One of the most vibrant towns in the state of Rajasthan is Bikaner, situated in the middle of the Thar Desert. Located in the north-west part of Rajasthan, this desert town boasts of some beautiful palaces, forts and temples built in red and yellow sand stones. Also known as the camel country, Bikaner was founded by Rao Bikaji in 1488 AD. The town offers mesmerizing view of the desert with sand dunes spread far and wide, natural sites of archeological importance, wildlife sanctuaries, and much more. The forts and palaces in Bikaner are symbolic of Rajput grandeur, heritage and culture. They are a great combination of Rajput, Mughal and European architecture. One of the most famous forts in Bikaner is the Junagarh fort which was built during the reign of Raja Rai Singh. Some of the other noteworthy palaces of Bikaner are Gajner Palace, Lallgarh palace and the laxmi Niwas Palace. There are about 27 Jain temples in this desert town and the place is extremely popular for the various fairs and festivals organized during the year.
The desert town of Bikaner is well connected to almost all the key metros and cities across the country. It is well connected with all the major cities in the state of Rajasthan. The nearest airport is at Udaipur and the rail head is in Bikaner itself. Regular bus service is available from Bikaner to all the major nearby cities.
Bikaner experiences extreme weather which is extremely hot in summers and chilly during winters. The best time to visit is during the months of October to March when the weather is pleasant and is apt for travel.
The charming city of Bikaner is renowned for the best riding camels in the world and hence is also termed as the camel country. The place has a charm of its own and is a delight particularly for history, archeology and architecture lovers apart from adventure, wildlife enthusiasts and even pilgrims.
One of the most unique temples in Bikaner is the Karni Mata temple. Also known as the 'Rat temple' which houses thousands of rats who are considered to be holy, this 600 year old temple is situated 30kms south of Bikaner. The temple houses an image of Karni Mata who is considered to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga, is decorated with garlands and tiaras. There are two intrinsically carved silver gates donated by Maharaja Ganga Singh and the deity is worshipped by the Royal family of Bikaner. While the followers of Karni Mata come from all across the country to offer their prayers; Rajputs offer the hair of their children when the first hair cut if done and seek the blessings of the deity. A fair is organized twice a year in the honour of Karni Mata, once in March/April and then in October/November. The fair in March/April is held at Deshnok, near Nokha that is about 60kms from Bikaner. The festival in October/November is held during Navratras for a period of 10 days.
During the month of January another popular festival is celebrated in Bikaner which is the Camel festival. Thousands of people visit the camel country Bikaner to be a part of this magnificent festival where hordes of camels are brought and decorated in the most colorful ways. The festival includes camel race, camel rides and even dances by camels.
Forts and Palaces are the main attraction of Bikaner with people coming from across the globe to soak in the beauty of the unique architecture which is combination of Rajputana, Mughal, Gujarati and European styles. The most famous of all is the Junagarh fort which reflects the unique combination all the cultures in its architectural design. The fort has a picturesque courtyard and it is believed that crocodiles were bred in the water body surrounding the fort. Some of the key attarctions within the fort are Anup Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Dungar Mahal, Ganga Mahal, Hawa Mahal, Badal Mahal, Phool Mahal, Rang Mahal and Diwan-e-khas. The fort is sitauted about 700ft above sea level towering the city. There is a 986 meters extended wall with 37 bastians having two entrances. Magnificent stone carvings done on the walls of the fort and its palaces enthrall the visitors.
Made of red sandstone the Lalgarh Palace is an architectural marvel with various styles combined into one. Built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the memory of his father, the palace is about 3kms away from the city. The palace has huge marble pavilions and carved fountains and expansive lawns having wild peacocks. It is a marvelous sight to see these peacocks dancing in the lawns.
On the banks of a lake, constructed in red sandstone is another architectural magnificence Gajner Palace. Situated in the middle of a thick forest, it offers magnificent views of migratory birds flocking the lake.
About 8kms away from Bikaner is Asia's one of its kind Camel Research and Breeding Farm. While touring the expansive farm one can watch young camels breeding around and can also treat themselves to the thick and nutritious camel milk.
The Ganga Government Museum captures the royal charm of Bikaner having one of the richest collections of terracotta ware on display. Also known as the Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum, the place showcases the rich heritage, tradition and culture of Bikaner through miniature paintings of Bikaner school, weapons and coins dating back to Harappan civilization.
About 6kms away from the main city of Bikaner is the Shiv Bari temple which is surrounded by a massive crenellated stone wall. This ancient temple has a spiritual mystique surrounding it. In the center of the temple is the shiva lingam which is faced by a bronze statue of Nandi, the sacred bull of Lord Shiva. Thousands of locals visit the temple on a regular basis.
A place of immense historical importance is Kalibangan which was an important part of the Indus valley civilization in the period of 3000 BC to 5000 BC. People go on excursions on camels to see the ruins of Kalibangan and even the cenotaphs of Devikund are visible from here. The cenotaphs of Devikund are dedicated to the brave warriors of the glorious city of Bikaner.
Another unique piece of construction is the Jain Temple which is made of a combination of red sandstone and white marble. The three storied temples is not just interestingly designed but has got some intrinsic carvings done on its pillars with gold leaf and mirror work.
to get an experience of a lifetime one must undertake the Bikaner Camel Safari which offers some magnificent settings which are truly unforgettable. The sunset during this adventurous trip is surelya mesmerizing experience.
Housing some of the rare and unique species of flora and fauna is the Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary that includes the blue bull, Indian hare, antelopes, and wild bear, deer and many more.
Bikaner is also famous as a great shopping destination offering beautiful embroidered slip on shoes known as 'mojris', lacquer work bangles, leather products made of camel hides, sheep wool carpets, artifacts, jewelry and much more. Famous for its indigenous sweets and namkeens (Bikaneri bhujia) across the globe the city still holds on to its 500 years old tradition, heritage and culture, making it an experience in itself.