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BIKANER

Junagarh Fort: Revel in the architectural splendour, as you take an intimate look at this imposing fort, built by Akbar’s contemporary Raja Rai Singh. Within the fort are thirty seven palaces and pavilions. Suraj Pol or the Sun Gate is the main entrance to the fort. The most beautiful palaces in the complex are the Chandra Mahal, Phool Mahal and Karan Mahal. The palaces, exquisitely built in red sandstone and marble are ornate with mirror work, carvings and paintings. An array of kiosks and balconies embellish the fort at intervals, breaking the monotony. A museum with valuable miniature paintings and rare antiques is also located in the Junagarh Fort.

 
Lalgarh Palace: The magnificent fort in red sandstone, a fascinating juxtaposition of the Oriental style and European luxury that leaves you truly mesmerised. Designed by Sir Swinton Jacob for Maharaja Ganga Singh almost -90 years ago, this is an extraordinary monument. The palace has a billiards room, a library, a cards room and a smoking room. Belgian chandeliers, cut – glass ornaments, oil paintings and lamps, all adding to its charm.
 
Bhandeshwar Jain Temples- 5 Km. : Beautiful 16th century Jain temples, dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankar Parshvanathji. Other important temples of Bikaner include the Lakshminathji, Ratan Bihariji, Shiv Bari, and Nagnechiji temple. The Bhaironji Temple at Kodamdesar, about 40 kms from Bikaner, is another noteworthy temple.
 
Came Breeding Farm- 8 KM: Acquaint yourself with the indispensable ship of the desert at this camel research and breeding centre, the only one of its kind in Asia.
 
Devi Kund- 8 KM: This is a royal crematorium with cenotaphs of the house of Bikaji Rathore. Many decorated Chhatris, built in the memory of the Bika dynasty, offer splendid example of the Rajput architecture.
 
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary & Palace: Watch flocks of imperial sand grouse, as you wander through the lush foliage of woods located on the Jaisalmer road. Gajner is also home to nilgai, chinkara, wild boar and black buck. Gajner Palace, a summer resort of kings built on the beautiful lake along the sanctuary, is a spot worth visiting.
 
Karni Mata Temple Deshnoke- 30 KM: Offer your prayers to Karni Mata – an incarnation of goddess Durga, at this 600 year old temple. The temple offers a haven to rats. Devotees feed the rats, owing to the belief that these rodents will be reincarnated as holy men. The entrance archway of the temple is intricately carved in marble.
 
Kolayat - 50 KM: A sacred spot, dedicated to Kapil Muni. The temple here is the venue for a fair in the month of Kartik (Oct.- Nov.), attracting thousands of pilgrims. Kolayat is an idyllic picnic spot as well.Shiv Bari Temple - 6 km : Built in the 19th century by Maharaja Doongar Singhji, the temple is encircled by a high wall. Beautiful paintings and a Nandi Bull facing the Shiva Lingam are the attractions of the temple.
 
Havelis: An array of havelis - mansions of the merchants and lesser royals, built in red stone and intricately carved, embellish this beautiful city.Kalibanga - 205 km : The remnants of the pre-Harappan and Harappan settlements have been found at this place in Hanumangarh District. Surely of interest to archaeology enthusiasts.

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. Best season to visit is between October to March.

 
Sheer beauty in the desert is the royal fortified city of Bikaner. Lying at the northern tip of the famous triangle of the desert cities, Bikaner is a beautiful medival town. The genesis of Bikaner dates back to 1488, when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji, son of Rao Jodhaji of Jodhpur, chose a barren wilderness called ’Jangladesh’ and transformed it to a charming city called ’Bikaner’, after the founder’s name. Its location on the ancient caravan routes, which linked Central Asia and North India with the Gujarat seaports, made Bikaner a bustling trade centre in the times of yore.
 
Bikaner’s forts, palaces and temples – magnificent creations in red and yellow sandstone, are living manifestations of its rich historical and architectural legacy. One can feel the medieval aura pervading the city’s lifestyle.
 
Not only do the traditions come alive here in colourful bazaars and havelis, but Bikaner is also famous for the best riding camels in the world. One can witness gaily caparisoned camels at the spectacular Camel Festival at Bikaner, held annually.
 
History
 
The history of Bikaner dates back to the late 15th century when enraged and provoked by his father, Rao Bikaji quit the palace in Marwar and established the kingdom of Bikaner in the midst of the desert surroundings. The prince fortified his kingdom in the year 1488. Since then, the city and the region has grown to be one of the reputed and richest kingdoms in the state of Rajasthan.
 
It was the prophecy of Karni Mata who is believed to have foretold a lot about Bikaner. The Goddess prophesied the establishment of the kingdom founded by Rao Bikaji. The forthcoming kingdom was destined to be greater than that of his father Rao Jodhaji who was the founder of the kingdom of Jodhpur. Rao Bikaji, who was the descendant of the Rathore clan of the Rajputs, left his father's kingdom with a small contingent of 100 cavalrymen and 500 soldiers. The strategic location of the kingdom on the routes of the caravans brought great prosperity to the trading community of the kingdom.
 
In the first few years of the kingdom, the Rajput king was in constant conflict with the powerful Bhati clan. The conflicts were resolved when Rao Bika married the daughter of the Bhati chief, Rao Shekha. The kingdom of Bikaner maintained cordial relations with the Mughals. In the 19th century, the kingdom provided Bikaner camels to the British army who got involved in the war with the Afghans.
 
Bikaner was also the first kingdom in the desert state of Rajasthan to introduce electricity. The economy of the kingdom facilitated with the presence of the Ganga Canal that was established by Maharaja Ganga Singh. The camel corps of Bikaner are well reputed and participate in the Republic Day parade in the capital city, Delhi. 
 
Getting to Bikaner
 
By Air: Jodhpur - 243 Kms is the nearest Airport while Jaipur - 321 Kms, the capital of Rajasthan is well connected to the metros cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
 
By Rail: Bikaner is connected by rail to cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur and Allahabad.
 
By Road: Bikaner is connected by road with major cities in Rajasthan and North India. Delhi is 456 Km, Jaipur 334 Km and Jaisalmer 333 Km from Bikaner.
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