|Junagarh Fort||Located close to the Sadul Singh Circle of Bikaner|
|Lalgarh Palace||Located along Dr. Karni Singhji Road approximately 3 kilometers away from the heart of Bikaner|
|Laxmi Niwas Palace||Inside Lalgarh Palace|
|Gajner Palace||Located at Gajner Kolayat of Derajsar|
|Maru Nayak Ji|
|Laxmi Nath Temple||Located on the Bara Bazar Road of Bikaner,|
|Bhandasar Jain Temple||Located at Ranisar Bara Bas of Bikaner close to the Laxmi Nath Ji Temple|
|Karni Mata Temple||Located in the Deshnoke town approximately 30 kilometers away from Bikaner on the Bikaner Jodhpur Road|
|Shiv Bari Temple||Situated at the distance of about 6 kilometers from Bikaner|
|Kolayat||Located approximately 55 kilometers from Bikaner on NH 15 on the way from Bikaner to Jaisalmer|
|Devi Kund Sagar||Positioned approximately 8 kilometers from the heart of the city|
|Camel Research Farm, Bikaner||Stationed at the distance of nearly 8 kilometers from the heart of the city|
|Rajasthan State Archives||Located in the downtown Bikaner|
|Sadul Singh Museum||Nested on the first floor of the Lalgarh Palace of Bikaner|
|Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum||Located within the premises of the Lalgarh Palace|
|Prachina Museum||Set up inside the premises of Junagarh Fort|
|Kote Gate||Positioned just 1 kilometer away from the Bikaner Railway Station|
|Station Road||Located near Bikaner Railway Station|
The sixth Maharaja of Bikaner Raja Rai Singh (1574-1612) had accepted the suzerainty of Mughals and attained an eminent rank at the courts of Emperor Akbar and Jahangir. As retribution of Raja Rai Singh’s conquest of Mewar for the Mughals, they rewarded him with the domains of Gujarat and Burhanpur. By the means of the galore revenue earned from these two provinces and the funding received from Jodhpur as well, Rai Singh undertook the construction of the legendary Junagarh Fort which extended between 1588 and 1593 AD. Junagarh Fort, an epitome of Rajasthan’s rich historical bequest and ornate architectural splendor is a gigantic stronghold endowed with 37 bastions, giant towers, defense battlements and two grandiose entrances. The majestic main entrance of the fort that faces east is named ‘Karan Pol’ while the other gate equally imposing in its structure is named ‘Suraj Pol’.
Enclosed by a 986 meters long rampart girdled by a trench where crocodiles were reared in ancient times, the Junagarh Fort though assaulted several times has never been conquered. The gargantuan complex of this impregnable citadel of Bikaner houses a number of bravura palaces like Anup Mahal, Ganga Niwas, Rang Mahal, Hawa Mahal, Badal Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Phool Mahal, Diwan-e-Khas, Dungar Mahal, Sheesh Mahal and royal temples including ‘Har Mandir’. Constructed in red sandstone and glossy white marble, these palaces are bejeweled with courtyards, balconies, windows and kiosks garlanded with beautiful stone carvings, paintings and exquisite mirror work. The Junagarh Fort also houses a museum which is reckoned for its wide array of collection displaying the exhibits related to the royal family of Bikaner.
This palace museum can be visited from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm all days of week but Sunday. Located close to the Sadul Singh Circle of Bikaner, this fort is one of the prime tourist attractions of this ‘Camel Country’
The Lalgarh Palace located along Dr. Karni Singhji Road approximately 3 kilometers away from the heart of Bikaner is a magnificent piece of architecture and a testimonial of Bikaner’s baronial legacy that offers a real theatrical banquet to the human eyes. Built by Maharaja Ganga Singh between 1902 and 1926 and christened after his father Maharaja Lall Singh, the stupendous Lalgarh Palace portrays the fantastic potpourri of Rajput, Mughal and European orders of architecture. Designed by the preeminent British architect Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob for the lodging of the ‘modern monarch’ of Bikaner, this palace was erected at the expense of over 1 million rupees.
This three storied epic composed in red sandstone is equipped with various extravagant lounges and flamboyant halls including drawing rooms, pavilions, smoking rooms, guest suites, huge dining rooms, and so on. Divided into distinct wings namely Laxmi Niwas, Karni Niwas etc, this magnanimous palace adorned with Italian colonnades and intricate lattice and filigree work is featured with superlative pillars, commanding cupolas, elaborate fire places, durbar hall, art decors, indoor swimming pool, et cetera. Presently, two wings of the Lalgarh Palace are converted to two luxurious hotels ‘the Lalgarh Palace Hotel’ and ‘Laxmi Niwas Palace Hotel’. Additionally, the palace also houses an extensive collection of Sanskrit manuscripts in its Anup Sanskrit Library, the Shri Sadul Museum and the private residence of the Royal Family of Bikaner.
Laxmi Niwas Palace
The Laxmi Niwas Palace one of the wings of the glorious Lalgarh Palace formerly served as the royal residence of the nobility of Bikaner. Established under the patronage of Maharaja Ganga Singh between 1902 and 1926 AD and designed by the prolific British architect ‘Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob’ this imposing edifice presents a supreme paradigm of Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. Built in radiant red sandstone this magnificent mansion is now converted to a luxury heritage hotel jointly owned by Golden Triangle Fort and Palace Private Ltd. An English politician and the official reporter of King George V and Queen Mary of Great Britain’s tour to India in 1905 - 06 described the grandeur of the Laxmi Niwas Palace saying “The Laxmi Niwas Palace is the most perfect modern building in the Indo-Saracenic style in India - an entirely graceful pile of carved red sandstone, nobly proportioned and harmonizing entirely with its environment. Their Royal Highnesses have not been more splendidly housed since they landed in Bombay”. Much popular amidst the tourists, the Laxmi Niwas Palace is indeed a must visit destination of the regal city Bikaner.
‘Gajner Palace’ located at Gajner Kolayat of Derajsar was established by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner on the banks of a beautiful lake abundant with nature’s generous bequest of flora and fauna. Basically functioning as a hunting lodge of Bikaner Royal Family this monarchial palace often metaphorically sketched as the most precious jewel of the Thar Desert also served as the vacation retreat of the Bikaner Maharaja, His family and His dignified guests. Indian as well as foreign celebrities including the Viceroys have enjoyed their breaks at the Gajner Palace indulging themselves in grand shoots and other stately and lavish entertainments. The thick foliage surrounding the palace teeming with verdant grace and the rustic and authentically raw ambience allures the guests to take a leisurely stroll around or just repose in the intimacy with the immaculate natural environment.
Built in red sandstone and decorated with minutely carved pillars and jharokhas, the extraordinary architecture of Gajner Palace oozes its majestic charm from every perspective. Presently a portion of the Gajner Palace has been converted to a luxury heritage hotel. The corridors of the palace bear the scrupulously arranged photographs of the erstwhile Maharajas of Bikaner and British Officials while the suites of the hotel meticulously restored to its former splendor basks in the glory of Bikaner’s pecunious royalty. The palace also possesses a private wildlife sanctuary where endangered animals such as black buck, chinkara, neelgai and many others are provided secured shelter. The eminence of the lake even enhances when over a hundred species of migratory birds, including the imperial sand grouse, antelopes, black bucks etc visit this vicinity. One must enjoy a camel, horse or jeep safari at least once during his stay at the Gajner Palace of Gajner Kolayat.
Maru Nayak Ji
Maru Nayak Ji, also popularly known as ‘Mool Nayak Ji’ happens to be the earliest Vaishnavite Temple ever built in Bikaner. Constructed in the year 1486 AD during the governance of the first Maharaja of Bikaner – Rao Bika, Maru Nayak Ji Temple was the principal Vaishnav seat where the earliest Bhagvad Saptahas were arranged. It was here that on of the cardinal Bhagvad Katha Vachakas from the Rattani Vyas Clan Shri Rattoji Vyas preached Bhagvad to the Maharaja of Bikaner; Rao Bika and his minister Salloji Rathi. This practice of preaching Bhagvad is continued here till today. Lord Mool Nayak Krishna is enshrined in the Maru Nayak Ji Temple of Bikaner as the presiding deity.
Laxmi Nath Temple
Laxmi Nath Temple, one of the oldest existing temples of the erstwhile princely state of Bikaner was constructed during the ascendancy of Rao Luna Karana who held the reigns from 1505 to 1526 AD. Later, the 21st king of Bikaner; Maharaja Ganga Singh renovated and developed this temple to a great deal. The Kingly race of Bikaner from the Rathore Dynasty believed that Lord Laxmi Nath was the real king and the guardian of their empire and they were just His ministers on the earth. The Laxmi Nath Temple enshrines the elegant idols of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi in its sanctum. Located on the Bara Bazar Road of Bikaner, the Laxmi Nath Temple is one of the worth visiting religious destinations of this Oasis in the Rajasthan Desert.
Bhandasar Jain Temple
Bhandasar Jain Temple located at Ranisar Bara Bas of Bikaner close to the Laxmi Nath Ji Temple is christened after and constructed by a wealthy merchant of Bikaner; Bhandasa Oswal. Built over the period of more than 45 years from 1468 to 1514, this temple one of the 27 stunning Jain Temples of Bikaner is acknowledged as the highest and the most remarkable piece of temple architecture. Dedicated to the 5th Jain Tirthankara; Sumatinath, the Bhandasar Jain Temple built in three stories is highly exalted for its structural ingenuity. It is believed that about 40000 kilograms of Ghee and dry coconuts were filled in the foundation and the walls of this temple and sometimes on the hot days this ghee oozes out of it.
The Bhandasar Jain Temple is essentially acclaimed for its fascinating wall paintings and exclusive specimen of Bikaneri Usta art. Fabricated in red sandstone, this temple is renowned far and wide for its elaborate carvings, eye-catching frescoes that narrate the stories of 24 Jain Tirthankara, gold-leaf work, graceful floral patterns, attractively chiseled pillars, dazzling mirror work and delicately engraved balconies. The sanctum of the temple enshrines the mesmerizing marble idol of Lord Sumatinath seated on a silver throne placed atop a 2 feet high pergola. From the topmost floor of the temple one can perceive the panoramic view of the entire Bikaner city basking in the reddish yellow hue.
Karni Mata Temple
Karni Mata Temple located in the Deshnoke town approximately 30 kilometers away from Bikaner on the Bikaner Jodhpur Road is the world famous shrine dedicated to Karni Mata; a female Hindu sage worshipped as an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Venerated as the official family deity of Bikaner and Jodhpur royal family, the temple of Karni Mata is renowned ubiquitously for its sacred rats. Also known as ‘the temple of rats’ this temple of Karni Mata was established subsequent to her mystifying disappearance at the age of 151 years and was revamped to its present form in early 20th century AD by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner.
Designed in Mughal style of architecture this shrine was later enhanced by Kundanlal Verma in 1999 who donated the massive silver gates and the staggering marble carvings to the temple. Deified owing to her innumerable miracles, Karni Mata had also arranged the marriage of Rao Bika and laid the foundation stone of the fort of Bikaner. The temple of Karni Mata is packed with thousands of rats deemed blessed and sacred by the devotees. Spotting a white rat at this temple is regarded to be extremely auspicious as white rats are taken as the manifestation of Karni Mata and her four stepsons.
Millions of pilgrims from every corner of India arrive at the Karni Mata Temple of Deshnoke every year, particularly on the occasion of Navaratri Festival. They offer Prasad to the rats of the temple and as per the prevalent custom, if by mistake any temple rat is killed by you, you will have to offer a gold rat at the feet of Goddess Karni.
Shiv Bari Temple
Shiva Bari Temple, established in 1880 AD by Maharaja Dungar Singh of Bikaner in the fond memory of his father Rao Lal Singh is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Also reckoned by the name Laleshwar Mahadev Temple, this shrine built in red sandstone creates the semblance of a fort from outside as it is encircled by strong stockades. The Shiva Bari Temple situated at the distance of about 6 kilometers from Bikaner houses a four faced black marble figurine of Lord Shiva and a bronze statue of Nandi facing the Shiva Lingam. Moreover, the temple is also exalted for its striking wall painting of Nandi Bull. Two large water tanks known as ‘Bawaris’ situated inside the temple premises are believed to be extremely sacrosanct by the devotees of Lord Shiva. The Shiva Bari Temple receives thousands of devotees all round the year, particularly on Mondays, during the holy month of Shravan and on the auspicious day of Maha Shivratri. Over last few years, the Shiva Bari Temple has been flourishing as a favorite picnic spot for the citizens as well as the visitors of Bikaner where people enjoy feasts in the proximity of the divine presence.
Kolayat, located approximately 55 kilometers from Bikaner on NH 15 on the way from Bikaner to Jaisalmer is a small town endowed with immense historical and religious significance. It is believed that the great Vedic sage Kapil Muni had performed severe penance for the well being of human kind at Kolayat and he also left this mortal world for the eternal journey ahead at Kolayat under a Peepul Tree. Kolayat, also known as ‘Kapilayatan’ is famed for its Kapil Muni Temple erected at the Kapil Muni Ghat on the banks of the large Kolayat Lake bordered by 52 bathing ghats. Recognized far and wide for its beautiful marble temples and alluring sandstone pavilions, Kolayat; a prominent pilgrimage destination of Rajasthan hosts the largest fair of Bikaner District on the auspicious day of Kartik Poornima. At the time of the ‘Kapil Muni Fair’ of Kolayat, all the ghats of the blessed lake of Kolayat are crowded with the devotees who come here to take a dip into the sin cleansing waters of this sanctified lake. It is said that if you spend one night at Kolayat you get the Punya of spending 10 years at any other pilgrim place. Moreover, a cattle fair is also held here when camels, horses, buffaloes and other cattle are sold.
Devi Kund Sagar
Devi Kund Sagar positioned approximately 8 kilometers from the heart of the city is a royal crematorium of the Rathore Kings of Bikaner where a number of marvelously bejeweled cenotaphs, locally known as ‘Chhatris’ are erected. The members of the royal family of Bikaner succeeding Rao Jet Singh; the great grandson of Rao Bikaji were cremated here. The rulers of Bikaner starting from Rao Kalyan Singhji to Maharaja Karni Singhji, their queens and other important members of the royal families are dedicated a mausoleum each. These mausoleums or Chhatris are constructed at the very place where each of them was cremated. Sided by a water reservoir these monarchical cenotaphs are fabulous in their architectural appeal.
Maharaja Surat Singh’s Chhatri built entirely in pure white marble and intricately decorated with Rajput style paintings is one of the most spectacular specimen of Rajasthani architectonic dexterity. Devi Kund Sagar also houses the memorials of 22 women of the Bikaner Royalty prior to Maharaja Gaj Sigh Ji who had performed ‘Sati’ after the demise of their husbands. An exceptional cenotaph belongs to a SATA (male sati) who give up his life after his departed wife. Close to the Devi Kund Sagar a Dargah of Rustal Ali Shah Peer is positioned which is extremely revered by the Muslims of Rajasthan. Praised for its historical as well as architectural grandeur, the Devi Kund Sagar is one of the most visited tourist attractions near Bikaner. .
Camel Research Farm, Bikaner
Bikaner, bequeathed with the laurel ‘the camel country’ boasts of its camels deemed best for riding in the whole world. The Camel Research Farm of Bikaner stationed at the distance of nearly 8 kilometers from the heart of the city is the only research institute of its kind in entire Asia continent and one of the world’s largest camel research and breeding farms. Established in the year 1984 by the central government and also administered by it, the National Research Center on Camel of Bikaner has successfully discovered the genetic discrepancy between various breeds of camels. Spread over the extensive area of 2000 acres, this camel farm is a huge complex consisting cable stables, wide camel enclosures and official as well as residential buildings. Different varieties of camels are bred, reared and sold by the center at the time of the cattle fairs of Bikaner and Jaisalmer. At the Camel Research Farm tourists get an uncommon opportunity to relish the ice cream and other sweets made of the camel milk and kids get so excited when they enjoy a ride on the back of a camel. Visitors are allowed admission to the farm only for a limited time everyday. Watching numerous camels wandering around or returning from the desert is indeed a wonderful experience.
Rajasthan State Archives
‘Rajasthan State Archive’ located in the downtown Bikaner is a society highly praised countrywide for its opulent collection of rare administrative records of Mughal Sovereignty in India. Valuable documentation and testimonials like Persian Farmans, Vakil Reports, Manshurs, Nishans, Khatoot, Arzdasht, Akbarat, etc as well as the transcriptions dating back to the epoch of the Princely states of Rajasthan such as Bahiat, Chithiat, Parwanas, Pattas, Rukkas, etc. are carefully preserved in the Rajasthan State Archive. Exceedingly lionized by the researchers and those interested in history, the Rajasthan State Archive provides various research facilities like microfilming, reference library and research rooms to the analyst scholars whereas, for the information and entertainment of the tourists a record gallery has been set up here. This gallery displays essential historical documents holding immense social, political, administrative and economical significance. The headquarters of the Rajasthan State Archive is located in Bikaner while its branches are scattered across seven cities of the state of Rajasthan. Tourists can visit the archive from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Sadul Singh Museum
The Sadul Singh Museum nested on the first floor of the Lalgarh Palace of Bikaner is a museum dedicated to the three successive rulers of Bikaner viz. Maharaja Ganga Sigh, Maharaja Sadul Singh and Maharaja Karni Singh. In more than 20 rooms of this museum life size paintings and old photographs, scores of artifacts, a wide range of Georgian paintings, hunting trophies, and many more royal belongings are displayed. Separate sections dedicated to each of these three Bikaner Maharajas of Rathore dynasty recreate their glorious life story, the heroic deeds performed by them during their lifetime and present their interests and passions through various objects including their personal possessions. A worth mentioning exhibit put on view in the Sadul Singh Museum is its ‘Tokan’ i.e. the brass vessel which was used for collecting the revenue. The token filled with the collected revenue used to be transported to the Bikaner state treasury on a camel. The Sadul Singh Museum of Bikaner was established in 1976 AD. Tourists can pay a visit to this museum from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm all days of week but Sunday.
Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum
Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum, also reckoned by the name ‘Ganga Singh Museum’ is a menagerie established by Maharaja Ganga Singh commemorating his Golden Jubilee Celebration in the year 1937. This museum also located within the premises of the Lalgarh Palace exhibits some of the most astonishing collections of artwork, sculptures and historical documents in its various sections where artifacts are arranged in the viewable galleries according to their evidential hierarchy and historical importance. Silk Robes of Shehjada Salim, sculptures and other archaeological discoveries dating back to the era of Harappan civilization and early Gupta period, miniature paintings, Rajasthani war artillery, Litho prints of British Empire, art and craft, paintings, pottery, terracotta, coins, carpets, and many more comprise the major attractions of the Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum of Bikaner. The gilded gold leaf paintings on camel hides created by Usta craftsmen, Silk Robe of Shehjada Salim, hunting trophies won by Bikaner Maharajas and other archaeological evidences of ancient civilizations make the chief highlights of this museum. Various portraits of Bikaner Maharajas and several English dignitaries are exhibited on the first level of the museum while the second level is dedicated to wood crafts, artifacts, metal and glass articles. This museum can be visited from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm all days of week except Sundays and government holidays.
Established by Princess Siddhi Kumari; the daughter of Late Maharaja Narendra Singh Ji of Bikaner in the year 2000, the Prachina Museum set up inside the premises of Junagarh Fort is acclaimed as one of the chief warehouses of historical articles and artifacts belonging to the royal family of Bikaner. Categorized into several sections, the exhibiting galleries of the Prachina Museum display a rich gathering of royal costumes, textiles and various religious accessories. Not only that, the cultural centre of the museum is also noted for its vivid portrayal art, craft and artifacts dating back to the ancient epochs. The Prachina Museum is also famous for its collection of traditional costumes known by the term ‘Poshaks’ worn by Rajput women which represent the traditional designing style of Rajasthani craftsmen. The family portraits of the former rulers of Bikaner displayed in the museum offers an interesting study of the cultural transit from traditional to modern lifestyle and how the western influences strikingly appears in their clothing. This museum can be visited from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Kote Gate, a magnificent entrance to the old Bikaner city constructed during the dominion of the Rathore Kings today stands as an epitome of Bikaner’s glorious and prosperous past. Positioned just 1 kilometer away from the Bikaner Railway Station the Kote Gate area is today a thriving shopping center of downtown Bikaner. The tourists as well as the locals head to the Kote Gate to indulge themselves in the delight of shopping. Kote Gate is famous for its hand crafted articles, other art forms, exclusive Bikaneri shopping items like camel skin articles, decoratives, miniature paintings, carvings, Khadi clothes, mojaris, wooden antiques, Rajasthani jewellery, and so on. Moreover, the delectable Bikaneri cuisines such as Bhujia and Rasgullas can also be enjoyed at the food joints set up at the Kote Gate. As you cross the threshold of Kote Gate and enter the old city, you will get the fantastic opportunity to see the well-known Havelis of Bikaner including Rampuriya Haveli, and Bhanwar Niwas Haveli singing the sagas of imposing Rajputana legacy.
The Station Road of Bikaner and its surrounding area is also famous for shopping and enjoying the mouth watering Bikaneri gourmet feasts. Tourists can buy the characteristic Bikaneri articles such as Camel leather products like shoes, rugs, belts, bags, wallets, miniature paintings, chairs, other novelties including Mojari, Rangi dupatta, Cotton fabrics with Sanganeri prints, Kundan work, carpets, Nokha quilts, durries, cushion covers, beaded and sequined gorbandhs, paintings, wooden antiques, marble handicrafts, silver animal figures, ethnic furniture, lacquer bangles, Rajasthani silver jewellery, decorated swords, sweet boxes, etc. here. Moreover, you can also get your personalized Mojari made within 24 hours. The restaurants and food joints established around the station road are famous for Bikaneri Bhujia, Shev, Namkeen, Papad, Rasgulla, Rabdi, Ghevar, Fini, Rasmalai, Cham Cham, Gaundpak, Raj Bhog, Laapsi, Thandai etc.
Camel forms the lifeline and the means of sustenance and transportation in the desert of Rajasthan. Most of the journeys to the interior parts of the desert are undertaken on the back of the camel or in camel carts only. Other than that, camel is also used for ploughing the dry fields of the desert. Bikaner; ‘the Camel Country’ of India boasts of its best riding camels in the world and tourists can opt for a number of camel safari alternatives from Bikaner. These camel safaris range from one day safari to several days. These safaris are generally organized by professionals who also provide ‘raikas’ i.e. the camel keepers as the guides to the tourists who know all the interior paths of the desert as well as the spots of the waterholes very well. The best time to undertake a camel ride in the desert area is morning or evening as it is comparatively less hot. If you are continuing the safari ride in the afternoon as well, you must wear a turban or a hat to get the necessary protection from the scorching rays of the sun. Winter is the most ideal period for camel safaris in the desert of Rajasthan. The safaris cover about 30 to 40 kilometers every day and tourists, apart from using sun protection are advised to drink a lot of water. Riding through the Thar Desert on the back of the ‘ship of the desert’ and spending nights in the desert camps is indeed a memorable experience worth seeking