Welcome to Bikaner
Bikaner is a vibrant, dust-swirling desert town with a fabulous fort, a refreshing outpost feel and a burgeoning tourist trade. Camel safaris continue to grow in popularity here, as travellers chase the silken darkness of a desert dawn without the hassle of Jaisalmer.
Things to do:
Rao Bikaji Camel Safari is a thrilling experience in the Infinite Oceans of sand in Rajasthan. The beauty of the desert changes every season and looks all the more beautiful especially after rain. The beauty of the desert can be enjoyed by riding the camels or using camel carts. Wide spread tranquility welcomes tourists at every step. Bikaner is well known for its intricate architecture, huge palaces and forts, traditional dishes, garments, melody of folklore and artistic footwear. Rao Bikaji Camel Safari offers you it all. We are always ready to welcome your journey through our deserts.
Things to see:
Constructed between 1588 and 1593 by Raja Rai Singh – a general in the army of the Mughal emperor Akbar – this most impressive fort has a 986m-long wall with 37 bastions, a moat and two entrances.
Situated Inside Junagarh fort, the museum houses antique displays of royal family and famous handicrafts of Bikaneri artisans. The souvenier shop at musuem also sells decorative items.
The narrow streets of the old city conceal a number of old havelis and a couple of notable Jain temples. The temples date from around the 15th century. Bhandasar Temple is particularly beautiful, with yellow-stone carving and dizzyingly vibrant paintings. It's said the foundations contain 40,000kg of ghee, and the floor still gets greasy in summer.
Ganga Government Museum
The Ganga Government Museum houses a small, well-displayed collection of sculptures, handicrafts, musical instruments and gold paintings.
World’s best festival: Bikaner Camel Festival
Varying dates in January (during the 10th month of the Indian lunar calendar). Rated by Lonely Planet as one of the worlds best festivals.
Lalgarh & Laxmi Niwas Palace
On the outskirts of the old city is this imposing red sandstone palace built by Maharaja Ganga Singh, in commemoration of his father Maharaja Lal Singh. This oriental fantasy designed by Sir Swinton Jacob is the purest form of a palace, full of European luxury, Rajput and European Architecture. It is surrounded by lush green gardens, trees and bougainvillea, where peacocks stroll.
King Edward Memorial (KEM) Road
A stroll down the King Edward Memorial road and inside Kote Gate will reveal the shopping pleasures of Bikaner. The purses and slippers made from the camel hide are a bargain. The camel skin also ends up as cushions and lacquered lampshades. The local carpets and the woodwork are very popular among the tourists. And who can forget the world famous Bikaneri Bhujias and sweets.
God Ramdevji is worshiped by both Hindus and Muslims. Muslims calls him Ramsapeer. The diety has very large following in western Rajasthan, Gurajrat and Punjab
Camel Research Farm
(8 kms) The only one of its kind in entire Asia. One can enjoy camel rides or even ice cream made of camel's milk.
(8 kms) Its the royal crematorium, with several exquisite cenotaphs. The Maharaja Surat Singh's Chattri is beautifully made of white marble. One cannot miss the spectacular Rajput paintings on the ceilings.
Deshnok Karni Mata Temple
(30kms) shrine of Goddess Karni Mata, an incarnation of Goddess Durga, who blessed Rao Bika, and has been the titular deity of the Bikaner dynasty. The temple is unique as the rats are venerated over here and called Kabas. The shrine is a sanctuary for them. It has a richly carved entrance and superb silver doors with images of Gods embossed over it.
(32 kms) The wildlife sanctuary is situated here, amidst lush green surroundings on the road to Jaisalmer. A haven for Chinkara, Black Buck, Nilgai and imperial sand grouse. The palace is on the bank and has been converted into a hotel. The Prince of Wales stayed at this hotel.
(50 kms) Ancient pilgrimage, with temple of Kapil Muni. It has many magnificent marble temples with sandstone pavilions and ghats (bathing places) located around an artificial lake.
Taal Chhapar Sanctuary
(132 kms) Situated close to Chhapar town in Churu District on Sujangarh- Nokha state Highway, Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is 719 hectares in area. The sanctuary is divided into two by the Sujangarh-Chhapar State Highway. The Sanctuary is a typical grassland, Indian Desert System interspersed with Acacia trees. It is an ideal habitat for antelopes, most commonly known as Black Buck. Most of the desert mammals and reptiles species are also here. About 122 species of migratory and resident birds are found in the sanctuary. Prominent being the winter migrants from Europe & Central Asia that include Demoiselle Cranes, Harriers, Rosy Starlings and Wagtails.
Kali & Pili Banga
(205 kms) An archaeologists delight, remains of thr indus valley civilization. It is almost as large as Harappa and Mohenjodaro.
Other places to visit
Tessitori Memorial, Ratanbihari ji Temple, Wood Fossil museum, Soor Sagar lake, Shivbari temple, Archives, Haveli's, Rajasthani Turban museum, Sunset point (sand dunes), camel safari, Khinchan for migrating Cranes and Shekhawati.
Bikaner its History and Attractions
Bikaner at a glance.
Contrast is an important thrill and will rejuvenate you when life is routine and boring. India is full of contrast. Every province here is different and yet we stand united. For the fast moving traveler it is difficult to understand such a diverse culture, religious and economical configuration. India the most ancient of ancient civilizations apparently dogmatic, superstitious and orthodox but it is in fact pragmatic. It has religion that explains life before birth and after death. The interplay of destiny and mans ability to shape his own fate. It is truly a secular religion that believes in live and let live. The whole universe is considered as one home. The dictum god is form – less yet capable of adopting any form has made realization equally convenient for both simple folks as well as intellectuals.
Where is Bikaner?
Bikaner is situated in the north west of India in the state of Rajasthan it has a colourful history some amazing sites. Let us guide you through some of the most important features to help you plan your trip and stay with us so that you get the most out of your time. The entire western part of Rajasthan known as Thar Desert including part of Pakistan’s Sindh province was once under sea. It surfaced as a result of the Arabia Sea receding. Fossils and seashells can be found here that are proof of this event. As per mythology Lord Rama, the hero of the great epic Ramayana was supposed to have shot an arrow from his divine bow, thereby destroying barbarian tribes inhabiting the area, the vegetation was also destroyed. The region thus turned into desert.
History of Bikaner and the Thor desert area
Around five and a half centuries ago there was only a tiny hamlet where the sprawling township of Bikaner now stands. The village had its importance as being on a trade route between the province of Sindh (now Pakistan) on the west coast and central India. There was no governance worth the name. The nearest seat of governance was a good 300 km away at Hissar (Harana) where a governor ruled on behalf of Delhi. He had no means to provide rule in this arid zone. Might is right was the order of the era, brigands had their sway, people were at their mercy.
The main communities inhabiting the area were Rajputs and Jats. Bhatis, Johiya and Mohils were the main clans among the Rajputs. Bhatis were in the west, Mohils in the East in the area of Ratangargh, Churu and Johiya. Jats were in the North in the region of Lunkaransar and Sri Ganganagar.
Arabs under Mohamed Bin Kasim had established themselves in Sindh after having defeated King Dahar in the early 7th centuary. Afghans under Mohamed Gori had usurped power in the North after having defeated Prithviraj Chauhan of Delhi and Ajmer and Jaichand Rathore of Kanuaj in the last decade of the 12th Century
One of the great grandsons of Jaichand, Rao Siha set out on a pilgrimage to Dwarika on the west coast of Gujarat, while he passed through Pali, south of Jodphur, he was approached by locals mainly the Paliwal Brahmins to provide them protection against Arabs who were making inroads into the area.
Siha lived up to their expectations and laid down his life fighting the invaders and it did not end there. Thirteen generations of Rao Siha laid down their lives one after the other in succession on the battle field before Jodha of the Rathore clan established rule in Marwar. He too had to fight throughout his life. The capital was named as Jodhpur the foundation of the fort was laid in June 1459 by Goddess Karnl.
Jodha was sagacious, he did not want his sons to remain content but wanted them to further carry his sword to free the land from foreign invaders and provide protection to the common people. His eldest son was named Bika, in Bika has saw the spark, Bika was asked to denounce his heirship and fend for himself. Like a worthy son Bika left Jodhpur to fulfill the wish of his father, with one hundred horses and five hundred men he along with his uncle Kandhal went straight to the village Deshnoke to seek blessing from the Goddess Karni, who was living then. The goddess saw in Bika the potential of a benevolent ruler which was the dire need of the day. So she extended her patronage to him. The Bhatis, the most powerful of the four clans mentioned earlier were confronted first as Bika was camping in their area. The Goddess to bring reproachment proposed the marriage of Bika with the daughter of the head of the Bhatis, Rao Sekha of Pugal. However Rao Sekha said that Bika was not worthy of his status and spurned the marriage idea. As fortune would have it though, Rao Sekha was soon captured by Muslims in an unsuccessful expedition in Bhawalpur. Finding no other method of escape or rescue for her husband the queen of Sekha offered to marry her daughter Rang Kanwar to Bika provided her husband was brought back from Bhawalpur. The goddess fulfilled the requirement; the alliance strengthened the position of Bika as was expected.
The Rathores set about to construct a fortress at Kodamdesar, a place 20km from the future Bikaner. As was to be expected the Bhatis opposed the act as it was a step towards obtaining a permanent foothold in the zone. Rao Sekha was asked by his clan the Bhatis to take the lead against the Rathores but he declined. However another leader, Kailan ( Kalikaran) came forward to lead 3000 braves against the Rathores. The odds were heavily against him making Bika nervous however the goddess exhorted him to fight assuring him of victory. A fierce battle ensued, neither Bhati nor Rathore had been known to relent, but the field ultimately fell to the Rathores. With this victory in 1478AD the way was paved for Bika to adorn the mantle of ruler.
Bika sent out his omaniars Napsa Sankhla and Bela Parihar to select an auspicious place to construct a fort and establish a town. As they were searching they came across a cobra, they followed it and were soon met by a shepherd who after knowing their purpose showed the omaniars the place where one of his sheep had given birth to a litter under a bush of Kair, the sheep was attacked by a pack of 7 wolves but she had ably defended her offspring throughout the night keeping the wolves at bay.
This unusual act indicated that the spot where the sheep had given birth would always infuse courage among its people to defend it bravely. The shepherd was rewarded by using his name as suffix to Bika in naming the citadel as Bikaner. ‘Ner’ also means Nagar (town) thereby denoting town of Bika.
The omens were indeed true over the long span of 550 years there were many occasions of trial, but the dynasty of Bika was never found wanting in sacrifice to defend its subjects and provide stability of rule.
Which religion is popular in Bikaner?
Bikaner is predominately Hindi with a small Muslim population Jains and Sikhs have also been part of the main group, since the Muslims were Hindus before adopting the religion there is no difference. All sections live in peace and tranquility in Bikaner.
What animals can be found in Bikaner?
Aside from the normal stray dogs that roam the city and cows that seemingly eat anything and everything, Bikaner is famous for its camels. They can be seen in the city used as a form of transportation pulling carts and of course in the surrounding areas in the desert they are an invaluable resource. The camel is rightly called the ship of the desert. The camel can remain without fodder for a number of days, it can travel 60-70 km a day with 200kg of load on a sustained march of 6-7 days. The camel sustained the population of Bikaner and surrounding desert areas for hundreds of years of course now it has been superseded by the use of motorized vehicles.
National research center on camel Bikaner.
The government is aware of the issue for the camels and has established a research and breeding farm to maintain the breed. Lately they have also taken up a project to breed race camels. The breeding farm is around 4 km from Hotel Shri Ram Heritage http://www.hotelshriram.com/ Guests can visit the farm between 3-5pm daily except Sundays. http://www.nrccamel.res.in/
Bikaner Camel Festival
The department of tourism also organizes a camel festival during the month of January on full moon night. It is a teat to watch the animals perform thrilling acts such as dancing, acrobatics, racing, jumping etc. Processions of decorated camels are also fascinating. http://www.bikanercamelfestival.com/ http://www.rajasthantourism.gov.in/ in 2010 the Lonely Planet guide voted the Bikaner camel festival the 3rd best festival in the world in the month of January. Riding camels in Bikaner and surrounding areas. It is a pleasure riding camels over lovely sand dunes during the early hours or on a moonlit night. The soothing light from the moon when reflected from shining sand of the dunes creates a silvery hue around you, drowning the traveler in ecstasy. “The traveler is drowned in ecstasy by the silvery light reflected off the sand dunes”
What are the main monuments to be found in Bikaner?
It is called Junagarh colloquially meaning old fort. The original name is “Chinatamani Durgh”. Raja Rai Singh the 6th ruler built it. The construction commenced in 1588 and was completed in 1593. The construction material, yellow sandstone, was brought from Jaisalmer a good 300 Km away. It has 37 battlements (Bhurj) the ramparts for placing cannons. The wall is 40 feet high running over 1km in circumference. The fort is surrounded by a moat (khai) 30 ft deep. Successive rulers added the buildings inside the fort, Gaj Mahal, Phool Majal, Anoop Mahal and Ganga. Niwas are fascinating for glass and gold frescos. There is an exquisite patch 1.5 ft x 2ft which is supposed have taken them a year to complete. The fort also has the distinction of housing the heirlooms of the Rathore dynasty. The most important of the heirlooms is the sandalwood throne brought from Kanuaj. Among the large collection of weaponry are two swords of mighty warrior Prince Padam Singh. The sword used for fighting weighed 8lbs the one used for training 25lbs.
Viceregal Lodge (Presidents Palace) was a beacon light. The princes all over the country started thronging around European architects there was a spate of palaces constructed in the early 20th century. Lallgarh was also constructed in 1911. It is a replica of Buckingham Palace, England. Constructed from red sandstone, with exquisite carvings. The décor was full of curiosities- rare paintings and freaks of wild life trophies; unfortunately all has been done away with. The only saving grace is that a section of a wing was converted into a museum so some of the collections were saved from savage hands. The palace has three main wings; Laxmi Vilas, Shiv Vilas and Sadul Vilas. The palace is one of the most beautiful in the country. Entry to the museum is Rs 10/- Indian Visitors and Rs 20/- for foreign visitors. The palace is now also a hotel.
Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum
Just as the highway from Delhi and Jaipur approaches termination there stands a round building in an open ground. The building houses a library, town hall and museum. This was one of the few projects which originated during the state period but completed after independence. The library posses the works of Tessitary an Italian scholar who travelled from village to village for four years during the third decade of the 20th century and brought out important facts regarding culture and language even unknown to the sons of the land! The museum although not very big has a fine collection of miniature paintings, weaponry and statues etc.