Bikaner is THE right choice if you looking for a peaceful vacation in an un-commercialized version of Jaisalmer. It is a city in the Northwest of Rajasthan, India and has a lot to offer to the tourists who are looking for 3-4 days of rejuvenating vacation.
Bikaner and its Unheard Beauty
We took train#12457 from Sarai Rohilla station for Bikaner. It is about 10 hours of journey but super comfortable in the 2 tier AC coach. We reached in the morning at about 10 AM. We had booked our stay in Laxmi Niwas Palace. Our entry was quite dramatic in a three wheeled rickshaw while other guests came in high-end luxury cars. It was funny! The sight was jaw dropping! Yes, it is truly a Palace!
The staff of Laxmi Niwas Palace is very hospitable and treat you like Kings and Queens.
What’s more: When we entered the room, we saw a wax-sealed personalized invitation for a Rajasthani Folk Dance performance in the evening. We had our eyes wide open and never before we had experienced this level of hospitality. The suite itself was a grand palatial room with very high ceiling, vintage fireplace, jharokhas and antic wardrobes. It was so enormous that our voices were echoing in when we entered into the room.
We relaxed during the day and left the room in the evening for a site tour of the palace. The ideal time for photography would be in the evenings or early morning with the sunrise. You can get the best shots during this time.
The Rajasthani folk music was very relaxing. Post this, we tried our hands on Billiards in a room filled with Lion and tiger skin trophies won by the kings as shooting rewards. It rained heavily that night so we did room service for dinner and enjoyed Planet Earth, Desert documentary which did put us to sleep after a while.
The breakfast was a gala feast. It had a combination of all kind of cuisines and the servings were made on the table. We managed to get a bike to tour around Bikaner and started for Rampuria Haveli right after our breakfast. The ride to the haveli is through the city and feels completely different from where we were staying. We did a guided tour of Bhawar Niwas Hotel and were mesmerized to see that everything in the room was GOLD plated!! Bhanwar Niwas is the grandest of the famed havelis belonging to the Rampuria family and is situated inside the walled city of Bikaner.
Post the tour, we set out for something adventurous: Karni Mata Temple which is also known as the temple of rats. Enroute you will find barren lands with herds of camels enjoying the heat. Finally we reached the temple and saw insane number of rats. It is considered good luck if you are able to spot a white rat. So the locals are seen sitting and searching for the white rat for hours! There are lot of eateries around the area so you can take a pitstop for lunch.
After refueling ourselves, we started our journey towards Camel Research Institute. Camels and Bikaner are inseparable from each other.The ICAR-National Research Centre on Camel, Bikaner, is a Premier Research Centre of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) which is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. We saw many camels, did a camel ride, had camel milk and icecream; and bought camel souvenirs.
We reached the Palace after our trip and were just in time for the Bachhu Khan’s group performance of Sitar and Veena instruments in the moonlit night near the swimming pool.
We spent a lazy leisure morning by doing some photography of the Palace. We intended to do desert safari in the evening and reached the guest house opposite to Sophia School. We met Mr. Vijay Singh Ji who narrated lot of stories about his father, Jai Singh Ji who was in the Army. Mr. Vijay also told us about Khuri as a must go destination in winter time. The Safari started from Raisar so we drove till there. Kishore Ji and Vikram Ji made the safari very special. They took a lot of pictures and let us ride the camels on our own.
After the camel safari, we left for the railway station. On our way, we went to the famous Bhikaram Chandimal Sweet Shop which is the most famous sweet shop in Bikaner. It is very close to the railway station. This was the true icing on the cake!
When we came to Bikaner, we thought 3 days is more than enough. But guess what, we were short of time. We missed out on a few attractions which included the Junagarh Fort built by Raja Rai Singh. In the interest of time, we preferred to experience the local lifestyle than the Fort. However, if you do have time, do not miss out on this one.
We loved our time and would definitely visit again….