Located in the midst of the Thar Desert, Bikaner is a “cultural paradise and a traveller’s haven”. Bikaner with its magnificence in architecture, art and culture is filled with colour, festivity and cultural marvels.The city will mesmerize you with the camels sauntering the beautiful sand dunes, its ancient palaces and forts. Rightly called as one of the three great desert kingdoms of Rajasthan, the dazzling city boasts of old-world charm, opulent havelis and depicts a pleasing bygone era of the Rajputs. Best known as the “camel country” for breeding some best-known riding camels, Bikaner also happens to house one of the only two models of the biplane used by the British in World War 1.
Sand Dunes and the Desert Safari are among major attractions. Bikaner is also famous for hosting the international Camel festival which draws tourists from the world over. Other attractions here include experiencing delicacies such as Thandai, Bhujias, shopping for the fascinating Ivory and Lacquer items or simply witnessing the immense heritage taking the form of wall paintings and arts and crafts in the area.
Places to Visit
The Junagarh Fort of Bikaner is a magnificent structure around which the city of Bikaner grew up. The fort was initially called Chintamani and was then renamed as the Junagarh or Old fort in the 20th century. The foundations of the Junagarh fort was built in 1478 by Rao Bika. However, it existed just as a stone fort then. The present grand structure was inaugurated on 17th February 1589. Besides having a rich history, the Junagarh Fort is a feat of architecture. The palaces inside the fort, the gardens, balconies, kiosks, etc. depict a composite architectural style which is influenced by the cultural differences of the different rulers and also foreign inspirations. The impressive Junagarh Fort stands with all its regal glory as an epitome of architectural brilliance. The dazzling and exquisite structures of this fort attract thousands of tourists from all over every year.
The unique monuments which are on display in the fort represent 16 generations of rulers in Bikaner starting from the late 16th century. Junagadh is an ancient fortified city with a chequered past and has an eclectic mix of mosques, Hindu temples, Buddhist monuments, Gothic archways, and beautiful mansions.
Karni Mata Temple
The Karni Mata Temple, also popularly known as the Nari Mata Temple or ‘Rat Temple’, is a 600-year-old temple located around 30 km from Bikaner in a small town of Deshnoke in Rajasthan. What is unique about this temple is the fact that 25,000 black rats live, and are worshipped, in the temple. Infact, the food that is eaten by them is considered to be holy and is later served as ‘prasad’.
These holy rats are known as kabbas, and people from all over the world travel great distances to come and visit the temple to pay their respects to these rats. Numerous tales and legends are associated with the temple and the rats that live here, but no one knows the exact history of this unique shrine.
The Karni Mata Temple is also noteworthy for its architecture that has been influenced by the Mughal style of construction. The beautiful temple is adorned with a fantastic marble facade and marble carvings that further add to the charm of this place. While the entire concept of this temple may seem as gross or weird to some, it is a unique experience altogether and is something you should not miss out.
Lalgarh Palace, a breathtaking Rajasthani Palace, is located in the beautiful city of Bikaner, Rajasthan in India. It was constructed for the Maharaja of Bikaner, Maharaja Ganga Singh, between 1902 and 1926. The palace built in European architecture style has now been opened up for tourists as a Heritage Hotel and the entire estate comes under the National Heritage Trust. The estate also houses a museum named Shri Sadul Museum, where you can find traces of Rajasthani Royalties and get an insight into their extravagant lifestyle.
Built with red sandstone bought from the Thar Desert, the colours of the beautiful structure when they change shades as the day progresses. If you wish to stay at the Lallgarh Palace Hotel, you’ll be amazed at the massive size of the rooms you’ll be living in and the regal hospitality you’ll be receiving. One of the estate wings has been maintained only for the Royal family of Bikaner. The other two wings are for The Lalgarh Palace Hotel and the Lakshmi Niwas Hotel.
Walkthrough the splendid corridors and take a stroll in the garden outside or a dip in the swimming pool. Notice the magnificent pillars and fireplaces in the red sandstone architecture, and the carefully maintained gardens and the intricate latticework.
Rajasthan, especially Bikaner, is known for its havelis. Large, magnanimous, extravagant houses complete with intricate details of jharokas and carvings, havelis are no less than palaces.
Great effort has been put into the smallest of details. From doors to windows to every small bit, special thought and neatness has been adhered to and hence such a brilliant piece of architecture has been created. Among all other havelis like Rikhji Bagri ki Haveli, Haveli of Bhairondan, Daga Chowk Havelis and Sampatlala Agarwal Haveli, Rampuria group of Havelis are known for their more than 400 years old architecture splendor.
National Research Centre On Camel
Identified as one of the important tourist places of Bikaner, National Research Centre On Camel is open for tourists during the afternoon. Tourists can see the camel of different breeds and their behavior.
A camel museum is available to apprise them of the developmental and research aspects of the camel in the desert ecosystem. Facilities of camel riding, safari and video/photography are also available. Special attraction of the centre is Camel milk parlour and you can have unique value added camel milk products like ice-cream, hot and cold beverages. There are many shops within the premises too.
If you’re looking for a place that is the perfect combination of culture and tradition, Gajner Palace is the place for you. It is located in the city of Bikaner on the banks of Gajner Lake. This regal palace was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh as a hunting lodge for him and his family but was converted to a hotel in 1976. Gajner Palace offers you a variety of leisure activities from boat rides to desert safaris. Built as a traditional Rajasthani Palace, it is an architectural beauty which now is modernised to host guests. The entire vicinity is filled with lush green trees while the glorious palace itself offers recreational activities like billiards, lawn tennis, cycling, bird watching and wildlife safaris.
The hunting resort once had remnants of a historic railway station. In 1922, the lodge was connected to the rail. Despite the modernisation, the walls of Gajner Palace are adorned with art and heritage. The lodge can host corporate events as well as be a perfect destination for a family vacation. Being situated in Bikaner, the Gajner Palace provides its hosts the best experience any place has to offer. Bikaner prides itself on the food they serve, the hospitality they accommodate people with and its vibrant cultural ambience. The Great Indian Desert, also known as the Thar Desert extends through Bikaner, thereby opens the opportunity to more activities like desert safari and camel rides.
Built in 1488 by Rao Bikaji, this is the oldest temple in Bikaner. The temple contains statues of Hindu deities Vishnu and Laxmi and it boasts of the superb archeological skills of artists and artisans.
Camel Festival in Bikaner is a two-day event organized annually in January in the land of camels, Bikaner which is situated in the north-west Indian state of Rajasthan. The Festival is a grand celebration of the rich culture of Bikaner that draws tourists from all over the world to this land of camels.
The event has camel safaris, camel rides, processions, folk dance and various other cultural activities and competitions. On the occasion of the festival, the camels are dressed in bright and colourful ornaments and bridles. The burst of vibrant colours in the golden dunes is a sight that cannot match any other celebration in the world.
If you are a shopaholic then Kote Gate is full of surprises for you. You can shop for buffed camel hide articles, miniature paintings, Khadi industry articles, as well as wood carvings apart from mouth watering Bhujia and Rosogollahs here.
The ships of desert, Camels, enable us to discover some of the beautiful and relatively unexplored regions of Bikaner. You can witness the vibrancy of colors, jubilant music, men with colorful turbans and massive moustaches and an evening full of dance and music.
However, one will need a group to do the camel safari. Camel Safari options are limited in Bikaner and one needs to plan in advance. Also, it takes minimum of 2-3 days to venture out on a camel safari tour from Bikaner.
Must Try Food in Bikaner
1. Moomal Restaurant
2. Skybytes Rooftop Restaurant
3. Jeeman Restaurant
4. Antares Restro Lounge
5. Vardhman Restaurant
6. Sattvic Multicuisine Restaurant
7. Gabbar Bar & Restaurant
8. Tiptop Coffee & Fastfood
9. Bikaner Namkeen Bhandar
10. Mario Roof & Restro
How To Get Here
The nearest airport from Bikaner is the Jodhpur airport at a distance of 251 km. It’s probably not the best idea to go Bikaner by air since the closest airport is 4.5 hours away (Jodhpur). It’s easily accessible by road or rail. Bikaner is nicely connected by train from all major cities of India and smaller cities of Rajasthan as well. There are two railway stations in Bikaner which are equally at a distance of 6 km from the city. Bikaner is connected via roads to all the prominent cities of India. The road conditions are decent too.
The nearest airport is the Nal Airport located at a distance of around 13km from Bikaner. But, it is still under construction and has not started its operations yet. The next nearest airport is the Jodhpur Airport which is well-developed and is connected to various major cities. It is at a distance of around 251 km from the city. From there you can take a bus or a taxi. There are numerous buses and taxis operating on this route. Alternatively, you can also take a flight to Jaipur and take a taxi or bus from there. You can also land at Delhi and take a taxi or overnight bus from there.
Nearest Airport: Jodhpur Airport (JDH) – 198 kms from Bikaner
The city is well connected to many other cities by road. Regular bus services and taxis are available for Bikaner. The roads are considerably smooth. According to your budget, you can board either a government or a private bus.
There are two railway stations in Bikaner- Bikaner Junction and Lalgarh Railway Junction located at a distance of 6 km from the city. These are connected to many major cities like Jaipur, Punjab, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and others. From any of these two stations, you will easily find a taxi to reach the city or your hotel.