Bikaner used to be the center of art and culture of medieval India. It is 237 m. above sea level. Much of Bikaner is desert but the water of Ganga Canal has ushered the development of Bikaner.
The city derives its name from Bhatti Rajput Rao Jodha's fourteenth son Bika. This dynasty ruled Bikaner for three hundred years. In the 19th century a friendship treaty was signed between Bikaner's King and the British as a result of which in the 1857 war of independence, the British were provided shelter in Bikaner.
One of Bikaner's attraction is the Dhala Maru or Camel Festival which is held every year in the month of January. Camels from many countries take part in the festival.
The principal attraction of Bikaner is the Junagarh Fort. Raj Singh built this majestic fort in 1587-93, which is very much similar to Jaipur Fort. The fort is built of red and pink sandstone. There are as many as 37 palaces inside the fort built at various times by a variety of rulers like Gurjars, Pratiharas, Rajputs, Chauhans, Bhalli, Rathore to name just a few.
The Junagarh Fort is surrounded by high walls and there is a 30 feet deep trench around the fort. There are two entrances to the fort, which is 986m in length. There are 37 domes built inside the fort. By all accounts, the Junagarh Fort used to be an invincible fort.
There is also the Lalgarh Palace which is built in memory of king Lal Singh. The palace was designed by the renowned European architect Sir Suinton Jacob. The palace is built of sandstone and is a fine blend of Western opulence and Eastern artistry. Be it the Belgium Chandeliers, the exquisite engravings, the fine collection of paintings or the magnificent flower garden, Lalgarh Palace is indeed stunning.
Apart from the Lalgarh Palace, the Jain temples of Bhandeshwar and Sandeshwar are well worth visiting, while Bhandeshwar is adorned in intricate glasswork and frescoes, Sandeshwar is renowned for its gold enameled wall paintings. There is also the Devi Kunda Sagar where the statues of the rulers of Bikaner's past are exquisitely displayed in sandstone. Among the memorial pillars, the one of Rao Kalyan Mai is the oldest.
For the spiritualists, a visit to Karnimata Temple located in the outskirts of the city is a very rewarding experience. Here the deity is Karniji who happens to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga. This temple is a double storied building with the parasol made of golden umbrella. The marble carvings and the silver gate are a treat to the eyes. The temple is famous for its resident rats and according to local folklore, if a rat touches a visitor, it is considered to be very auspicious.
Bikaner is camel country and a visit to the Camel Breeding Farm located 10 kms. south of the town can be a very unique experience. Apart from the customary camel rides one can also taste camel milk.
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