hot burning coal.
Place to See
The Junagarh Fort, built by Rai Singh between 1588 and 1593, has
a 986-metre-long wall with 37 bastions, a moat and two entrances.
Situated at a height of above seven hundred feet above sea level,
it towers over the city and can be seen from a distance. The fort
and its palaces are profusely decorated with magnificent stone carvings.
The major buildings within the fort include the Anup Mahal, Diwan-e-Khas,
Hawa Mahal, Badal Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Phool Mahal, Rang Mahal,
Dungar Mahal, and Ganga Mahal. The Chandra Mahal has remarkable
frescoes. Beautiful mirror work adorns the walls of Phool Mahal
while golden pen work decorates the Anup Mahal.
Lal Garh Palace
Built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in memory of his father, the Lalgarh
Palace is situated 3 km north of Bikaner city. Designed by Sir Swinton
Jacob, the palace is quite imposing with overhanging balconies and
delicate latticework. Peacocks and blooming bougainvillea in the
garden welcome the visitor to the palace. The palace houses a museum
now and three different heritage hotels.
The Ganga Mahal was Maharaja Ganga Singh's contribution to Junagarh
Fort in the early 20th century. This pink sandstone hall, having
walls carved with delicate tracery and scrollwork, today houses
part of the fort museum. From jade-handled daggers to ivory-inlaid
muskets, an exotic array of antique Rajput weaponry is on display
here. Other important objects include a pair of drums belonging
to Jambhoji - the saint who predicted the foundation of the dynasty
by Rao Bika for 450 years. Photographs and items of personal use
by Maharaja Ganga Singh and miniatures are also on view.
Shri Sadul Museum
To preserve the glory of the yesteryears of Rajasthan in general
and Bikaner in particular, a part of the Lalgarh Palace has been
converted into a museum. Known as the Sadul Museum, it covers the
entire first floor of the palace. Some of the well-preserved old
photographs and trophies of wildlife collected by the royalty have
been housed here.
Camel Research Centre
Eight kilometres from Bikaner, the government-managed Camel Research
and Breeding Farm is only one of its kinds in Asia. The farm carries
out breeding and training of camels.
Thirty kilometres south of Bikaner is the village of Deshnoke, where
the famous Mata Karni Temple is situated. The 600-year-old temple
is dedicated to Karni Mata, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Legend
has it that before embarking on his campaign, Rao Bhikaji sought
the blessings of mystic Goddess Karni at Deshnoke. Since then the
Karni Mata temple in Deshnoke continued to be patronized by the
ruling family. Today hundreds of pilgrims flock the temple everyday
to invoke the blessings of the Goddess, who is revered as an incarnation
of Goddess Durga. The temple has huge intricately carved silver
gates donated by Maharaja Ganga Singh. The temple plays host to
thousands of rats that form the major attraction here. The rats
are considered sacred and worshipped accordingly. One has to be
very careful while entering the inner sanctum, because it is believed
that if anyone accidentally step on a rat, a gold replica has to
be made to compensate for the lost life.
Fairs & Festivals
The Camel Festival (January)
A spectacular event of camel performances, camel races, camel acrobatics
dances and camel milking competition are a part of of the celebrations.
Karni Mata Fair
Held twice in a year--April/ May and October/ November-- the fair
is celebrated on the ninth day of the Navratri. Devotees throng
the temple to worship Goddess Durga and her incarnations on this
How To Reach
: The nearest airport is Jodhpur 240 kms.
: The Indian Railways connects Bikaner with
cities like Delhi, Calcutta, Agra, Jaipur, Allahabad etc. The gorgeous
'Palace on wheels' also covers Bikaner in its eight-day tour of
: Though the unfriendly desert sands surround
Bikaner but the city is well connected by roads. There are local
and inter-state bus services for Bikaner.