Bikaner - A Tete a Tete with the City :
Location : North Western Part of India in the Northern part of Rajasthan
Founded in : 1488 by Rao Bika
When to visit : November - February
Local Transport : Cycle Rickshaws, auto rickshaw, unmetered taxis, Tongas, Bicycles
Souvenir : Savories in Bikaner, blankets, rugs, carpets, wood carvings, Miniature paintings, Gesso work, tie dye materials, embroidered Shoes.
Important places of Interest : Junagarh Fort, Devi Kund Bikaner, Rajasthan Museum, Devi Kund, Prachina, Museum, Temples
The Tale of the City :
In the fourteenth century in Bikaner- the desert land, Rao Jodha of Jaipur was facing a calamity of sorts. His son Rao Bika had left home and had vowed to establish his own kingdom. Thus the desert kingdom of Bikaner was found by Rao Bika in 1488. Rao Bika took the blessings of the Indian goddess Karni mata, and built a kingdom as big as England in size. The city thus founded, grew in trade and commerce to the extent that it was the major centre for trade in the route between Asia and North India. This route was then traversed by caravans. The areas of Asia and North India were connected to the ports in Gujarat. In 1486 A.D. a Rathor prince by the name of Bika, conquered this desert beauty and gave it the name Bikaner. Thus was born a desert city, which has retained its grandeur, splendor, valour and glory till today. The royalty element that is attached to Bikaner is unmistakably felt when one steps into the city. Thus Bikaner lives its past history even today.
Bikaner - Down the Ages :
As we go down the ages in the history of the city, we see the conflict that existed in the sixteenth century between the Mughals and Bikaner. A lot of time had gone in settling their conflicts. In the later part of the 16th century Bikaner won. Raja Prithviraj Singh became one of the “Nine Gems” of the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Prithviraj Singh was a poet and a warrior too. By this time, Bikaner, the desert lass had grown into an important centre for trade. But it was during the reign of Maharaja Ganga Singh, that the city bloomed and flourished. He is still therefore regarded as the most advanced and the most powerful ruler of this State of Rajashtan.
Travel Kitty :
Bikaner, India has the grandeur and glory of a newly wedded Indian bride. All the glory exhibited in the past is felt in every nook and corner of the city. Thus a traveler or a tourist here would find this desert expanse of a city the best cure for a roving tourist eye. Bikaner, the Safari region is a refreshing break in the tour of India in the state of Rajasthan. The arts and crafts of this city are magnificently reminiscent of the grand Indian historical culture.
The savouries found in this city are a must carry home package. Very famous among these are the Bikaner Bhujiya and the Namkeen.
Any tourist coming to Bikaner has to make sure he gets his share of gifted crafts and treasure for use at home and for decoration. Local blankets, the rugs, carpets and the carvings made out of wood, carpets that are woven and quilts called Nokha quilts are all a shopaholic’s delight.
Bikaner the city of glory is famous also for its miniature paintings from the Bikaner School of Paintings. Besides the special Gesso work is a craft that is exquisite and unique in this city.
Women who are foot freaks can get the best embroidered footwear hear called the mojaris or the jootis. Materials of tie and dye category and dress materials in crepe, chiffon and georgette are a common treat for the womenfolk who visit this city of vibrant colours.
Bikaner - Joie de Vivre in the City :
The charm, the splendor, the beauty, the experience of Bikaner, the king of deserts, is an experience in itself which is best felt rather than spoken about. The simple existence of history, culture and tradition coupled with beauty, grandeur and glory makes this a unique place to visit in the list of touring Indian cities. While in the city, the following places sure give enough treat to the eyes.
Junagarh Fort : One is actually hypnotized as one enters this lap of the Indian tour of cities. The city has forts all over and is often referred to as a fortified city. The forts have an origin dating back to the fifteenth century. Years back, Raja Rai Singh, built a fort in Bikaner. It is today known as the Junagarh Fort. Raja Rai Singh was an important person in the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s court. The Junagarh fort has two gateways. One is the Suraj Pol and the other the Daulat Pol. The USP of the fort is the existence of 37 palaces together. Anup Mahal, Ganga Niwas, Rang Mahal are some of the notable mahals or palaces in the fort. One also chances to experience the presence of a beautiful Hari teimple in the same area, within the fort. This fort is thus a must see for all the tourists.
Devi Kund Bikaner, Rajasthan Ganga Government Museum : These monuments built in red colour sandstone, store a lot of hunting trophies. This proves the existence of life around 320 A.D. This is close to the Lalgarh Palace and was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Many objects are on display in this museum, The Usta crafts being one of them. There are also gold leaf paintings made on the hides of camels, and then there are also royal family possessions like the utensils, clothes and carpets. Thus this museum is an open testimony to the glory of the past.
Prachina Museum : This museum exhibits all the rituals, beliefs, customs and the manners that people in Bikaner identify with. There are many articles of interest pertaining to culture found here. Studded mirror frames, lacquer lamps, crafts made out of camel hide and embroidered, artifacts made out of metal, as also gold leaf craft are found in this museum. This monument bears a lot of proof of the past greatness and the history behind the city.
Temples : The Bhandasar Jain temple and the Shiv Bari temple are temples that shouldn’t be missed in the itinerary to visit this city of dunes.
The Entertainment Factor :
With its forts, palaces and temples looming large on the horizon, the city of sand dunes offers the best safaris ever. The exciting camel safaris are a visitor’s treat and this coupled with the royalty of the place, the sheer magnificence of the edifices, all add to the joy of visiting this place. Besides, overnight camping, exploration of the Thar Desert and delving into the multi faceted state of Rajasthan culture makes the visit to this city a memorable one. The joie de vivre in this city is felt in smelling the excitement and adventure in the air always.
Thus the city of Bikaner which is close to the other cities of Delhi, Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jodhpur is a region of unparalleled structural excellence with tradition, history and culture also not being left behind. As we enter the city, the sheer adventurous spirit exhibited by people here and the interest shown in making us feel as much a part of the city, evokes a sense of contentment and satisfaction. The city has a lot more to offer than it shows and as we leave the city there is only one lingering thought that comes to mind “All that glitters could also be real gold sometimes!”