Bikaner is a
city in the northwest of the state of Rajasthan in western
India. The city is the administrative headquarters of Bikaner
District. It was formerly the capital of the princely state of
Bikaner. The city was founded by Rao Bika in 1486 and from its
small origins it has developed into the fourth largest city in
Rajasthan. The Ganga Canal completed in 1928 and the Indira
Gandhi Canal completed in 1987 have allowed the farming of crops
such as mustard, cotton and wheat. Other industries include wool
production and the mining of gypsum, plaster of Paris and
history dates back to 1488 AD when a Rajput prince Rao Bika ji a
descendent of the founder of Jodhpur (1459 AD)., Rao Jodha Ji
established his kingdom here. Bika Ji chose a barren land called
"Jungladesh" and shaped it into an impressive city, called
Bikaner after the founder's name. Archeological surveys and
excavations have established beyond doubt that civilization
flourished here even before the Harappa period. Excavated
statues, coins and carvings of stones and clay stands as
testimony to this fact.
Ever since the foundation of Bikaner
till its accession into Indian Union in 1947 A.D. and there after
it's integration in Rajasthan state in 30-3-1949 A.D., Bikaner has
played a notable role in the history of the country. Bikaner state
has produced several able Generals and warriors and distinguished
Rulers and just to name of few Raja Rai Singh Ji-One of Akbar's most
distinguished Generals. Another famous name is Raja Anup Singh who
ascended the throne in AD 1669 a scholar and warrior. His period has
been described as "the golden time of Bikaner valor and fame".
In the modern period Bikaner produced the most outstanding Ruler,
namely Maharaja Ganga Singh who ruled for 56 years. He was a strong
and able ruler who renovated the traditional administration,
modernized the army, separated the judiciary from the executive,
constructed the famous "Gang Canal" and provided a number of welfare
schemes, hospitals. His son and successor Maharaja Sardul Singh, who
ascended the throne in A.D. 1943, played a conspicuous role in the
merger of the princely states in the Indian Union. His Nationalistic
outlook shall ever be remembered by the citizens of Bikaner. His son
Dr. Karni Singh made a mark in Indian politics and in the field of
sports. Ever since 1952 General Elections he had been elected as
member of Parliament continuously for five terms. He attained
international fame in shooting arena.
Bikaner is located at _E_ 28.01° N 73.19 ° E. It has an average
elevation of 243 metres (797 feet).
Bikaner is famous for its "Bikaneri Bhujia" and its sweets. Bikaneri
Bhujia is a spicy snack made from moth dal, spices and edible oil.
Bikaner is also known for its handicrafts and leather articles, for
its palaces and for having Asia's biggest camel farm.
The city is also known for its intricately carved Jharokas. These
stone screens are found on the windows of forts and havellis -
traditionally, women would use the screens to watch the world while
The red sandstone for these stone window screens is supplied by the
nearby village of Dulmera.
Bikaner is also a centre for Usta Art. This centuries old technique
is characterised by miniature paintings and gold embossing. The work
is carried out on ceilings, pillars, walls, marble, wood, glassware,
ivory and - perhaps most beautiful of all - on pieces of camel hide.
each January the state government organises a camel
festival with camel races, various cultural events and a fire dance
performed by the Sidh people.
Aksaye Tritya or "AKKHA TEEJ": the foundation day of Bikaner. This
was the day when Rao Bika laid the foundation of the new empire.
Every year on this day people from across the social spectrum enjoy
themselves by flying kites or "CHANDA". They also enjoy a special
meal, such as "Khichra and Imlani".
The fort was built by Raja Rai Singh, the sixth ruler of Bikaner who
reigned from 1571 to 1612. Rai Singh had conquered part of Marwar
and had been granted territory in Gujurat and Burhanpur by the
Mughal emperor Akbar as a reward for his services as military
commander. This, as well as funding from Jodhpur, enabled him to
build the fort. Rai Singh held high rank in the imperial courts of
both Akbar and his successor, Jehangir. During his imperial service
he travelled extensively, giving him an appreciation of art and
architecture. These ideas have been incorporated meticulously into
the architectural style of Junagarh Fort. It is one of the few major
forts in Rajasthan not built on a hilltop.
It has the following buildings within its complex:
Suraj Pol, Karan Mahal, Durga Niwas, Lal Niwas, Anup Mahal, Chandra
Mahal and Phul Mahal, Fort Museum
The palace was built between 1902 and 1926 according to Rajput,
Mughal and European architectural styles. The building was
commissioned by Maharaja Ganga Singh (1881 - 1942) in memory of his
father Maharaja Lall Singh and was designed by the British
architect, Sir Swinton Jacob. It is coated in red sandstone and has
several grand halls, lounges, cupolas and pavilions. The building
features magnificent pillars, elaborate fire places, Italian
colonnades and intricate latticework and filigree work. The palace
houses the Shri Sadul Museum as well as the fourth largest library
in the world. Though the Bikaner Royal Family still live in the
palace, part of the building has been converted into a hotel.
One of the most impressive palaces constructed during the last half
of the nineteenth century, the Lallgarh Place defies the bleak and
rugged reality of the harsh Thar Desert around Bikaner. The renowned
architect, Sir Swinton Jacob, was commissioned for the proposed
residence of the young ruler, Maharaja Ganga Singh. Initially, the
palace was proposed to be finished within a lakh of rupees and
further reductions in cost were suggested to be made by substituting
stucco for carved stone. But the moment Maharaja Ganga Singh got
personally involved in the building exercise, all cost cutting was
banished. The Palace began in 1896 and by the time the first
quadrant, Laxmi Niwas was completed in 1902, cost had already zoomed
to ten lakh rupees. The idea of using cheap stucco was replaced with
the finest and most intricate stone carving of all the modern
palaces in India. The princely abode welcomed Lord Curzon as its
first important guest. Maharaja Ganga Singh named his new residence
in honour of his father, Maharaja Lall Singh.Lallgarh Palace was the
most completely integrated example of Indo-Saracenic architecture,
and as some hold, the most perfectly realized of Sir Samuel Jacob's
creations. The sheer poetry in sandstone was further extended for
the Maharaja's son, Sadul Singh, and grandson, Karni Singh.
Laxmi Nath Temple
Laxmi Nath Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bikaner. The
foundation of the city was laid here in 1488 by Rao Bikaji. The
temple was erected during the reign of Rao Lunkaran and was added to
by Maharaja Ganga Singh.
Shiv Bari Temple
Built from red sandstone by Dungar Singh in the late 19th century,
the temple is surrounded by a wall with battlements. It has a four
faced black marble statue of Shiva and a bronze Nandi facing the
Shiva Lingam. There are also two large reservoirs of water known as
bawaris. The temple attracts thousands of visitors during Shravan
(August) especially on Mondays.
Kolayat is a famous pilgrimage spot with a temple dedicated to Kapil
Muni who, according to his devotees, sat in meditation near the
Kolayat is a town in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The town is 51km
from Bikaner on the highway to Jaisalmer.
Kolayat is an historical centre of pilgrimage where the Vedic sage,
Kapil Muni is believed to have shed his body under a Peepul tree.
Kolayat has a series of marble temples, sandstone pavilions and 32
ghats - bathing places - built around a large artificial lake which
never goes dry.
A temple dedicated to Kapil Muni is the venue for an annual fair
held in the month of Kartik (Oct-Nov) when, on the day of the full
moon, thousands of devotees of the Sankhya philosphy gather to take
a dip in the holy waters of Lake Kapil Sarovar. The lake is believed
to have the power to wash away the sins of devotees. A livestock
fair, mainly for the trading of camels is part of the festivities.
The town has both road and rail links to Bikaner.
Karni Mata Temple
The shrine of Karni Mata can be found in the town of Deshnoke 30 km
south from Bikaner on the road to Jodhpur. Karni Mata is worshiped
as an incarnation of Goddess Durga.
Karni Mata temple is a 600-year-old temple at Deshnoke, Rajasthan,
India. Karni Mata is believed to be the incarnation of Hindu goddess
Durga. The peculiarity of this temple is that thousands of rats are
worshipped here. The temple in its present form was completed in the
early 20th century in late Mughal style by Maharaja Ganga Singh.
This temple is dedicated to Karni Mata. There is a legend that she
prophesied the victory of Rao Bika. The rats are seen as holy, owing
to the belief that the souls of the followers of Karni Mata are in
these rats and thus they must be looked after. The huge silver gates
to the temple, and the marble carvings were a donation of Maharaja
Throughout the year pilgrims from anywhere come to pay religious
tribute to Karni Mata. Outside Rajasthan she is respected and loved
in areas like Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana. During Navratri
thousands come to the temple on foot.