The Jodhpur Airport is the nearest airport to Bikaner, located around 251 kms. awayBook with us
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Bikaner founded by Rao Bika in 1486, probably comes into its own with a million kites that fly the sky on Akha Teej. On Akshaya Tritiya, people are seen flying kites from dawn till late into the sunset. Fret not for the long hours spent in the robust desert weather. These marathon kite sessions are interspersed with special savouries cooked like the Bajre Ka Khichda, bikaner bhujia and a steady intake of home made Imli ka Paani (Tamarind Water) which helps in maintaining the body temperature and helps avoid sun strokes. The celebration lasts for two days known as the Chhoti Akha Teej and the Badi Akha Teej. The fervour and the legend carries on much beyond with Bikaner’s architectural excellence, adventurous camel safaris. The history of Bikaner is linked to a son’s quest to build his own legacy. Rao Bika, was the eldest son of Maharaja Rao Jodha of the Rathor clan who founded Jodhpur. As the eldest born, he was entitled to the kingdom and the title of Maharaja. But the son decided to build his own kingdom in a then barren wilderness called Jangladesh, today known as Bikaner. The fort he built in 1478, now in a state of ruins, was followed a hundred years later by a new fort called Junagarh Fort.
The trade route between Central Asia and the coast of Gujarat considered Bikaner as the oasis with adequate supply of spring water. 16th century onwards Bikaner and its rulers drifted towards suzerainty under the Mughals and later the British imperialists. Time at hand was spent often squabbling with Jodhpur and more productively building fascinating palaces like the Ganga Niwas Palace, Badal Mahal – the weather palace and reinvesting in the Junagarh fort. One of the latter generation princes, General Maharaja Ganga Singh, who ruled from 1887 to 1943, was the darling of the British Viceroys of India. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India, served as a member of the Imperial War Cabinet at the time of the first world war and represented India at the Versailles peace conference soon after.
Like other places in Rajasthan, Bikaner is also well known for its cluster of Jain temples including the Bhandasar Jain temple, the Laxminath temple and the Kolayat temple. Camel safari enthusiasts would do well to visit the unique Camel research farm to appreciate what goes behind the making of the ship of the desert. And if one is patient for a 2 and a half hour journey, you get to experience one of the mystical Sufi lands at Nagaur, halfway between Bikaner and Jodhpur, which has some of the most captivating fort complexes with palaces and temples. Bikaner is equally well known for its style of painting that emerged as a school during the middle of the 17th century influenced by artists like Ali Raza from the Mughal School who worked there under patronage. Most of the Bikaner artists were Muslim, and while Mughal in foundation, their art picked up distinct traits of fine draughtsmanship and subdued color tones. Influenced by the deccan paintings and often vignettes from the life of lord Krishna especially seen n the pictorial Bhagwad Purana painted during the time of Rai Singh (1571-1591).
There is much to do, much to discover and much to see. All wanting to make you soar like a kite.
The Jodhpur Airport is the nearest airport to Bikaner, located around 251 kms. awayBook with us
Bikaner is well connected by roads with Delhi, Jodhpur, Agra, Ajmer, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Udaipur and Kota.Book with us
Bikaner Junction and Lalgarh Railway Station located 6 kms. apart connect with key cities like Delhi, Jodhpur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Guwahati.Book with us
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Women’s Police Station – +91 1800 180 6127
City Kotwali – +91 151 222 6118
Kothari Medical Centre & Research Institute – +91 151 221 0151
Bikaner Camel Festival
The Kite Festival (Akha Teej)
Dating back to the 15 th century, commissioned by a Jain merchant Bhandasa Oswal, the temple built with red sandstone, was dedicated to the 5 th Jain Tirthankara Sumatinatha. The temple is dressed with stunning frescoes, gold leaf paintings, ornamented mirror work. The sanctum and Mandapa pillars and walls have detailed paintings on them depicting the lives of the 24 Jain Tirthankaras. Floors are decked with illustrations of dancing maidens and floral patterns. Legend goes that instead of mixing water in mortar, nearly 40,000 kilograms of ghee (clarified butter) was used. Locals believe the ghee seeps through the floor and sweats from the walls during summer. The temple balconies on the higher floors offer ample views of the city and the desert.
Built by Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh of Bikaner on the edge of a lake, and still retaining remnants of a historic train station on its grounds, the palace is now a heritage hotel. Majestic settings that are best viewed from its terraces and balconies. With nature-walks, boat-rides, sanctuary dinners, desert safaris and adventure sprawled across its more than 6000 acres, Gajner Palace is ideal heritage hunting grounds, 30-minutes’ drive away from Bikaner. In its heydays during the British Raj it served as a hunting resort and has hosted dignitaries including the Prince of Wales in 1905, Governor General Lord Elgin, Lord Erwin in 1927 and Lord Mountbatten when he was Viceroy of India. It is said that the most important social do of the year, marked out by the who’s who in India included Gajner. And this was the Imperial Sand Grouse shoots during the Christmas season on the palace grounds.
Once called Chintamani, Junagarh which literally means the old fort, got its rather odd name when in the early 20 th century, the ruling family decided to shift its residence to Lalgarh palace. This most impressive fort, bounded by a moat, literally had the city of Bikaner sprung around it. It was constructed between 1589 and 1593 by Raja Rai Singh, the then ruler of Bikaner and a general in the army of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Instagram worthy locations include the richly decorated Karan Mahal which has the palace’s Diwan-i-Am or the hall of public audience, the Anup Mahal which was the hall of private audience (Diwan-i-Khaas) with walls lacquered in red and gold. And finally betraying the fervent desire of an arid dry land, the Badal Mahal or the Palace of Cloudswith its walls painted with blue clouds and streaks of gold lightning and illustrations of Lord Krishna and Radha. The suite of Maharaja Gaj Singh called the Gaj Mandir is a superb concoction of lively murals, stained glass, mirrors, gold paint and sandalwood. Up from here one proceeds to the palace roof. Another selfie moment waits at the Vikram Vilas Durbar Hall that treasures a WWI De Havill and DH-9 biplane bomber. Fret not lest you run short. There are no less than 37 palaces. The Prachina Museum inside the palace complex houses contemporary arts, ritual crafts, textiles and costumes, royal photography and miniature photography, manuscripts, glass collectibles, palanquins, doll houses and more across its two storeys. The fort complex has two gates – Suraj and Daulat pol. The Daulat Pol to this day bears the handprints of the royal ladies who had committed sati alongside the pyres of their deceased husbands, at the Sati Stambh.
Located at Deshnok, 30kms from Bikanerl, the temple dedicated to Karni, an incarnation of Goddess Durga, has a marble façade, silver doors and believe it or not, nearly 25,000 black rats that draw thousands of devotees. These holy rats are called kabbas. Karni Mata was a mystic, the 07 th daughter of Mehoji Charan and Deval Devi, in the 14 th century known for her service to the poor and miracles over her long life of 150 years. Her idol today stands with a trident in hand, decked with a crown and surrounded by flowers and rats. The rats usually feed from massive metallic bowls containing sweets, grains and milk. According to the temple rules, trampling upon a rat accidentally and killing it is a sin and can be redeemed only by offering a gold or silver rat statue of a similar size and weight at the temple. Popular belief goes that the rats are the incarnates of of the Charan clan and that when the rats die, they would be reborn as humans.
Nearly 185 kilometers from Bikaner and on the highway from Jodhpur to Bikaner is the small township of Khimsar. Khimsar prides itself on having been an independent kingdom claiming a visit from Emperor Aurangzeb to the Khimsar fort, its pride. 450 years old and home to the Khimsar Thakurs, once can almost hear history dripping from the fort walls, turrets, and stables. Thakur Onkar Singh is the present chief and the 17th direct descendant of the original builder of the fort, Thakur Rao Karamsi. 30 kilometers away lies another gem called Osian. Though much easier to access from Jodhpur, this is a much sought after location for the offbeat travellers, for its 18 preserved Jain and Hindu temples dating back to the 8th and 11th centuries. Osiyan often billed the Khajuraho of Rajasthan, it’s said was founded by Utpaladeva, a Rajput Prince from the Pratihara Dynasty and was a busy religious and cultural centre for Brahmanism and Jainism in the erstwhile kingdom of Mewar. This came to an abrupt end when the town was plundered by the armies of Muhammed of Ghor in 1195. Today amongst the surviving cluster, the Sachiya Mata temple, the Sun temple and the Mahavir Jain temple stand out particularly. The Jain temple has its own dharmshala and Bhojanalaya which serves pure Jain food with token money.
Imagine a massive 2000 acres breeding farm and laboratory that is vested in helping breed better, sturdier and superior races of Camel. With roughly 400 odd camels, 3 different breeds and with the help of the Raikas or Rebaris, the local camel breeders the centre even provisions for an on-site camel milk parlour dishing out versions of Kulfi and Ice cream.
With 35 acres, 4 grand palaces and 50 small buildings, fountains, pools and gardens, it would be a disaster to skip Nagaur while on a trip to Bikaner. Nagaur has had a distinction of being influenced by rulers and empires of different hues, from the Nagvanshis to the Ghazni clan to the Delhi Sultanate and the Rajputs and Mughals. Nagaur houses the shrine of the Sufi saint Tarkin. Soon after Khwaja Moinuddin founded the Chishti Sufi order at Ajmer, one of his disciples, Hazrat Hamiduddin landed up at Nagaur and evangelised a sufi order that accommodated Hindu principles in his teachings. He turned into a strict vegetarian and lovingly reared a cow in his shrine. Today, the world Sufi festival at the Nagaur fort lit with 5000 lamps is one of the most mystical and charming congregations. The music, the performances, the interaction with artists, and royalty in attendance makes for a splendid setting. The festival’s first chapter is held at the Nagaur fort and the second chapter at the Mehrangarh fort. The 4th century Ahichhatragarh Fort, finds mention in the Mahabharata as part of Arjun’s conquest and subsequent gift to his Guru Dronacharya. Said to have been originally built by the Nagavanshi Rajputs (hence the name that means “Fort of the Hooded Cobra”), it was rebuilt in the 12th century by the Ghaznis to include palaces and mosques. Over time it presented the finest trappings of the Rajput-Mughal architecture with palaces, gardens, temples and fountains that were built over time. The Hadi Rani Mahal with murals and jharokhas bearing delicate lattice work and distinct Nagaur school of paintings, the Deepak (lamp) mahal built with niches in the inner walls to prop up lamps and dressed in the Persian floral style and the Abha Mahal with its hamams and fountains are like preserved pieces of history. The upper storeys of the Akbari Mahal, built to commemorate the recapture of Nagaur by the Mughals in the mid-16th century offer sweeping views of the fort complex.
During world war I, the British Army had a camel corps drawn from Bikaner, often called the Camel capital of India. The ships of the desert had been some of the finest soldiers of war.
General Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh commanded the Bikaner Camel Corps during WWI and was the only non-white member of Britain's Imperial War Cabinet during the conflict.
It is believed that when Karni Mata's stepson Laxman drowned in a tank Kapil Sarovar he was attempting to drink from, she appealed to the God of death to revive the child. After continued protestation, Yama relented and allowed Laxman and all the male heirs of Karni Mata’s children to be reborn as rats after death. The other version of the legend is different. It says that an army of 20,000 soldiers deserted a battle and fled to Deshnoke. Since desertion was punishable by death, Karni Mata turned them into rats and offered them the temple’s sanctuary.