Bikaner is a city located in the north of Rajasthan state, close to the border of Pakistan and the Thar Desert. It is usually left off people’s travel itineraries, wrongfully so, as there is so much to see and do here. Bikaner is mostly known for two things; Camels (& its annual Camel Festival in the middle of January) and Rats (more specifically the ‘Sacred Rat Temple’). These are the top things that you can not miss when visiting the beautiful city of Bikaner which I absolutely loved (sans rats).
The Jain Temple is undoubtedly one of the most beautifully decorated temples It is the oldest temple in Bikaner and is decorated with exquisite murals, elaborate mirror work, and gold leaf paintings. The colourful paintings make this temple particularly beautiful, and the stand out features would be their exquists ceiling (see above) and the vibrant pillars (see below) carrying floral arabesques. A large number of Jain devotees visit the temple to pay their respects daily.
Karni Mata Temple
Another major attraction of Bikaner (and this is where the Rats come in… literally) is the unique Karni Mata Temple. Apparently the inside of the temple is lovely, adorned with stone, marble, and garlands… I would not know as i did not enter. What truly makes this temple famous thought, is the 25,000 rats that live and roam freely inside and around the complex. As the story goes, I got scared waiting in line, I was bouncing around, avoiding rats, when the man in front spoke to us “you know, you should stand still, the rats will run over your feet and that is very good luck for you” – nope, and that was my cue to leave.
Junagarh Fort was built in 1588 AD, and is made of red sandstone and marble. The fort houses several courtyards, balconies, and windows that reflect the ancient architectural styles. Those elaborate lacquer works, massive frescoes and beautiful mirror work that adorn the fort is sure to leave you speechless. This is one of the most impressive places in Bikaner.
National Research Centre on Camel
The National Research Centre on Camel is your one stop camel shop (so to speak). A fine establishment to learn everything there is to know about the many different species of camels. This research centre is one of the biggest in the world, and was established in 1984 by the Central Government under Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Located about 8km outside of Bikaner city, you won’t regret going here, even if it’s just to see the cute baby camels.
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