BIKANER- A HARBOUR OF THE SHIP OF THE DESERT-THE CAMEL
Renowned for the best riding camels in the world, Bikaner lies in the medieval splendour, a royal fortified city with a timeless appeal. Lying in the north of the desert state the city is surrounded by sand dunes, some mighty and other of mild gradients.
The strategic location of Bikaner on the ancient caravan routes of West and Central Asia made it the prime trade centre in by-gone years. Then, as in now, the camel became irreplaceable, be it s a beast of burden for transporting grains, working on wells, or simply as a mode of transport.
Bikaner’s history dates back to 1488 A.D. when the Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji-son of the founder of Jodhpur, Rao Jodhaji, established his kingdom here. Of all his five siblings, Rao Bikaji , the most enterprising, chose the barren wilderness called ‘Jangladesh’ and transformed it into a most impressive city.
Bikaner is the host city for International Camel fair.
The Old city of Bikaner stands on a slightly raised ground encircled by an embattled wall with five gates. Till today, its magnificent forts and palaces built with reddish –pink sandstone, bear testimony to its rich and architectural legacy. Walk through the city’s lanes and colourful bazaars. Meet its cheerful folks and transport yourself to another place and time.
Prime sites to visit in Bikaner
Built in 1588 A.D by Raja rai Singh, a general in the army of Emeperor Akbar, the fort is a formidable structure encircled by a moat and has some beautiful palaces within. These palaces made in red sandstone and marble, makes a picturesque ensemble of courtyards, balconies, kiosks an dwindows dotted all over the structure.
The Suraj pol or Sun gate
It is the main entrance to the fort. Among the notable of these palaces are the equisitely beautiful Chandra Mahal with marvellous paintings, mirrors and carved panels, and the Phool mahal ki –saal ornate with stucco motifs and mirror work. Other palaces worth visiting are the Anup Mahal, karan Mahal, Dungar Niwas, Rang mahal. Gigantic columns, arches and graceful screens adorn the palaces from within.
National research centre on camel
Located 8 kms from Bikaner. Spend some time with the indispensable ship of the desert at camel Research and Breeding centre – one of its kinds in Asia. The farm extends over 2000 acres of semi arid land and is managed by the Central Government.
The Camel Corps of Bikaner were a famous fighting force during the British period and are still important part of the desert warfare abd defence. The Border Security Force uses camel for patrolling on the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan.
Deshnok’s karni Mata Temple (Rat Temple)
32 Kms from Bikaner, the famous 600 year old temple on the Jodhpur road dedicated to Karni Mata, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The Temple has huge intricately carved silver gates which were donated by Maharaja Ganga Singh.
The most interesting thing about the temple is the rats that scamper freely within precincts. They are regarded as sacred and are fed by priests and devotes owing to the belief that they will be reincarnated in the family of the goddess.