Bikaner-snacks & sands medley
NW of Rajasthan
Go there for :
Forts, Palaces, Temples, Heritage on Wheels Luxury Train
28°-41°C (Sum); 5°-23°C (Win)
When to Go:
STD Code :
+91 - 151
Bikaner on the edge of Thar desert, in the Northern Rajasthan is
braided with curiously old, yet fresh looking colorful havelis, serene
temples, especially the one where thousand rats are fed everyday, and some
brilliant Indo-Mughal architectural specimens. But if you ask an Indian,
other than a localite there, then way before the said attractions, what will
come to his mind is the famous Bikaner bhujia (a gram-flour snack). Be it
the foodies or the archaeologist, or the shopaholics with a taste for ethnic
stuff, Bikaner, is a must-go once there in Rajasthan. The annual Camel
Festival every January and the Camel Research Farm, makes it the camel's
favorite joint, other than the tourists with a fixation for riding this
otherwise ugly desert beast.
Tale of the City
Bikaner was named after its founder Rao Bika Ji - the son of Rao
Jodha - a descendant of the founder of Jodhpur. Bika Ji found this place on
the camel trade route most befitting to lay his capital and build it into an
impressive city. Take a look at its attractions.
(Timings: 10am-4:30pm): This 16th century
Raja Rai Singh (a general in Akbar's army) fort has 37 bastions and a 986 m
long wall to protect within quiet a legion of palaces - the Chandra Mahal,
Phool Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Karn Mahal (to commemorate victory over
Auranzeb), Rang Mahal, Bijai Mahal, Durga Niwas, Ganga Niwas, Anup Mahal -
to name a few of its 37 palaces, each unique with elaborate carvings and a
splash of sandstone magic. The formidable fort is encircled by a moat and it
houses a museum (Prachina Museum), library of Persian and Sanskrit
manuscripts and armory.
: The Bikaner royalty still lives in a part of this
beautiful red sandstone building embellished with some amazing lattice work.
This oriental architectural orchestra with Rajput, Islam and European
elements, termed Indo-Seresanic style, was designed by Col. Sir Swinton
Jacob. The hunting trophies of some hundreds of Indian wildlife, a library
branded fourth largest in the world, clay pigeon trap, an inhouse 22-rooms
museum (Shri Sadul museum) with a collection of old photographs and many
more items - make the red palace an exotic wonderland. A part of it is now a
Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum
(Open: 10.30am-4.30pm/Friday closed): If
you have an eye for archaeological remains then the pre-Harappan, Gupta and
Kushan dynasties, terracotta, pottery, miniature paintings of the Bikaner
school, coins, armory - surely will set your nerves pulsating. This museum,
established in 1937 on the eve of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of
Maharaja Ganga Singh is one precious chunk of the bygone age preserved
Camel Research Center
: Head for Jorbeer to have a sneak peek at the
making of the Ship of the Desert! The camel breeding farm here (only one in
Asia), a remnant of the camel Corp of the british army, boasts of more than
250 head-counts and whether you find the regular ones boisterous, the young
camels are simply pretty.
Rajasthan State Archives
(Timing: 10.30am-4.30pm/Sunday closed): A
researcher-favorite, here is an indispensable collection of the
administrative record of Mughal period like Persian Farmans, Vakil Report
and various records created during administration of the Princely states of
Rajasthan. It is furthermore bettered, with facilities like microfilming,
reference library and research rooms available to researchers.
Bhandasa Jain Temple
: This 15th century shrine of fifth tirthankara
has Italian marbled floor, English tiled interior, bright frescoes,
gold-leaf paintings - a beauty apart from its counterpart temples.
: Bikaner too has her share of the majestic havelis
(mansions) where the noble and the wealthy dwell. What makes these havelis
of tourist interest is their intricate craftsmanship and sprawling
courtyards. The Gogagate, Daddhon Ka Chowk, Rangari Chowk, Assanion Ka
Chowk, Mohta Chowk, Binnanion Ka Chowk Daga Chowk, BK School and Jassuar
Gate, are areas where you see them in peppered prominently.
Heritage on Wheels:
What can be a better and more interesting
journey to discover the heritage and culture of an incredibly diverse nation
than in a Luxury Train. The laid-back and relaxed journey takes you through
the popular and off-the-beaten track destinations in Rajasthan like Jaipur,
Bikaner, Haat, Gajner, Tal Chhapar, Ramgarh, Nawalgarh and Mandawa and
finally takes you to the see the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Who would mind some extra baggage when you have landed in one of
India's most ethnic markets. Look out for Mojari (Bikaneri style footwear),
Kundan work jewelery (stones hemmed with gold foil), rangi dupatta, wooden
antiques, Lacquer Bangles, carpets, camel-hide products and bandhni
(tie-and-dye) sarees. Some exquisite traditional buys will be Rajasthani
puppets, mirror-work cushion covers, handloom shawls and so on. Bikaner is
not exactly a place that can turn a shopaholic paranoid with its exciting
options, but you are sure to come back to your lodge with bags full of
The very mention of Bikaner rings a different bell in an Indian
gourmet's mind. Well, it is the famous Bikaner bhujia (a popular Indian
snack made of gram flour) and this is another thing you can load your bags
with for those quiet winter evenings, with a cup of tea. Since, this
desertland has been an erstwhile warring nation, scarcity of water, greens,
required the food to be preserved for a long time. Hence, Bikaneri food has
less water, more of buttermilk, dried beans, gram flour and so on. The
popular delicacies are dal-bati-churma, Raj Bhog, Gaund Pak, Ghevar,
Fini, and Rabri.
Try Chhotu Motu Joshi Sweet Shop for sweets and snacks. For South Indian
and Chinese cuisine go to Deluxe Restaurant.
The National Research Center on Camel:
Ever tasted camel
milk products? Try Kulfi, soft cheese, flavored milk all made of camel milk
developed, evaluated and sold at camel milk products parlor at NRCC.
The Camel Festival:
The annual Camel Festival held every January is
organized by the Tourism Department, and is a raging favorite for tourists
all over. The festival starts with an elegant Camel Parade wherein the
camels are decorated in all their finery. There are a variety of contests
like the best-dressed camel, the camel with the best haircut to name a few.
One can also experience the fine art of camel milking and gorge at the
authentic desert sweets made out of the purest of camel milk. The evenings
are a riot of colors folk performances.
(34 km): On the Bikaner-Jaisalmer road, an
architectural fantasy studs the arid desertland by a beatific lake -
Maharaja Ganga Singhji's summer palace where he once used to stretch his
legs after a tiring hunting escapade. Other than the pure oriental carvings,
what makes the place all the more enchanting is the reserve forest flanking
it with migratory avian visitors like the imperial sand goose and animals
such as antelopes, black bucks, Nilgais, wild boar, chinkaras, deers and so
(34 km): Here lies a temple both revered and feared by
believers. The temple is called Karni Mata Temple and legend has it that the
souls of the dead, which were transmigrated in the body of rats, on their
death would revert back into a human body. The floors swarm with the furry
rodents of every thinkable size and the temple priests feed them every day.
(50 km): Also termed mini-Pushkar, it is a Hindu pilgrimage
joint with the Kapil Muni temple laced by a pristine lake. Take a dip in
this river during Kartik Poornima (November) to wash away the sins of
(45 km): A tribal village with rolling sands and
giggling women-folk with colorful dresses and who team their dances with
acrobatic steps. Perfect for photographers to shoot wildlife in Bikaner.
Hop next to: Ajmer
(247 km), Jodhpur