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States


 


Bikaner

Lying in the north of the desert state, the city is dotted with scores of sand dunes. Bikaner retains the medieval grandeur that permeates the city's lifestyle. More readily called 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 breeading farm in the world. The ship of the desert is an inseparable part of life here. A camel besides doing transportation duties, also works on wells. These are built on high plinths with slender minarets on each of the four corners and can be noticed even from a distance.

The history of Bikaner dates back to 1488 when a Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji founded his kingdom. Bikaji was one the five sons of Rao Jodhaji the illustrious founder of Jodhpur. But Rao Bikaji was the most adventurous of them. It is said that an insensitive remark from his father about his whispering in the Durbar provoked Bikaji to set up his own kingdom towards the north of Jodhpur. The barren wilderness called Jangladesh became his focus point and he transformed it to an impressive city. He accomplished his task with 100 cavalry horses and 500 soldiers, and established his kingdom on 84 villages abandoned by the 'Shankhlas'. When Bikaji died in 1504 his rule had extended to over 3000 villages.

Forts &Monuments
Junagarh
It is an unassailable fortress, which has never been conquered. Built in 1593 A.D. by Raja Rai Singh, one of the most distinguished generals in the army of Emperor Akbar, the fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat.

The main entrance to the fort is Karan Pol [gate], that is east facing. Next to it is the Suraj Pol meaning the sun gate. The fort situates in it some very magnificent palaces like Anup Mahal, Ganga Niwas and Rang Mahal or palace of pleasure. The Har Mandir is the majestic chapel for the royal family for worshipping their gods and goddesses. These palaces, constructed in red sandstone and marble, make a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks and windows dotted all over the structure. The premises also houses a museum which is an array of a rich collection .

Lal Garh Palace
This grand palace is an architectural masterwork in red sandstone, and was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh Ji in the memory of his father Maharaja Lal Singh Ji in 1902. Sir Swinton Jacob designed this oriental fantasy. This architecture is a fusion of  Rajput, Mughal and European architecture. The exterior contrasts dramatically with the oriental interiors and amenities. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work, which are hallmarks of a great craftsmanship.
The Palace has an amazing collection of well-maintained paintings and hunting trophies. Sprawling lawns with blooming bougainvillea and dancing peacocks make a visual extravagance.

Bhandeswari Jain Temple is a fifteenth century temple and is the oldest monument of Bikaner. The temple is decorated with rich mirror work, frescoes and gold leaf paintings.Havelis are ancient mansions of dwelling of the noble and wealthy. They are known for their opulent life style and intricate carvings and craftsmanship along with sprawling courtyards. Bikaner is full of such havelis and the notable amongst them belong to Kotharis, Rampurias, Vaids and Dagas. To view these havelis the suggested route is Gogagate, Daddhon Ka Chowk, Rangari Chowk, Assanion Ka Chowk, Mohta Chowk, Binnanion Ka Chowk Daga Chowk, BK School and Jassuar Gate.

Temples

Shiv Bari Temple (6 kms from Bikaner)
Fortified by a high wall the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Maharaja Doongar Singh constructed it in the ninth century in the memory of his father Maharaj Lall Singhji. The temple has a beautiful wall panting of Nandi Bull facing the Shiva Lingam. This is located on the way to the camel town.


Devi Kund (8 kms from Bikaner)
The royal crematorium has several exquisite cenotaphs (Ch h atris). Each C h hatri is dedicated to the memory of rulers of Bikaji dynasty and is  situated on the exact place where they were cremated. The C h hatri of Maharaj Surat Singh is a fine example of architecture. The ceilings of the Ch h atris displays some delicate Rajput paintings.

Deshnok Deshnok is a small village situated 32 km south from Bikaner city along the Jodhpur Road. It is connected by national highway and rail. It is a pilgrim centre of Karni Mata. Karni Mata, considered as an incarnation of Goddess Durga lived here in the fourteenth century and performed many miracles. Originally the village was  called 'dus- nok' meaning ten corners as it was formed by taking ten corners of ten villages.

Before the temple is a beautiful marble facade, which has solid silver doors built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum.

Museums
Ganga Singh Museum:
Popularly described as the best museum in the state, it displays a rich array of archaeological discoveries  from prehistoric Harrapan and early Gupta period. Separate sections put on view paintings, arts and craft, terracotta, pottery, carpets, coins and ancient Rajput weaponry.

Sadul Museum:  Part of the palace has been converted into a luxury hotel and a museum known as Shri Sadul Museum. The museum covers the entire first floor of the palace and houses well preserved old photographs and trophies of wildlife.

Prachina Museum
It's a museum located in the great Junagarh Fort. The museum is dedicated to royal costumes, textiles and accessories. 'Poshaks' or the ladies ensemble displayed are perhaps the last remnants of the traditional designing styles and workmanship. The museum also reveals a study of changing cultural settings in its display of family portraits of the former rulers. Changes embarked by the western influences appear strikingly. The vivid glimpses of legacy that survived in the contemporary Bikaner are also visible.

Rajasthan State Archives: This Directorate is located in Bikaner. The archives have in their custody some very precious administrative record of Mughal period like Persian Farmans, Nishans, Manshurs, Akbarat, Vakil Report, Arzdasht, Khatoot and the record created during administration of the Princely states of Rajasthan such as Bahiat, Pattas, Parwanas, Rukkas, Chithiat etc.
Because of this exceptional collection of records the department is of immense value to researchers all over the world. Facilities like microfilming, reference library and research rooms are also available to researchers. An exhibition of important documents is also set-up specially for tourist interest.
Around Bikaner
Camel Research Farm (8 km): Spend a day with the indispensable ship of the desert at their camel research and breeding centres which is only one of its kinds in Asia. The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi arid land and is managed by the Central Government. These camels are sold in the cattle fairs of Bikaner and Jaisalmer where they are decorated in all their fineries which are colorful and attractive, complementing the brown terrains of the desert.

Gajner palace Gajner is an incomparable Jewel in the Thar. Built by the great Maharaja Ganga Singhji of Bikaner on the embankment of a lake with a generous dose of flora and fauna. Basically a hunting and relaxing lodge, the maharaja and the family shared their passion with their exclusive guests and hosted exotic holidays for them. Around the palace is a thick forestation that attracts the guests to take up a simple walk around admiring the migratory birds in winters like imperial sand goose,antelopes, black bucks and the animal species that wander around in the form of Nilgais, chinkaras,  deers etc. The hotel is spread in a large area, and the ambiance around is as raw and authentic as it was before.

Kolyat  is located 50 kilometres from Bikaner. It is a temple complex of Kolyat and a holy place of pilgrimage for Hindus. The legend has it that Kapil Muni the advocate of Shankya yoga of the Hindu philosophy while journeying towards northwest was struck by the tranquility and peace of this place and chose to perform tapasya (penance) here for the redemption of the world. This place has since acquired great sanctity. The complex has several temples, pavilions and bathing ghats.  A dip in the holy waters of the lake especially on Kartik Poornima (November) is considered very auspicious.  
Wild Life
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary
(32 km): The lush foliage of woods on the Jaisalmer road are a haven to nilgai, chinkara, black buck, wild boar , flocks of imperial sand grouse and many more migratory birds that houses the sprawling forest in the winters.It can be visited by jeeps with the forest officers as the guides.

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