What to See
Junagarh Fort: Commanding the skyline of Bikaner, Junagarh Fort is counted among the most impressive fort structures in India. It is built in red sandstone and houses within it palaces, courtyards and gardens. The interior is carved in stone and marble fitted with semi-precious stones. Rich murals and paintings, mirror work and lacquer work further enhance its appeal.
Pols: These refer to the entrances to the fort. The Suraj Pol or Sun Gate used to be the main entrance before the other gates were built. If you enter through this, you come across the Joramal Temple and interesting statues of Jaimal and Patta, guardians of the fort, atop elephants. Today the two entrances to the fort are Karan Pol and Chand Pol. Right after you enter through Karan Pol, you get a view of the Sati Stambhs, where women burned themselves alive after their husbands died. Daulat Pol and Fateh Pol refer to the two entrances which defended the fort. The gates were strengthened by heavy wooden doors and iron plating. An additional precaution was fitting iron spikes to prevent destruction by enemy elephants.
Karan Mahal: This was the hall of public audience and is finely crafted in true Rajput architecture style. Definitely among the richer structures inside the fort, the columns, pillars and ceiling are exquisitely carved with floral designs. A silver throne in the hall is reminiscent of where the king sat as he heard his subjects. Behind the throne, the state flag is displayed in saffron and red colours and the Bikaner coat of arms displayed in the centre.
Courtyards: Dungar Niwas is accessible from the Karan Mahal is a beautifully painted courtyard. Similar to this is Ganga Niwas, another large courtyard, which sports a red sandstone entrance.
Phool Mahal ki Sal: This is one of the oldest parts of the Junagarh Fort and flaunts striking motifs of flowers, vases and rose water sprinkles. The interior walls are adorned with exquisite glass and mirror works.
Anup Mahal: This is undoubtedly one of the most impressive palaces in this fort. The ornately created walls are covered in red and gold with coloured glass inlay work. The most beautiful of these relief works can be seen atop the columns, where leaves and flowers are designed in such a way as to make it appear like a jungle! Images of Rama and Sita, together with Laxmana and Hanumana are reflected in the glass mosaic. Also housed here is a throne where the king entertained his guests. The carpets that adorn this palace were especially created to match the walls.
Chandra Mahal & Badal Mahal: Chandra Mahal consists of small rooms and houses paintings similar to the marble inlay work visible in Agra. One of the rooms here also has idols of Hindu gods. Badal Mahal is painted in blue clouds and houses a striking portrait of Maharaja Sardar Singh, together with his favourite musical instruments, Mayur Veena and Garud Veena.
Gaj Mandir: This was the private chamber of Maharaja Gaj Singh and his two main queens. The chambers showcase rich ivory doors, mirrored tiles, gold paintings and lacquer-painted wooden walls.
Fort Junagarh Museum: Created in the Ganga Mahal, the museum houses a fine collection of memorabilia dating to the rulers of Bikaner. Popular artifacts include, weaponry, jade handle daggers, shields made of camel hide and handguns. Gold and silver howdahs, jhulas, and a biplane of the 1st World War are also on view. A pair of drums belonging to a saint, photographs and other personal items used by Maharaja Ganga Singh can also be viewed.
Open from: 10 am-4.30 pm
Entry fee - Indians Rs 20, Cameras Still Rs 30, video Rs 100
Lalgarh Palace: This red sandstone palace showcases halls, corridors and pavilions. Magnificent pillars, Italian-style colonnades, intricate fireplaces and exquisite lattice and filigree work adorn every inch of the palace. The palace is also home to the Sri Sadul Museum and the fourth largest library in the world, Anup Sanskrit Library, said to host the largest private collection of manuscripts. The Bikaner royal family continues to reside in a part of the palace, and one part has been converted into a hotel.
Open from: 10.00 am-5.00 pm
Entry fee - Indians Rs 10, Cameras Still Rs 30, video Rs 100
Karni Mata Temple: This almost-600-year old temple is dedicated to the patron goddess, Karni Mata, of the royal family. Its uniqueness stems from the fact that along with the goddess, rats are also worshipped here! These rats are believed to be the souls of the goddesses’ followers and hence need to be protected. These rats are called kaba and are generally harmless and never venture out of the temple boundaries. These rats are fed and protected from cats by the temple authorities, and if you step on and kill one of them, you can compensate for the mistake by presenting a rat made in gold! The temple is adorned with huge silver gates and intricate marble carvings.
Open from: 6.00 am-9.30 pm
Temples: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Shivbari Temple was one of the most patronized temples of the royal family. It is located on the Camel Farm Road and is set amidst fortified walls. The idol of Lord Shiva is depicted with four faces in black marble and a bronze Nandi Bull. There are two large reservoirs of water known as baoris. The 15th century Bhandeshwar Temple is one of the most interesting temples dedicated to Sumathimath Ji, the 5th Jain Tirthankara. The temple has two levels and is decorated with artistic mirror work, frescoes and gold leaf paintings. Similar to this is the Sandeshwar Temple, which houses marble sculptures of Jain saints. Located next to the Bhandeshwar temple is the Laxminathji Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Devi Kund Chattris: These are memorials to the royal family, made of lime-based plaster and marble. The chhatri of Maharaja Surat Singh is the most spectacular and imposing with its Rajput-style paintings on the ceilings.
Camel Research Farm: Owned and managed by the Government of India, this is one of the best places to get a glimpse of the life of these ships of the desert. Housing over 200 camels, you can take a camel ride, visit baby camels and tour the museum, which offers all possible information on these. These camels are also put up on sale at the cattle fairs,w here they are dressed in the fineries and bedecked with colourful ornaments.
Open from: 3.00 pm-5.00 pm
Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary: Once the private hunting lodge of the royal family of Bikaner, today it is home to wildfowl, hares, wild boar, desert foxes and a range of deer and antelopes including black bucks and blue bulls. The lake here is especially known for its variety of water birds and migratory birds that flock here in winter. Remember to carry a camera and binoculars.
Entry fee - Rs 100
Bikaner Havelis: Created in opulent magnificence, the havelis (palaces) in Bikaner dot its entire landscape. Mostly created in red sandstone, these havlies are found mostly in narrow winding lanes and a visit to these is a must on your itinerary. The most popular is the red sandstone Rampuria Havelis, which are known for their top-quality golden work adorning the walls and for the exquisite stonework on the façade. Located near Mohta Chowk, Rikhji Bagri ki Haveli is a relatively smaller haveli, with arched entrances, carved jharokhas and extremely detailed carvings. The Daga Chowk Havelis are spread out like scattered clouds and fine floral carvings adorn the walls. The jharokhas are carved as pieces of ornaments and numerous bright murals add to its charm. Showcasing an European influence, the Bhairondan Kothari Haveli, it is fitted with marble tiles.
Top Hotels in Bikaner
- Harasar Haveli By Geostays
- The Laxmi Niwas Palace
- Vesta Bikaner Palace
- Hotel Basant Vihar Palace
- Heeralal By Geostays
Top Landmarks in Bikaner
- Hotels Near Deshnoke Karni Mata Temple
- Hotels Near Central Bus Stand
- Hotels Near Rani Bazaar Gurudwara
- Hotels Near Nal Railway Station
- Hotels Near Junagarh Fort Bikaner