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Bikaner City Tour Guide
Bikaner is a city in the northwest of the state of Rajasthan in western India. The city is the administrative headquarters of Bikaner District. It was formerly the capital of the princely state of Bikaner. The city was founded by Rao Bika in 1486 and from its small origins it has developed into the fourth largest city in Rajasthan. The Ganga Canal completed in 1928 and the Indira Gandhi Canal completed in 1987 have allowed the farming of crops such as mustard, cotton and wheat. Other industries include wool production and the mining of gypsum, plaster of Paris and bentonite.

Bikaner's history dates back to 1488 AD when a Rajput prince Rao Bika ji a descendent of the founder of Jodhpur (1459 AD)., Rao Jodha Ji established his kingdom here. Bika Ji chose a barren land called "Jungladesh" and shaped it into an impressive city, called Bikaner after the founder's name. Archeological surveys and excavations have established beyond doubt that civilization flourished here even before the Harappa period. Excavated statues, coins and carvings of stones and clay stands as testimony to this fact.

Ever since the foundation of Bikaner till its accession into Indian Union in 1947 A.D. and there after it's integration in Rajasthan state in 30-3-1949 A.D., Bikaner has played a notable role in the history of the country. Bikaner state has produced several able Generals and warriors and distinguished Rulers and just to name of few Raja Rai Singh Ji-One of Akbar's most distinguished Generals. Another famous name is Raja Anup Singh who ascended the throne in AD 1669 a scholar and warrior. His period has been described as "the golden time of Bikaner valor and fame".

In the modern period Bikaner produced the most outstanding Ruler, namely Maharaja Ganga Singh who ruled for 56 years. He was a strong and able ruler who renovated the traditional administration, modernized the army, separated the judiciary from the executive, constructed the famous "Gang Canal" and provided a number of welfare schemes, hospitals. His son and successor Maharaja Sardul Singh, who ascended the throne in A.D. 1943, played a conspicuous role in the merger of the princely states in the Indian Union. His Nationalistic outlook shall ever be remembered by the citizens of Bikaner. His son Dr. Karni Singh made a mark in Indian politics and in the field of sports. Ever since 1952 General Elections he had been elected as member of Parliament continuously for five terms. He attained international fame in shooting arena.

Geography
Bikaner is located at _E_ 28.01 N 73.19 E[1]. It has an average elevation of 243 metres (797 feet).

Culture
Bikaner is famous for its "Bikaneri Bhujia" and its sweets. Bikaneri Bhujia is a spicy snack made from moth dal, spices and edible oil. Bikaner is also known for its handicrafts and leather articles, for its palaces and for having Asia's biggest camel farm.

The city is also known for its intricately carved Jharokas. These stone screens are found on the windows of forts and havellis - traditionally, women would use the screens to watch the world while remaining hidden.
The red sandstone for these stone window screens is supplied by the nearby village of Dulmera.
Bikaner is also a centre for Usta Art. This centuries old technique is characterised by miniature paintings and gold embossing. The work is carried out on ceilings, pillars, walls, marble, wood, glassware, ivory and - perhaps most beautiful of all - on pieces of camel hide.

Camel festival: each January the state government organises a camel festival with camel races, various cultural events and a fire dance performed by the Sidh people.
Aksaye Tritya or "AKKHA TEEJ": the foundation day of Bikaner. This was the day when Rao Bika laid the foundation of the new empire. Every year on this day people from across the social spectrum enjoy themselves by flying kites or "CHANDA". They also enjoy a special meal, such as "Khichra and Imlani".
Junagarh Fort
The fort was built by Raja Rai Singh, the sixth ruler of Bikaner who reigned from 1571 to 1612. Rai Singh had conquered part of Marwar and had been granted territory in Gujurat and Burhanpur by the Mughal emperor Akbar as a reward for his services as military commander. This, as well as funding from Jodhpur, enabled him to build the fort. Rai Singh held high rank in the imperial courts of both Akbar and his successor, Jehangir. During his imperial service he travelled extensively, giving him an appreciation of art and architecture. These ideas have been incorporated meticulously into the architectural style of Junagarh Fort. It is one of the few major forts in Rajasthan not built on a hilltop.

It has the following buildings within its complex:
Suraj Pol, Karan Mahal, Durga Niwas, Lal Niwas, Anup Mahal, Chandra Mahal and Phul Mahal, Fort Museum

Lalgarh Palace
The palace was built between 1902 and 1926 according to Rajput, Mughal and European architectural styles. The building was commissioned by Maharaja Ganga Singh (1881 - 1942) in memory of his father Maharaja Lall Singh and was designed by the British architect, Sir Swinton Jacob. It is coated in red sandstone and has several grand halls, lounges, cupolas and pavilions. The building features magnificent pillars, elaborate fire places, Italian colonnades and intricate latticework and filigree work. The palace houses the Shri Sadul Museum as well as the fourth largest library in the world. Though the Bikaner Royal Family still live in the palace, part of the building has been converted into a hotel.

One of the most impressive palaces constructed during the last half of the nineteenth century, the Lallgarh Place defies the bleak and rugged reality of the harsh Thar Desert around Bikaner. The renowned architect, Sir Swinton Jacob, was commissioned for the proposed residence of the young ruler, Maharaja Ganga Singh. Initially, the palace was proposed to be finished within a lakh of rupees and further reductions in cost were suggested to be made by substituting stucco for carved stone. But the moment Maharaja Ganga Singh got personally involved in the building exercise, all cost cutting was banished. The Palace began in 1896 and by the time the first quadrant, Laxmi Niwas was completed in 1902, cost had already zoomed to ten lakh rupees. The idea of using cheap stucco was replaced with the finest and most intricate stone carving of all the modern palaces in India. The princely abode welcomed Lord Curzon as its first important guest. Maharaja Ganga Singh named his new residence in honour of his father, Maharaja Lall Singh.Lallgarh Palace was the most completely integrated example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, and as some hold, the most perfectly realized of Sir Samuel Jacob's creations. The sheer poetry in sandstone was further extended for the Maharaja's son, Sadul Singh, and grandson, Karni Singh.

Laxmi Nath Temple
Laxmi Nath Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bikaner. The foundation of the city was laid here in 1488 by Rao Bikaji. The temple was erected during the reign of Rao Lunkaran and was added to by Maharaja Ganga Singh.

Shiv Bari Temple
Built from red sandstone by Dungar Singh in the late 19th century, the temple is surrounded by a wall with battlements. It has a four faced black marble statue of Shiva and a bronze Nandi facing the Shiva Lingam. There are also two large reservoirs of water known as bawaris. The temple attracts thousands of visitors during Shravan (August) especially on Mondays.

Kolayat
Kolayat is a famous pilgrimage spot with a temple dedicated to Kapil Muni who, according to his devotees, sat in meditation near the lake.

Kolayat is a town in the Indian state of Rajasthan. The town is 51km from Bikaner on the highway to Jaisalmer.
Kolayat is an historical centre of pilgrimage where the Vedic sage, Kapil Muni is believed to have shed his body under a Peepul tree. Kolayat has a series of marble temples, sandstone pavilions and 32 ghats - bathing places - built around a large artificial lake which never goes dry.

A temple dedicated to Kapil Muni is the venue for an annual fair held in the month of Kartik (Oct-Nov) when, on the day of the full moon, thousands of devotees of the Sankhya philosphy gather to take a dip in the holy waters of Lake Kapil Sarovar. The lake is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of devotees. A livestock fair, mainly for the trading of camels is part of the festivities. The town has both road and rail links to Bikaner.

Karni Mata Temple
The shrine of Karni Mata can be found in the town of Deshnoke 30 km south from Bikaner on the road to Jodhpur. Karni Mata is worshiped as an incarnation of Goddess Durga.

Karni Mata temple is a 600-year-old temple at Deshnoke, Rajasthan, India. Karni Mata is believed to be the incarnation of Hindu goddess Durga. The peculiarity of this temple is that thousands of rats are worshipped here. The temple in its present form was completed in the early 20th century in late Mughal style by Maharaja Ganga Singh.

This temple is dedicated to Karni Mata. There is a legend that she prophesied the victory of Rao Bika. The rats are seen as holy, owing to the belief that the souls of the followers of Karni Mata are in these rats and thus they must be looked after. The huge silver gates to the temple, and the marble carvings were a donation of Maharaja Ganga Singh.

Throughout the year pilgrims from anywhere come to pay religious tribute to Karni Mata. Outside Rajasthan she is respected and loved in areas like Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana. During Navratri thousands come to the temple on foot.

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