While we were traveling to Jaisalmer and I decided to break our journey. We stayed one night in Bikaner before moving to Jaisalmer. I and my friend traveled by our beloved Indian Railways (I prefer train if the airport is more than 100 Km from the city). We traveled by overnight train from Delhi and reached Bikaner next day early morning. As usual, I have advanced booked our hotel and upon arrival they gave us early check in. We had one day to explore Bikaner because next day early morning we have to leave for Jaisalmer. Here is my experience and details of Bikaner’s places to see in a day.
We had 10 hours to explore so we decided to visit some of the most iconic places and our first stop was Junagarh Fort. We took an auto rickshaw and reached the fort. We bought the ticket of 50 INR (For foreigners it’s 300 INR) and entered the fort from Suraj Pol. It’s an east facing gate, which is considered good omen.
We had to wait for few minutes for the next batch to gather, you can’t go on your own in the fort. They allow every half an hour one batch of visitors along with a guide, that way fort doesn’t get crowded and people stay together with the guide. The advantage of going with a guide was that he explained us the history and other details of Fort. It is a well-maintained fort.
The construction of this fort was completed in 1594 during the regime of Raja Rai Singh. There are 7 gates in this Fort but only one gate is opened for public. In past, the fort was surrounded by a moat but now it doesn’t exist. There is a temple of God Narayan in the fort and they still worship the deity in it. The 5 Palaces named Karan Mahal, Phool Mahal, Anup Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Ganga Mahal and Badal Mahal are the main attraction of this fort. These Palaces were made during the regime of different rulers.
These Palaces are beautifully decorated with a lot of glitters with inlaid polychrome glass, intricate mirror patterns, red & blue and gold paint. There are gold plated paintings inlaid with precious stones. The walls depict fresco paintings of the Hindu gods amidst the rain clouds or Shekhawati nobles paying respect to the king. In the royal bedroom, there are mirrors all around. The painting and decoration of these Palaces are unique and one of the best example of beautiful works done in Rajasthan forts. The stained glass windows and intricately carved balconies built in stone add to the beauty of Palaces/Fort.
There is a museum within the fort called the Junagarh Fort Museum, it was established in 1961 by Maharaja Dr.Karni Singh under the Maharaja Rai Singhji Trust. The museum had a good collection of miniature paintings, jewels, royal costumes, portrait galleries, enamelware, palanquins, howdahs, war drums and armory that consists the assorted collection of medieval arms. This fort is top most in Bikaner’s places to see.
After taking the tour of Fort, we had early lunch at Gallops opposite the fort.
Then we went to see the Havelis of Bikaner. These Haveli’s (aristocratic homes) of Bikaner are very popular though most of these lost their glory with the time. The Rampuria Havelis are still standing grand and most famous in Bikaner. These are now converted into heritage hotels and because of this are the well-maintained cluster of the Havelis. These Havelis were built of red stone and have intricate work done on its outer walls, the well-designed jharokhas with latticed windows makes them simply exotic. The inside of these massive Havelis was decorated with golden work of the highest quality. Their drawing room is decorated in a mix of the Mughal and Rajput era with Victorian influence in their design.
After admiring the Havelis our next stop was Jain Temple Bhandasar. It is a beautiful masterpiece built by a wealthy merchant named Bhandasa Oswal in the 15th century. The inside walls of the temple are decorated with frescoes, mirror work, and leaf paintings. It is a three-floor temple built of red sandstone. From the top floor of the temple through the carved balconies the skyline of old Bikaner can be seen. According to the legend (As a priest told us), the temple was made with 40,000 kilograms of ghee (Clarified butter) instead of mortar, which he insists seeps through the walls on hot days. The temple is in the old part of Bikaner and it is not advisable to travel by car, we were on an auto rickshaw (Tuk-tuk) so no problem.
Our last stop for the day was Lalgarh Palace and Museum. The palace is a new construction and was built in the beginning of 20th century. The museum is in the west wing of Palace compound. The museum displays a collection of miniature paintings, manuscripts, weaponry, old photos, personal possessions of former Bikaner rulers.
In the same compound is the private residence of Bikaner royal family. Other than this there are heritage hotel The Lallgarh Palace and Laxmi Niwas luxury hotel in the same compound.
After doing all sight seeing we had our dinner at local eatery Lalji restaurant near railway road. They are popular among locals as well as tourist and serve vegetarian food & sweets.
This was how we spent our day in Bikaner enjoying the rich heritage of the city. Next day early morning we departed for our Jaisalmer trip.
Things to remember –
Nearest airport of Jodhpur is 250 Km
Bikaner is well connected with trains from metro cities of Delhi and Mumbai.
RSRTC buses are the best way to travel to or from different cities of Rajasthan. They give 30% concession to women travelers.
You can carry back savory Bhujia, papad, and sweet rasgullas. These remain fresh between few weeks to few months.