Bikaner - The Red City
The landscape around Bikaner is marked by a vast expanse of golden sand dunes. Red sandstone buildings and forts are its chief attractions. It is also called the Camel City, because of the yearly Camel Festival held here. The people dress in bright colours against the sandy backdrop of the barren land making up for an intriguing combination of colour. The plethora of colours is also seen in local art.
The first ruler of Bikaner was King Bargujar of the Gujar community. In 1472 AD, Rao Bika established the city of Bikaner on this land. Rao Bika was the son of Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur city. In a desire to build his own kingdom Rao Bika developed this land and it was named after him. The Jodha clan controlled the caravan trade routes between coastal Gujarat and central Asia which earned them handsome revenues. Bikaner was a part of this trade route, due to its water sources. The first fort of Bikaner was built by Rao Bika in 1478 AD. Its ruins can be seen in the city.
It is the third city of the captivating desert triangle, completed by Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. Supporting its description as the “camel country”, the city is distinguished for the best riding camels in the world and hence boasts of having one of the largest Camel Research and Breeding farms in the world.
Art and craft:
Bikaner is famous for its intricately carved red sandstone Jharokhas. Women got a glimpse of the atmosphere outside, while remaining hidden from the public view. The red sandstone was brought from the village Dulmera nearby.
Another Bikaner speciality, are its miniature paintings. Shah Muhhamad Usta of the Lalani clan created the Bikaner School Of Art. Miniatures were painted by Muslim artists who created masterpieces on Hindu mythological epics like the Krishna-Lila, Ramayana, Mahabharata.
Bikaner is world renowned for its Usta Art - here Manoti and Naqqashi work is done on camel leather, ivory, wood and glassware.
Junagarh Fort: Guarded by 37 bastions and 2 main entrances, this fort has 37 red-stone structures inside it. The main attractions are Ganga Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Phool Mahal, Anup Mahal, Badal Mahal and Karan Mahal. These palaces house beautiful Shekhawati and Bikaner miniature paintings, stained glass and lattice windows along with inlaid mirror work ceilings. The Durbar Hall in Ganga Mahal has a museum where a World War 2 plane, war weapons and royal dresses are on display.
Lalgarh Palace: Built by Maharaja Ganga Singh Ji, this palace is made up of red sand-stone. It has a collection of paintings and hunting trophies. The architecture is an interesting blend of European, Mughal and Rajput craftsmanship. Intricate filigree and lattice work lends this palace a unique charm.
Camel Research farm: Located 8 km from Bikaner, this farm has a variety of camel breeds. These camels participate in the yearly camel festival. You can tri camel milk icecream there.
Moolnayakji Temple: This temple was the principle seat of Vaishnav Sect. Constructed in 1486, the temple’s principle deity has Lord Krishna.
Karni Mata Temple: The world famous shrine of Karni Mata can be found in the town of Deshnoke 30 km south of Bikaner, on the road to Jodhpur. This Hindu temple is most famous for the fact, that humans live in perfect harmony with thousands of rats.
Adorned with a solid silver carved doors depicting goddess Karni Mata and lord Ganesh, the temple's inner sanctum has a silver image of goddess Karni Mata accompanied by the images of her sister Avad Mata.
According to legend the presence of the rats is explained as follows: during the times of Karni Mata a terrible plague had spread all over the country killing thousands of children. The plight of the parents moved Karni Mata to strike a deal with Yama that no more children would die of the plague again. Instead they would temporarily be turned into rats, before being reborn into the tribe.
Nearby Destinations / Attractions :
Nearest Airport : Jodhpur Airport (250 km / 5 hrs)
Best time to visit and Climate :
Best time to visit is during the winter, spring & monsoonmonths when the weather is glorious and the lakes are full. May and june months are extremely hot and the lakes dry up.
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