Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Royal Bikaner

Bikaner was founded in 1488, 29 years after Jodhpur. A younger but more intelligent son, Rao Bika, was given an army and asked to seek his own fortune to avoid a war of succession. Thus Bikaner was founded in the heart of the wilderness called Jangaldesh. Perhaps the very bareness of the landscape was the spur to making it up with beauty created by the human land. The red sand stone carvings at the Lalbagh Palace and those in marble are amongst the finest in delicacy and profusion; the fortress built in the 15th century has palaces and temples of great refinement; Bikaner's art of miniature painting is rated high; the Hall of Audience has breathtaking frescos, gilded stucco moldings, floral patterns, and carpets of incredibly delicate count.

Outside, the countryside is still rugged, dotted here and there with intricately carved Jain temples of the 16th Century. The men of Bikaner are wiry and handsome and the Bikaner Camel Corps is still a showpiece of the Indian Army's display parade in Delhi on Republic Day.

On the outskirts of Bikaner, the camel farm makes an interesting visit, particularly at sunset when herds of camels return from the dunes.

The temple of Karni Mata at Deshnoke (17 miles/ 28 kms from Bikaner) is inhabited by hordes of rats which are revered. They roam around the temple and into its inner shrine with total freedom. It is an unique sight for those who can overcome the queasiness that the sight initially evokes.

Devi Kund (five miles/ eight kms from Bikaner) is where the cenotaphs of the rulers of Bikaner was built and Gajner (20 miles/ 31 kms) has beautiful palaces set around a lake.

Sixty miles (100 kms) from Jaipur, on the road to Ajmer, is Kishangarh, an interesting city of palaces and lakes. The City Palace, the Phool Mahal and the Kalyan Raiji Temple are beautifully located by the side of a lake. From there one can walk the narrow streets of the old walled city. The largest collection of paintings of the renowned Kishangarh School is at the Majhela Palace and can be seen there by prior appointment.

Kishangarh is a convenient starting point for visits to the marble cenotaph at Karkeri, the Krishna Temple of the Nimbarkachari sect at Salemabad, and the fort and palace of Rupangarh. A little further away, the salt lake of Sambhar is an unique sight along with the marble quarries at Makrana from where the marble to build the Taj Mahal was drawn. It continues to be exploited today. Nearby, Kuchaman has one of the most beautiful lived-in fortresses of Rajasthan.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative post. Keep sharing post like this. Check out all best hotels in Kishangarh also.