Glory, opulence and royalty – all these synonyms are usually associated with the splendid state of Rajasthan. When we talk about this state from a tourist’s perspective, the most talked about destinations that come to mind are Jaipur, Jodhpur, Ajmer and Jaisalmer. A little bit of insightful research would further reveal that Rajasthan has various other magnificent destinations, which may not be discussed vociferously but has an equal significance like others. One such destination is around 330 kilometers away from the capital city “Jaipur” and known as the town of Bikaner, where you can experience the best of effervescent Rajasthan. The big difference between Bikaner and other popular destinations of Rajasthan is that you would not find big crowds here. This is one of the reasons why Bikaner is hugely popular as one of the most exquisite destinations in India. Tourists do not find many touts and chaos here, which enable them to enjoy the best of Rajasthan without any bitter experience.
Though, Bikaner is not promoted much as other popular destinations of Rajasthan, this city has a rich cultural heritage and a lot of attractions. Bikaner city was established by a Rajput prince, Rao Bika Ji in the year 1488. Also known as the land of the great warriors, a few excavations in this city have unearthed some significant artefacts and relics, which prove that Bikaner had a far superior civilization before the rise of the Harappan civilization. Bikaner is like a display case containing some of the very best of the Rajput civilization with an exquisite range of grand palaces, forts and mesmerizing temples. Let us talk about the major attractions of Bikaner.
Junagarh Fort is also known as “Old Fort” which was constructed by the Raja Rai Singh in 1593. This massive fort is not built on a hilltop, unlike a few main forts in Rajasthan. It is located in the Thar Desert region and complemented by the picturesque courtyards. The captivating design of this fort is a perfect blend of the Mughal, Rajput and Gujarati style of architecture. The main attractions inside this grand building are Dungar Mahal, Anup Mahal, Ganga Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Hawa Mahal and Diwan-e-khas.
This resplendent building was built in 1902 by the Maharaja Sanga Singh in the memory of his father the Maharaja Lal Singh Ji. It was designed by the notable European architect, Sir Swinton Jacob. Thus, the overall architecture of this palace presents a superb blend of the Rajput and Victorian art influences. Now, this property has been converted into an awe-inspiring heritage hotel known as the Luxmi Niwas Palace. There is a stupendous lawn inside the palace, which is home to many peacocks. One can also visit the massive library, billiards room and cards room, located inside this castle.
Majestically located on the banks of a lake, Gajner Palace is also constructed by the Maharaja Sanga Singh. Actually, this building was used as a retreat during the hunting expeditions of the Royal Family. It is constructed by using the red sandstone, which look stunning against the backdrop of a thick forest, which is a temporary home to many migratory birds. The serenity and beauty of this palace make it one of the most favoured tourist destinations in Bikaner.
Besides its palaces, Bikaner is hugely popular for temples. The most popular one is the Karni Mata Temple of Deshnokh, which is located around 26 km away from the main city. This is the only temple in the world, where rats are considered pious and worshipped. It is believed that around 20,000 rats live in the temple complex and can be spotted everywhere inside the premises. Devotees feed these rats with sweets and milk to seek the blessings of the Karni Goddess. Another popular temple is old Shivbari temple, which has a massive four-faced marble statue of the Lord Shiva. There are two big water reservoirs in the vicinity of the temple, which were once vital to the local community. There are a few Jain temples in Bikaner, which were built in the 15th century. The main Jain temple is Bhandasar Temple, which was built by the legendary Jain merchant Bhanda Shah in dedication to the Lord Parsvanath. It is believed that the foundation of this temple contains around 40,000 kilograms of Desi Ghee or clarified butter. This temple is a three-storey building, which has many Yellowstone carvings and paintings of the bygone era.
International Camel Festival
The International Camel Festival of Bikaner is one of the most sought after and talked about events in Rajasthan. This event is organised by the Department of Tourism of Rajasthan. It is a yearly event, which is celebrated in January to glorify the camels. Many spectacular events are organised at this festival, including camel races, camel safari rides and camel dances. It is a two day fair, which is organized against the enthralling backdrop of the Junagarh fort. Camels are adorned with bridles, heavy anklets and vibrant necklaces during this festival.
International Camel Fair Bikaner 2016 Dates
In 2016, the festivities will start on 22nd January and conclude on 24th January.
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the highlights of the Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary is its scenic beauty. It houses a diverse range of flaura and fauna. Some of the wildlife attractions of this sanctuary are: wild boars, blue bulls, Indian hares, deer and antelopes among others. This place is also a home to many migratory birds.