A popular remark about Bikaner goes that "If dreams are cast in stones or if stones can sing they would be like the exteriors and interiors of Bikaner havelies".
Bikaner was founded by Rao Bikaji in 1488 and is located in the north west part of Rajasthan. The antique palaces and the richly carved temples in red and yellow stone still seem to be singing tales of this hugely popular city of ethnic royal ambience. It is the natural inclination and inquisitiveness to visit a desertland which still seem to be singing tales of this hugely popular city of ethnic royal ambience. It is the natural inclination and inquisitiveness to visit a desertland which drives tourists in millions to visit this marvellous and spectacular spot. The innate splendour of the historic appeal still remains restored amidst the sand dunes and the ever majestic fortresses. The city is also known as a camel land and boasts of having one of the largest camel breeding farms in the world. Camel is a significant mode of transport in this area which still retains its medieval antiquity with immense perfection.
A story which does the rounds is that Rao Bikaji accomplished the impressive task of establishing his kingdom with the aid of 100 cavalry horses and 500 soldiers.
CONNECTIVITY TO BIKANER:
BY ROAD: Situated at a distance of 456 km from New Delhi, the tourists can avail the bus services or hire a car to reach the Camel City of Rajasthan. Some of the tourists prefer to visit Bikaner from Jaipur or Jaisalmer which are located at a distance of 334 km and 333 km, respectively, and can be easily covered by car or buses.
BY TRAIN: Some of the notable trains are
•Chetak Express ( Delhi- Sarai Rohila)
•Kalka Express (Bikaner- Jodhpur)
•Bikaner Mail (Delhi Sarai Rohila- Bikaner)
BY AIR: The nearby airport of Bikaner is the Jodhpur airport which is situated at a distance of 235 km.
PLACES TO VISIT:
1. JUNAGARH FORT: This fort was built by Raja Rai Singhji, the sixth ruler of Bikaner, who ruled form 1571 to 1612 AD. The fort was originally called Chintamani and was renamed Junagarh or "Old Fort" in the early 20th century when the ruling family moved to Lalgarh Palace outside the fort limits. The fort reflects its architecture design; the first of the old one is the Rajput style of the sixteenth century, which was under the impact of the Gujarati and Mughal architectural designs.
The Junagarh Fort has a quadrangular perimeter of 1078 yards fortified by 14. 50 wide and 40 feet high strong wall. It has 37 bastions (Burj) and two entrances- the Karan Parole facing east, and Chand Parole facing west. The Karan Parole is protected by four gates and Chand Parole by double gates. The gates are fastened with iron gratings, spiky and sharp pointed, which, in olden times, were meant as a stumbling block for the enemy elephants. The total area of fort is 1, 63, 119 sq. yards. It has 20-25 feet deep moat which is 15 feet wide at the base and 30 feet broad at the top.
2. LALGARH PALACE: Another piece of aesthetic delight is the Lalgarh Palace which was an architectural masterpiece in red sandstone built by Maharaja Ganga Sing (1881 AD-1942 AD) in memory of his father Maharaja Lall Singh between 1902 -1926. This magnificent palace is an instance of pure Rajput martial architecture. Designed by Sir Swinton Jacob, this palace has several grand halls, lounges, cupolas and pavilions. The palace boasts of richly carved interior walls, majestically designed pillars,
Italian colonades and lotus motifs. The palace has its own museum and library. The lush green sprawling lawns are adorned with dancing peacoks and beautiful bougainvilleas. The palace has been a host of large number of dignitaries all over the world. A part of the palace is now a hotel.
3. GAJNER PALACE: famously known as an incomparable jewel in the Thar Desert has been rendered a summer resort of Bikaner Maharajas. Built in red sandstone with intricately carved pillars, jharokhas and screens , the craftsmanship here is amazing. The palace is surrounded by beautiful wooded area, now a preserved sanctuary which provides shelter to chinkaras , blackbucks, blue bull (neel gai) and flocks of imperial sand grouse. A part of palace has been transformed into hotel.
4. PRACHINA MUSEUM: Keeping with the rich and glorious past of Bikaner, daughter of Maharaja Narendra Singh Ji recently (Oct, 2000) opened a museum "PRACHINA". It is an endeavor to recreate the past magic of royal splendour.
5. DEVI KUND SAGAR: Devi Kund sagar is situated 8 km in the east of city. The members of ruling family of Bikaner subsequent to Jet Singh, the great grandson of Rao Bikaji, have been cremated here. On the sides of reservoir of water lie the Royal cenotaphs of rulers of Bikaner dynasty from Rao Kalyan Singhji to last Maharaji Karni Singhji as well as those of their wives and other important members of families. Close by is a Dargah of Rustal Ali Shah Peer which is held in high esteem by all and sundry.
6. LAXMI NATH TEMPLE: one of the most ancient temples of Bikaner and is presumed to be the place of foundation of Bikaner by Rao Bikaji.
7. BHANDESHWAR TEMPLE: This temple is oldest existing structure in Bikaner. The beautiful temple was erected near Laxminath temple in 1514A. D. by two brothers Bhandeshwar and Sandheswar and named after them. This marvel piece of architecture is dedicated to 23rd teerthankar "PARSVANATH JI". This temple is Carved in red sand stone and white marble - its famous for carvings , wall paintings , structural beauty and artisticly designed statues. The rich mirror work, decor and frescoes of Bhandashah and their gold leaf paintings are noteworthy.
One can also enjoy the aeshetic beauty of sprawling mansions of red stone or ancient havelis which echo the glorious past and regal grandeur of Rajasthan.