Disclaimer: Originally published in April 2017. It is being republished since it still remains an interesting topic till today.
Midst the sand dunes of Jaisalmer and major tourist attractions of Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaipur lies the city of Bikaner. Bikaner is one lesser known city in Rajasthan and definitely less explored.
This is why I have taken upon myself to take you through the nooks and corners of Bikaner. A beautiful city in the lap of natural sand dunes and folk culture. A city I spent my childhood in, far away from the hustle-bustle of metro cities.
Bikaner, The Camel City
So, it is situated in the northern part of Rajasthan and is nicknamed ‘Camel Country’. Hence, the city rightly has India’s best riding camels and is also known for the vast research and breeding institutes for camels.
Fun Fact: The city is home to biplane used by the Britishers during the first World War, one of the only two biplane models built! They were presented to Maharaja Ganga Singh, the then king by the Britishers.
History, The Legend Of The Rathore Prince
Legend has it that Rao Jodhaji who founded Jodhpur once ridiculed his son Rao Bikaji in durbar full of people.
The Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji left the durbar in annoyance, travelled a lot in the desert and finally reached no man’s land called Jangladesh. He then transformed it into a beautiful city and named it Bikaner.
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Bikaner is home to various forts turned into hotels and museums. Other than that it is known for beautiful havelis, sand dunes, camels and temples.
Deshnok Temple, also known as the Rats Temple is here on the outskirts of this city. And yes, you guessed it right. The temple is full of rats. As a kid, I used to climb onto my father and only then let my family enter the temple. (Yeah, rats are my biggest nightmare!)
One should visit Junagrah fort, Rampuria Haveli, Gajner Palace, Gajner Lake & Sanctuary, Lalgarh Palace, Laxmi Niwas Palace, Kolayat, Devi Kund and other sight seeing attractions when in town. National Research Centre on camels should also make to the list.
Bikaner Fairs & Festivals
Bikaner Camel Festival is held annually and is known even across the borders of India. Festival includes camel pageants, competitions like best breed in camel, milking etc. There are other competitions for breeders like, longest moustache, beard etc. Other than this the nights are lit with beautiful cultural and folk dance and music.
Another fair worth attending when in Rajasthan is the Kolayat Fair or as regionally known as, Kapil Munni Fair. It is an extravaganza for celebration of Rajasthani culture, cuisine, folklore, dance and music.
To Do List For The Camel City
When in Bikaner, you must shop from the local markets! Firstly, you need to buy bhujia and rasgullas from Bikharam Chandmal Bhujiawala. It’s almost been 10 years since I’ve moved to Delhi, we still get all our namkeen supply from this place.
Secondly, you must shop for Mojaris (a type of Rajasthani footwear), Bandhej or Lehariya sarees, Rangi dupattas, wooden artworks, Lacquer bangles and Katputliyaan from Bikaner. Not from Jaisalmer or Udaipur but this city!
And lastly, when you’re done with sight-seeing go for some desert adventure. Rajasthan Tourism has recently associated with Dune Adventure Sports Club in the city for Off-Road Safari adventure. No need to travel to Dubai for it now!
So, ‘padharo mhaare desh’?
Picture Credits: Google Images