The camel country
|Type of Tourism||: Heritage Tourism|
|Area||: 270 square kilometers|
|Population||: 723,982 (As per Indian census- 2008)|
|Altitude||: 242 meters|
|Best Tourist Season||: October to March|
|Languages spoken||: Marwari, Rajasthani, Hindi, English|
|Telephone Code||: India (01520, 01521, 01522, 01523, and 0151), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 334001|
|Clothing recommended||: Light cotton in summer, woolen in winter|
|What to buy||: Camel leather products such as 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.|
|Food Specialties||: Gatta Ki Sabzi, Mangodi, Ker Sangri Ki Sabzi, Dal Bati Churma, Khata, Pakodi, Kheechdi, Bajra and Corn Roti, Bhujia, Alu Bhujia, Papad, other Namkeen, Rasgulla, Rabdi, Ghevar, Fini, Rasmalai, Cham Cham, Gaundpak, Raj Bhog, Laapsi, Thandai etc.|
|Local transportation||: Cycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, rented bicycles, Tongas, etc.|
A regal province studded with ancient forts, lofty mansions and ostentatious palaces and the glorious torchbearer of the rich cultural legacy of Rajasthani royalty amidst the far reaching sand dunes, Bikaner a municipal corporation and the administrative capital of the district of the same name is a blissful oasis in the dazzling desert of Rajasthan. Established in late 15th century AD by a Rathore prince Rao Bika; the son of Rao Jodha of Marwar and also the founder of Jodhpur, Bikaner also receives its title after the name of its creator. Earlier functioning as the headquarters of the erstwhile princely state of Bikaner, this metropolis has now fostered as the fourth largest city of the state of Rajasthan. Formerly enclosed by a seven kilometers long fortification and guarded by five enormous gates, the city of Bikaner positioned on an elevated geographical area in the desert still bears the testimony of its medieval grandeur and its brilliant architectural heritage.
The city wears a reddish yellow tinge oozing from the charismatic red and yellow sandstone buildings innovatively ornamented with intricately carved Jali screens and Jharokhas. Bikaner, one of the angles of the Rajasthan Desert Circuit triangle (the other two being Jodhpur and Jaisalmer) has still preserved the undying appeal of its imperial aura. Bikaner, also bestowed upon with the epithet; ‘the Camel Country’ prides itself on its best riding camels and its largest camel research and breeding farm in the world. The camel safaris and the camel festival of Bikaner enchant the tourists to no extent. Other than that, Bikaner, celebrated for its baronial demeanor, colorful bazaars, winding lanes, moonlit beauty of desert, religious destinations, jovial folks, ‘Usta’ art of miniature paintings and gold embossing, expertise in dry irrigation and its delectable gourmet feasts of Bhujia, Namkeen, Papad, Rasgulla and Thandai is truly a Canaan of perennial beauty that would undoubtedly tickle every tender heart.
History of Bikaner
Until mid 15th century AD, the territory that is today known as Bikaner was a barren field in wilderness acknowledged by the name Jangladesh. Rao Bika; the second son of Maharaja Rao Jodha of Rathore dynasty and the founder of Jodhpur anticipating that he would never inherit the throne of Jodhpur decided to establish his own empire at Jangladesh. Rao Bika laid the foundation of a new kingdom in the year 1488 and christened it after his name as ‘Bikaner’. Though settled in the midst of the arid Thar Desert of Rajasthan, Bikaner blessed with ample water springs functioned as a soothing retreat on the trade route connecting Gujarat with the Central Asia.
About a century later during the governance of the sixth king of Bikaner; Raja Rai Singh (1574-1612) the fortunes of the state flourished. Rai Singh had accepted the suzerainty of Mughals and enjoyed an eminent rank at the courts of Emperor Akbar as well as Jahangir. As a reward against his conquest of Mewar for the Mughals, Rai Singh was conferred upon the reigns of Gujarat and Burhanpur. By the means of the great revenue earned from them, Rai Singh erected the legendary Junagarh Fort in the year 1593. The 9th Raja of Bikaner Rao Karan Singh (1631-1667) also prospered under the monarchy of the Mughals and built the ‘Karan Mahal Palace’. The Karan Mahal was renovated and revamped by Rao Anup Singh (1669 1698) who then renamed it as ‘Anup Mahal’.
During the 18th century AD when Bikaner and Jodhpur waged war against each other, British intervened and resolved the matter. In 1818, the Treaty of Paramountcy was signed between Rao Surat Singh (1787-1828) and the British East India Co. according to which Bikaner accepted the suzerainty of the British. The 20th Raja of Bikaner Rao Dungar Singh (1872-1887) constructed the widely renowned Badal Mahal; the ‘Weather Palace’. Rao Ganga Singh (1887-1943) the 21st Raja of Bikaner was the most favorite and favored Rajput prince of the British Governor-Generals who appointed him as the Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India. Rao Ganga Singh also functioned as a member of the Imperial War Cabinet, represented India at the Imperial Conferences during the First World War and represented the British Empire at the Versailles Peace Conference.
He also established the famous Ganga Niwas Palace and christened it as the ‘Lalgarh Palace’ where the royal residence was moved from the Junagarh Fort in 1902 AD. After the independence of India, the princely state of Bikaner was integrated to the Indian Union by Raja Rao Sadul Singh on 30th March 1949. Rao Karni Singh was the last ruler of Bikaner and his heir Maharaja Ravi Raj Singh presently functions as the Head of the House of Rathore clan in Bikaner.