Bikaner is famous for sweets and snacks (or namkeens in Hindi).
Before the mid 15th century, the whole area was a barren arid wilderness called Jangladesh. The founder Rao Bika who was the second son of Maharaja Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur realising that he shall never inherit Jodhpur kingdom decided to make his own kingdom in this wilderness.
The points in its favour were supply of spring water and also it being a stopover on the trade route between Gujarat coast and Central Asia eventhough it is in the Thar desert.
The fort that Bika built in 1478 is in ruins now but the Junagarh fort built 100 laters a little distance away is a magnificient property.
The sixth ruler of Bikaner Rai Singhji (1571-1611) accepted the suzerainty of the Mughals and became an army general in the court of Emperor Akbar and of his son Emperor Jahangir. Bikaner flourished during these times. Rai Singhji won many rewards and accolades from the Mughal emperors for his successful military exploits helping them win half of Mewar kingdom.
He was given revenue generating lands of Gujarat and Burhanpur. From this large revenue, Junagarh fort was built. As he was knowledgeable about arts and architecture which had been enhanced by his travels, he used them in the construction of Junagarh Fort.
Karan Mahal palace was built by Karan Singh who ruled from 1631 to 1639. Later rulers added more floors and decorations to this Mahal. Subsequent rulers kept on making additions in the palace.
Ganga Singh built Lalgarh palace, now a heritage hotel and also residence of the Royal family. Ganga Singh was a favourite of the British Raj. He earned the title of Knight Commander of the Star of India, served as a member of the Imperial War Cabinet, represented India at the Imperial (First World War Conferences) and the British Empire at the Versailles Peace Conference.
Bikaner is famous for:
Camel research farm (NRCC)
"Bikaneri Bhujia" a spicy snack made from moth dal, spices and edible oil
PATA culture ( Wooden made big square size table which is laid upon the streets where localites sit at their leisure )
Bikaner is also known for its handicrafts and leather articles, for its palaces and for having Asia's biggest camel farm.
In Bikaner you will spot intricately carved Jharokas or red sandstone stone jalis (screens) installed on the windows of the Junagarh fort, temples and havelis (mansions). They are useful both for for ventilation and for the house ladies to world from behind a screen. A nearby village of Dulemra does the bulk of manufacture.
Usta & Chadhwa Art
Bikaner School of "miniature" paintings using translucent and opaque vegetable and mineral watercolours from the late-16th to late-19th Century.
Famous fairs and festivals
Karni Mata fair
Kapil Muni fair
In honour of lord Hanuman who is considered the god of power,knowledge,health and wealth.
Kodamdesar mela is celebrated in the village of Kodamdesar 20 Km far from bikaner where the temple of lord bhairoon is situated.
Siyana Bhairoon mela
This fair is known for the utmost celebration by hindu casts Ojha , Bhadani, chhangani and derasri.
Each January the state government organises a 2 day long camel festival with camel races, various cultural events and a fire dance performed by the Sidh people. Procession of camels adorned with Rajasthani attire emanate from the Junagarh fort. Camel dance performances also take place. Competitions take place for the best decorated camel, fur cutting design, camel milking and the best camel hair cut
Aksaye Tritya or "AKKHA TEEJ"
The foundation day of Bikaner. Locals enjoy themselves by flying kites or "CHANDA". They also enjoy a special meal, such as "Khichra and Imlani".
The biggest festival of Jain community is celebrated with utmost fervour and dedication. The temples are lavishly decorated.
The Jain community takes out a huge procession on this day consisting of paintings, palki of tirthankar and musical bands. This festivity is unparalleled in India.
An architectaural beauty.
Laxmi Niwas Palace
The magnificent structure in red sandstone was designed by the British architect, Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob in the year 1902. The style of architecture is Indo-Saracenic. It is now a luxury hotel. It is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in Bikaner.
A red sandstone building with several grand halls, lounges, cupolas and pavilions. The building features magnificent pillars, elaborate fireplaces, Italian colonnades and intricate latticework and filigree work. The palace houses the Shri Sadul Museum as well as a large and important collection of Sanskrit manuscripts, the Anup Sanskrit Library.
Constructed in 1486, Moolnayakji was the first Vaishnav Temple built in Bikaner.
Bhandasar Jain Temple
Laxmi Nath Temple
Laxmi Nath Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bikaner.
Bhandasar Jain Temple
Dedicated to 5th Tithankar Lord Sumatinath, this temple is the most beautiful amongst the the 27 beautiful Jain Temples that adorn Bikaner city. Highest amongst the Jain temples, the foundation of this temple was filled by pure ghee and dry coconuts. This temple is famous for its wall paintings and usta art.
Dedicated to sage Kapila who, according to his devotees, sat in meditation near the lake, this is popular pilgrimage spot. One week before Pushkar Festival and till one week later this lake is more interesting if you like to see Sadhus. Pushkar will have some Sadhus but Kolayat will have many hundreds.
Karni Mata Temple
The famous rat temple. Try to spot the white rat.
Shiv Bari Temple
A temple surrounded by a wall with battlements. Has 2 water reservoirs locally called bawaris. It has a four faced black marble statue of Shiva and a bronze Nandi facing the Shiva Lingam.