Bikaner Rajasthan is the 4th city in the state with over 700.000 people living here. The city is old, it dates back to the 15th century when it was the capital of the State of Bikaner. Inside the city you will find plenty of traces back of it's rich history.
Bikaner Rajasthan has plenty to offer including the Junagarh Fort, Laxmi Niwas Palace which is a former residential palace of the king of the former Bikaner state, Lalgarh Palace, several temple and 30 km south of the city the Karni Mata Temple, a temple devoted to rats
The Junagarh Fort was build in the 16th and 17th century. It's a massive fort that was in use by the princes of Bikaner as a reward from the Mughal emperor Akhbar.
Having seen many palaces and forts in the Rajasthan, I was a little tired of them. Instead I focused a little more on the street life in the city. The streets looked similar to for example Jaipur and Jodhpur but it was considerable less chaotic. In fact, I found Bikaner more pleasant and less "pushy", but it might be because less tourists and travelers come here.
The scenic streets offered roughly the same as I had seen in other towns and cities but it was more colourful, much like I had seen in other more rural areas in Rajasthan.
It seemed the modern times had hardly arrived here. Many people still wearing traditional clothes and kept themselves to ancient traditions, more then in other places in India, as far as I had seen.
On my way to Bikaner I had seen many of these villages but I had expected in the big cities life would have been more 21th century. I felt it was like traveling in a time machine and I loved it.
Karni Mata Temple
The Karni Mata Temple is probably one of the strangest places to visit. All year around pilgrims from all over India come to the temple to pay tribute to Karni Mata, who is worshipped as the incarnation of the goddess Durga. Local legends claim the rats are under Karni Mata's protection. When one dies, it has to be replaced. Followers will try to spot a white rat as it should bring luck.
My journey went further north, following more desert, to Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs.
Getting there and stay
Bikaner is well connected with an airport, rail and bus to other main cities in north India, particularly Amritsar, Delhi, Jaipur and Panthankot.
Like in most Indian touristy places, Bikaner too has plenty of accommodation in all price classes. My diary tells me I stayed in the Vinayaka Guest House Bikaner, near the Junagarh fort. It was a good clean place run by a friendly family, Recommended. Here's some more hotels:
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Jaisalmer is nicknamed the Golden City as the fort in the sunset has a golden colour, an effect reached by the sandstone of which the fort is made of.
Amritsar and the Golden Temple
An interesting continuation of your journey from Bikaner is Amritsar, almost at the border of India and Pakistan.