When planning to travel to Rajasthan, Bikaner may not be the first city that comes to mind but it has nothing to envy in comparison to other Rajasthan’s famous cities. If Jaipur is the pink city and Jodhpur is the blue city, Bikaner’s color is a vibrant purple. With a long, rich history and heritage and sand dunes just close by, it’s not surprising that Bikaner is also called “Camel Country” and it has a lot of eco-friendly getaways to offer. Let’s discover why you should visit !
Bikaner’s story is linked to one of the most illustrious characters of Rajasthan. Rao Jodhaji, founder of Jodhpur, who had five sons. One of them, Rao Bika, would not inherit his father’s kingdom and went his way to create his own. He founded Bikaner in what was an oasis in the desert in the Thar Desert. The oasis was conveniently located on the trade routes and Bikaner quickly grew. A location that guarantees the discovery of unbeaten paths and a number of eco-friendly, unique, travel experiences.
The most impressive piece of heritage of this illustrious past is the Junagarh Fort, a massive stone construction built by Raja Rhai Singh in the 16th Century. He was one of the most trusted generals of Moghol Emperor Akbal. And the emperor was right : the fort was never taken ! Inside the complex, you will discover different palaces and temple built at different historical stages. It’s full of colors, marble and gold ! The mix of architecture and influences is one of the things that makes the Junagarh Fort THE must-see attraction in Bikaner. And we recommend not to miss the museum displaying the history of the fort and of those who lived in it.
Discover Bikaner, its vibe and its culture, with the tour guide Vishnu. Live from the streets of the Purple city. Check it out here on YoutTube
Havelis are aristocratic homes built by wealthy tradesmen, known for the number of their windows and their intricate decorations. The Rampuria Havelis are the most famous example of the genre. Built by 3 brothers who belonged to the wealthy Rampuria family, these 7 houses on the same streets are built with red-purplish dulmera stone. You can spend hours admiring the details on the doors and windows… You’ll see why thy are named “The Pride of Bikaner”. You’ll find other Havelis clusters in town and if you are curious to see what it looks like inside, some of them have been turned into hotels. It might be a good idea to sleep in a piece of Bikaner’s history!
The National Research Centre on Equines, Bikaner Campus has recently taken an initiative to conserve and propagate equines/horseback riding through eco-friendly activities. It’s a unique occasion to get close to treasured horses such as the Marwari, the “Pride of Rajasthan”. You can ride the horses yourself, or in in a cart through the campus or take a short trip to the Thar desert. Don’t miss the hydrotherapy pool used for the treatment of horses and donkeys!
Bikaner is a desert city and it’s not a surprise that the Indian government has installed a research center about the “vessel of the desert”: camels! At the National Research Centre on Camel, animals are bred, studied and cared for. You can visit the research center and get to learn about them and their importance in this challenging and fragile ecosystem. For instance, did you know that camels are used by the Indian Border security forces? You’ll see this kind of information at the Camel Museum. You’ll also get to see different breeds and their behavior. If you’re the more active kind, camel riding, safari and video/photography are available for visitors. There’s even a milk parlor where camel milk is transformed into ice cream and other dairy products, as a way to showcase how camels were not just beasts of burden but also quite important as livestock.
Bikaner has a lot to offer, from visiting the city and its superb architecture to eco-friendly activities such as horseback riding or camel riding to discover the nearby desert. Staying a week in this region is a guarantee to get closer to the Indian culture, through authentic experiences and exchanges with the local population.