Bikaner – A Jewel in the Thar Desert

India perhaps is amongst the few countries of the world that is blessed with a glorious past. The history of India is closely associated with feudal rulers, kings, rajas, maharajas, emperors, sultans and nawabs. They have left behind them myriad of monuments that attract tourists to India. One such monument is in Bikaner, the Gajner Palace, known as ‘a Jewel in Thar desert, rich for its architectural marvels.

The Thar Desert has, amidst its dry arid land mass, miracles smack that attracts tourists to Bikaner located on an elevated plain in the desert. The long embattlement wall encompassing the city evidences the historical reminiscence of the 550 years old city.

Bikaner is the breeding center of the ‘Airplane of the desert’, camel. The 3-day Bikaner Camel Festival draws attraction of tourists around the world because of the unique spectacle of camels, richly decorated. The event starts with a colorful procession against the backdrop of the historical Junagarh Fort. At the end of the procession, the festival is shifted to the open sands of Ladera village.

It is indeed thrilling for the tourists to observe competitions conducted for camel milking, camel races, camel dancing, fur designing and best breed of camel. The acrobatics shown by camels keep the watchers thrilled. And to add to these fun, pleasure and thrill, one can go riding over the decorated camels or even have a sip of freshly drawn camel milk.

The Bikaner Camel festival
besides having camel related events, also showcases the traditional arts and crafts of Rajasthan. After watching the camel races, visitors can take part in the colorful folk dances, particularly, Ghoomur Dance. A magnificent firework marks the end of the festival. In the food fair, one can have delicacies of Rajasthani cuisine, such as Choorma and Daal Baati.

The Junagarh Fort
evidences both military and architectural excellence, created out of red sandstone and marble. It has one kilometer long rampart, studded with 37 bastions and two entrances. There is an amazing network of havelis adjoined by courtyard, balconies, watch towers, armory and halls. Other monuments in the Junagarh Fort complex are Ganga Niwas, Rang Mahal, Anop Mahal, Har Mandir, Chandra Mahal, Phool Mahal and Sheesh Mahal (Glass Palace).

Lalgarh Palace
is a unique exhibit of architectural amalgamation of Rajputana, Islamic and European culture. The exquisite lattice work and the minute filigree work add to the artistic and aesthetic value of this majestic structure. The first floor of the palace has the Sadul Singh Museum that is dedicated to the three successive kings of Bikaner, Maharaja Ganga Singh, Sadul Singh and Karni Singj.

Destinations of religious importance are the Jain temple dedicated to the 5th Tirthankar, Shri Sumati Nathji. ‘Worship of Rats’ is taken up in the Karni Mata temple , located at DEshnoke, where myriad of rats of black, grey and white colors, reside.

A visitor to Bikaner for a short stay always returns back with a heavy heart, with a solemn promise that he will return again for a longer stay in the historically, architecturally and culturally rich city of Bikaner.