Founded in 1488 AD by Rao Bika Ji,Bikaner lies in the north-western part of Rajasthan state of India. If ever beauty has bloomed in a desert, it has been at Bikaner. This desert city has a stark beauty which is totally unique. The imposing palaces, beautiful and richly sculptured temples of red and yellow sand stones display some of the finest creations of Rajput civilization. It's lust for "dessert" or affection for "desert" that tickles every heart to visit Bikaner.
More readily called the camel country, the city is distinguished for the best riding camels in the world and hence boasts of having one of the largest Camel Research and Breeding farms in the world.
PLACES TO VISIT
Junagarh Fort was constructed between 1588 and 1593 by Raja Rai Singh, a general in the army of Mughal emperor Akbar, with embellishments in the form of palaces and Luxurious suites added by subsequent Maharajas. This fort has a 986m-long wall with 37 bastions, a moat and two entrances. The Surajpol or the 'Sun Gate' is the main entrance. The palaces within the fort are on the southern side and make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks, towers and windows. A major feature of fort and palaces is the superb quality of stone carving. The handprints which can be seen close to the Daulatpol commemorate the wives of Rajput soldiers lost in battles, who committed sati on their husbands' funeral pyres.
Situated 3km north of the city center this palace which built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the memory of his father, Maharaja Lal Singh. The Shri Sadul museum covers entire first floor of the palace. The museum was established in 1076 and there's a reasonable collection of artifacts and personal possessions of the Bikaner Maharajas and a brass vessel known as a Tokan used to collect revenue which was transported by camel to the Bikaner state treasury.
Camel Research Farm:
This government managed station, 8km from Bikaner is probably unique in Asia. There are about 230 camels at the National Camel Research Center on Camels and three different breeds are reared here. The British army had a camel crops drawn from Bikaner during the World War I. There is not a great deal to see here, unless you have a camel fetish, but you can take a camel ride, visit baby camels and look around the small museum. The Urol trust shop Abhivyakti was also located here at the time of writing.
Eight Kilometers east of Bikaner, this is the site of royal chatries of many of the Bika dynasty rulers. The white marble chatri of Maharaja Surat Singh is among the most imposing.
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary:
The lake and forested hills of this reserve, 32 km from Bikaner on the Jaisalmer road, are inhabited by wildfowl, hares , wild boar, desert foxes and a number of deer and antelopes including black bucks and blue bulls. The lake at Gajner attracts water birds in thousands. Imperial sand house migrate here in winter. Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary, houses the former Hunting lodge of Bikaner and has a beautiful lake surrounded by a dense forest.
more about gajner wildlife sanctuary
Bhandasar Temple is dedicated to the fifth tirthankar Sumitnath, and the building was commissioned in 1468 by a wealthy Jain merchant, Bhandasa Oswal. It was completed after his death, in 1514.
The interior of the temple is stunning, with, unusually for a Jain temple, a series of vibrant paintings. The pillars bear floral abesques and stories that depict the lives of of the 24 Jain tirthankars. It is said that 40,000kgs of ghee was used instead of water in the mortar, which locals insist seeps through the floor on hot days. On first floor of the three-story temple are beautiful miniatures of the sentries of the gods. There are fine views out over the city from the third floor, with the desert stretching behind it to the west.
Deshnok Karni Mata Temple:
Deshnok is a village 30km south of Bikaner along the Jodhpur road. A visit to Deshnok's fascinating temple of Karni Mata, an incarnation of Durga, is not far for squeamish. Here the holy rodents are considered to be incarnations of the storytellers, anKarni Mata Templed run riot over the temple complex. Karni Mata lived in the 14th century and performed many miracles during her life-time. When her youngest son, Lakhan, drowned, Karni Mata ordered Yama, the god of Death, to bring him back to life. Yama replied that he was unable to do this, but that Karni Mata, is an incarnation of Durga, could restore Lakhan's life. This she did, and decreed that members of her family would no longer die, but would be incarnated as kabas (rats), and these kabas would returns as members of her family. There are around 600 families in Deshnok who claim both decent from Karni Mata and that they will be reincarnated as kabas.
HOW TO GET HERE
The nearest airport service travellers headed for Bikaner is at Jodhpur.
Rajasthan Roadways run very comfortable deluxe & air conditioned buses from Delhi (Bikaner House, Nr. India Gate) to Bikaner. The roads are very good, and it takes around 8-9 hrs from Jaipur. You can also come by taxi.
Several trains link it to important cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Bikaner, Udaipur.