Top Things to Do in Bikaner, Rajasthan
The moment you think about Rajasthan all you can imagine is desert sand dunes. If you search deeper maybe Pushkar, Udaipur, Ajmer, Jaisalmer, etc. These places are sought after tourist destinations bustling with tourists all year round.
But, there are some unexplored regions that are a must-visit on your next trip to Rajasthan. One such place is Bikaner with several reasons to visit this sandy yet less busy tourist region.
These are the 5 most important reasons to visit Bikaner on Your Next Trip to Rajasthan.
1. Royal Forts in Bikaner
(i) Junagarh Fort
This is a unique fort in the entire state of Rajasthan as it is built on ground level! All other forts are mostly perched atop a hill. Dating back to the late 1500s Raja Rai Singh built this great fort with combination of Mughali & Rajputana architectural stylels.
Inside, you can find ancient paintings, intricate lattice work, glass art, weaponry, carved stone inlays and relics on history of Bikaner & the royal family. From these the King’s personal stuff there is a soup spoon specially designed so it does not spill on his mustache! The Diwan-E-Aam which was a Hall for Public Audience is now called Anup Hall.
(ii) Lalgarh Palace
Founded by Maharajah Ganga Singh in the early 1900s, a large portion of this Victorian architectural styled building is now a super luxury heritage hotel. The magnificent palace was desinged by Sir Swinton Jacob, an architect from europe. Laxmi Niwas Palace has a colorful blue lights that illumines the opulent heritage hotel.
The rooftop panels are Burma Teak and display scenes of capture from Kings hunting grounds. It is not a commences dining area and is worth the expense. The top dish on the menu is the lal mass and an extensive Rajasthani Thali.
(iii) Gajner Palace
This is a resplendent structure that showcases the colors of Bikaner. Nestled on the banks of the lake, this structure is made from red sandstone. This was specifically constructed as a lodge for the kings to rest when they went hunting in the jungles.
2. Jain & Hindu Temples
There are several temples that fill up the temple town of Bikaner. Some include Shivbadri temple which is the oldest there. Others are Bhandasaar Jain temple, Shri Laxminath, Ratan Bihari, Laxminath Temple and Sandeshwar Temple. While there is a dedicated hindu temple to Shiva called Shivbari Temple with a black marble statue of the God with four faces. There are also two massive water reservoirs in this dry region.
The Jain temple is one of the oldest dating back to 1500s founded by Bhanda Shah dedicated to Lord Parsvanath. The stone foundation of the triple storeyed structure is made from 40,000 kilos of Desi Ghee. Other highlights are the paintings and stone carvings from yellow stone. 26 km from the city in Deshnokh is the world renowned Karni Mata Temple that feeds around 20,000 rats by devotees. You have to see the tiny rats running all over the temple!
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3. Bikaner or Jaipur
Every portion of Bikaner is filled with the royal colors of Rajasthan similar to Jaipur. But Jaipur is not Bikaner. While Jaipur is a bustling tourist destination, Bikaner is an unexplored city with great structures like Prachina Museum, Government Museum, and Ganga State Museum. It is also popular for housing several famous temples.
It is situated beside Jaipur and there are so many destinations to visit by onward journey to Bikaner. The history of bikaner dates back to mid 1400s founded by a family of Jodhpur – Bika Rao and named Bikaner.
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In addition to monuments, temples and museums there are helpful locals who assist you with guidance by saying – ‘Khamma Ghani’ the Rajasthani style of saying Namaste. The regional people have a laid back lifestyle and quiet place instead of the fizzy crowds of tourists to Jaipur.
A trip to Bikaner is incomplete without the shopping at Kote Gate or Abhivyakti market areas. Shop in Bikaner for Bandhini Prints, Semi – precious Stoned Jewelry & Lahariya Fabrics.
4. Bikaner Cuisine – Sweets & Snacks
There are few top eateries & restaurants for a good tasty Rajasthani Thali meal. Famous for the Bikaneri Bhujia this town is otherwise the official sweets & snacks capital of Rajasthan. The tangy Kachori & Samosa chaats, Ghate Ki Sabzi, Pakore, Alu Bhujia, Namkeen, Sev, Spicy Papads, will leave your taste buds wanting more. Mostly made from butter, dried corn and lentils the cuisine is spicy compared to surrounding regions. So, a newcomer or Bikano may want to inform them in advance to add lesser spice.
A top brand in India for Bhujia & Namkeen – Haldirams has originated from Bikaner with the manufacturing unit in Ganga nagar, Bikaner. This is not a tourist destination but request an employee to see the massive prodoction unit and how the Bhujia is manufactured.
If not, then go to Giridhari Lal on KEM road or the Haldiram Bhujiawala Store. If you have a sweet tooth, head over to Sankhala on Station Road or Chhotu Motu Joshi Sweet Shop. You will be spoilt for varity of sweet dishes including Kesar / Pista Kulfi, Camel Milk Tea, Rasgulla, and many more.
5. Camel Safari
The Ship of the Desert was the only transport earlier and still is in many regions of Rajasthan. Bikaner houses a Camel Research Insititute where they breed thousands of camels each year. This is the largest camel farm in the continent of Asia situated nearly eight km from Bikaner City.
Go on a half day joy ride on a colorfully decorated camel across the sand dunes of Bikaner. They are decked up with frills, nets, thick carpet/ mat-like fabric almost covering the whole animal! Click pictures of the most colorfully dressed camel and watch camel dances and camel racing competitions at the vibrant Camel Festival held in January. Ride to Jaisalmer on top of the gentle giant on a 14 days journey!
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