Bikaner - The Desert Town Of ‘Camel Festival’:- Bikaner is a city in the north Indian State of Rajasthan. It is a city of forts and palaces. Situated in the middle of Thar Desert, the place is well known for its sweets and snacks. Bikaner with its magnificence in architecture, art and culture has sands filled with color, festivity and cultural marvels. Among the major attractions are Sand Dunes and the Desert Safari.
Bikaner is also famous for hosting the international Camel festival which draws tourists from world over. Other attractions here include experiencing delicacies such as Thandai, Bhujias, shopping for the fascinating Ivory and Lacquer items or simply witnessing the immense heritage taking form of wall paintings and arts and crafts in the area.
- How To Reach
The Jodhpur airport is the nearest airport at a distance of 251 km. It is probably not the best idea to travel by air, since the closest airport is 4.5 hours away (Jodhpur). It is easily accessible by road or rail. From all major cities of India and smaller cities of Rajasthan as well, Bikaner is well connected by train. In Bikaner, there are two railway stations as well which are equally at a distance of 6 km from the city. To all the prominent cities of India, Bikaner is connected via roads. The road conditions are decent too.
- How To Reach Bikaner By Flight
The Nal Airport is the nearest airport located at a distance of around 13km from Bikaner. The next nearest airport is the Jodhpur Airport which is well-developed and is connected to various major cities. It is at a distance of around 251 km from the city. One can take a bus or taxi from there. There are numerous buses and taxis operating on this route. Alternatively, you can also take a flight to Jaipur and take a taxi or bus from there. You can also land at Delhi and take a taxi or overnight bus from there.
Nearest Airport: Jodhpur Airport (JDH) - 198 kms from Bikaner.
- How To Reach Bikaner By Road
The city is well connected to many other cities by road. Regular bus services and taxis are available for Bikaner. The roads are considerably smooth. You can board either a government or a private bus, according to your budget.
- How To Reach Bikaner By Train
In Bikaner, there are two railway stations - Bikaner Junction and Lalgarh Railway Junction located at a distance of 6 km from the city. These are connected to many major cities like Jaipur, Punjab, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and others. You will easily find a taxi to reach the city or your hotel, from any of these two stations.
- Commuting Within Bikaner
Since the streets are narrow and often blocked due to sand storms, autos and tongas are the most widely used mode of transport within the city.Cycles can also be hired from the Railway Station.
- Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Bikaner is October to February since the weather is pleasant. Every year in January, the camel Festival takes place. Rest of the year is extremely hot and should be avoided. Bikaner witnesses extreme winters and extreme summers. The days are sweltering with the temperature rising to 46 degrees celsius from March to June. During this season, the dust storms are very common. During the period of July to September, the monsoon arrives. As the weather becomes hot and humid, these months are also not as suitable.
- Top Places To Visit
1) Junagarh Fort
Junagarh Fort is a fort in the city of Bikaner, Rajasthan, India. Originally called Chintamani, and in the early 20th century, when the ruling family moved to Lalgarh Palace outside the fort limits, the fort was renamed Junagarh or “Old Fort”. It is one of the few major forts in Rajasthan which is not built on a hilltop. The modern city of Bikaner has developed around the fort.
Junagadh is an ancient fortified city with a chequered past and has an interesting mix of mosques, Hindu temples, Buddhist monuments, Gothic archways, and beautiful mansions. The fort is the most magnificent example of architecture and great centre of art.
- History of Junagarh Fort
Rao Bika laid the foundation of the city of Bikaner in 1488 AD, having first constructed a small fortress in the Rati Ghati area. Today this site is situated at the south west end of the old walled city near Laxminath Ji temple. The royal family of Bikaner lived there, till Raja Rai Singh Ji built a new fort called Chintamani (now Junagarh) during 1589 to 1593 AD. The rulers of Bikaner had played a prominent and glorious role in the history of India. They held high ranks as Mansabdars of special order or Governors in the court of the Imperial Mughals.
- Best time to visit
- How To Reach Junagarh Fort
Junagarh Fort is located in Bikaner city near Sursagar on Junagarh Fort Rd. One can easily reach here by RSRTC bus, local bus or local taxi or walk.
- Open Time : 10am-4.30pm,
2) Karni Mata Temple
A famous Hindu temple dedicated to Karni Mata at Deshnoke, 30 km from Bikaner, in Rajasthan. It is also known as the Temple of Rats.The temple is famous for the approximately 20,000 black rats that live, and are revered in, the temple. These holy rats are called kabbas, and many people travel great distances to pay their respects. The temple draws visitors from across the country for blessings, as well as curious tourists from around the world.
- History Of Karni Mata Temple
Legend has it that Karni Mata’s stepson drowned in a pond in Kapil Sarovar in Kolayat Tehsil while he was attempting to drink from it. Karni Mata implored Yama, the god of death, to revive him. First refusing, Yama eventually relented, permitting Laxman and all of Karni mata’s male children to be reincarnated as rats.
- Best Time To Visit
- How To Reach Karni Mata Temple
Situated at a distance of about 30 km from Bikaner, reaching Karni Mata Temple from the city means a drive of about 45 minutes.
Beware of the rats around you and be sure to not step on them as they are considered to be religious.
- Open Time: 5:00 AM - 10: 00 PM
3) Kote Gate
If you are a shopaholic then Kote Gate is full of surprises for you. You can shop for buffed camel hide articles, miniature paintings, Khadi industry articles, as well as wood carvings apart form mouth watering Bhujia and Rosogollahs here.
4) Rampuriya Haveli
Rajasthan, especially Bikaner, is known for its havelis. Large, magnanimous, extravagant houses complete with intricate details of jharokas and carvings, havelis are no less than palaces.
Among all other havelis like Rikhji Bagri ki Haveli, Haveli of Bhairondan, Daga Chowk Havelis and Sampatlala Agarwal Haveli, Rampuria group of Havelis are known for their more than 400 years old architecture splendor.
5) Lalgarh Palace
The Lalgarh Palace was originally built for the Maharaja Ganga Singh between 1902-1926. The Palace is now converted into a Heritage hotel which is owned and operated by the Maharaja Ganga Singh Ji Trust and marketed by Maharaja Heritage Resorts Limited. The palace defines the bleak and rugged reality of Thar in Bikaner.
The renowned architect, Sir Swinton Jacob, was given the hold of this whole project. The palace started to build in 1896 and its first quadrant Laxmi Niwas was completed by 1902. It was named in the memory of Maharaja Ganga Singh’s father Maharaj Lall Singhji. It has played host to a high number of dignitaries. Lord Curzon was the first notable guest of the palace.
- History Of Lalgarh Palace
Lalgarh Palace is an Oasis in the Thar Desert. Built at the beginning of the 19th century it shows the themes of modernity coupled with the historical times of Maharajas. The palace was commissioned under British Regency while Maharaja Ganga Singh was still in his minority as they considered Junagarh Fort unsuitable for the young monarch. In 1972, Karni Singh, M.P. Maharaja of Bikaner established Ganga Charitable Trust.
The Hotel is now owned and run by his daughter Princess Rajyashree Singh. It is among the best architectural marvels of Bikaner. The place was first planned to be built for INR 1,00,000, but the price winged to 1 million due to the use of the finest materials and finely carved stonework.
- Architecture of Lalgarh Palace
The beautiful palace is a combination of three types of architecture - Rajput, Mughal and European. The palace today serves as a hotel. The Karni Niwas wing consists of a darbar hall and an art deco indoor swimming pool.
6) Station Road
(Image source: holidify.com)
The Station Road market is replete with numerous shops and small time vendors. This market is a fabulous place to acquire embroidered footwear (jootis), local fabrics, leather goods and wood as well as traditional artifacts.
Within 24 hours, you can even get a customized Jooti and you can try out the local miniature paintings meanwhile and gold worked wood and leather crafts. The famous Haldiram Bhujiawala original shop is a place to be, for the foodies.