If you thrill to the inexorable forces of Nature, do not miss Bikaner. This is true desert country. You must dismiss any picture post card ideas of the desert, however, There are few sand-dunes here. The Thar desert is hard, rocky soil, solid as brick. It is scrub country, not cactus land. Gorse, thorn, milk-weed sprout precariously and the earth is alive with brazen insects and bolder birds.
This is camel country, They transport grain, pull heavy carts, work on the wells, Water lies sometimes 122 metres below the surface. Wells are important, almost sacred. Built on high plaiths with slender minareted towers on each of the four corners, these wells proclaim their existence from afar, like a shout of welcome.
The approach to Bikaner is bleak. The wonder is that men have chosen to live here or have thought it worth while to risk their lives to win such a kingdom. Rao Jodha Rathore of Marwar retrieved the fortunes of his clan and founded the city of Jodhpur in 1459. He had five sons of whom Bikoji was the most lively and enterprising. Bikaner is situated directly on the ancient caravan routes that come from West/Central Asia. If was therefore a great centre of trade in the ancient world. This gave rise to a curious phenomenon. The fortified city of Bikaner is encircled by imposing battlements and stands on a slight eminence, its roads undulate through colourful bazars and the predominent hue of the buildings is the strong reddish-pink of local sandstone is the fourth largest city of Rajasthan.
Raja Rai Singh (1571-1611 AD), an outstanding general of Mughal emperor, Akbar, built this imposing fort, it is encircled by a moat and contains palaces made of red sandstone and marble with kiosks and balconies embellishing the structure at intervals.
Suraj Pol, or the Sun Gate is the main entrance to the fort. Har Mandir is the majestic chopal where the royal weddings and births were celebrated.
The palaces worth visiting are Anup Mahal, Karan Mahal, Dungar Niwas, Ganga Niwas and Rang Mahal or Palace of Pleasure. And some of the most beautiful palaces are Chandra Mahal or the Mood Palace which has exquisite paintings on lime plaster walls; and Phool Mahal or the flower Palace is more elaborately decorated with inset mirror-work. These palaces were built by Maharaja Gaj Singh (1746-87). The palaces within, are adorned with gigantic columns, arches and graceful screens. The facade of the monuments visible above the high invincible walls, offer a splendid view of pavilions protruding out, a row of balconies, kiosks and towers at intervals from a distance.
It was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh to commemorate his father Maharaja Lal Singh. A spell- binding piece of dextrous carving In red sandstone marked brilliantly by-intricate filigree work.
There is a marvellous collection of old photographs and trophies of wildlife, well preserved and exhibited in the Old banquet hall. Nature too has enhanced the beauty of this monument. The sprawling lawns are dotted with dancing peacocks and blooming bougainvillea.
Part of the palace today has been renovated to serve as a hotel and the remaining parts are open to the visitors.
A museum that has an amazing collection. In fact it is one of the best museums in Rajasthan. There are brilliant examples of Harappan civilisation, the Gupta and Kushan era and sculptures of the late classical time. It houses a rich collection of terracotta, pottery, carpets, paintings, armoury and coins. There is a separate section for arts and crafts of this region.
There are many pretty parks in city. Ganga Mahal Public Park, Ratan Bihari Temple Park, Laxmi Park, Nathji Park. There is a zoo in the Ganga Niwas Public Park. All these places deserve inclusion in the itinerary.
5 km. Beautiful 16th century Jain temple, dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankara Parsvanathji.
Camel Breeding Farm : 8 km. This farm, perhaps the only one of its kind in of Asia, is managed by the Central Government. Bikaner's Camel Corps (former Ganga Risala) was a famous fighting force and still maintains the importance in desert warfare and defense through the Border Security Force (B.S.F.).
9 km. It is a royal crematorium with several cenotaphs. Many decorated Chhatris have been built in memory of the rulers of the Bika dynasty. Maharaja Suraj Singh's Chhatri is built entirely of white marble with spectacular Rajput paintings on its ceiling.
32 km. It is located on Jaisalmer road. The lush foliage of the woods have a number of nilgai or the blue bull. Chinkara, black buck, wild boar and flocks of imperial sand grouse living here.
The Gajner Palace, a summer resort of the kings, on the banks of a lake, has now been converted into a hotel.
30 km. It is a famous temple devoted to Karni Mata, an incarnation of Durga, situated on Jodhpur road.
The temple offers a haven to rats as they are believed to be incarnated as future bards. Thus, the rats, considered to be sacred, roam freely in the temple precincts.
Maharaja Ganga Singh donated intricately carved and elegantly designed massive silver doors, to this temple.
50 km. This pilgrim centre lies on the highway leading to Jaisalmer. The temple here-dedicated to Kapil Muni (Saint) - is the site of a fair in the month of Kartik (October/November). Thousands descend upon this ancient town to bath in the holy waters of Kolayat lake on the full moon day. A cattle auction and sports involving the camel are major draw at this annual festivity.
(205 kms.) The extensive remains of the pre-Harappan and Harappan civilizations have been found at this place in Ganganagar district. This makes it an area of immense interest to archaeology enthusiasts.
The Camel Festival is organised every January. Major attractions include a camel dance and various activities performed by camels. Kolayat Fair in November coincides with the Pushkar fair. Gangaur Festival, celebrated in homage held in April. Holi is special in Bikaner with festivities begjn several days before the actual day of Holi, normally held in March.
Air: The nearest airport is Jodhpur 243 km.
Rail: Bikaner is connected with Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and all the major cities of India.
Road: Bikaner is connected by road with the major cities of India, Some important distance are: Delhi 470 km, Jaipur 321 km, Jaisalmer 333 km.