In the heart of the scorching Thar Desert, lies Bikaner of Rajasthan in India. The captivating desert scenery with all the majesty of its sand dunes, hard, rocky soil and thorny shrubs growing here and there, makes Bikaner endearing to nature lovers. The forts and red sandstone construction are the chief attractions of the city. It is a royal city surrounded by a mammoth fortification wall, more than 5 km in circumference and about 5 to 9m high.
Lying on the northern tip of the desert tourist triangle, Bikaner was a
one of the significant staging post of the silk route in the days when
businessmen used to travel mostly on camel caravans. Bikaner was founded
in 1486 A.D. and was named after its founder, Rao Bikaji.
The Camel Breeding Farm in Bikaner is only one of its kinds in whole
Asia and so is the illustrious Camel Festival. Bikaner is bright and
alive and colorful with its traditional costumes, vivacious fairs and
festivals, paintings and murals and electrifying wares and hoards of
artistic skills that have been there for centuries.
Typically a desert climate, the days
in Bikaner are hot and nights are chilly. In summers the temperatures
range between 41.8ºC to 28ºC while, in winters, temperatures
range from 23.2ºC to 5ºC.
HOW TO REACH
By Air: Bikaner does not have an
official airport. Nal Airport, 17 kms from the city, which
normally serves as India Air Force airfield, remains open to
civilian flights to and from Bikaner from November to March. The
nearest international airports to Bikaner are Jodhpur and
By Train: Bikaner is well connected
with all the major cities by the network of trains such as New
Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Kolkata, Agra, Churu and many more. From
New Delhi, there are day and night trains that take about 12
hours to make the km trip to Bikaner. The Railway Station is
situated in the heart of the city.
By Road: Rajasthan tourism and private
operators run luxury coaches, which include Rajasthan Roadway
Deluxe, Super deluxe and air-conditioned buses, linking Bikaner
to all the major cities such as New Delhi, Udaipur, Ajmer and
Agra. The intercity bus station is centrally located opposite
the Lalgarh Palace.
WHERE TO EAT
To treat the guests with new and
unusual dishes are considered a matter of prestige in Bikaner and
Rajasthan in general, not to mention the delicacies like stuffed camels,
goats, and peacocks. The imperial kitchens of all the major hotels will
offer you highly decked dishes in which dried lentils, beans from
indigenous plants like sangri are ker liberally used. Bikaneri namkeen
(salties) are famous and spicy. Lalgarh Palace Hotel is said to have the
best cooks in the city.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
Festival is much like Elephant Festival of Jaipur. Dedicated to the
ship of the desert or the main mode of the transport for the desert
people, it is held on the full moon night, every year in January. A lot
of events featuring camel races and camel dances are held. You can enjoy
camel rides and experience the buoyancy and colorful environment typical
Gangaur Fair is held in
March/ April every year in the honor of Goddess Gauri. Maidens and
married women enact processions throughout the city. They wear their
best dresses and jewellery, sing folk songs and perform rituals to
please the goddess and get her blessings for conjugal and marital bliss.
Kite Festival or the Teej
Festival is generally held April/ May annually and as the name
suggests the major event on this occasion is to fly kites. This cultural
tradition bears special significance in Bikaner as it serves to venerate
the historical fact that on this day the foundations of the city were
laid. The hot climate and the sandstorms are unable to hinder the
enthusiasm and fervor with which people of all ages celebrate it.
Karni Mata Fair is held
twice a year on the ninth day of the Navratra (the nine-day festival) in
March/ April and September/ October, in the honor of Goddess Karni Mata,
worshipped by the royal family of Bikaner. All the devotees gather in
the little desert citadel of Deshnok and offer their prayers and chant
hymns and prayers.
Muni Fair is held in November on the sacred lake of Kolayat, which
is about 55 Km from Bikaner, during the full moon of 'Kartik' (according
to the Hindu calendar), in the honor of Kapil Muni who founded 'Sankhya'
(statistics, which was one of the six major philosophical schools of
ancient India). Not only the devotees who come here to take a holy dip
in the lake, several other people and tourists visit the place only to
see the renowned cattle fair held here during this occasion.
Shop in Bikaner for items made out
of camel hide such as belts, wallets, bags, and jootis (footwear) and
many more. Carpets made of camel and sheep wool are a specialty. These
days colorful carpets with intricate designs made with a blend of
Bikaner wool and New Zealand wool are gaining popularity. Unique Kundan
jewellery and setting uncut stones, usually diamonds, into gold to
decorate the swords to sweet boxes, and using enamel ornamentation to
enhance their splendor in the "raised field" technique are
quite a craze. 'Nokha Quilts', known for lightweight and good
insulation, cotton fabrics with sanganeri prints, tie and dyes,
paintings, embroidered shoes also attract attention of the tourists. In
Bikaner, Kote Gate (King Edward Memorial Road) and Junagarh Fort are the
main shopping areas.
WHAT TO WEAR
The most appropriate outfits to wear
in Bikaner include loose cotton clothes in summer and light woolen
clothes to keep you warm in winter. Use a hat or a scarf as a head
covering to avoid heat strokes. It will be advisable to wear comfortable
footwear, as you will have to walk a lot here while sightseeing.
Sunscreens are not to be forgotten if you are not used to the scorching
hot desert sun in summers.
Bikaner city guide gives information on this historical city of Rajasthan. Know more about Bikaner, Rajasthan, in this travel guide.
Bikaner City Guide
|Significance:||Third city of the Desert triangle|
|Best Season:||October To April|
|Language:||Hindi, Bikaneri, English|
|Distance From Jodhpur:||256 Km|
|Distance From Jaisalmer:||312 Km|
|Distance From Jaipur:||354 Km|
|Distance From New Delhi:||480 Km|