(The Camel Country)
Once a barren wilderness amidst Thar, Bikaner was founded in 1486 and is now among eminent tourist destinations in Rajasthan. Its location on early trade routes & alliance with Mughal Empire has earned a lot of wealth, an aura of which can still be seen in the magnificent forts, palaces & temples and hotels in Bikaner. Located in the northwest of Rajasthan, it was deemed as an oasis on the trade route between the Gujarat coast and Central Asia. Being home to world’s best riding camels, the city is known as ‘the camel country’. It also boasts the famous ‘Rats-Temple’ (Karni Mata Temple at Deshnok) and one of the world’s largest camel breeding and research farms. Bikaner is a perfect spot for travelers who are fascinated with Indian heritage hotels & are eager not only to explore, but also to experience it.
The 4th largest city in Rajasthan, Bikaner was founded in 1486 and established in 1488 by ‘Rao Bika’ (the first son of Maharaja Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur). Before the mid 15th century, the city was called ‘Jungladesh’ due to a barren wilderness. According to James Tod, the place was the birthright of a Nehra Jat, who concedes on the condition that his name must be linked to the name of the state. The name of the proprietor was Nera or Naira. Bika added it to his own name and this way; Bikaner came into existence. Rao Bika did not want to inherit the title of Maharaja or Jodhpur from his father instead he wanted his own separate kingdom and therefore, established Bikaner in Jungladesh.
PLACES TO VISIT:
Your trip to Bikaner is incomplete if you miss visiting any of the following places:
Junagarh Fort:Built in the late 16th century, Junagarh Fort is the most prominent heritage in Bikaner with the entire city developed around it. Once the royal home, this grand structure of red stone & marbles is a perfect instance of Rajasthani architecture. It houses multiple palaces & temples in its premises.
Karni Mata Temple:Also known as the “Rat Temple”, with around 20,000 rats in compound & many folklores associated with it.
National Research Center on Camel: If you are an animal lover or want to give your tour an educational touch, you must visit this place. It is a unique type of research center that focuses only on camels.
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary: Located 32 kms from Bikaner, this lush green jungle is a home to a variety of wildlife like Nilgai, Chinkara, Black Buck, Wild Boar, flocks of Imperial Sand Grouse and many other species of migratory birds, etc.
Laxmi Niwas Palace
Lalgarh Palace and Museum
Ganga Government Museum
Shiv Bari Temple
Gajner Palace & Lake
Rajasthan State Archives
FAIRS & FESTIVALS:
Kolayat Fair-Organized every year in the month of November, this fair has both entertainment and spiritual importance. People participate in this fair from all over the country to take a dip in ‘Kolayat Lake’, which is said to cleanse all sins. The live performances by Rajasthani artists give the tourists a snapshot of Rajasthani culture.
Bikaner Camel Festival-This festival is dedicated to Camel; The Ship of Desert. Many competitions are organized during the festival like camel beauty pageants, camel milking, camel acrobatics, best breed competition, and camel races. You can also savor local delicacies, shop for local handicrafts or explore other entertainment activities like watching the spectacular fireworks, fire dancers, and skirt-swirling folk dancers. The festival occurs in January every year.
- Indulge in outdoor activities like desert safaris in jeeps or on camels.
- For shopaholics you must try stuff in the local markets, like wooden antiques, Kundan jewelry, Mojari (Bikaneri style), cotton fabrics with Sanganeri prints, carpets, and sequined and beaded gorbandhs.
- Go for some adventure in wildlife and nature; take an excursion to Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Try local delicacies like ‘Bhujiya’ & ‘Rasgulla’ that are quite famous.
BEST TIME TO VISIT:
Due to its location in the middle of Thar, the climate of Bikaner highly fluctuates. During the summers (March to June), the temperature crosses 45 degree celsius. So, one should avoid visiting this place in the summers. The winters (October to February) have rather chilly nights with temperate often dropping below 5 degree celsius, but the weather remains quite pleasant during the day and is best for sightseeing. The city gets annual rainfall in the range of 10–17 inches (July to September).
HOW TO REACH:
- By Air – The closest airport is Nal Airport, which is 13 kilometers west of Bikaner. Other nearest airports are Jodhpur (249 kms) and Jaipur (347 kms).
- By Rail – Bikaner railway station has well connectivity with all the major cities like Jodhpur, Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Udaipur, etc. Bikaner is also covered by “Palace on Wheels” (luxurious train) in its 8-day tour of Rajasthan.
- By Road – You can also reach Bikaner with buses plying from major cities like Jaipur (347 kms), Delhi (520 kms), and Jodhpur (249 kms).