Bikaner is famous for its rich history, great architecture, camels, tasty Namkeens, intricate Miniature Art, and Royals. The city flaunts royal forts, palaces and massive mansions that took years to build. On the other hand, the city sports of International Camel Festival, where camels take part in various feats involving a fashion show! From delicious food, the unique temple full of rats, serene sand dunes and beautiful musical starry nights in the deserts, all combined make a trip here is a must on your bucket list. Though an offbeat place, it is very promising and a homestay opens gateways to understand the culture of the place closely. So, let’s see top things to do in Bikaner and other related information necessary for planning a trip here. Also, read our article on things to do in Udaipur-The Venice of East.
Best Time to Visit Bikaner
According to us, Winter is the best time to visit the city as the temperatures are convenient for tourism. The nights are cold but daytime has favorable temperatures. Whereas Summer is very hot and dry and Monsoon season witnesses very less rainfall resulting in humidity and hot temperatures. Also, the International Camel Festival, a major attraction is held in January. For live weather Bikaner Rajasthan forecast of the city click here.
The winter months are from October to March and the temperatures range from as below as 6 degree Celsius in nights to 25 degree Celsius in the daytime. As is with desert states the nights are cold and days considerably warmer.
Monsoon season starts in July and goes till September. Again an unfavorable season as the temperatures are a bit high and are coupled with humidity. The temperatures range from 30 to 40 Degree Celsius.
Summers months are from April to June. Being a desert city, the summers are very hot and dry. The temperature soars up to 48 Degree during the day.
How to Reach Bikaner:
The city is well connected by Air, Rail, and Road from nearby cities.
The nearest airport is Jodhpur, but the city is well connected to cities like Jaipur and Delhi which are International Airports. From these cities, Bus, Taxi or Train can be opted to reach the city. If you are coming from a foreign country, then the best way is to land at Delhi airport and then take up a train until the city.
The city has a major railway station and is connected to major cities with direct trains.
It is connected by bus routes as well. Also, cabs can be taken from anywhere to reach here.
Things To Do In Bikaner
|1.||Feel the magnificence of Junagarh Fort||2.||Worship in the unique Karni Mata Mandir|
|3.||Visit Lalgarh Palace||4.||Witness International Camel Festival|
|5.||Enjoy Camel safari and village tour||6.||Desert Camping|
|7.||North Indian Cooking Sessions||8.||Shop at local markets|
|9.||Experience the Tonga Ride||10.||A Luxurious stay at Laxmi Niwas|
|11.||Savor Rajasthani delicacies||12.||Praise the Miniature Art|
Bikaner may not be a very famous destination but this less explored city is sure to offer you a sneak peek into the lives of the North Indian people and their culture.
- Feel the magnificence of Junagarh Fort:
Ticket cost: 50 INR for Indians and 300 INR for foreigners. Student’s concession is also available for both Indians (30 INR) and foreigners (150 INR).
Opening Timings: It opens all days (10 AM – 4:30 PM).
Duration: 1-1.5 hours.
Built in the 15th century by King Raja Rai Singh, the Bikaner Fort is one of the best-maintained palaces in India. One of the reasons it is this nicely maintained is that it was never captured. The Junagarh fort stands in sheer pride since 6 centuries, never comprising. Junagarh fort is grand and you can spot that it is organized in themed areas of Gold, Red, Blue, White, etc. It also flaunts intricate artwork of lacquer works, mirror work, and frescoes. All of this combined is sure to put you in awe of the grandeur of the times of royals.
2. Worship in the unique Karni Mata Mandir:
Timings: Open on all the days from 4:30 AM to 10:00 PM
Entry Fees: There is no entry fee here.
Location: Karni Mata Niji Pranyas, Deshnok
Distance: 45 min (30.5 km)
Karni Mata Temple is, in fact, unique, as the objects of reverence here are rats! Bikaner Rat Temple is based on a legend- Karni Mata had four sons and her stepson once fell in the lake while trying o drink water from it. So, Karni Mata pleaded the God Of Death to bring her son back to life. And then the God of Death replied by saying that, her stepson and other sons later, will re-incarnate in the form of rats, and so is the tale of the revered rats of Karni Mata Temple. Rats here are completely harmless and do not hurt anybody. It is said that the temple houses about 20,000 of them!
3. Visit Lalgarh Palace:
Tickets: INR 10 for Indian tourists, and INR 20 for foreigners.
Opening Timings: Museum opens all days except Sunday (10 AM – 5 PM).
Duration: 1 hour.
Maharaja Ganga Singh built the palace in memory of his father in 1902. It is a classic example of architecture prevalent in those times. The influence of Mughal, Rajput and European architecture can be clearly seen in this palace. The red sandstone palace also houses a museum called the Shri Sadul Museum inside it, where you can marvel at the objects of royalty. Not only a museum but it is also famous for the fourth largest private library.
4. Witness International Camel Festival:
When: 11th and 12th January 2020
Location: Bikaner, Rajasthan
International Camel Festival is yet another unique feature of the city. The International Camel Festival celebrates the Camel the ‘The Ship of Desert’. Celebrated with much pomp and show it is very close to the hearts of the locals as camels have been a major part of the culture and have been the source of livelihood of people here since forever. The festival includes camels decorated in colorful attires and men in traditional attire competing with each other. Live music, folk dances along with the setting sun give an ethereal feeling, believe me.
5. Enjoy Camel safari and village tour:
Timings: The joy of safari can be experienced at any time from morning till the night
Price: INR 1,200 and above (depends on the tour you book)
Camel safari or Desert Safari Bikaner is one of the most memorable experiences you can take back with you. Sitting on the back of the camel with golden sand all around, it is a wonderful memory. Camel safaris are available in many packages. You can take a short one or a full day package. In the full day package you get to ride the camel for 2 hours and then a sumptuous traditional meal amidst the desert and then again a 2-hour ride. After that, it is time for some snacks and then end your trip with the picturesque scene of the red sunset on the golden sands.
6. Desert Camping:
After a day out in the sands on the camelback, you can rest in the desert camps. These camps are very comfortable and provide all the necessities. You must also enjoy the folk dances and folk songs at night. In the serene setting of the sand dunes, this heavenly music is an experience to gather. Desert camping is gathering popularity nowadays, but it is still not that crowded affair. In case you plan to stay for a longer duration, then you can explore the nearby villages of Raisar, Balakaya, Khichan, Dhora, and Phlodi.
7. North Indian Cooking Sessions:
A number of cooking classes are operated by local women. They show and teach you some authentic food recipes as they have been prepared for ages. Food is not simply food but a legacy. Rajasthan has quite a distinctive taste in food. The dishes are a bit spicy, but you can customize them according to your taste anytime. They are not only easy but really delicious.
8. Shop at local markets: Kote Gate and Station Road
Other places to shop: Bara Bazar, Junagarh Fort Road, and Mahatma Gandhi Road Market
Station Road is a hub for shoppers. Small shops are lined up with colorful embroidered Jootis (footwear), flowing fabrics, wood artifacts and leather goods. For all the fashion enthusiasts, you can also get a customized Jooti, handmade within 24 hours. Another great market is Kote Gate Bikaner. Here you are most likely to find Camel hide articles, Khadi industry products, wood carvings, and miniature paintings. Food eateries are sprinkled all over the area in both the markets offering Bhujia and Rasogullas and lots of other interesting food varieties.
9. Experience the Tonga Ride:
The Tonga is a carriage driven by a horse. The Tonga is something that was an essential means of transport in the old times, but now the older version has become extinct and another fancy version is available for people to have some fun on it. The Tonga tours of the old city are quite interesting.
10. A Luxurious stay at Laxmi Niwas:
Price: INR 10,500 and above (double-sharing)
TripAdvisor Rating: 4/5
Location: Lalgarh campus, Doctor Karni Singhji Road, Samta Nagar, Bikaner, Rajasthan If you want to immerse in an exotic experience of royalty, check-in at Laxmi Niwas Hotel. The hotel was once the palace of Maharaja Ganga Singh and now has been converted into a heritage hotel. It also houses a museum which gives a glimpse of the royal and lavish lives of kings then.
11. Savor Rajasthani delicacies:
Popular cuisines: Kachori, dal bati churma, gatta ki sabzi, pakodi, raj bhog, ghevar, fini, and more
Best places to eat: Heeralal’s, Gallops, Chappan Bhog, and more.
There are many places where you can find sumptuous traditional meals. You can head to Narendra Bhawan, the place of stay of the last king of Bikaner. Narendra Bhawan offers meals in two ways. The more exotic one being the ‘Museum Dinner’ in a separate exquisite hall, and another one being the restaurant where you can try a-la-carte or take a Bikaneri Thali. Do try ‘Maas Curry’ here.
12. Praise the Miniature Art:
Miniature Art is an example of the ingenious ways art is practiced here. The history of miniature art dates back to the the times of Buddha but nowadays the Swami family in Bikaner is taking it forth in the form of a school and art gallery. This art gallery is called Miniature Art Studio and is situated near Junagarh Fort. You can buy some pieces for very less price and also watch the artists work on their masterpieces. The nobles of the city were great patriots of this art, and the art has carved a niche for its own in the modern-day markets also.
13. Try Homestay:
Homestays are not that popular here but there are some places that offer it. I recommend trying this out as it is the best way to absorb and understand the India lifestyle, culture and beliefs. Staying with a local family also gives you access to authentic Indian food and you can even learn cooking some of your favorite dishes from your hosts. The exchange of experiences and stories gives you a clear understanding of the Indian people and their lives. I found them very heartwarming and help ready.
So, this was all about Bikaner, the City of Camels. Do visit here if you are interested in the culture of Rajasthan, some great architecture, and good food. It is also a heaven for photographers. You can click a variety of subjects like wildlife in Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary, forts and palaces, rural life in the desert villages and last but not the least beautiful sunsets in the deserts. A trip to Bikaner is a must in your bucket list, and believe me it will be a memorable one. Also, read our article on things to do in Udaipur-The Venice of East.