I had been planning to take a trip to Rajasthan for a long time, but Anaesthesia and AroundDelhi had me in their grip and did not let go. Finally post Diwali mid Nov 2010 I was able to make it and started with a train trip from Jaipur to Bikaner, took train no 0234 at to reach Bikaner early morning. You can also reach Bikaner directly from Delhi via Rajasthan Sampark Kranti overnite journey(10 hrs), via road one can reach Bikaner via Mandawa, Jhunjhunu. I was to catch a train to Jaisalmer in the night so I knew it was going to be a hectic day, I took up a retiring room to save time and was ready in time to have a tour of Bikaner and see some accommodation options too. The first stop was the Junagarh fort, this fort was built by Raja Rai Singhji, the sixth ruler of Bikaner, who ruled form 1571 to 1612 AD. Raja Rai Singhji could Marshal the revenues of a Kingdom increased by the conquest of half Marwar and grant of half Gujrat and made use of ample funds from Jodhpur and Western Deccan for the construction of this fort.
Map of Bikaner The important portions of the old palaces in a sequence of visit are Harmandir, Tetis Crore Devi-Devtaon-Ka-Mandir (in this tepmple nearly 700 precious Bronze idols are stored that were brought by the tenth rules Maharaja Anup Singhji from Deccan), Mina Deodhi, Karan Mahal and its Courtyard , Kunwar Pada Mahal, Anup Mahal Courtyard, Phool Mahal ki Sal, Chander Mahal, Rai Niwas Katchery, Anup Mahal, Sardar Niwas (Badal Mahal), Sur Mandir Chaubara, Gaj Mandir Courtyard, Gaj Mandir, Chattar Niwas, Dungar Niwas, Lal Niwas, Ganga Niwas Mahal and Ganga Niwas Durbar Hall, Maharaja Ganga Sinhgji's study room and Vikram Vilas Durbar hall.
|Karni Mata Mandir|
Next stop was the Karni Mata Temple, it is 30 Km south from Bikaner on the road of Jodhpur, at Deshnok who is worshiped as an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The temple is unique as the rats called Kabas, are venerated here and the shrine is a sanctuary for them. It is believed that these Kabas carry souls of future Charans/bards (children of the goddess) who inhabit the town of Deshnok. The temple has fascinating huge silver gates and marble carvings. The most attractive feature of temple are the rodents who scamper freely within the premises and if one touches your feet its considered auspicious. They are regarded sacred and devotees buy prasad (feeding) to offer to them.
Also about 30 km from Bikaner on the way to Jaisalmer is Gajner wild life sanctuary.The lush foliage of the woods here have a number of neelgais(blue bull), waterfowls, chinkara (black buck), particularly flocks of imperial sandgrouse and wild boar living here.It is considered as the prettiest place in the region, with a lake, a palace, wooded hills and gardens. The lake at Gajner attracts water birds in thousands, the imperial sand grouse from Siberia being the most important of these. Large herds of deers can be seen here grazing freely. One can stay at Gajner Palace right at the sanctuary. Though I could not see the Camel breeding farm near Bikaner but it is definitely worth a visit. There are also sand dunes near Bikaner,like Jaisalmer and one can spend an evening at the dunes with a camel Safari or stay overnite at the camps.
So Bikaner is definitely worth including in your Rajasthan Itinerary.
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Dr.R.Anand(Coming next- Jaisalmer trip with Sam and Khuri dunes.)