Winter chill of the North getting to you? A quick escape to the warmth of Bikaner is just what you need
The colours and charm of Rajasthan never fail to enchant you. Especially in winter. For a delicate North-body who looks for the smallest excuse to escape the bitter cold, long-promised visit to Karni Mata temple in Bikaner was all I needed to pack my stuff and dream of golden Sun.
This was to be a short trip — day long to be precise, and I planned it such that not a moment was to go waste. To be honest, 24 hours can never be enough to appreciate the beauty, history and food of a place as rich as Bikaner. Overnight journeys help you save a lot of time. Hereʼs how you too can do it:
After arriving at Bikaner Junction early morning, waste no time lazing or going for a fancy breakfast. The kachoris can wait till later. It’s always advisable to check into a hotel near the station. It helps save time in case you decide to stretch your sightseeing by another 30 minutes and saves you the rush to reach the station.
For sightseeing, the fifth largest city of Rajasthan not only boasts of spectacular architecture in its forts and palaces, but its sand dunes and colourful attire of people also fill the heart with joy. A visit to Karni Mata is a must, and trust me, once you overcome your fear of rats, you actually see how beautiful
KARNI MATA TEMPLE
Where faith fights fear. About 30 km from Bikaner, at Deshnoke, is this 600-year-old temple of Karni Mata (an incarnation of Goddess Durga). It is also famous as the temple of rats. The rodents enjoy a sacred status here and are allowed to roam and live freely.
Hardly 1.5 km from Karni Mata temple is Shri Nehriji temple. It is believed that Karni Mata used to meditate under this evergreen tree Nehriji, almost 600 years old. It is said that Mata stuck a stick on the ground, sprinkled some curd on it and it became the tree.
NAGNECHI MA TEMPLE
Rathore Rajputs’ deity, Nagnechi Ma, sits pretty in this quiet little temple just 4 km from Bikaner railway station. The legend has it that the Rathore kings became unconquerable whenever they entered a battle after receiving Nagnechi Ma’s blessings.
the architecture is. It is also amazing to see the power of devotion and how peacefully man and the animal co-exist at the temple.
The sight of Junagarh Fort inspires awe, with its sheer size and spread. The interiors, carvings and the artwork, royal weapons and clothes make you marvel at the richness of the rulers.
You too can experience the luxury of the royals. With Lalgarh Palace and Laxmi Niwas Palace having been turned into hotels, you can indulge in an evening of entertainment just like the erstwhile royals. After a session of cultural dance and music, you can drift around the place before you sit for a lavish dinner. The menu has been carefully crafted to offer you the best from the royal cuisine. Creamy kebabs, laal maas, chicken in cashewnut gravy, gatte ki sabzi, kair sangri, papad ki sabzi, daal-baati-churma, baajre ki roti, missi roti, raita and rasgulla more than satisfy your stomach. They fill your soul. As the visit comes to a close, you leave with a promise that you would be back for more. I did.
Built in 1594, the fort is a true reflection of Rajput way of life and luxury. You can spend hours getting awed by the rich details on walls and ceilings, architecture, sandstone carvings, royal ensembles and history.
LAXMI NIWAS PALACE
There are romantic dinners and then, there is this dinner. The setting and food at this magnificent former residential palace not only makes you feel like royalty but also promises to make memories.
Is one of the most impressive palaces within the Junagarh Fort. It was built by Karan Singh, who ruled from 1631 to 1639, to mark his victory over Aurangzeb.
A perfect entry showcase for the city, the Bikaner station looks all the more resplendent at night when it changes colours – from red to blue to yellow to pink…