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. This city lies on the northern point on the triangle of desert cities. 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.
The magnificent forts and palaces, created with delicacy in reddish-pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich historical and architectural legacy. Surging lanes and colorful bazaars with bright and cheerful folks make Bikaner an interesting destination to explore.
Bikaner is famous for its savory Bikaneri Bhujia as it is for its sweets. It is also known for its handicrafts, leather articles and for having the biggest camel farm of Asia. The city is known for its intricately carved jharokas. These stone screens are found on the windows of forts and havelis. Traditionally, women would use the screens to watch the world while remaining hidden. The red sandstone for these stone window screens is supplied by the nearby village of Dulmera. The 600-year-old Karni Mata Temple is famous for its resident population of rats which are venerated in the temple.
Bikaner is also a center for Usta art. The work for the prosperity of Usta art is being done in Bikaner for centuries. Usta art is characterized by miniature paintings and gold embossing done on ceilings, pillars, walls, marble, wooden and glass wares and ivory. But its real beauty and charm can be seen on the pieces of camel hide. The products of Usta art have been the acquaintance of Bikaner for centuries.
We all know about the Indian snacks brand called Bikanervala (Now also a food chain serving heavenly Indian cuisine) and this is how most of us relate Bikaner to. BUT trust me this place in Rajasthan is more than the birth place of an Indian snack brand which by the way is yummilicious! Bikaner exhibits a rich history of Rajputs; there are so many havelis, palaces, temples and museums that offer a pleasing picture of a bygone era.
Here are some of the Major tourist attractions that you must see in Bikaner:-
Junagarh Fort is a major attraction in Bikaner. The fort was built in 1478 by Maharaja Rao Bika. Junagarh fort complex consists of temples and palaces. The artistically done balconies, courtyards, windows catch the eyes of the visitors. The Zenana quarters in particular capture the attention of tourists as they exhibit exquisite designs of great artistic skill. Mirror work, frescos and lacquer work all make this fort look very attractive. Karan Mahal, Phool Mahal, Anup Mahal, Chandra Mahal are some major attractions here. Gajner Palace– The palace is situated about 20kms from the city of Bikaner and is set up beside a beautiful lake called Gajner Lake. One has the opportunity to enjoy nature walks, boating and desert safaris near the palace. Karni Mata Temple is probably one of the most famous places to visit in Bikaner. This temple is known for its sizable population of rats that are the permanent residents here. Today, there are about 20,000 rats that live in the temple premises and no doubt attract the attention of many travelers. National Research Centre on Camel is more of a breeding farm, which has about 230 camels of 3 different breeds. The centre is situated about 8kms from Bikaner and is open for visitor between 2.30PM to 5PM. Small museum and camel ride make this place particularly special for visitors.
Sand Dunes Safari – Since, Bikaner is within close proximity to the great Thar Desert, taking a safari is the obvious things to do. There are jeeps and camels available for the sand dune safari. Another architectural delight in Bikaner is Lalgarh Palace. The palace also consists of a museum that is situated inside Ganga Niwas. Here one can see the Miniature Paintings that are related to Bikaner school of art, Terracota Wares and armors. There is also a library that has a good collection of Sanskrit Manuscripts written on parchments, plaques of silver, copper and gold. The artifacts belonging to Harappan civilization and Kushan and Gupta Age are also preserved here. Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary– About 32kms from Bikaner, Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal place for wildlife adventure near Bikaner. The sanctuary shelters many species of animals like Chinkara (black buck), wild boar, neelgai. One can also find a sizeable population of birds here like sand grouse.