Bikaner is renowned for best riding camels in the world, lies in medieval splendor, a royal fortified city with a timeless appeal. The city is surrounded by sand dunes, palaces, havelis, beautifully sculptured temples built with reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich and architectural legacy. Bikaner is known for its food (bhujia, papad & rasgullas), coloured printed clothes (kotadoriya, bhandej & lehriya), rich heritage and a friendly peaceful environment. The city of Bikaner possesses an unusual appeal as it still retains much of its charm. Walk through the city’s lanes and colorful bazaars. Meet its cheerful folks and transport yourself to another place.
There are numerous tourist attractions in Bikaner. Let me take you through a few of my favorites:
Built by Raja Rai Singh (1571 – 1611) one of Akbar’s most outstanding generals, the fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat and has some beautiful palaces within. These palaces, made in red sandstone and marble with beautiful intricate carvings, make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows.
Timing: 10:00AM – 4:00PM – Always open
Fees: Rs.50 for Indian visitors. Rs.300 for foreign visitors. No extra charges for the camera.
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It is a small museum of royal costumes, textiles, family portraits of former rulers, their response to western influence, their religious accessories, etc. It was founded in 2000AD by Princess Siddhi Kumari of Bikaner and situated inside Junagarh Fort. You can do souvenir shopping here and can grab a bite at Prachina café.
Timing: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM – Always open
Fees: Rs.30 for Indian visitors. Rs.150 for foreign visitors. No extra charges for the camera.
Deshnok’s Karni Mata Temple:
The famous 600 year old temple is 30 kms. from Bikaner on the Jodhpur road dedicated to Karni Mata, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The temple has huge intricately carved silver gates which were donated by Maharaja Ganga Singh.
The most interesting thing about the temple are the rats, called ‘kabas’. Who scamper freely within precincts. They are regarded as sacred and are fed by priests and devotees owing to the belief that they will be reincarnated in the family of the goddess. The kabas roam freely in the vicinity of the temple as they are held extremely sacred and to sight a white kaba is considered very auspicious.
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Gajner Palace & Wildlife Sanctuary:
Amidst lush green surroundings, Gajner palace is situated around 30 kms. from Bikaner on the Jaisalmer road. The pink sandstone palace is a picturesque sight as its reflection falls into the lake. It has now been converted into a heritage hotel. The wildlife sanctuary is a heaven to nilgai, chinkara, black buk and many birds and waterfowls which come here in large numbers. The palace is meticulously designed and equally well maintained.
National Research Centre on Camel:
This camel breeding farm is quite unique and the only one of its kind in Asia. The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi and arid land and is managed by the central government of India. It has a small museum. You can enjoy camel rides, shop for accessories and leather stuff made from camel teeth and skin after their natural death. Also, don’t forget to have camel milk ice-cream. Spend some time with the indispensable ship of the desert.
Fees: Rs.30 for visitors and Rs.50 for camera.
Devi Kund Sagar:
The royal crematorium with several ornamented cenotaphs or ‘chhatris’ built in the memory of Bika dynasty. Maharaja Surat Singh’s chhatri is the most impressive of all, created entirely in red sand stone with spectacular Rajput paintings on the ceilings. There are two kinds of cenotaphs, some are made of red sandstone and others in white marble. It’s a beautiful place to catch the sunset.
Time: 9:00AM – 6:00PM (Open on all days).
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Bikaner abounds in beautiful Havelies and Mansions belonging to the business houses of historic times. These mansions are richly decorated with intricate carvings.
Ramouriya haveli is made of red dulmera sandstone and exhibits magnificent artistic skills. There are about 900 havelis situated in the old city. This place is also known as the heritage route. It makes for an interesting wander.
Belonging mostly to Kotharis, Rampurias and Dagas, the designs and the detailed carvings of these havelis justify the persona of each craftsman and are incomparable to any other construction in the world.
This heritage hotel belongs to Rampuriya family and has been developed out of Rampuriya Haveli. The architecture of the haveli is a mix of Indian and European styles. One of the popular heritage hotels of Bikaner, this mansion has an elegant decor of the 1920s and modern comforts have been added to suit the taste of the modern guests.
One of the popular heritage hotels of Bikaner, this mansion has an elegant decor of the 1920s and modern comforts have been added to suit the taste of the modern guests. This heritage property operates a 24-hour front desk to assist guests.
Laxmi Nath Temple:
One of the most famous and oldest temples of Bikaner. Statues of deities- Vishnu and Laxmi – have all along received the unwavering devotion of countless people through the last four and half centuries. The most exquisite artwork inside the temple apart from the shrines is the doorway which is embellished in silver work.
Time: 5:00AM – 1:00PM and 5:00PM – 11PM.
Cameras are not allowed inside the temple.
Shiv Bari Temple:
Built by Doongar Singh Ji in the late 19th Century. The temple is surrounded by an embattlement wall. It has beautiful paintings and a Nandi facing the Shiva Lingam. Built of red sand stone, the Shiv Bari Temple of Bikaner is an architectural delight. The main features of the Shiv Bari Temple are the pavilions, domes, and the well decorated columns.
Last but not the least are the Markets of Bikaner. Once you are done admiring the beauty of Bikaner, do visit the market to get a taste of Bikaneri bhujia, sweets and other freshly cooked delicacies. Go street shopping for colourful printed sarees and dupattas, mojris and kundan jewellery. Bikaner has something for everyone, so brace your bargaining skills when you enter this market. You never know you might end up buying the most exclusive piece at never-before prices!