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Bikaner (Gateway to Thar Desert)

Bikaner has abundance of forts, temples and palaces, which is not a reflection of its rich history and culture. It was established by Rathore Rajput prince Rao Bikaji. The guest visiting from far flung regions have major attractions like the culture and cuisines of Bikaner. Some of the top attractions include Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bhandasar Jain Temple, Junagarh Fort and Lalgarh Palace among others. The architecture and art reflects the intricate detailing and ethnicity that prevailed during the time of royals of India.Some of the distinguished attributes of Bikaner are handicrafts, sweets and snacks.

Deshnok Temple

The Deshnok Temple was constructed by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner in early 20th century following the Mughal style of architecture.The temple is located at a distance of 30 km from Bikaner.

In the year 1999, many changes were made in the architecture of the temple. Many new things were incorporated in the temple like beautiful marble carvings and the silver gate. Devotees visit the temple throughout the year, , but during the Navratri season, the temple is filled with devotees from various regions in huge numbers.

The legendary story behind the temple is, Karni Mata's stepson, Laxman drowned in a pond while trying to drink water from it. Then Karni Mata prayed to the God of Death “Yama”, to spare him. After many denialsYama finally permitted reincarnation as rats to Laxman and other male children of Mata Karni.

The Deshnok Temple is popular as it is home for more than 20,000 black rats. Killing of rats is considered offensive here and one has to replace the killed rat with one made of pure gold. Here you can also find white rats, they are sacred as there are considered to be indication of Karni Mata and her 4 sons. If a devotee see a white rat is considered as a special blessing, visitors put in extensive efforts like offering ‘Prashad’ to bring them forth.

Junagarh Fort

Junagarh Fort was built by Raja Rai Singh, which is spread over 5.28 hectares featuring with numerous temples, palaces and pavilions. The fort reflect a perfect blend of various architectural styles namely, Gujarati & Mughal designs, and Rajput style of the 16th century. The stone inlay works, stucco and wall paintings clearly reflect the Mughal decorations. The Gujarati impact is showed in Lattice works and mosaic stone carvings. During that period, wood works on ceiling, glass and lacquer are very popular and thus were used in the fort.

The fort was built between 1588 and 1593, the Junagarh Fort is fortified with two entrances, 986m-long wall with 37 citadels and a moat. The Suraj pol (Sun Gate) is the main entrance of the fort. From the southern side, you may take pleasuring in picturesque view of courtyards, balconies, windows,kiosks,and towers of the fort.

There are two maor gates that lead to the Junagarh fort. These gates are Daulatpol and Suraj pol. Some other gates which lead to the Junagarh Fort interiors are the Fateh Pol, the Karan Pol and the Chand Pol. Suraj Pol which means the sun gate is east facing and the main entrance to the fort.

Lalgarh Palace

The popular Lalgarh palace of Bikaner was built by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacobduring 1902 to 1926, for H.H. Sir Ganga Singh (Maharaja of Bikaner).The architecture of the palace majorly covers style like European, Rajput and Mughal. The construction of the palace started in year 1896, the first wing also known as Laxmi Niwas,which is very impressive was built in 1902. Later the remaining 3 wings of the palace were completed by 1926.

The exterior of the palace is covered with red sandstones, which was extracted from the Thar deserts. It is a three storey building contains all the structures that were regarded as essentials by the late 19th century likelounges, cupolas, several grand halls, drawing rooms, pavilions,guest suites and smoking rooms, etc. The grand dining room has a capacity of 400 dinners in one go. You will also find Italian colonnades, intricate latticework, magnificent pillars, filigree work,and, elaborate fireplaces.The Karnini was in Lalgarh Palace feature an art deco indoor swimming pool and darbar hall, which is a must visit.

Gajner Palace

Ganjer palace is built on the edge of a lake by HH Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh of Bikaner. Earlier it used to be a hunting resort of the British Raj, but now it has been coverted into a heritage hotel in 1976. The Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary is adjoining to the palace.

The Palace is one of the oldest heritage hotels in Rajasthan. It has total 26 rooms, out of which 13 are Historic Suites and 13 are Deluxe Rooms which are elegantly designed and they feature a traditional look. All the original palace furniture and décor is placed in Historic suites. The hotel also offers recreational activities such as cycling, boating, lawn tennis, bird and wildlife watching.

Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary

Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary was initially used as a hunting ground for the Maharaja of Bikaner. The ground of the sanctuary was sometimes used by the Rajputs for hunting. Now the land has been converted into a wildlife sanctuary. It is located at a distance of 32km Bikaner.

There are many wildlife attractions in the sanctuary like wild fowls,hares,boars,deer including the blackbucks, foxes Nilgai, Chinkara and antelopes.The Imperial Sand grouse can be seen here at dusk or dawn.During the winter months there are some migratory birds which nest here in the sanctuary. The beauty of this place is enhanced by the lake. There are lot of activities that visitor can do like jeep safari,sightseeing tour, camel safari, and nature walk at the sanctuary.

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