Top traveller Attractions in Bikaner
We all fathom the Indian snacks brand known as Bikanervala (Now also a food chain serving heavenly Indian cuisine) and this is how most folks relate Bikaner to. But trust me this place in Rajasthan is quite the birth place of an Indian snack brand which by the means is yummilicious! Bikaner exhibits a rich history of Rajputs; there are numerous havelis, palaces, temples and museums that provide a pleasing image of a bygone era. In Bikaner, one can go back in history and can experience the rich culture and hospitality that melts hearts.
Junagarh Fort is a major attraction in Bikaner. The fort was inbuilt 1478 by maharajah Rao Bika (after whom the town is named Bikaner); but the construction that we see now is of the time of Raja Rai Singh (1571-1611) and Karan Singh (1631-1639). The later rulers also contributed in the beautification of the fort also. Junagarh fort complex consists of temples and palaces. The artistically done balconies, courtyards, windows catch the eyes of the guests. The Zenana quarters especially capture the eye of tourists as they exhibit exquisite designs of great artistic talent. Mirror work, frescos and lacquer work all make this fort look very attractive. Karan Mahal, Phool Mahal, Anup Mahal, Chandra Mahal are some major attractions here.
Now a Heritage hotel, Gajner Palace was once the royal residence of maharajah Sir Ganga Singh of Bikaner. The palace is located about 20kms from the town of Bikaner and is about up beside a gorgeous lake known as Gajner Lake. Since, it’s a heritage hotel now, you have the choice to enjoy great hospitality by booking a room here; but, if there’s budget constrain then you can take a day trip here. The palace is divided into Dungar Niwas, Mandir Chowk, Gulab Niwas and Champa Niwas. every wing is meticulously designed and equally well-maintained, the distinctive terraces’ design, artistically done balconies and the chic interiors make the palace look very attractive. One has the chance to enjoy nature walks, boating and desert safaris close to the palace.
Karni Mata Temple
Karni Mata Temple is probably one of the most renowned places to go to in Bikaner. This temple is known for its sizable population of rats that are the permanent residents here. Dating back to the 15thcentury, this temple is devoted to Karni Mata who was the incarnation of deity Durga. Legend has it that when Karni Mata’s son died, she requested Yama to revive her son’s life, but Yama refused. So, Karni Mata being the incarnation of deity restored the life of her son and declared that from now onwards her family will not face death but be reincarnated in the form of rats. Today, there are about 20,000 rats that live in the temple premises and no doubt attract the attention of the many travellers.
Sand Dunes safari
Since, Bikaner is within close proximity to the great Thar Desert, taking a safari is the obvious things to do. There are jeeps and camels available for the sand dune safari. One can opt for the period of the safari; even the choice to camp amidst desert and witness folks dance and music is also made available here. Depending upon the period of the safari, one can see several destinations like Raisar, Khichan, Balakaya Dhora and Phlodi.
Offering the best of Rajputana architecture, Rampuria Haveli is amongst the best places to see in Bikaner. In fact, Rampuria is a group of Havelis that were made in the fifteenth century by Rampuria family. The havelis are made from Dulmera red sand stone and displays exquisite creative skills. The rich interior adorned with tasteful artifacts, golden paintings and woodwork are the major attraction. Also, the amalgamation of Mughal, Victorian and Rajputana architecture in its drawing room is worth praising.
Bhandasar Jain Temple
Bhandsar Jain Temple is one amongst the 2 most known Jain shrines in Bikaner. Dedicated to the sixth Jain Tirthankara Sumatinath, it’s a three-storied shrine that dates back to the fifteenth century. The temple is an epitome of Rajputana architecture and has marble pillars, gold leaf walls, intricately decorated ceilings and massive halls. The exquisite mirror work grabs special attention here. apart from its design the utter silence and peace in the ambience is what makes it an excellent place to go to. you’ll spend hours marveling at its design and its tranquil surroundings.
The Royal Cenotaphs
Situated about 8kms east of Bikaner is Devikund Sagar, which is the cremation ground of Bikaner’s royal family. Here stands the Royal Centaphs that were in-built memory of members of the royal family. There are 2 separate groups of Cenotaphs that show the architectural exuberance of the Rajputs. It should be remembered that cenotaphs were an important part of the Rajputana as well as Mughal architecture. In Devikund Sagar, some cenotaphs (of early rulers) are made of Dulmera red sand stoneand some (later rulers) are of marble. The major attraction here is the cenotaph built for maharajah Anup Singh (1669-98A.D.), which is constructed on sixteen pillars and has carvings of peacocks, acts of Lord Krishna, birds and different animals.
Lalgarh Palace and museum
Another architectural delight in Bikaner is Lalgarh Palace. This beautiful palace was built by maharajah Ganga Singh in the early 20th century. The palace has now been converted into a hotel and thus is an ideal place to spend your holidays in Bikaner (of course, if you’re not having a rigorous budget). The rich Rajputana architecture mixed with the tasteful interior décor attracts guests here. The indoor swimming pool is also a very pleasant site to visualize in the palace. The palace also consists of a museum that’s located inside Ganga Niwas. Here one can see the Miniature Paintings that are related to Bikaner school of art, Terracota Wares and armors. there’s also a library that has a good collection of Sanskrit Manuscripts written on parchments, plaques of silver, copper and gold. The artifacts belonging to Harappan civilization and Kushan and Gupta Age also are preserved here.
Gajner wildlife Sanctuary
About 32kms from Bikaner, Gajner wildlife Sanctuary is an ideal place for wildlife adventure close to Bikaner. The sanctuary shelters several species of animals like Chinkara (black buck), wild boar, neelgai. One also can realize a sizeable population of birds here like sandgrouse. This sanctuary was once the hunting ground of the maharajah and the royal family and today it’s been developed as a wildlife reserve that shelters rich flora and fauna. Taking a safari inside it’s an excellent idea for wildlife buffs; also the bird watchers have a decent chance to spot birds of various species here.
Separating old Bikaner from new Bikaner, Kote Gate is a crucial landmark of the town. Boast of architectural grandeur, Kote Gate is in fact the first thing that you notice when you enter Bikaner. On one side of the gate are the exquisitely constructed Rujputana Havelis and on the other side is a vibrant bazaar, which may be a paradise for any shopper. Once you’re done marveling at the splendor of the architecture of Kote Gate, you can visit the market that sells things made of camel hide, open-toed shoes, miniature paintings, utensils, handicrafts, khadi things like kurtas and wooden things. One also can enjoy eating Bikaneri sweets, Bikaneri bhujiya and tea made from camel’s milk here in the bazaar.
Shiv Bari Temple
Amongst the most popular places of traveller interests in Bikaner is shiv Bari Temple. This shrine holds great religious importance and is also one of the best examples of Rajputana architecture in Bikaner. The temple is located about 6kms from the town and was built by maharajah Doongar Singhji. the huge black stone idol of Lord Shiva along with the artistically done pavilions, columns and domes are the main attraction here.
This temple is one of its kinds as unlike other temples there’s no structure of the temple here. The shrine is basically a statue that presides over a marble platform; there’s no hall, door or even a roof in this temple. This is probably the only temple in India where one has to pay an entry fee. The best time to go to this temple is during the Bhadrapad fair, when artisans and craftsmen from all over the state come to visit this temple.
Shri Laxminath Temple
Built by maharajah Rao Lunkaran, Shri Laxminath Temple is amongst the oldest temples in Bikaner. It located about 4kms from Junagarh Fort and has some of the finest artwork. The temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu and deity Lakshmi and is crowded by devotees on occasions like Janmashtami, Nirjala Ekadashi, Ramnavami, Diwali and Geeta Jayanti.
Set up in the year 2000, Prachina museum is placed in Junagarh Fort. The museum was established by Siddhi Kumari, the daughter of late maharajah Narendra Singhji of Bikaner in order to preserve the cultural diversity of Bikaner. At this museum one can witness the royal costumes and textiles, family portraits of the former rulers, change of cultural milieus from one generation to another, the responses of royal family to the Western influences, ritualism and religious accessories, the influence of Bikaner’s contemporary arts and crafts till date.
Bhandeshwari Jain Temple
This temple was built prior to the foundation of Bikaner. Bhandeshwari Jain Temple is believed to have been built around 1468 A D and has become famous due to its exemplary temple architecture. Legend has it that a huge amount of Butter Oil was used in the construction of the temple instead of water. The shrine has beautiful inlay work in gold and has rich paintings that mark the walls and the ceiling of the temple. It’s a 3 storied structure that offers splendid view of the old city from the top.
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