Bikaner in Rajasthan is a culturally rich city and it has some of the most splendid forts and palaces which narrate the history of the place. The city is fascinating beautiful and vibrant and a visit to the forts and palaces here will only impress you more than ever and also help you understand the culture of the place. Here are some of the most notable forts in and around the city which happen to be great historical landmarks as well:
This fort happens to be splendid and the city has basically expanded around this fort. The fort was first known by the name of Chintamani and was remaned Junagarh fort in the 20th century. The fort was built by Rao Bika in 1478 but was only a stone fort back then. It was later redone and made its present appearance by 1589. The fort has wonderful mansions and palaces inside, along with splendid gardens and balconies. The fort has great architectural splendor and every year attracts thousands of tourists from all parts of the world. 16 generations of rulers have ruled from this fort and over the years, a number of Buddhist monuments, mosques and Gothic archways have also been built inside the fort, making it quite an eclectic mix.
The Dundlod fort in Shekhawati is notable for the famous edifices built in the 18th century. The fort itself was built even earlier in the 16th century under the Rawal King. It had started to grow dilapidated but had later been reinstated and has been converted into a heritage hotel at present. There are a number of other attractions in this town like the Jagathia and Goenka havelis, the Satyanarayan temple, Chokhani, Diwan- I- Khas and the Ladia and Saraf Haveli.
One of the most breathtaking beautiful palaces in entire Rajasthan, this palace is located in Bikaner and was constructed for Maharaja Ganga Singh between 1902 to1926. The palace has a distinctive European influence but it is wonderfully merged with Indian motifs and patterns. It has now been opened for tourists and also serves as a heritage hotel and comes under the National Heritage Trust. The Shri Sadul Museum is housed inside this fort where a number of artifacts of Rajasthani Royalties which showcases their epic lifestyle. The palace is built with red sandstone of the Thar Desert and it changes shades as the day progresses, making the palace spectacular to look at various times of the day. Staying in this palace- hotel is an experience in itself, because the massive room and royal hospitality will take your breath away. A section of the palace is retained for the royal family while the two other wings house the Lalagarh Palace Hotel and the Laxmi Niwas Hotel.
The palace has magnificent corridors and huge gardens which are wonderful to walk in. The gardens are very well maintained and the latticework on the doorways and windows are impressive. The magnificence pillars will take your breath away. The palace was designed by the British architect Samuel Swinton Jacob. It was originally planned that the palace would be made from inexpensive materials to cut cost but was later decided that nothing but the best materials would be used. The grand lounges and the lavish guest suites are complete with huge stone fireplaces and tall ceilings. The library of the palace is the fourth largest in the world. The architecture is Indo- Saracenic and the karni Niwas wing, which is retained for the royal family also has a durbar and a swimming pool inside.
The Gajner Palace occupies a place of pride among all the palaces of Bikaner and is located beside the Gajner Lake. It was initially used as a hunting lodge for the Maharaja and his family and was later converted into a hotel in 1976. A number of activities can be enjoyed here like boat rides and desert safaris. The architectural beauty of the place has been retained yet aspects of it have been modernized for the guests. The gardens around have lush green trees and there are grounds for cycling, playing tennis, cycling, bird watching and even going for wildlife safaris. The hunting lodge initially was connected to the railway station in the year 1922 because of the ease of the royal family. The Palace still houses many works of art and as the palace is located on the Thar Desert, one has the opportunity to try out desert safaris here as well. The traditional Bikaneri food served here is brilliant and the hospitality you receive here will stay with your forever. If you want to opt for king size vacation, filled with fun, thrill and luxury, then this is the place to be in.
The Rampuriya Haveli is mansion strictly speaking, but so great is it in proportions that it can be easily confused as a palace. It is a breathtaking structure and there are intricate jharokhas and splendidly carved ceilings and the grounds are lovely. The haveli was built over 400 years ago and it is a part of an entire group of havelis like the Sampatlala Agarwal Haveli, the Daga Chowk Haveli, the Rikhi Bagri haveli among others.
As mentioned earlier, this is a wing of the above mentioned Laxmi Niwas Palace and has been now been opened for the public as a heritage hotel. The architectural beauty of the palace is well known as the guests draws visitors each year in large numbers. The palace also houses a museum and it has many artifacts of the royal family. Foreign tourists who come to Bikaner mostly put up here because they want to experience what royal Indian hospitality is all about.
These forts and palaces of Bikaner will leave you mesmerized and will give you a deeper insight into the culture and tradition of the region. Those who come here gain a better understanding of the nature of craftsmanship this region boasts of and it continues to live on through these splendid specimens of architecture.
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