Bikaner lies in the north-western part of Rajasthan state of India. This desert city has a stark beauty which is totally unique. The wide-spread sand dunes, the moonlit glittering beauty and desert agility, the worth-seeing natural sites, the marvelous palaces and temples, wild life sanctuaries and archeological treasures all combine to make this city a place of lasting charm and permanent attraction.
Famous all over the world for it’s sweets and namkeens (bhujia), the city offers over 500 years old culture and heritage, the very feel of Rajasthan.
Architectural wealth of Bikaner lies in its forts, palaces and temples. Areas of interest are Junagarh Fort, Lallgarh Palace, Gajner Palace, Karni Mata temple (Deshnok), Kolayat, Kodamdesar, Bhandasar Jain temple .
Places to visit:-
Junagarh Fort Bikaner
Built by Rai Singh between the period of 1588 and 1593, the fort has a 986-metre-long wall with 37 bastions, a moat and two entrances. It towers prominently over the city and can be seen from a distance. Its most unusual feature is that it was built at ground level and not on high ground. The fort and its palaces are profusely decorated with magnificent stone carvings. The major buildings within the fort include the Anup Mahal, Diwan-e-Khas, Hawa Mahal, Badal Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Phool Mahal, Rang Mahal, Dungar Mahal, and Ganga Mahal.
Built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in memory of his father, the Lalgarh Palace is a an architectural masterpiece in red sandstone. It is situated 3 kms north of Bikaner city. Designed by Sir Swinton Jacob, the palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work in sandstone. The palace is quite imposing with overhanging balconies and delicate latticework. Peacocks and blooming bougainvillea in the garden welcome the visitor to the palace.
The Gajanir Palace and the wildlife sanctuary, 32 km from the main city, is also a place worth visiting. A large number of wild species are available like the nilgai, wild boar, chinkara, etc. This place was the summer resort of the former kings.
The temple of Karni Devi is the most important one as it is dedicated to the family deity of the royal house of Bikaner. The Bhandeshwar and Sandeshwar Jain Temples are dedicated to the 23rd Jain Tirthankara, Parsavnathji. Built in the 16th century by two brothers whose names they bear, these temples are remarkable for their colourful murals and the prolific use of gold leaf and mirrors.
Shiv Bari Temple, just 6 km away from the main city, is a well-curved and neatly worked out temple. It has a bronze Nandi statue and a Shiva lingam.
Kalibangan is an archeological site containing remains of the pre-Harappan and Harappan civilizations. This is a much-recommended site for historians and others who want to gain an insight of India’s rich heritage.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS
- The Camel Festival, held in the month of January, is the most exciting festival. Competitions related to camels like camel races, milking, dancing, etc., make this festival even more interesting.
- Kolayat Festival is the holy festival when the people take a dip in the holy water of the Kolayat Lake. It normally takes place on the full-moon night of the Hindu month Kartik (November).
- Gangaur Festival, dedicated to Goddess Parvati, is an 18-day long spring festival celebrated during the month of April.
Note: Articles in this series will cover all the places covered by Indian Rides team with groups from all around the globe on a Motorbike, 4×4 and other adventure tours operated under North India adventure itinerary.