Bikaner Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Bikaner

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    Simply Stunning JainTemple

    by Donna_in_India Written May 16, 2015

    Inside the walled city of Bikaner is the three storied Bhandasar Jain Temple. Although constructed started just after the mid-1400s the temple wasn’t completed until the early 1500s. Bhandasar is dedicated to the fifth tirthankar (teacher of Jain philosophy), Sumtinath.

    Most Jain temples are beautifully carved but not colorful. Bhandasar is simply stunning inside! Along with beautiful carvings are vibrant frescoes, gold leaf scroll work, and mirror work. The carved pillars have floral designs that depict the lives of the 24 tirthankars. The altar is decorated with porcelain tiles from Victorian England.

    The mortar for the foundation was made from 40,000 kg of ghee instead of water. Locals insist the ghee seeps through the floor on hot days, something that – if true – must be interesting to witness.

    On the first floor are beautiful miniatures of the soldiers of the gods. If you keep climbing up to the second and third floors, you are rewarded with wonderful views over the old city. Unfortunately it was a little hazy the day we were there, so not as colorful as I’m sure it is when the sun is right.

    The priest at the temple is so kind and friendly. We spent time talking with him and he blessed Kasha (and us) and gave her a garland flowers and a banana.

    One note: bring or wear socks (at least bring wipes!) as there are a lot of pigeon droppings on the second and third levels of the temple.

    No entry fee
    Open 6 a.m. – 7 p.m.

    Bhandasar Jain Temple Kasha inside Bhandasar Jain Temple Ceiling - Bhandasar Jain Temple Inside Bhandasar Jain Temple Inside Bhandasar Jain Temple
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    Laxminath Temple

    by Donna_in_India Written May 15, 2015

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    Laxminath Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Bikaner. It is a Vaishnav temple devoted to Lord Laxmintah. It was constructed between 1505 and 1526 during the reign of Rao Lunkaran. Lord Laxminath was worshipped by the rulers of Bikaner as the State Deity. On all auspicious occasions the royal family paid homage at the temple.

    Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi are in the inner sanctum of the temple (non-Hindus not allowed). There are Hanuman and Ganesha temples inside the complex. The most interesting part of the complex is the doorway which is embellished in silver work.

    Shoes, socks, and belts are prohibited in the temple.
    Videography and photography are prohibited in the temple.
    Drinking and smoking are prohibited in the temple.
    Oh, and If you donate gold or silver, don’t forget to take a receipt!

    Laxminath Temple Outside Laxminath Temple Lots of Rules! - Laxminath Temple
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    Fun & Lots of Camels at the Camel Festival

    by Donna_in_India Written May 15, 2015

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    The Camel Festival is held each year in Bikaner. It doesn’t compare to the Pushkar Camel Fair but if you have never been to Pushkar, you’ll enjoy this one. Each year’s festival is held in January for 2 days in honor of the ships of the desert…the camels. Bikaner’s camels are famous for the strength, beauty, and endurance.

    The festival starts with a procession of colorfully decorated camels. Activities include camel dances (this looked a lit cruel to me), camel milking, competitions for the best fur cutting designs (photo #3 - love the designs!), and camel racing. There is an exhibition of Kho-kho (a tag sport) by Indians and foreigners. The Indians love to watch the foreigners trying to figure out what to do. There was also a Tug-of-War between foreigners and Indians. There were hardly any foreigners but they won the first battle. The Indians won the second and third battles…but that’s only because the foreigners had the same poor group of guys tugging 3 times while the Indians were able to have fresh guys get in for each battle. I had fun cheering….for the foreigners, of course! One of the weirdest thing to watch was the guy who put his head in the camel's mouth (photo #4).

    There were a handful of stalls selling camel products and food. There is a separate seating section for foreigners and Indians but everyone ended up on the stadium grounds. It was hot and bright there so be sure to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.

    You have ample opportunity to get up close and personal with the camels before the activities begin and sitting very close to the action.

    Some “friendly” advice from the sponsors: Visitors to Raisar Village are advised not to consume liquor, drugs and wear improper clothes.

    Camel  Festival Camel  Festival Camel  Festival Camel  Festival Camel  Festival
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    Camel Research/Breeding Center

    by Donna_in_India Written May 15, 2015

    The National Research Center on Camel – or Camel Breeding Farm – is located about 9-10 kilometers from Bikaner. The main function of the farm is to improve breeding stock. The best camels are sold to the BSF (Border Security Force) and the rest are sold to villagers.

    There are three breeds of camels:

    Camels from the Bikaner District: Long-haired camels with hair in the ears are renowned for their strength.

    Camels from the Jaislamer District: Light-colored camels renowned for their speed – up to 22 km/h.

    Camels from Gujarat: Dark-colored camels. The females are renowned for the amount of milk they produce – 4-6L per milking.

    The camels on the farm are crossbred – hoping to create the strongest, fastest, and best milk-producing camels. Breeding season is from December to March. During breeding season the males are kept separated from the females. The males froth at the mouth and are a little wild, needing to be tied to the wall (photo #3). The gestation period is 13 months long and if you’re lucky, you’ll see some babies during your visit. Female camels give birth approximately every 1 ½ years.

    There are a few hundred camels at the farm and obviously the more you love animals/camels, the more you’ll enjoy your time there. Go in the afternoon – around 3:00 p.m. – to see all the camels returning from their day in the desert. It’s quite a sight.

    There’s a small, interesting museum. You can also purchase camel milk, camel ice cream, or chai with camel milk. The milk is a little salty and is said to have health benefits.

    We had a guide from the Junagarh Fort that came with us to the farm and we learned so much more having him with us. Guided tours are also offered from the entrance.

    Open 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. (No entry after 5:30)

    Entrance Fee: Foreigners Rs100, Indian Nationals Rs 30

    Camera Fee Rs 50

    Camels coming back from their day in the desert Camel milk treats Stud Camels Kasha drinking chai with camel milk Mamma & baby camels
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    Rajputana Splendour - Junagarh Fort

    by Donna_in_India Written May 14, 2015

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    Junagarh Fort is one of the most impressive forts in Rajasthan. Unlike many of the forts in Rajasthan it was not built high on a hill. Instead Junagarh is protected by a 986m long wall with 37 bastions, a moat, and the surrounding Thar Desert. For these reasons the fort has never been conquered, which is likely why it is very well preserved. Out of the countless forts I’ve visited in India, this was one of the most memorable.

    The fort was built between 1587 and 1593 by Raja Rai Singh. Elaborate palaces, temples, and pavilions (a few dozen of them) were added over the centuries by subsequent maharajas. The fort has two entrances – the Surapol (sun gate), which is the main gate, and the Daulatpol. There are courtyards, towers, and balconies to explore. The windows, superb stone carvings, and colorful paintings all add to the beauty of the complex. Not to be missed inside: the Karan Mahal (Hall of Public Audience), the Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace), the Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace), and Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). Be sure also to notice the handprints near the Daultapol.

    There is also an excellent museum within the fort which exhibits jewels, royal costumes, howdahs, armory, portrait galleries, and much more.

    Allow a good two hours to explore the fort.

    Your ticket price includes an hour-long guided tour (English). You have the option of taking the audio tour instead or hiring a private guide. We hired a private guard who was excellent (and also came along as our guide to the Camel Research Center).

    Hours: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
    Indian Rs 50, Foreigner Rs 300
    Audio Tour Rs 350
    Extra charge for cameras
    Phool Mahal & Chander Mahal Rs 100

    Junagarh Fort Junagarh Fort Junagarh Fort Junagarh Fort Junagarh Fort
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    Karan Mahal

    by Donna_in_India Written May 14, 2015

    Karan Mahal is the first palace past the Junagarh Fort entrance. The Karan Mahal is the public Audience Hall. Although various sources list different dates for when it was erected it seems likely to be somewhere in the late 1600’s (1680). It was the first monument of Bikaner and was erected by Maharaja Anup Singhji, as a memorial to his father. The Karan Mahal has stained glass windows, balconies built in stone and wood fluted columns. Still it seems less elaborate than most of the fort, the white marble and stucco design are based on the classic Mughal style.

    Karan Mahal - Junagarh Fort
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    Phool Mahal

    by Donna_in_India Written May 14, 2015

    The Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) in Junagarh Fort is the oldest part of the palace. It was built by Raja Rai Singhji. Phool Mahal is beautifully decorated with glass inlays, stucco, and motifs of trays, flower vases and rose water sprinklers.

    There is an extra charge to enter the Phool Mahal. It’s easiest to buy the ticket at the entrance.

    Phool Mahal - Junagarh Fort Phool Mahal - Junagarh Fort Phool Mahal - Junagarh Fort Phool Mahal - Junagarh Fort
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    Anup Mahal

    by Donna_in_India Written May 14, 2015

    The Anup Mahal in Junagarh Mahal was built by Maharaja Anup Singh in 1690. It was used as his hall of private audience. It was decorated by Maharaja Surat Singh between 1787 and 1800 and is arguably the most elaborate room in the fort. The walks are covered with red and gold lacquer and further embellished with mirrors and gold leaf. The Anup Mahal also features a throne where the ruler would sit while meeting with high officials and foreign guests.

    Anup Mahal - Junagarh Fort Anup Mahal - Junagarh Fort
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    Bada Mahal

    by Donna_in_India Written May 14, 2015

    The Badal Maha (Hall of Clouds) in Junagarh Fort was one of my favorite places in the fort – a pretty room . It is part of the Anup Mahal extensions. The walls are painted with blue cloud motifs, yellow streaks of lightning, and rain showers. The room reflects the longing for rain in arid Bikaner. There is also a statue of Hindu gods, Vishnu (preserver of the universe) and Laxmi (goddess of wealth, love, prosperity).

    Bada Mahal - Junagarh Fort Bada Mahal - Junagarh Fort
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    Gaj Mandir

    by Donna_in_India Written May 14, 2015

    The Gaj Mandir in Junagarh Fort was the private chamber of Maharaja Gaj Singh. The architect who designed the chamber was personally brought to Bikaner from Jaipur by the Singh. The chamber is decorated with mirror tiles and gold painting. The walls are covered with niches and panels that are enclosed by floral design carvings. The room also has a painted wooden ceiling with geometric motifs and carved ivory doors.

    Gaj Mandir - Junagarh Fort Lord Krishna Swing, Gaj Mandir, Junagarh Fort
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    Vikram Vilas

    by Donna_in_India Updated May 14, 2015

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    The Vikram Vilas is one of the first buildings you will see once you enter Junagarh Fort and get your tickets. The stairs are beautifully carved out of red sandstone. Vikram Vilas was named for King Vikramaditya, the great dispenser of justice from the ancient past of India. It houses a collection war souvenirs, elephant howdahs (always one of my favorites), among other historical artifacts.

    Vikram Vilas - Junagarh Fort
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    Durbar Hall

    by Donna_in_India Written May 14, 2015

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    Durbar Hall in Junagarh Fort is a huge room that was once used for functions and festivities. The ancient throne, the only piece of furniture in the room, is made of sandalwood. It once belonged to descendants of the Rathores, the kings of Kanauj.

    One anecdote involving Durbar Hall is that in 1937 there was a famine due to severe drought in Bikaner. Maharaja Ganga Singh canceled all functions and festivities including the celebration of his Golden Jubilee, declaring “this is no time for a celebration”. When weeks passed and the scorching heat only intensified, Singh went to the temple of Karni Mata (rat temple) just outside Bikaner, in Desnoke to pray for rain. When all hope had been lost, a cloud appeared. Soon the clouds covered the entire sky. The rains came and the parched land was drenched. Only then did Singh give orders for celebration.

    Durbar Hall - Junagarh Fort Sandalwood Throne, Durbar Hall - Junagarh Fort Durbar Hall - Junagarh Fort
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    Sati & Daulat Pol

    by Donna_in_India Written May 14, 2015

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    Near the second gate of Junagarh Fort, Daulat Pol, are several hand prints in the red sandstone. These are the hand prints of the wives of the Maharajas of Bikaner who died in battle defending the fort. The wives committed sati (self-immolation) on the funeral pyres of their husbands.

    Sati & Daulat Pol
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    Chandra Mahal

    by Donna_in_India Written May 14, 2015

    The Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace) in Junagarh Fort is considered the most luxurious room in the fort. It is decorated with gold plated deities and paintings inlaid with precious stones. Inside the Chandra Mahal is Rao Bika’s (founder of Bikaner) bed. The small, low bed was designed that way to enable Rao Bika to jump quickly to his feet and fight off any murderous intruders. The royal bedroom also has mirrors strategically place so that the Maharaja could see any intruder entering his room.

    Chandar Mahal - Junagarh Fort Chandar Mahal - Junagarh Fort
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    Get a Guide!

    by Donna_in_India Written May 13, 2015

    We’ve had mixed experiences with guides in various cities in India but came across a great guide, Vasim Ahmed, in Bikaner. He took us through Junagarh Fort and when he heard we were going to the Camel Research Center mentioned that he could come along and be our guide. I was a little skeptical but he turned out to be knowledgeable about both places and I was really happy we had him with us. We definitely learned a lot more than we would have going to the Camel Center on our own.

    He speaks both English and French and his contact details are below.

    Sandy & Vasim outside the Junagarh Fort
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