Bikaneri Breed Camel
The colour of the coat varies from brown to black, however in some animals reddish tinge is also found. They have symmetrical body and slightly dome shaped head.Some camels of this breed have a luxuriant growth of hair on their eyebrows, eyelids and ears, they are called ‘jheepra’. Bikaneri camels are predominantly bred in Bikaner and near by districts, such as Sriganganagar, Hanumangarh, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Sikar and Nagaur of Rajasthan and adjoining parts of Haryana and Punjab state.
TEA & SCONES AT LALGARH PALACE.
Maharaja Ganga Singh began construction on this multi-storied, red sandstone palace in 1902. It is a combination of Rajasthani, European, and Oriental architecture, designed by Sir Samuel Swinton-Jacob. Ornate sculptures surround the garden. A museum is situated on the ground floor, and photographs of the royal family are on display.
The royal family of Bikaner reside in part of the palace, and the rest has been tastefully converted into a luxury hotel.
The gardens are large, beautifully manicured and colourful. I counted 24 gardeners working while we were visiting.
In front of the palace stands a carriage from the maharaja's royal train.
The museum has an excellent collection of miniature sandalwood items, the maharaja’s personal items, coins, statues, and photographs. Also in the palace is the Anup Sanskrit Library, which contains original manuscripts and engravings
There is a luxurious tea-room, which serves tea on a terrace in the garden, and we had a royal feast of English scones, cream and strawberry jam here.The tea was, of course, of the finest quality.
Only the museum, tearoom and gardens are open to visitors. (closed Wednesdays)
Bikaner and the Famous Rat Temple
Bikaner is largely missed by most tourist. It is a large city, by Rajasthan standards, and there is plenty to do here. The most interesting is the famous Karni Mata Rat Temple which is located in Deshnok just 30 km south of Bikaner. The City Palace is worth checking out as it offers something different than other palaces in Rajasthan (I think all the palaces in the region are unique). You can also take a camel safari out of Bikaner if you want to get away from the Jaisalmer tours (although I think Jaislamer is probably better because of the landscapes).
Bikaner was founded in 1488 by Rao Bika, a founder of Jodhpur. It was once an important trading town and powerful city state. It now has a population of about 600,000. It's population is steadily increasing thanks to an aqueduct that has provided water for agriculture and urban growth in a city that is located in the middle of the desert.
The Karni Mata Temple is an important Jain pilgrimage site. It is a beautiful temple made of marble with solid silver doors. However, it is not the architecture of this temple that attracts non-Jain tourists; it is the thousands of rats that inhabit it. There are special holes and tunnels around the temple to facilitate the rats’ movements as well as a wire screen over the courtyard to protect them from birds of prey. Jain pilgrims are anointed with ash while the scurrying critters run over their feet. This is considered very auspicious as is spotting a rare white rat. Bowls of milk and water are strategically placed throughout the temple and pilgrims feed the rats balls of sugar. You may be asking, “Why all the fuss about rats?” Well, these Jain pilgrims believe that the rats are their ancestors. Legend has it that in the 14th century, Karni Mata, an incarnation of Durga (Shiva The Destroyer’s wife’s evil side) asked Yama, the god of death to restore the life of her son who had drowned. When he refused, she restored the life and deemed that her ancestors would no longer die, that they would be reincarnated as rats which would then be reincarnated as her family members (thus depriving Yama of human souls). There are around 600 families who claim to be descendants of Karni Mata, hence the large following.