BIKANER - WHAT TO DO AND WHAT TO SEE

Bikaner is not a very big city but it has its own old world charm and some of the most enchanting historical landmarks. And slowly, it's trying to catch up with modern times too.

Junagarh fort, Bikaner


Hello friends! This is about my adventures in Bikaner, a place to travel for history and it's colourful culture. Winter is at its peak now. And there are a few preferred places one would like to travel to, in this season. I had been contemplating a trip for some time but wasn't really able to decide on my destination. I am more of a mountain lover, so I always love to head to hills at the first opportunity. However, this time, owing to severe winter and continuous snowfall in the hills, I decided to look for a place to travel in the plains. Now the big question again was - where? After a lot of thinking, permutations, combinations and brainstorming, I zeroed in on one Bikaner.

I have always been fascinated by Rajasthan and it's vibrant colours. And I had never been to Bikaner but had heard a lot about the place. I wanted to explore the unknown. So I got my tickets and hopped on to an overnight train from Delhi Sarai Rohilla station directly to Bikaner.

The train was supposed to reach Bikaner at 7.10 next morning, but to my surprise, it touched Bikaner Junction station before time, at 6.45 am. Most of the passengers, including myself, were still in sleeping mode and did not realize that the train had reached its destination. It was only when a few fellow passengers announced that we had reached Bikaner, did we get out of our slumber. I quickly packed and picked up my belongings(which was just a backpack) and moved out of the train compartment.

Bikaner station
ARCHITECTURE OF BIKANER STATION

On landing at the Bikaner station platform, the first thing that greeted me was the chilly wind. It was extremely cold. The temperature at that point in time mustn't have been more than 4-5 degrees Celsius. I had not anticipated that Bikaner will be so cold. Thankfully, I had my woollen cap and jacket on, so could bear the chill. It was still a little dark, the beginning of a new dawn. I went directly to my place of stay and relaxed for a while in the cosy quilt. 


Bikaner junction railway station
BIKANER RAILWAY STATION

After relaxing for a little while, I got up and got ready to explore the city. 

JUNAGARH FORT - My first stop was Junagarh Fort, which is only 3 km from the railway station. It is a sprawling complex which consists of many palaces. It was known as Chintamani Durg, when it was built in the year 1589, by the then ruler of Bikaner, Maharaja Rai Singhji. From outside it looked like an imposing structure but there was not much inside. But his successors decided to beautify the fort and built various palaces inside it. Originally, the fort was built of red sandstone but later, materials from around the world were used to build structures inside the fort and subsequently, it was renamed, Junagarh Fort.


Door of Junagarh fort
JUNAGARH FORT DOOR
The door of the fort is itself a huge structure. From the look of it, it seems very heavy and I wondered how many people would have been employed to open and close it.

Once inside, I could only admire the architecture. The boundary wall itself is made from red sandstone and consists of galleries and places to watch over.



Junagarh fort from inside
INSIDE JUNAGARH FORT
JUNAGARH FORT, Bikaner
WALL OF JUNAGARH FORT FROM INSIDE


Moving further inside, I found myself in a big courtyard. This was Vikram Mahal, first of many palaces in Junagarh Fort.



Vikram Mahal, Junagarh Fort
VIKRAM MAHAL


Vikram palace lobby, Bikaner
LOBBY OF VIKRAM PALACE


Vikram Mahal canopy, Junagarh Palace
CANOPY IN VIKRAM MAHAL LOBBY


Windows architecture, Junagarh Fort
ARCHITECTURE OF WINDOWS

I could see a beautiful jharokha (window) from the courtyard, made of blue and white imported marble.



Jharokha, Junagarh Fort, Bikaner
JHAROKHA WITH BLUE AND WHITE TILES

Next in line was Phool Mahal.



Phool Mahal, Bikaner
ARTISTRY ON PHOOL MAHAL DOOR


Phool Mahal, Junagarh Fort
PAINTING ON THE DOOR



Floor of Phool Mahal in Junagarh fort
PHOOL MAHAL FLOOR

From Phool Mahal, I was taken to Rai Niwas.



Rai Niwas, Junagarh Fort
RAI NIWAS

Next to Rai Niwas is Anup Mahal.



Pillar of Anup Mahal, Bikaner
GOLDEN PILLAR IN ANUP MAHAL


Maharaja's throne, Anup Mahal
THRONE OF MAHARAJA IN ANUP MAHAL


Bedroom in Junagarh fort
MAHARAJA'S BEDROOM


From Anup Mahal, there are stairs leading to the top of the fort. From the ramparts, one can have a good view of the city.





Junagarh fort, Bikaner
RAMPARTS OF THE FORT


Gallery in Junagarh fort
GALLERY ABOVE VIKRAM MAHAL


Junagarh fort ramparts
VIEW FROM THE RAMPARTS

There are beautiful parks in the backyard of the fort.



Junagarh fort back view
BACKYARD OF JUNAGARH FORT

You get an amazing view of the parks and the city from the ramparts of the fort.



Junagarh fort
VIEW OF PARKS IN THE FORT AND THE CITY FROM RAMPARTS


Junagarh fort lawns
ANOTHER VIEW FROM THE RAMPARTS


Junagarh fort wall, Bikaner
FORT WALL IN THE BACKGROUND




From the ramparts of the fort, I was led back to the ground floor to the amazing fort museum. This museum has a really incredible collection of many articles of bygone years. This includes clothes, arms, furniture, paintings, miscellaneous articles presented to royals and many more.


This big vessel is called Degchi and was used to store water or cook food.


Vessel in Junagarh museum
DEGCHI


Drum in Bikaner museum
THE DRUM USED TO MAKE ANNOUNCEMENTS


Arms of Bikaner kings
DIFFERENT SHAPED SPEARS


Swords of royals in Junagarh fort
SWORDS AND CONCHES

Furniture in Junagarh Fort Museum
DINING TABLE AND SOFA OF ROYALS


Bikaner Maharaja Throne
THRONE OF MAHARAJA
This is the actual Palki used to ferry queens and princesses.


Palki, Junagarh fort museum
PALKI

These paintings depict King George V interacting with Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner.



Junagarh fort painting


Painting in Junagarh fort museum

Junagarh Fort Museum has beautiful ceilings with carved arches.

Junagarh fort museum ceiling


After enjoying the amazing Junagarh fort, I came out and went straight to Prachina Museum.

You need to purchase a ticket to enter Junagarh fort. The ticket is valued at INR50 for Indians and INR200 for foreigners.

PRACHINA MUSEUM - This museum is located in the Junagarh fort complex only and houses many articles used by royals. It was established in the year 2000 and traces the culture of Bikaner. 

Prachina museum, Bikaner
PRACHINA MUSEUM

Silver cutlery in Prachina museum
SILVER CUTLERY USED BY ROYALS

There are numerous items, which were gifted/imported by royals.

Prachina museum, Bikaner glasses
ROYAL GLASSES


Prachina museum, Junagarh fort
ROYAL TEA SETS
Items in Prachina Museum, Bikaner
MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS INCLUDING A TELESCOPE 



Decoration items in Prachina Museum, Junagarh fort
VARIOUS DECORATION ITEMS
Prachina museum also has an entrance ticket, which is priced at INR30. This ticket can be purchased along with a ticket to the fort.

The visiting time to the fort is 10 am to 6 pm.

BHANDASAR JAIN TEMPLE - This is a Jain temple in the old city, famous for fabulous paintings on its walls and pillars. It is really marvellous and I could not help admire the artistry. It is situated just 4 km from the railway station.

SANCTUM SANCTORAM OF BHANDASAR TEMPLE, Bikaner
SANCTUM SANCTORUM OF BHANDASAR TEMPLE


Bhandasar Jain temple, Bikaner
BEAUTIFULLY MADE FLOOR OF THE TEMPLE


Bhandasar jain temple wall painting
PAINTING ON THE WALL
Beautifully carved walls of Bhandasar Jain temple below.
Bhandasar Jain Temple, Bikaner, architecture
Work on the ceiling of the temple is simply amazing.
Bhandasar Jain temple, Bikaner, ceiling


Carving in Bhandasar Jain Temple, Bikaner
CARVING JUST BELOW THE CEILING
Adjacent to Bhandasar Jain Temple is LAXMINATH TEMPLE. It has a lot of religious significance for the locals. The evening Arti is something not to be missed. Done with loud beating of drums, the whole atmosphere is full of energy. This temple again consists of many small temples, dedicated to different deities like Ganesha, Shiva, Raam Sita etc. 

LAXMINATH TEMPLE, Bikaner
LAXMINATH TEMPLE

I was stopped from taking the pictures inside the temple by the priests as photography is not allowed inside the premises.

RAMPURIA HAVELIS - For me, the biggest draw in Bikaner was the Rampuria Havelis of the old city.
There are five havelis and this is the biggest of them.

RAMPURIA HAVELI, Bikaner picture
RAMPURIA HAVELI




Windows of Rampuria Haveli
WINDOWS OF ANOTHER HAVELI

There were originally seven havelis but five of them are still prominently visible. They have traditional architecture and each one of them has elements like Jharokha, Chajja and Jaali. However, some elements have been borrowed from English architecture also, like those of doors and Ox eyes.

Door of Rampuria haveli, Bikaner
DOORS OF BIGGER HAVELI

Picture of Rampuria haveli, Bikaner
CLOSE UP OF HAVELI

Although owners of the havelis don't live here anymore still they are very well maintained and there are very less signs of wear and tear.


Architecture of Rampuria havelis
HAVELI ARCHITECTURE


Bikaner Rampuria Haveli Door
DOOR OF ANOTHER HAVELI

Rampuria haveli, Bikaner windows
WINDOWS OF ANOTHER HAVELI

The main market here is at Kot Gate, hardly a kilometre from the railway station. I preferred walking to Kot Gate to enjoy and explore the shops in the area. There were a few eateries and hotels. Then there were shops selling general stuff. But my attention was caught by a very clean and organized sweet shop named Chotu Motu Joshi. And I was told that the shop was famous for its Kachoris and Rasgullas. I tried some and it was amazing. I would surely recommend it to you.

Kot Gate is a congested place with a lot of traffic coming from all directions. However, if you are looking to get some Bikaneri Bhujia, this is the place for you. You will get all kinds of Bhujias and papads from this place. And yes, on the way from station to Kot Gate, there is a small original Haldiram shop, near Lalji restaurant. 

I am not a foodie but for food lovers among you, there is a food street here named Junagarh Chowpatti, just opposite Junagarh fort. This food street comes alive in the evening and you can savour all kinds of delicacies here. Of special interest should be Rajasthani Dhaba which serves choicest Rajasthani dishes.

Local travelling in Bikaner is quite cheap. The main mode of transport is the autorickshaw, which charges about INR10 for a journey of 3-4 km.

So all in all, Bikaner is a small city with big attractions. I had the most entertaining and informative 48 hours in the city and enjoyed every minute of it.

So when are you visiting Bikaner?

Any queries regarding the place, you can ask me in the comments section.

Big Rampuria Haveli, Bikaner


HAPPY TRAVELLING!!

14 comments:

  1. Sounds like a truly amazing place to visit. I look forward to seeing these sights for myself

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you must visit this place. You will be mesmerized by it's colors.

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  3. India certainly is a country to visit. It's vibrant culture and diversity are sure to sweep you off your feet.

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  4. Wow, India looks so nice. It's been on my list for a while now, of places I must see one day :)

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    1. You must visit India. I assure you it's historical monuments and naturally beautiful places will take your breath away.

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