A citadel of culture and camels, this royal fortified city has a timeless appeal. Dotted with many sand dunes, Bikaner is an oasis. The rocky outcrop in a barren landscape provides a dramatic setting for the Junagarh Fort, one of the finest in Rajasthan. The old walled city also retains the medieval splendor, which pervades the lifestyle of the city.
More popularly called the camel country, the city is renowned, for the best riding camels in the world, which is an inseparable part of life here. The magnificent forts and palaces, created with delicacy in reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich historical and architectural legacy. Undulating bazaars and bright cheerful folks make Bikaner an interesting experience.
History of Bikaner dates back to 1488 AD, when a Rathore Prince, Rao Bikaji – a descendant of the founder of Jodhpur (Rao Jodhaji), established his kingdom here. Rao Jodhaji had five sons, but Rao Bikaji was the most enterprising of them. Bikaji chose a barren wilderness and called it Jangladesh and transformed it to an impressive city, called Bikaner after the name of the founder
Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground and is circumscribed, by a seven km long embattle 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. Undulating lanes, colorful bazaars and bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner an interesting experience.
Who does not know the famous Bikaneri Bhujia! Alongwith the usual spicy Rajasthani cuisine, a buffet of snacks and mini meals are the speciality of the city.
The famous bandhni sarees are found here in abundance. Traditional mirror work cushion covers, jooties and low pidhis are good buys. Puppets, camel leather goods and handloom shawls are typical souvenirs.
Camel Festival, Bikaner (January): An enchanting desert city which comes alive with music and dance. It is fast gaining popularity as the visitor finds an opportunity to see some unusual folk performances, camel, race camel dance etc. here.
The third city comprising the Desert triangle, the other two being Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. Is in western Rajasthan, 354 km from Jaipur, 312 km from Jaisalmer and 256 km from Jodhpur. Delhi is 480 km from Bikaner.
How to Reach
Does not have an official airport. However, from November to March the Indian Air Force airfield is opened to the civilians for flights to and from Bikaner. The Airport is called Nal and is 10 km from Bikaner.
The nearest major operational Airports are Jodhpur & Jaipur.
Bikaner is connected to Churu, Jaipur and Delhi. The Tourist Reception Centre has a detailed listing. For enquiries call the Railways Inquiry (Tel: 131). The Railway Station is in the city centre.
Is well connected by bus to many cities. The Bus Stand is centrally located opposite the Lalgarh Palace.
Extreme and typical desert type with hot days and cool nights. The maximum and minimum temperatures in summer are 41.8°C and 28°C. The winter maximum and minimum are 23.2°C and 5°C respectively.
Built in 1593 AD by Raja Rai Singh, a general in the army of Emperor Akbar, the fort is a formidable structure, encircled by a moat and has some beautiful palaces within. These palaces, made in red sandstone and marble, make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows dotted all over the structure.
Lal Garh Palace
Maharaja Ganga Singh, in the memory of his father Maharaja Lal Singh, built the palace, which is an architectural masterpiece in red sandstone. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work. Sprawling lawns with blooming bougainvillea and dancing peacocks, 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.
A royal crematorium with several ornamented cenotaphs or chhatris, built in the memory of the Bika dynasty rulers. Maharaja Suraj Singh’s chhatri is the most impressive of all, created entirely in white marble with spectacular Rajput paintings on the ceiling.
Deshnoks Karni Mata Temple
The famous 600 year old temple on the Jodhpur road, is dedicated to Karni Mata, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The temple has huge intricately carved silver gates, which were donated by Maharaja Ganga Singh. The most interesting things about the temple are the rats that scamper freely within the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. They are regarded as sacred and are fed by priests and devotees, owing to the belief that they will be reincarnated as holy men.
Camel Research Farm
Spend a day, with the indispensable ship of the desert, at their camel research and breeding center – one of its kinds in Asia. The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi arid land and is managed by the Central Government. The Camel Corps of Bikaner were a famous fighting force, during the Raj, and are still an important part of the desert warfare and defence through the Border Security Force (BSF).
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary
The lush foliage of woods on the Jaisalmer road is a haven to nilgai, chinkara, black buck, wild boar and flocks of imperial sand grouse. The Gajner palace, a summer retreat of the kings, stands on the bank of the lake and has been converted into a hotel.
HANDASAR JAIN TEMPLE – A beautiful 16th century AD Jain temple, dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankara, Parshavanathji. GANGA GOLDEN JUBILEE MUSEUM – It is the best Rajasthan museum, having one of the richest collections of terracotta ware, weapons, miniature paintings of Bikaner school and coins. KILIBANGAN – The extensive remains of the pre-Harappan and Harappan civilizations, found at this place, in the Hanumangarh district, causes immense interest to archaeology enthusiasts. SHIV BARI TEMPLE – Built by Doongar Singhji in the late 19th century. An embattlement wall surrounds the temple. It has beautiful paintings and a bronze Nandi facing the Shiva Lingam. THE SURAJ POLOR OR SUN GATE – It is the main entrance to the fort. Among the notable of these palaces, are the exquisitely beautiful Chandra Mahal or the Moon Palace with marvelous paintings, mirrors and carved marble panels and the Phool Mahal or Flower Palace, ornate with glass and mirrors.