Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bikaner



BIKANER


I love Rajasthan and its culture. In my previous job I wrote some stories on its festivals and culture, so had some idea about the state and its cities. So, when we planned our vacation, Rajasthan was my first choice.

Though Bikaner was our last destination in Rajasthan trip (after Udaipur and Jodhpur) and we were quite tiered, still our enthusiasm was not completely evaporated.

Located in northwest city of Rajasthan, Bikaner is renowned for its namkeen (snacks) and species. The majestic and well maintained Junagrah Fort is the main attraction of the city. So this fort was our first destination in Bikaner.


Entrance of the fort

There are lots of things that can be talked about this fort but the most important thing is its architecture, so lets start from there.

Architecture- Several types of architectural style are discerned in the fort complex and hence it is called a true depiction of composite culture. The earliest style is of Rajput architecture, defined by Gujarati and Mughal architectural influence reflecting the association with Mughal rulers, the second type is of semi-western architecture reflecting British influence and finally the revivalists Rajput architecture that evolved particularly during the rule of Maharaja Ganga Singh. They adopted the Mughal decorations, which reflect in the stucco, wall paintings and stone inlay works. The mosaic stone carving and lattice works reflect the Gujarati impact. The works relating to glass, lacquer and wooden ceiling, suggest various activities of the period. The confluence of Rajput, Mughal and the Gujarati architectural designs are clearly visible in Junagarh Fort, as a consequence it is one of the precious gems of Indian architecture. The Junagarh Fort has the finest lacquer work of rarity, reflecting its rich glorious past.


History-This fort was built between 1588 -1593 AD by Raja Rai Singh (1571 - 1611 AD), a general in army of Mughal emperor, Akbar. Raja Rai Singh was a famous military leader who lived in the times of the Mughal Emperors Akbar and Jahangir. You can listen to some great stories about the history from the guide you will get here.


Palaces inside the fort


Anup Mahal- I really got stuck with its exquisitely carved walls.  It is one of the most beautiful palaces inside the fort. The shining walls have been covered in red and gold. The coloured glass inlay works on the walls look very impressive. Our guide left me behind as I got busy observing it’s beauty. And I must say it has been very well preserved.



Beautiful Anup Mahal






Badal Mahal is an extension of Anup Mahal. It has paintings of Shekhawati Dundlod chiefs paying respects to the Maharaja of Bikaner in different types of turbans. It is called Badal Mahal because the walls in this palace depict fresco paintings of the Hindu God Krishna and his consort Radha amidst the rain clouds.


Karan Mahal - It is considered as one of the most exquisite palaces built with gardens, which displays the aesthetic sensibilities of the royalty of Rajasthan. It has stained glass windows and intricately carved balconies built in stone and wood fluted columns.



Phool Mahal – It is the oldest part of the palace



Chandra Mahal has the most luxurious room in the palace, which houses gold plated deities and paintings inlaid with precious stones. It is said that the royal bedroom had mirrors strategically placed so that the Maharaja could see from his bed, any intruder entering his room.




Ganga Mahal- Built in the 20th century by Ganga Singh who reigned for 56 years from 1887 to 1943, has a large durbar hall known as the Ganga Singh Hall that houses the Museum. The museum has exhibits of war weaponry and also a World War I aeroplane (biplane), which is stated to be well maintained.


And then we moved to the Fort Meuseum.  I must say it is a very-well maintained museum. As you enter the museum, a girl awaits you with heena coup so if you are fond of heena (mehendi) then you can apply some (charges apply ofcourse). It exhibits miniature paintings, jewels, royal costumes, farmans (royal orders), portrait galleries, costumes, headgear and dresses of gods’ idols, enamelware, silver, palanquins, howdahs and war drums. Very good collection indeed.




 

After the fort, we went to the Lalgarh Palace, another architectural attraction in Bikaner. But there is nothing much to see other than the museum as a part of it has been converted into heritage hotel and other part is private residence of the royal family. So, we visited museum where camera is not allowed and then walked for the local bazaar.





The market place in the various towns I visit never seizes to amaze me as each has its own aroma and character. It is divided in sections with a vast area selling veggies and fruits, hardware section and spice section. The spice section is the most interesting one as you can smell the fresh spices in the air.

We then took a rickshaw to visit the Bhandasar Jain Temple, which was built in the 1500's. Thus is the oldest temple in town. It has some interesting paintings inside, but lacks the outside decor and carvings of the other Jain temples that we have seen. Nevertheless, it is a good start for a walk through the old town.












As you walk through the old town, you will come across several impressive Havelis with intricate carved exteriors and beautiful old wooden doors. The most impressive ones are in Rampuria Havelis. I wish it was open so that I could go inside these royal havelis. But it was closed, so the only option left was to adore the havelis from the narrow by lanes.  Built by Balujee Chalva under instructions from Rampuria family its carvings show surprising skill. Rampuria havelis are many in number and are big in size and being located at nearly adjacent positions. Localites has that these havelis belongs to rich merchant family who used to give loans to kings.  The exterior is dominated by the jharokhas, providing the haveli with a picturesque look. The jharokhas are exquisite carvings made alive by artistic creators. A must visit place of Bikaner for sure.








Some tips (Muft Ka Gyan) for people travelling Bikaner

MUST DO-



  •    The namkeens of Bikaner are a must try. You can taste from the various varieties of namken and then choose which ever you want to buy.

  •       Junagarh is a must visit not only because of its amazing architecture but also because the way it has been maintained. I was very impressed by the way it has been preserved.

  •      Walk through the by lanes and do see the Rampuria havelis

Best Season to Visit-
End of October to March

Bikaner By Rail
Bikaner of Rajasthan is directly linked by rail with major cities. Some important travel connections are from Delhi Sarai Rohilla, Jaipur, Mumbai, Calcutta, Jammu, Kalka, Ambala, Ahemadabad, Baroda, Surat, Agra, Allahabad, Kanpur, Chandigarh, Bhatinda, Jodhpur of Rajasthan etc. 

Bikaner By Air
Nal Airport is 17 Km from the city center. At present there are no commercial flights. Nearby airports are Jodhpur (254 km) of Rajasthan and Sanganer airport Jaipur (325 km) of Rajasthan.

Bikaner By Road
A wide network of bus services link Bikaner of Rajasthan with several destinations. There is Rajasthan Roadway Deluxe, Super deluxe and AC buses as well as private travels also available from the major cities to make your travel comfortable. Rajasthan Roadways run very comfortable deluxe buses from Delhi (Bikaner House, Near India Gate) to Bikaner of Rajasthan. The roads are very good, and it takes around 8-9 hrs from Jaipur of Rajasthan.


With good road conditions you can also travel by private car/taxi.
  •          Jodhpur- 5 hours (304 kilometres)
  •          Jaisalmar- 4 and half hours (331 kilometres)
  •          Jaipur- 5 and half hours (329.8 km kilometres)
  •          Udaipur- 8 and half hours (479 kilometres)
  •          Pushkar-5 and half hours (325 kilometres)
  •          Ajmer-5 hours (297 kilometres)
  •          Alwar- 6 hours (391 kilometres)


So, if you are fond of painting, history and architecture, Bikaner is a must visit!