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North India Travel Guide » Bikaner Travel Guide

Bikaner Travel Guide
Lying in the north of the desert state, the city is dotted with scores of sand dunes. Bikaner retains the medieval grandeur that permeates the city's lifestyle. More readily called the camel country, the city Bikaner Travel Guideis distinguished for the best riding camels in the world and hence boasts of having one of the largest Camel research and breeading farm in the world. The ship of the desert is an inseparable part of life here. A camel besides doing transportation duties, also works on wells.

These are built on high plinths with slender minarets on each of the four corners and can be noticed even from a distance. The history of Bikaner dates back to 1488 when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji founded his kingdom. Bikaji was one the five sons of Rao Jodhaji the illustrious founder of Jodhpur. But Rao Bikaji was the most adventurous of them. It is said that an insensitive remark from his father about his whispering in the Durbar provoked Bikaji to set up his own kingdom towards the north of Jodhpur.

The barren wilderness called Jangladesh became his focus point and he transformed it to an impressive city. He accomplished his task with 100 cavalry horses and 500 soldiers, and established his kingdom on 84 villages abandoned by the 'Shankhlas'. When Bikaji died in 1504 his rule had extended to over 3000 villages.

Modern Bikaner is the result of the foresight of its most eminent ruler Maharaja Ganga Singh (1887 1943) whose reformative zeal set the pace for Bikaner transformation from a principality to a premier princely state. The strategic location of Bikaner on the ancient caravan routes that came from West/Central Asia made it a prime trade centre in those times.



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, created with delicacy in reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich historical and architectural legacy. Surging lanes, colourful bazaars with bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner an interesting experience to explore.

Places to See

Forts & Palaces in Bikaner

Junagarh Fort
It is an unassailable fortress, which has never been conquered. Built in 1593 A.D. by Raja Rai Singh, one of the most distinguished generals in the army of Emperor Akbar, the fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat.

Lalgarh Palace
This grand palace is an architectural masterwork in red sandstone, and was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh Ji in the memory of his father Maharaja Lal Singh Ji in 1902. Sir Swinton Jacob designed this oriental fantasy. This architecture is a fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European architecture. The exterior contrasts dramatically with the oriental interiors and amenities. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work, which are hallmarks of a great craftsmanship.

Jain Haveli
Havelis are ancient mansions of dwelling of the noble and wealthy. They are known for their opulent life style and intricate carvings and craftsmanship along with sprawling courtyards. Bikaner is full of such havelis and the notable amongst them belong to Kotharis, Rampurias, Vaids and Dagas. To view these havelis the suggested route is Gogagate, Daddhon Ka Chowk, Rangari Chowk, Assanion Ka Chowk, Mohta Chowk, Binnanion Ka Chowk Daga Chowk, BK School and Jassuar Gate.

Bhandeswari Jain Temple
It is a fifteenth century temple and is the oldest monument of Bikaner. The temple is decorated with rich mirror work, frescoes and gold leaf paintings.

Excursions in Bikaner

Camel Research Farm (8 km)
Spend a day with the indispensable ship of the desert at their camel research and breeding centres which is only one of its kinds in Asia. The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi arid land and is managed by the Central Government. These camels are sold in the cattle fairs of Bikaner and Jaisalmer where they are decorated in all their fineries which are colorful and attractive, complementing the brown terrains of the desert.

Excursions in Bikaner,Gajner PalaceGajner Palace
Gajner is an incomparable Jewel in the Thar. Built by the great Maharaja Ganga Singhji of Bikaner on the embankment of a lake with a generous dose of flora and fauna. Basically a hunting and relaxing lodge, the maharaja and the family shared their passion with their exclusive guests and hosted exotic holidays for them. Around the palace is a thick forestation that attracts the guests to take up a simple walk around admiring the migratory birds in winters like imperial sand goose,antelopes, black bucks and the animal species that wander around in the form of Nilgais, chinkaras, deers etc. The hotel is spread in a large area, and the ambiance around is as raw and authentic as it was before.



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Kolyatji

It is located 50 kilometres from Bikaner. It is a temple complex of Kolyat and a holy place of pilgrimage for Hindus. The legend has it that Kapil Muni the advocate of Shankya yoga of the Hindu philosophy while journeying towards northwest was struck by the tranquility and peace of this place and chose to perform tapasya (penance) here for the redemption of the world. This place has since acquired great sanctity. The complex has several temples, pavilions and bathing ghats. A dip in the holy waters of the lake especially on Kartik Poornima (November) is considered very auspicious.

Katariasar Village (45 kms from Bikaner)
It is located on the Jaipur Road and is rich in ethnic rural and cultural life. A walk on the sand dunes is enjoyable and viewing the sun set with a desert landscape is heavenly. The main inhabitant of this village are Jasnathjis, who are the fire dancers and their main life style is dairy farming for milk. Herds of chinkaras, desert fox, rabbits, peacocks, parrots and partridges are found in abundance in this area.

Fair & Festival of Rajasthan

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.

Kolayat Fair (November) : Coincides with Pushkar fair when pilgrims take a holy dip in the Kolayat lake on the full moon day in the month of Kartik.

Gangaur Festival (April) : Dedicated to Goddess Parvati- the consort of Lord Shiva. Grand processions of the deity accompanied by dancing women are a part of the eighteen day long celebrations.

Holi (March) : Exuberant festivals beginning several days before the actual day of Holi, make it a special and spectacular occasion.

Museums in Bikaner

Ganga Singh Museum
Popularly described as the best museum in the state, it displays a rich array of archaeological discoveries from prehistoric Harrapan and early Gupta period. Separate sections put on view paintings, arts and craft, terracotta, pottery, carpets, coins and ancient Rajput weaponry.

Sadul Museum
Part of the palace has been converted into a luxury hotel and a museum known as Shri Sadul Museum. The museum covers the entire first floor of the palace and houses well preserved old photographs and trophies of wildlife.

Prachina Museum
It's a museum located in the great Junagarh Fort. The museum is dedicated to royal costumes, textiles and accessories. 'Poshaks' or the ladies ensemble displayed are perhaps the last remnants of the traditional designing styles and workmanship. The museum also reveals a study of changing cultural settings in its display of family portraits of the former rulers. Changes embarked by the western influences appear strikingly. The vivid glimpses of legacy that survived in the contemporary Bikaner are also visible.

Rajasthan State Archives
This Directorate is located in Bikaner. The archives have in their custody some very precious administrative record of Mughal period like Persian Farmans, Nishans, Manshurs, Akbarat, Vakil Report, Arzdasht, Khatoot and the record created during administration of the Princely states of Rajasthan such as Bahiat, Pattas, Parwanas, Rukkas, Chithiat etc.

Temples in Bikaner

Shiv Bari Temple (6 kms from Bikaner)
Fortified by a high wall the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Maharaja Doongar Singh constructed it in the ninth century in the memory of his father Maharaj Lall Singhji. The temple has a beautiful wall panting of Nandi Bull facing the Shiva Lingam. This is located on the way to the camel town.

Devi Kund (8 kms from Bikaner)
The royal crematorium has several exquisite cenotaphs (Chhatris). Each Chhatri is dedicated to the memory of rulers of Bikaji dynasty and is situated on the exact place where they were cremated. The Chhatri of Maharaj Surat Singh is a fine example of architecture. The ceilings of the Chhatris displays some delicate Rajput paintings.

Deshnok Temple
Deshnok is a small village situated 32 km south from Bikaner city along the JodhpurDeshnok Temple Road. It is connected by national highway and rail. It is a pilgrim centre of Karni Mata. Karni Mata, considered as an incarnation of Goddess Durga lived here in the fourteenth century and performed many miracles. Originally the village was called 'dus- nok' meaning ten corners as it was formed by taking ten corners of ten villages.

Before the temple is a beautiful marble facade, which has solid silver doors built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum.

Wildlife in Bikaner

Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary
(32 km): The lush foliage of woods on the Jaisalmer road are a haven to nilgai, chinkara, black buck, wild boar , flocks of imperial sand grouse and many more migratory birds that houses the sprawling forest in the winters.It can be visited by jeeps with the forest officers as the guides.

Entry Fee Rs 100 per head
Fee for vehicle Entry Rs 1000

How to Reach

Air : The nearest airport is Jodhpur 235km

Rail : Bikaner is connected with Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bhatinda, kalka and Howarh (Culcutta)
Some important train connection are :
Kalka Express (Bikaner-Jodhpur);
Bikaner Express (Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Bikaner),
Chetak Express (Delhi-Sarai Rohila-
Bikaner Mail (Delhi Sarai Rohila-Bikaner)

Road : Bikaner is connected by road with the major cities of India.
Some important distance are : Delhi 456km Jaipur 334km, Jaisalmer 333 km

Shopping : Bikener has its own peculiar items, typical to this region; its articles made of camel and sheep, wool carpets and woolen items, wood and leather products. The Bikaneri Bhujia, Rasgulla and sweets are popular all over India. Shopping areas include inside Kot Gate, King Edwaed Memorial Road, Khadi Industries Institute, Station Road, urmil Trust at Junagarh Fort.
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North India Travel Guide
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