Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rangeelo Rajasthan - Bikaner



This was it. The wait was over. The Holiday (with a big ‘H’ - the trip was a 15 day long affair) had already begun and the Dadar-Bikaner Express was about to reach Bikaner railway station shortly. The passengers had already pushed their luggage close to the exit. Someone’s phone rang. The ringtone was familiar. Many people set a ringtone but purposely delay picking it up when it rings as if letting others listen to it. This ringtone was not the one I liked in particular, but it was an indication of where I was. The song selected as the ringtone was – Maiya Yashoda from the film Hum Saath Saath Hain which was shot in Rajasthan. It brought a smile on my lips which also added a different and unknown flavor to my admiration to the stone walled structures which I was busy admiring from the small window. Soon the train reached the railway station of the city which was built in the 15th century by Rao Bika ji, the ruler of erstwhile Bikaner. The streets and buildings have a primitive appeal and did remind one of the erstwhile days of the kings. I had been to Jaipur – the city with its pink architecture and found its resemblance with Bikaner was quite apparent.



This was it. The wait was over. The Holiday (with a big ‘H’ - the trip was a 15 day long affair) had already begun and the Dadar-Bikaner Express was about to reach Bikaner railway station shortly. The passengers had already pushed their luggage close to the exit. Someone’s phone rang. The ringtone was familiar. Many people set a ringtone but purposely delay picking it up when it rings as if letting others listen to it. This ringtone was not the one I liked in particular, but it was an indication of where I was. The song selected as the ringtone was – Maiya Yashoda from the film Hum Saath Saath Hain which was shot in Rajasthan. It brought a smile on my lips which also added a different and unknown flavor to my admiration to the stone walled structures which I was busy admiring from the small window. Soon the train reached the railway station of the city which was built in the 15th century by Rao Bika ji, the ruler of erstwhile Bikaner. The streets and buildings have a primitive appeal and did remind one of the erstwhile days of the kings. I had been to Jaipur – the city with its pink architecture and found its resemblance with Bikaner was quite apparent.


The Camel breeding farm

When you are in Rajasthan, you see Camels everywhere.. on roads, outside railway stations, around hotels etc. For sure, it is the ship of the desert and one of the major tourist attractions as well. We went to the Camel breeding farm managed by the National Research Center on Camel (NRCC) later in the evening after a short nap. NRCC is situated about 8km from the Bikaner city at Jorbeer. This is an incredible farm managed by the government which attracts a lot of tourists. We enjoyed tea made of camel milk and also jumped the shopping bandwagon to buy blankets, bags, clothing, etc made of camel hair. Apart from being a home to the Bikaneri breed of camels, the farm also has Jaisalmeri and Kutchi breeds.





The Karni Mata Mandir – the Rat temple


After the breeding farm, we decided to visit the very famour Rat Temple of Bikaner – The Karni mata temple. There is a huge gathering of the devout at the temple everyday for seeking blessings of the goddess and some come for simply a glimpse of this unique temple. This temple is situated in the Deshnok district about 30 kms from Bikaner. By the time we reached there, it was quite dark. Just like any other place in India, there are small hotels and dhabas surrounding the temple and the people working in these hotels keep making an invitational gesture to the tourists eager to get hold of each of us.

The huge front gates of the temple made us oblivious of the people around. They are huge and made of silver whereas the walls are made of marble. The temple dates back to 15th century and was made by the then ruler Maharaja Ganga Singh.

The moment you enter the gates, you would require to take extreme care to not to step on the (thousands of) rats also known as Kabbas running everywhere inside the temple. It is believed that the temple is host to approximately 20,000 rats who are the devotees of Karni mata. When we went for the darshan of the main idol in the temple, I was surprised to see these tiny creatures on and around the idol too. It was an unbelievable sight. After the darshan, we fed these rats with nuts for sometime while looking for the white one, the sight of which is a sign of luck. But it appeared, it had an appointment elsewhere.

Post the visit to the temple it was dinner time and of course, time to wander in the mithai shops lined up near the Bikaner railway station. After a light dinner of daal-baati churma, we let ourselves loose in these shops which had a series of mouth watering Rajasthani delicacies. Moong Daal Halwa, Ghewar, Malpuas Churma Laddu… we ate to heart’s content.

The Junagarh Fort

We were up early morning the next day and were looking forward to visiting the first fort on our trip. The Junagarh fort is also known as Bikaner fort. The first Mahal out of the many we visited inside the Junagarh fort was Chandra Mahal which is decorated by mirrors and Bikaneri art work. Also, the fort is a house to an amazing museum with a vast collection of ancient manuscripts, jewellery, arms and royal weaponry. The fort has infinite number of huge pillars decorated with art and handicrafts. Moreover, there are several bastions, halls, lounges and pavilions inside the fort. Huge portraits of erstwhile rulers adorn the beautiful walls.

The fort was built by Raja Rai Singh who was a trusted general of Emperor Akbar. The Kanar Mahal in the fort was built to commemorate the triumph over Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. The other places inside the fort which are worth a visit are the Phool Mahal , Gaj Mandir and Rang Mahal.

Perhaps something which we missed while at Bikaner was a visit to the Gajner Wildlife sanctuary. It’s a plush hotel near the sanctuary and if one gets lucky, may get a chance to see a Leopard while sipping early morning tea. Gajner was definitely on our itinerary if at all we come here again.

4 comments:

  1. Nice post and nice information too. I read your post. It's really nice and I like your post. It’s very simple to understand........Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful and informative blog. Best Hotel in Jaipur

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  3. Nice post. Bikaner is a vibrant, dust-swirling desert town with fabulous forts. It’s less dominated by tourism than many other Rajasthan cities, though there are many places to visit in Bikaner . Thank you for this blog with amazing photos.

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