Founded in 1488, Bikaner is a desert built on an elevation and surrounded by a long embattled wall pierced by five gates. A magnificient fort built betwen 1588 & 1593 by Raja Raj Singh dominates the city. Season: October to March.
If you thrill to the inexorable forces of nature, do not miss Bikaner. This is a true desert country. You must dismiss any picture post card ideas of the desert however, There are few sand dunes here. The Thar desert is hard rocky soil, solid as brick. It is scrub country, not cactus land. Gorse thorn milk weed sprout precariously and the earth is alive with brazen insects and bolder birds
This is a camel country. They transport grain, pull heavy carts, work on the wells. Water lies sometimes 122 metres below the surface. Wells are important, almost sacred. Built on high plinths, the slender minareted towers on each of the four corners these wells proclaim their existence from afar, like a shout of welcome.
The approach to Bikaner is bleak. The wonder is that men have chosen to live here or have thought it worthwhile to risk their lives to win such a kingdom. Rao Jodha Rathore of Marwar retrieved the fortunes of his clan and founded the city of Jodhpur in 1459. He had five sons of whom Bikaji was the most lively and enterprising who founded the city of Bikaner. Bikaner is situated directly on the ancient world . This gave rise to a curious phenomenon. The fortified city of Bikaner is encircled by imposing battlements and stands on a slight eminence. Its road undulate through colourful bazars and the predominant hue of the buildings in the strong reddish pink of local sandstone. It is the fourth largest city of Rajasthan
Places to see
Junagarh : Built in 1593 A.D. by Raja Rai Singh, a general in the army of Emperor Akbar, the fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat and has some beautiful palaces within. These palaces, made in red sandstone and marble, make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows dotted all over the structure
Lal Garh Palace : The architectural masterpiece in red sandstone, the palace was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the memory of his father Maharaja Lal Singh. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work. Sprawling lawns with blooming bougainvillea and dancing peacocks make it a not-to-be missed visual treat. Part of the palace has been converted into a luxury hotel and a museum known as Shri Sadul Museum. The museum covers the entire first floor of the palace and houses well preserved old photographs and trophies of wildlife. Timings 10.00 hr. to 16.30 hr. Entry fee Rs.5.00(closed on Wednesday)
Bhandeshwar & Sandeshwar :Temples Located in the heart of the old city this Jain temple is the oldest serving monument of aesthetic heritage. Built in 14th century, the beautifully carved wooden columns, marvelous mirror work, gold paintings and frescos are noteworthy. The temples are dedicated to 23rd Jain teerthankar, Parsvanathji
Hawa Mahal :The Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds) was the summer palace of Maharaja Dunga Singh. It is said that the mirror over the bed of the Maharaja was for defence purposes, in that he could see anyone walking across the courtyard and approaching this palace. The ceiling has paintings of Lord Krishna dancing and the blue tiles in the palace were imported from China as well as Europe
Excursions from Bikaner
Devi Kund (8 km): A royal crematorium with several ornamented cenotaphs or 'chhatris' built in the memory of the Bika dynasty rulers. Maharaja Suraj Singh's chhatri is the most impressive of all, created entirely in white marble with spectacular Rajput paintings on the ceiling. These offer splendid example of the Rajput architecture
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary (32 km): Watch flocks of imperial sand grouse, as you wander through the lush foliage of woods located on the Jaisalmer road. Gajner Palace, a summer resort of kings built on the beautiful lake along the sanctuary, is a spot worth visiting. The lush foliage of the woods is home to a number of Nilgai or the Blue Bull, Chinkara and Black Bucks. Migratory birds like the Imperial Sand Grouse make the Gajner Lake their home during the winters.
How to Get There
Air: The nearest airport is Jodhpur 235km
Rail: Bikaner is connected with Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bhatinda, kalka and Howarh (Culcutta) all the majorcities in India.
Road: Bikaner is connected by road with the major cities of India.
Some important distance are : Delhi 456km Jaipur 334km, Jaisalmer 333 km