One day in Bikaner

One day in Bikaner

Bikaner is located in the North of Rajasthan, in the heart of the Thar desert, only 100 kilometers from the Pakistan border. 

Initially, Bikaner was not in our plan, we wanted to go directly to Jaisalmer from Jaipur but Jaisalmer is 560 kilometers away from Jaipur (10 hours). So we decided to halt in Bikaner for a night. We are happy we did! 

In this post, you will find our favorite things to do and plenty of tips for your trip to Bikaner. 

How to get there

Bikaner is easily accessible by public transport when you are in the state of Rajasthan. The quickest way is by bus or car. Another option is by train from main cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, and Jaisalmer. Another option is by plane, the airport is located around 15 kilometers from the city. We got there by car from Jaipur which took around 5 hours. 

Where to stay

We stayed at the Desert Winds hotel which is perfectly located to walk to the must-sees of Bikaner. If you like luxury then we recommend you to stay at the Laxmi Niwas Palace.

Junagarh Fort

This impressive fort was constructed between 1589 and 1593 by Raja Rai Singh, ruler of Bikaner, and a general in the army of the Mughal emperor Akbar.  Raja Rai Singh was artistically inclined and had a good knowledge of architecture. This knowledge is reflected in the numerous structures that he built in the Junagarh Fort. The Fort is an outstanding example of architecture and a unique center of art. 

Inside you will find 37 palaces that are connected by courtyards and corridors. Bikaner is known for its miniature art, something that can be seen in the countless painted walls and tiles. Everywhere you look, you will find beautiful decorations and details on the balconies, towers, at the stairs, doorways, and windows. We were surprised over and over again! 

Junagarh Fort is located in Bikaner’s city center so it’s very easy to get there by foot or tuk-tuk. The Fort is open from 10 am – 4.30 pm daily. The entrance fee is 50 rupees for Indians and 300 rupees for tourists. There are audio guides available at the ticket counter for 50 rupees.

Karni Mata Temple

The Karni Mata Temple also known as rat temple is located in the town of Deshnoke around 30 km from Bikaner. The inner temple is thought to be constructed in the 15th century, around the time when the town of Deshnoke was founded in 1470. They built the temple in honor of Karni Mati. The temple is home to over 20 000 rats that live, eat, and are worshipped there.

Legend says that Karni Mata performed many miracles. When her youngest son Laxman drowned she asked Yama, the God of Death to bring him back to life. Yama said that it was impossible, but that Karni Mata as an incarnation could restore his life. This she did, decreeing that members of her family would no longer die but would be reborn as rats. 

So it is thought that the rats or kabbas are members of Karni Mata’s family.

Like almost all the temples in India, you will need to take your shoes off to enter the temple. You can keep your socks on if you wish. 

As we walked under the archway to the front courtyard we didn’t see any rats at all. But once we went inside the temple itself we could see them everywhere! We saw them on the floor, coming out of holes in the walls, on top of doors,…  It was strange to walk around there! 

Visiting the rat temple was very special, we love the story behind the temple and had a fun experience.

You can get to the Karni Mata Temple by car, bus, and train from Bikaner. There is a train every 4 hours from Bikaner to Deshnoke which takes around 30 minutes. The cheapest option is to take a local bus from Bikaner. The temple is open from 4 am – 10 pm daily and the entrance is free. If you want to take pictures inside you have to pay 30 rupees.

The Old City

Bikaner’s old city is a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets Here you will find street food stalls, markets, shops where you can buy souvenirs and clothes, temples, and haveli’s. The center is very easy to explore on foot. We walked around the center for a couple of hours and loved it! 

The Rampuria Haveli, located in Joshiwara street is a must-see in the old city. This Haveli is the most famous one in Bikaner. The locals call it the pride of Bikaner. 

All of the Havelis are made of red sandstone. Most of them are empty and owned by wealthy families who moved to Mumbai and Delhi. Unfortunately, you can’t go inside Rampuria Haveli. 

Another must-see in the old city is The Bhandasar Jain Temple. The interior of this temple is stunning! The pillars bear floral arabesques and depictions of the lives of the 24 Tirthankaras (great Jain teachers). It is said that 40 000 kg of ghee was used instead of water in the mortar. 

The Bhandasar Temple is open from 5 am – 1 pm and from 5.30 – 11.30 pm daily and the entrance is free 

The Royal Tombs of Devi Kund

On the outskirts of Bikaner, you will find the former cremation sites of the Bikaji dynasty Royal Family.  Devi Kund Sagar consists of several cenotaphs or chhatris (domed pavilions), made of marble with beautiful ornaments. 

The highlight here is the cenotaph of Maharaja Anup Singh, this cenotaph contains spectacular carvings and Rajput paintings, depicting Krishna, floral motifs, birds, peacocks, and animals. 

You can get to The Royal Toms of Devi Kund by car or tuk-tuk from Bikaner this will take around 20 minutes.  The Toms are open from 10 am – 7 pm daily and the entrance fee is 10 rupees. 

Enjoy a royal dinner at Laxmi Niwas Palace 

Laxmi Niwas Palace is a heritage building situated in the Lalgarh Palace Complex. It is one of the beautiful royal palaces of Rajasthan. The palace built between 1898 and 1902 was the former residential palace of the king of Bikaner. 

The palace is now a luxury hotel. Someone told us that this is the best place to have dinner in Bikaner. Even if you are not staying in the palace you can head there for dinner.  We sat out in the beautiful courtyard where we enjoyed dinner and watched a Rajasthani music and dance show. The food was DELICIOUS!! 

Wedding Crashers

When we walked out of Laxmi Niwas Palace we saw that there was a wedding party going on in one of the beautiful gardens around the palace. As we walked by the garden they invited us to come to the party. We thought it was a joke at first, but they meant it! 

We were so impressed! There was a lot of food, all kinds of drinks, beautiful decoration, and nice music. The people were so friendly, we felt like famous people everyone wanted to have a picture with us. We had a great night and are grateful we experienced an Indian wedding. 

From exploring a temple that worships rats, walking around historic Haveli’s, Eating in Royal Palaces, chatting with friendly locals, … We had an amazing time in Bikaner! 

If you are looking to explore less touristy places than Bikaner is the place for you!


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