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Rajasthan - A Traveller's Guide to Bikaner
Located at an altitude of 237 meters, Bikaner is the prime Indian destination which is popularly known for its impressive cultures and well spread industries. Approximately, 4 lakhs people are living in and around the city of Bikaner. The well drawn out Thar Desert is spread across the territory of Bikaner. The desert city is getting water from the Ganges through a canal. Farmers of the city are highly dependent on the water of the Ganges.
Many people of the city are dependent on the wool manufacturing industries. It is believed that the saraswati River used to mark its way across the valley of Bikaner previously. The name of the city had been derived from the emperor Bika, the son of the emperor Rao Jodha, long back in 1488. The city was protected by a 7 km long fortification and could only be accessed through 5 doorways.
Bikaner Bus stand is located at a distance of 1 km from the railway station. The chief and foremost attraction of the city is Junagarh fort, positioned right beside the Bikaner Bus Stand. Court of Bikaner is situated at the opposite side of the Junagarh fort. Other interesting tourists’ destinations namely zoological garden, Ratanbihari and Rasik Shiromani temple are located amidst the public garden. Take a walk to the Gandhi Maidan, right at the end of the public park. Cross the park and visit the Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum. Jain Mandir Tulsi is also there in the close propinquity. “Tourist of fice” is located in the room of the Dhola Maru Tourist Lodge of RTDC, amidst the Pooran Singh.
The newest enticement of Bikaner is the Camel Festival. Countless numbers of people throng to the festival premise every year to be a part of the celebration in January. Lot of camels comes all the way from various corners of the world to participate in this captivating festivity. Well ornamented camels entertain tourists as they partake in various events. Watching the dancing camels is an enticing experience for all the tourists.
Gangaur is another popular festivity of Bikaner. Mainly women folks participate and make all arrangements of the 18 days long festival. All the women communities wish to get blessings along with prosperity and affluence from the Goddess Parvati during the festive season.
Junagarh fort: The most important and sought after destination of Bikaner is Junagarh fort which is located in the central part of the city. The fort was built during 1587-1593 by Raja Rai Singh, the commander of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Well decorated sandstones of red and pink colors were used to build the structure of the majestic fort. Its structure resembles the structure of the Jaipur fort.
Later on, 37 palaces were built on the premise of the Junagarh fort. Surrounded by a wall, the quadrilateral fort is also bounded by a 30 feet deep moat. The enamoring fort is spread across 986 meters of terrain. 37 bulwarks and 2 entrances look really marvelous. Two additional gateways are there in the western corridor of the fort. It was a well protected fort earlier and had resisted a number of attacks successfully as well.
The main entrance, popularly known as the Sun Gate, of the fort was erected by yellow sandstones in 1593. The entire premise of the striking fort amuses one and all. Wall paintings, portraits and carvings on the stones are making this fort really very special. The well known red house of the primeval fort is decorated with golden ornaments.
The architectural excellence of Chandramahal (built by Gaj Singh), glass panel, marble panel, glasses and colorful flowers of phool mahal, Italian Mosaic, Jafri fine arts, armory, pictures of Krishnagath on the walls of Badal Mahal, the memorial of winning the battle against Aurangzeb, Sish Mahal, Chattar Mahal, Bijli Mahal, Haramandir of Shiva (various occasions were celebrated in it), Hazari Darwaja museum (showcases a number of commemoratives and miniature paintings), the main palace of Rai Singh, China tower (built by Dungar Singh), impression of hands of Satis are noteworthy allurements of the fort. The wooden ceiling of the Coronation Hall, built by Surat Singh, looks stunning as it is decorated with shimmering glasses. The museum with the collection of royal textiles and age-old attires is placed at the entrance of the beguiling Junagarh fort.
Ganga Golden Jubilee museum: Ganga Golden Jubilee museum, on the NH-8, is rich with its collections. Terracotta architectural substances of Gupta era along with the objects of Kushan epoch and pre-Harappan civilization still recall the traces and memories of the ancient era. Silk attires, given to Raja Rai Singh by Jahangir and Saraswati idol, made up of white marbles would impress you for their historical values. The Saraswati idol is an interesting evidence of the ancient architectural creation.
Royal attires, coins, pottery, letters, weapons, idols and portraits are on display as well. The museum is closed only on the days of Diwali and Holi.
Lalgarh Palace: The saffron colored palace, Lalgarh Palace or Red Fort, erected during 1902 by the British architect Sir Swinton Jacob with sandstones, was a commemorative of the Lal singh, the father of the emperor Ganga Singh. The commingling of both eastern and western architectural touches is prominent on the time-honored edifice.
Belgium Jhara Lantern, ornamentations of cut glasses, excellent Jali architectures, carvings, collections of pictures, stuffed animals, flower orchards, compartment of Bikaner state rail and zoo are the prime attractions of the Lalgarh Palace.
Royal family members are still living in the main portion of the palace. A heritage hotel had been set up in the rooms of Lakshmi Niwas Palace. Atypical and rare anthologies of manuscripts and books which were the own collections of the ruler Anup Singh are there in the library. Shadul Singh museum displays plenty of memorials of the royal family. Both the library and museum are located on the 1st floor of the palace. The Lalgarh Palace is closed on Sundays.
Jain temple: About 5 km away from the city, the Jain temple complex, was constructed long back in 14th century. Bhandeshwar (1571) and Shandeshwar (1536) are two prime temples on the premise of Jain temple complex. These temples were named after the builder brothers. The Bhandeshwar temple is bejeweled with glittering glasses and beguiling fresco pictures.
The wall paintings of the Shandeshwar temple are wrapped up in enamel and gold. The hoisted flag is made of gold gilt. This temple complex is dedicated to the 5th Tirthankar, Suminath and 22nd Tirthankar, Shandeshwar. Chintamani, Neminath and Adinath temples are other coveted temples of the Jain temple complex. The divine Lakshminarayan temple is situated adjacent to these temples.
Devi Kund Sagar: About 8 km towards the western side of the city, Devi Kund Sagar, houses hundreds of Chattis. The scattered shrines were erected by sandstones and marbles. Rao Kalyan Mai memorial is the oldest commemorative of Bikaner and is still recollecting the ancient memories of the stately rulers. Imprinted portraits on the Chattis of Maharaj Karan Singh are laudable. Surat Singh Chattis, made up of white marbles, is also pretty to look at. The last Chattis in the proximity was built in 1950.
Camel Breeding Farm: The Camel Breeding Farm, covering sprawling 2000 acres, about 8 km towards the southern side of the city, was built in 1975. This research center has 300 camels in the farm. Interested visitors can ride on the camel and can even savor the taste of the camel milk.
The Shiva Bari temple, lies 6 km off the city, was constructed by Dungar Singh in 19th century.
Deshnok: Located at a distance 32 km towards the southern side of the city, on NH-15, Karani Mata temple, houses the Goddess Karani Ji who is known to be an incarnation of Devi Durga. Karani Ji, carved out of stones, was the prime deity who was worshipped by the royal family members of Bikaner.
Built way back during 17th century, the two storied temple, is carved out of marbles and has a golden umbrella at the top of it. The silver entrance of the temple had been built artistically by the ruler Ganga Singh.
Countless numbers of rats freely move on the premise of the temple. You would count yourself in the lucky lot if you catch a glimpse of a white rat.
Tourists can easily visit Deshnok hiring a car from the city. The place has not come up with any hotels yet. It’s better to stay at Bikaner.
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary/Palace: On the way to Jaisalmer, about 31 km away from Bikaner, on the NH-15, the Shikar Mahal Palace was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh on the astonishing banks of a Lake. The beautiful palace displays ancient furniture, beautiful pictures and wonderful carpets. A heritage hotel, however, had been built in the rooms of the palace. The palace houses a museum as well. The rose grove on the premise of the palace is pretty. Primeval rulers used to practice hunting of wild dogs and wild ducks from the palace.
A wildlife sanctuary, on the banks of the Lake, is another attraction in the vicinity. This is the safe haven for Nilgai, Chinkara, Black Buck and Gazelles. Plenty of migratory birds fly in to enjoy the nature around the astounding Lake. Boating on the water surface of the lake would be a pleasing experience for the nature lovers. Watch the natural grandeur of the sanctuary during the sunrise and the sunset.
Interested tourists can stay at Gajner Palace Hotel, Hotel Maan Bilas, Rajvilas Palace and Ratkhana.
The city of Bikaner can be seen comfortably if you hire a car spending approximately 300 rupees for an entire day. After watching the splendors of the city of Bikaner, you should travel directly to Jaisalmer to watch the magnificence of the golden fort. Buses are regularly traveling to Jaisalmer from Bikaner. The bus touches Pokhran on the way to Jaisalmer.
A wonderful palace, built by Thakur Rao Maldeo using yellow stones, is the foremost attraction of Pokhran. Rajasthani architectures on the walls of the edifice are praiseworthy. The palace now houses a Heritage hotel though. A temple and a museum are also there on the palace premise.
About 12 km away from Pokhran, Ramdevra, has a holy Ram Mandir. Dharamsala is also there on the premise of the temple. You can hire a jeep from Pokhran to Ram Mandir.
Khatoli, about 24 km away from Pokhran, is located at an edge of Pokhran. India had tested nuclear bomb here in Pokhran. Tourists can visit Khatoli but you need a special permission to see the place where this nuclear bomb was actually tested.
Few notable hotels for staying overnight at Pokhran are Motel Godavan, Hotel Pokaran Fort, Hotel Monica and Desert Heritage.
Phalodi, about 57 km away from Pokhran, is famous for the camel safari and desert safari (Baluchori Sari). Jain temple, Durga temple, Fort and a number of palaces are significant and remarkable enticements of Bikaner. Jafri architectures, displayed on the walls of the various palaces, are truly impressive.
Khichan, a small village of Rajasthan, is situated at a distance of 4 km from Phalodi. The splendid palaces in the close proximity are astounding. But, innumerable bird watchers throng to the village during October- February to watch numerous migratory egret birds. These birds visit the village all the way from Siberia. They form nests in the adjoining bushes. In recent years, the village has established a tradition of feeding these wandering egrets. The natural backdrops around look mesmerizing as these birds fly in and around the city.
Hotel Payal in Khichan is the only place where tourists can stay overnight at.
Kolayat, about 45 km away from Bikaner, is a holy Hindu pilgrimage spot. Local people opine that the saint Kapil had formed his Ashram in Vedic era for the first time in Kolayat, even before forming the Ashram in Sagardwip. A temple was built to recall this old story. The Kolayat fair is a popular festival, held during the full moon of Karthik (The month according to Hindu mythology).
Kolayat is connected to Bikaner both by bus and by railways.
How to reach: The city of Bikaner can be accessed from a number of Indian cities, such as, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Jaipur, Delhi and Guwahati. Bikaner is well connected to Ahmadabad, Agra, Udaipur and many more destinations of Rajasthan.
Where to stay: Lallgarh Palace Hotel, Karni Bhawan Palace Hotel, Thar Hotel, Hotel Marudhar Heritage, Jashwant Bhawan, Hotel Bharat Niwas, Hotel Shri Ram, Hotel Tourist International, Meghsar Castle, Hotel Bhanwar Niwas and Raj Vilas Palace Hotel.
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