Written by

Princess Siddhi Kumari established the Prachina Museum in Bikaner in 2000 to showcase Bikaner’s culture and traditions. The museum contains paraphernalia from three generations of royal women and furniture and silver used by Narender Sinhji, the former Maharaja of Bikaner. The Museum was established in a karkhana, or workshop, owned by Princess Siddhi Kumari’s grandmother. Women from Bikaner’s royal family have always overseen workshops known as ‘karkhanas’ where local artists practised their profession. The Museum is part of the great Junagarh Fort complex, which served as the Royal Family’s home until Lalgarh Fort was completed.

Details About The Prachina Museum

The Prachina museum exhibits and artefacts displayed inside the Prachina Museum

Image Credit: Aanu Pareek for Wikimedia Commons

Muslim painters moved to Bikaner in the 17th century, bringing with them the delicate and highly polished Mughal painting style, which has greatly affected Bikaner paintings. Prachina shows such paintings and portraits of monarchs, most created by Muslims from the Usta group in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The creation of colonial art schools at the start of the twentieth century resulted in a fusion of indigenous heritage and European influences in Bikaner’s creative practices. This was mirrored in the Bikaner rulers’ mixed lives and changes in the style and manufacturing of familiar things. This is represented in the Museum by a display of items such as lead water bottles with silver lids, a sandalwood sword with miniature tableaux made by Shubhkaran Nahata, playing cards bearing the Bikaner logo and printed in Paris, manicure and pedicure tools made of ivory, a set of personal accessories for men with chromium-enamelled handles, and cases made in England, among others.

The Museum’s attractions include a composite collection of poshak, or traditional royal garments, from Bikaner and Chamba, Himachal Pradesh, presented by three generations of royal ladies. Princess Siddhi Kumari and her grandmother supplied the clothes from Bikaner, and the costumes from Chamba, Himachal Pradesh, were collected from the Princess’ mother’s collection.

Must Read: Places To Visit In Bikaner


Wall painting in Kalamkari on the Prachina Museum’s walls

Image Credit: Satyadev Hirani for Wikimedia Commons

Steeped in the rich history and culture of Rajasthan, the Prachina Museum stands as a testament to the region’s rich traditions. It represents the royalty of the state of Rajasthan too. Located within the beautiful and iconic Junasagar Mahal, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the past for tourists and history enthusiasts. The Prachina Museum was established in 2000 by Siddhi Kumari, daughter of Maharaja Narendra Singhji of Bikaner, intending to preserve the cultural heritage of Bikaner and make it accessible to the public.

Bikaner, once a princely state, has consistently been recognized for the valiant tales of its rulers, and the museum reflects the lifestyle and artistic diversity of the region.

Galleries At The Prachina Museum

The galleries at the Prachina museum are very impressive.

Image Credit: Acred99 for Wikimedia Commons

The Museum has several galleries, including the Contemporary Art Gallery, the Ritual Art Gallery, the Bikaner Period Room, the Aristocratic Textiles and Costume Gallery, and the Gallery of Aristocratic Transportation. The Ritual Art Gallery houses idols of native deities, including Gangaur, Isar, and different clan goddesses. The Gallery of Aristocratic Transportation displays embellished raths, or bullock-driven carts, before the horse-drawn carriages of the British era. The Contemporary Art Gallery shows the work of Bikaner’s famed Usta painters.

Ustas are artisans who specialise in stone carving, stucco work, and ornamentation of camel leather oil bottles. The gallery features works by artists such as Zahiruddin Usta and Hanif Usta. Two other galleries within the museum have elaborate, flowery ceiling and wall paintings characteristic of Bikaner. These paintings are often done on limestone surfaces, either with raised work with gold embellishments (Sunahari Munnawati Nakkashi) or by painting directly on the surface (Rangabaiji). The paintings in the Museum come from when the building was still used as a workshop. When found, they were only renovated for the galleries.

Suggested Read: Jaisalmer Resorts

The Museum’s Collection

The intricate designs of the Prachina museum's interior

Image Credit: Sharvarism for Wikimedia Commons

The museum houses an extensive collection ranging from traditional royal fabrics to superb royal portraits, demonstrating the Bikaner royal family’s persistent support for art and culture. The exhibits also contain sparkling glassware, silverware, and china from Bikaner’s royal meals in the past. Tourism in Bikaner began with camel caravans travelling the Silk Road, but it wasn’t until the late twentieth century that Bikaner became a famous tourist destination.

The creation of museums such as Prachina had a critical role in exposing the region’s riches to a worldwide audience. Since its beginnings, the Prachina Museum has experienced a steady increase in tourists attracted by Bikaner’s royal legacy. The museum has become a must-see for people interested in the region’s history, and it has made a substantial contribution to Rajasthan’s cultural tourist industry.

Best Time To Visit

Junagarh Fort where the Prachina Museum is located

Image Credit: Jakub Hałun for Wikimedia Commons

To make the most of your visit to Bukaner, you must explore the Prachina Museum between October to March. It is recommended because the weather in the state of Rajasthan is more relaxed and more pleasant, allowing you to travel comfortably and visit more attractions. Summers in Bikaner can be extremely hot, with temperatures rising to 45 °C or higher, making outdoor activities difficult.

The cooler months provide respite from the scorching heat and coincide with the peak tourist season, offering a variety of cultural events and festivals that resonate with the region’s rich heritage.

Further Read: Places To Visit In Rajasthan

The Prachina Museum is not just a destination but an exquisite journey through time that reflects the soul of Bikaner. As the world of tourism evolves, the museum continues to serve as a cornerstone of the city’s heritage, inviting travellers from around the globe to explore the splendours of Bikaner’s historic legacy. So plan your trip to Rajasthan and experience the blend of history, art, and culture that continues to enchant visitors today.

For our editorial codes of conduct and copyright disclaimer, please click here.

Cover Image Credit: Atcelsius for Wikimedia Commons

Frequently Asked Questions About Prachina Museum

What are the timings of Prachina Museum?

Prachina Museum is open to visitors throughout the week. The usual visiting hours are from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, but checking for any changes or updates to the timings is recommended before planning a visit. You must stick to the timings so that you can plan you day accordingly.

Is there a guided tour available in Prachina Museum?

Guided tours may be available in Prachina Museum, offering insights into the cultural history and artefacts on display. Visitors should inquire at the museum's ticket counter or contact the management beforehand to check the availability and schedule of guided tours.

What can I see at Prachina Museum?

Visitors to Prachina Museum can explore a variety of exhibits including royal costumes, textiles, traditional jewellery, royal portraits, palanquins, religious artefacts, and crockery. The museum gives a glimpse of the splendour and grandeur of Bikaner's royal heritage through its well-preserved collections.

Is photography allowed inside the Prachina Museum?

Photography policies at Prachina Museum may be subject to change. Visitors are generally allowed to take photographs, but there might be a fee, and flash photography could be prohibited. It is best to inquire about the current photography policy at the museum's entrance.

Is Prachina Museum accessible to differently-abled individuals?

Prachina Museum generally works to be accessible for all, but considering it is located within an old fort, some areas could present challenges for differently-abled visitors. It is recommended to speak to the museum staff in advance to arrange any necessary assistance or to inquire about specific accessibility accommodations.

Are there any facilities or services for tourists at Prachina Museum?

Tourist facilities at Prachina Museum may include basic amenities like restrooms and a museum shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs and handicrafts. There may also be facilities for differently-abled individuals, but it is advisable to contact the museum directly for detailed information on the available services.

People Also Read:

Category: Bikaner, Places To Visit, Rajasthan

Best Places To Visit In India By Month

Best Places To Visit Outside India By Month