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The main sites of Bikaner

main sites of bikaner

City of the desert, located in the north of Rajasthan, Bikaner was founded in 1488 by Rao Bika, one of Jodha’s sons, the founder of Jodhpur. It does not have the charm of its rival Jaisalmer but, like the latter, it was for a long time a caravan city on the road from the Middle East to China through which camel leather goods, carpets, miniatures and other jewellery transited.

In the early 20th century, Maharaja Ganga Singh, a prominent figure in Bikaner and a far-sighted politician, set out to modernise and make the old kingdom prosper. The arrival of the railway, the first telephone sets and the installation of electricity stimulated the commercial and administrative role of the city. But above all, the "Ganga canal" built between 1925 and 1927, allowed the irrigation of a large area of arid land. And while Jaisalmer fell asleep in its arid solitude, Bikaner opened up to modern life. It is now the fourth largest city in Rajasthan.

Its economic development has therefore driven tourists away. Yet it is not devoid of interest and deserves a stop to visit the main sites and monuments of Bikaner.

Junagarh fort
Bikaner Junagarh Fort


Its external aspect is less impressive than others as it does not dominate the city. However, it is remarkable for the richness of its interior decoration and some of the valuable furnishings.

Built by Raja Rai Singh in the late 16th century, the fort is surrounded by a long, thick, stocky rampart, defended by bastions. It prides itself on being one of the few that has never been taken. It houses a succession of palaces and pavilions added by the various rulers. The gardens of the maharajas no longer exist, but the rooms have retained splendid ornamentation of frescoes, mirrors and amazing wooden ceilings, particularly prized in this desert country where trees are rare.

Vieille ville Bikaner.JPG


It is surrounded by more than 7 km of imposing fortifications, built in the 18th century to protect the rich markets and opulent homes of traders who left to make their fortunes in the big cities after the decline of caravan traffic. 

Its original character has been preserved with its colourful bazaars and austere carved red sandstone havelis, typical of Bikaner. As you wander through the maze of alleys, you will discover some of them, grouped by caste or family, such as that of the Rampuria family, the eponymous brothers of an alleyway with imposing facades, or that of the Kothari family, built at the beginning of the 20th century, whose profusely sculpted facades have an Indo-British influence.



In the middle of the old city stand two Jain temples. The first, Bhandesar temple, was built in the 15th century before the city was founded, but its exuberant interior decorations of freshly painted frescoes date from the 18th century. Climbing to the top, there is a beautiful view of the ramparts and beyond, of what remains of the first Rao Bika fort.

The second temple, close to the first, Sandeshwar temple, has a splendid interior decoration of frescoes, mirrors and stucco.

temple Deshnoke bikaner


A few kilometres from Bikaner, in the village of Deshnoke, lies a unique site in India: the Rat Temple. 

A major active pilgrimage centre, dedicated to Karniji, considered to be an incarnation of Durga (who protects against the negative forces of the devil), the particularity of this temple is that it is home to a colony of rats, cared for and fed by the priests and devotees.

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