I was lucky to have been invited at my cousin’s wedding which happened to be in Bikaner, one of the magnificent cities of Rajasthan. Every time I hear about beautiful vibrant Rajasthan, I imagine Rajasthani folk people calling out for me, singing ‘Padhaaro mahare des’ with Thar desert in the backdrop.
Bikaner, 350 kms far from Jaipur, is a desert city carved out from red sandstone. Since my stay in Bikaner was time bound, I had only one day to squeeze whatever I could from the city in terms of travelling experience.
I started off my day with visit to Karni Mata’s temple which is 30 kms outside the city. Starting off with temple, how boring! Only it isn’t. When I got inside the temple, I saw was hundreds and thousands of rats all over place; in the temple premises, on the idol, and even on the Prasad which is distributed to the devotees. What’s astonishing is that the temple rats are 100% free of plague and other contagious diseases.
It is because of Karni Mata’s blessings that there has been no outbreak of any epidemic in the city. Also, there is one white mouse in particular which is believed, if seen, is a good luck charm. Isn’t India an amazing country!
The next stop was the colossal Junagarh fort. The large forts and castles are always a royal trip into the history, a peep in the king-sized lives of Rajput rulers. The fort is divided into 8 sections each section. There is armory gallery and a collection of war souvenirs and a big aircraft that was then owned by Maharaja. There are baithak areas some of them having gold vermillion varnished work on the walls and some with mirrors and glass mosaic. I recommend having the guides at forts as they raconteur some interesting tales about king and queens which makes visiting these forts even more exciting.
After the fort, I headed to Gajner Palace which is on the outskirts of the city. The magnanimous red sandstone castle, situated in Thar Desert, was once inhabited by some great Rajput ruler and is now turned into a heritage hotel made open for the tourists. Situated by the picturesque Gajner Lake, the red castle is the significance of grandeur and great Rajasthani architecture. Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary is just adjacent to the palace. One can have a royal experience having lunch in the lavish green lawns by the lake listening to the birds chirping. The palace also hosts grand events and weddings. A perfect place for royal wedding!
After having spent wonderful day in the majestic city, the only thing left for me was shopping. Since Bikaner is famous for lot of things, it was mandatory for me to take few souvenirs with me. The place is known for leather products made of camel hides like wallets, bags and footwears. Mojris are special rajasthani footwear that can be bought from here. Then, there are shawls and stoles made of camel wool. Bikaneri bhujia and rasgullas are two food items that exported.
There are many historical museums, interesting temples and Lal Garh fort that I couldn’t visit due to paucity of time. Also, there was Camel safari in Thar deserts of Bikaner. To have this experience meant staying one more day in the city which was unfortunately impossible for me. But if you ever happen to visit this amazing city, put Bikaner Camel safari definitely on your list. It is an experience worth having as I’ve been told.
“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have traveled.”
A fervent writer with soul of a gypsy.