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Memorable BikanerThree day road trip to Bikaner from DelhiTotal No of days - 3Dated - Oct 2010

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Places to visit in Bikaner

Karni Mata Temple
The Karnimata temple, popularly known as the Rat Temple, is 32 km from Bikaner, on the Jodhpur road. Here rats are worshipped and it looks amazing to see sqeaking rats run around your bare foot. It is forbidden to harm the rats here in any way, and it is considered especially lucky to see a white rat. This temple was built in the 15th century and earned fame for prophesying the foundation of the kingdom of Bikaner and as a reincarnation of Goddess Durga. The temple with its carved marbale facade has rats who is believed as the reborn souls of the Charans who serve at the temple. Devotees offer milk and sweets to the rats. Karni Mata temple continues to remain the tutelary diety for the royal family of Bikaner. Inside the main doorway is an open courtyard, and an enclosed sanctum sanctorum within. The sanctum sanctorum is definitely not for those who are even slightly claustrophobic. It is a small, dark, murky area, with two or three narrow doors. In the centre is a large dish of milk, thickly surrounded by rats.

Junagarh Fort Bikaner
This beautiful structure was built by Raja Raj Singh between 1571 and 1611. Entry to the fort is through a gate known as Suraj Pol, and then up a steep stone ramp. Of special interest is the Diwan-e-khas, an enormous hall, intricately carved, seemingly of wood, but in fact entirely of stone. There is a window in blue Dutch tiles, highly decorated chambers of the king and queen, and a pair of golden gates, now removed from their original moorings and secured behind iron bars. The tour of the fort takes you five storeys high, to the terrace, which affords a spectacular view of the gardens. This is also the only chance to glimpse parts of the palace that are still inhabited by royalty and not open to the public.

Lalgarh Palace
Lalgarh Palace was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh to commemorate his father, Maharaja Lal Singh. The building is carved in red sandstone and adorned with delicate filigree work. The estate is approached through an ornate gateway which is open to all, but once inside, sadly, most of the area in out-of-bounds for tourists.One part of the palace and most of the grounds are still inhabited by the royal family. Another part of it has been made into a hotel. Only a tiny portion, which houses a museum, is open to tourists. The museum contains a collection of photographs and preserved trophies of wildlife. The hotel is open to guests only. Photography is prohibited almost everywhere. This means that the only pictures that you can carry away with you are the ones in your mind. It is tempting to stroll around the quadrangle outside the museum, or to venture onto the lawn in its midst and inspect the marble seating area in the centre.

Camel Breeding Farm
10 km from Bikaner is the camel bredding farm, is the only such facility in India. It is a research institute and photography is – you guessed it – prohibited. There is a strong smell around the area, which city people like me find somewhat intolerable. It is worth tolerating this for a while, though, because here is a sight one may never see again, outside of a movie hall (or even within one). In a large enclosure, there are hundreds of camels, rubbing shoulders with each other, the young ones staggering around, close to their mothers, stretching their long necks high; the sounds of their ethereal whoops and cries fills the air. The whole scene is like something out of Hollywood and it is hard to believe that this is real. It is possible to reach out and touch the camels through the fence, but probably inadvisable, since camels are not known to be the most docile of creatures and are quite capable of biting the hand that doesn’t even feed them.

Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary The Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary, 32 km from Bikaner on the road to Jaisalmer, is another sight worth seeing. Approached by a hilly route past a pretty pond, this sanctuary is part of Gajner Palace, the summer retreat of the kings. The surrounding forests are home to a number of species of deer, including Chinkara, Nilgai and Blackbuck.

Ganga Golden Jubilee Museum This Museum has one of the richest collections of terracota-ware, weapons and miniature paintings of the Bikaner school.

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