Bikaner also known as ‘camel country’ was founded by a Rajput prince Rao Bika Ji in 1488 AD. Camels of this city are known for their exceptional quality. National Research Centre on Camel here, is involved in research and breeding of various camel species. The city still has characteristics of rich Rajput culture evident in its architecture. Junagarh Fort built by Raja Rai Singh is a formidable structure surrounded by a water moat. Legend holds that crocodiles were bred in the moat during the olden days. Anup Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Ganga Maha and the fort museum are a few other attractions located inside the fort. Made from rustic red sandstone is the Lalgarh palace which is also surrounded by lush lawns with beautiful peacocks. The palace also houses the world’s fourth largest private library.
One of the oldest temples in Bikaner is Shri Lakshminath Temple known for its paintings and sculptures. Jain Temple is another exemplar of intricate Rajputana craft incorporating a fine blend of red sandstone and marble. Deshnok Karni Mata Mandir is a unique temple due to the presence of hundreds of rats in its compounds. The rats are considered sacred as they are believed to be the incarnation of Karni Mata and her children. Ganga Government museum is one of the best in the country. It showcases ancient coins, clay pottery and artwork.
Bikaner also known as “The Camel Country” is a land of stunning sand dunes. Here are some places you could see while visiting Bikaner:
Junagarh Fort: It is famous for its grandeur, intricately designed windows and balconies and its impressive courtyards. The structure also houses a museum that showcases weapons and artillery from the days bygone.
Lalgarh and Lakshmi Palaces: These two palaces with exquisite gardens, royal rooms, and dancing peacocks have been turned into a luxury hotel, but public areas are opened for non-guests on all days except Fridays.
Gajner Palace and Wildlife Sanctuary: This majestic structure stands beside a breathtakingly beautiful lake called the Gajner lake. The palace was once the royal residence of Bikaner’s Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh and has now been converted into a stunning heritage hotel. It also has a wildlife sanctuary that boasts of a number of migratory birds.
Rampuriya Group of Havelis: Bikaner is also known for its havelis with large houses and impressive, intricate jharokhas. They are well maintained and must be visited
Besides these monuments, tourists can also visit temples like Shiv Bari Temple, the famous “Temple of Rats”- Karni Mata Temple, Shri Laxmi Nath Temple and Jain Temple.
Tourists can go on desert safari to explore the relatively less known regions of “Bikaner” and witness the mesmerising beauty of the sand ocean. The ship of deserts aka camels will make you sail through the vibrant villages, and will make you witness the beautiful and colourful culture of the place. In the evening, you can relax at Sursagar lake, It’s a man made lake and is well maintained.
Natives of Bikaner swear by their world famous Bhujias, Sweets, Papads and Namkeens. So don’t forget to grab a few packets of these snacks from Hanumanji Bhujia Wala or Girdhari Bhujia Wala. Sponge rasgullas and Ghevar of Lalji or Bhikaram Chandmal should definitely be tried. Restaurants like Skybytes,Saatvik can provide an amazing food experience where you can have Dal Baati Choorma, Gatte ki sabzi, Fini Raj Bhog and more. Street food such as Kachori, Samosa, Assorted Pakoras, Mirchi Vada at Ambedkar Circle will leave you craving for more. For a royal experience, book seats at Heritage hotels such as Narendra Bhawan, Lakshmi Niwas, Lalgarh Palace, Gajner Palace.
In the afternoon one can visit the “National Research Centre on Camel” and spend time studying the different breeds of camels and noticing their distinct behaviours. Every year in January “Camel Festival” a two day event is organised. It’s a vibrant event where people can enjoy mind-blowing camel performances, like camel race, camel dance etc. Adventure enthusiasts can go wildlife spotting in the Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary. Those visiting in the summer months can beat the heat at the Skybird Water Park. Art and Culture enthusiasts must visit Prachina Cultural Centre and Museum, it focuses on the western influence of the Bikaner royals before the Independence. Miniature paintings at Bikaner Miniature arts are not only beautiful but also cheaper than at other tourist spots. It’s an art school and gallery and perfect place to learn and detox. Ganga Government Museum is another interesting museum that houses terracotta products from the Gupta period, exquisite carpets, rich gold paintings by local artisans, Rajasthani Musical instruments.
A tour is never complete without visiting the local markets of a place. Rajasthan as a whole is a heaven for shopaholics. When at Bikaner, Rajasthani juttis and fabrics can be bought from Mahatma Gandhi Road. Kote Gate is another major market that is famous for all kinds of handicraft items including those made from camel hides. Woodcrafts, paintings, accessories and traditional jewellery can also be bought from the various shops in the market.