Bikaner, situated in the district of Bikaner, in the state of Rajasthan, India forms the northern point in the triangle of desert cities, along with Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. Established in 1486 A.D. by a Rathore prince Bika, it came to be called Bikaner. Well protected from enemies by the desert surrounding it, Bikaner was, however, a major trade centre. The minimal external influences have led to the preservation of its medieval character even today. Its architectural heritage reposes in its forts, palaces and temples.
The oldest monuments in Bikaner are the fourteenth century Jain temples Bhandeshwar temple with its distinctive frescoes and mirror work and the Sandeshwar temple decorated with stylized enamel and gold leaf wall paintings.
The most impressive edifice in Bikaner is the Junagarh Fort which is one of the few forts in India that has never been conquered. Started in 1587 by Akbar’s contemporary Raja Rai Singh, with additions made to it by successive rulers, the fort is a formidable structure surrounded by a moat. This massive complex comprises some magnificent palaces, pavilions and temples like Anup Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Phool Mahal, Gaj Mandir, Har Mandir etc.
The fort also houses a museum which has a fine collection of miniature paintings and artifacts dating back several centuries. Lalgarh Palace, situated outside the city, is an architectural masterpiece designed by Sir Swinton Jacob for Maharaja Ganga Singh. This exotic palace is a fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European architecture. Devi Kund, the royal crematorium of the rulers of the Bikaji dynasty has a number of impressive cenotaphs or Chatris built to commemorate the memory of the royal dead. 30 kms from Bikaner is the Karni Matha temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. This unique temple is renowned for the innumerable rats which are venerated here.
Gajner Wildlife sanctuary which is 32 km from Bikaner is certain to entrance lovers of wild life as it houses animals like nilgai, chinkara, black buck, flocks of imperial sand grouse and many varieties of migratory birds. A travel itinerary of Rajasthan will not be complete without a visit to Bikaner.