Hotels in Bikaner

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Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner

Address: Samvit Shikshan Sansthan, Gandhi Colony, Samta Nagar, Bikaner, Rajasthan 334001 India.

9000**From/Per night

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Hotels in Bikaner

Bikaner

This desert city, with a population of 415,000, was a major trade centre on the old caravan route linking Central Asia and North India with the Gujarat seaports long before a Rathor prince, Bika, conquered it in 1486 AD, and called it Bikaner. When Muhammad Ghori destroyed their Kanauj kingdom in 1193, the Rathors re-established themselves in the wilds of Marwar. Bikaji was the second son of Rao Jodhaj the real founder of Jodhpur state, its magnificent fort and city. Bika left Jodhpur with a few kinsmen and followers because his father taunted him in open durbar about concocting expansionist schemes with his uncle, Rao Kandhal.

Fortunately for his descendants, no enemy could withstand the harsh desert that surrounds this rich city nor disrupt its leisurely lifestyle, which still prevails. Bikaner is still off the main tourist route but is starting to attract more visitors as Jaisalmer becomes more popular. Hotels in Bikaner...

The bazaars round Kote Gate bustle with activity. Women in colourful lehenga-cholis (flared ankle-length shirts and midriff-baring blouses) and hand printed odhnis (veils) seek bargains at the pavement stalls. Inside stores, baniyas (merchants) sit cross-legged checking accounts or showing bolts of cloth to customers. TV sets, VCRs, tape recorders, toys, and knick-knacks crowd show-windows. Sari shops, readymade garment stores, zari (gold and silver embroidery) shops, tailors, jewellers, booksellers, pan (betel leaf) wallahs, barbers, boys selling kulfi (ice cream) out of vacuum flasks, and hawkers calling out their wares fill the space between the Vishwa Jyoti and Prakash Theatre cinema halls.

Several local handicrafts and souvenirs are available in the bazaar. Lacquer-work wall panels on camel skip are a Bikaner speciality. Camel skin is used for making all sorts of useful or ornamental items such as embossed water-bottles, slippers, handbags, purses, cushions, and lacquered lampshades. Gold-lacquered pottery, trays, hand-blocked ethnic prints, and tie-dyed fabrics, bedspreads and table linen, exotic silver and gold jewellery, are also good buys. Handwoven cotton durries (rugs), camel-hair blankets and silk carpets are local specialities which have long been export items. Hotels in Bikaner...

Bikaner can be very uncomfortable in summer, which lasts from April to September. There are three distinct seasons in Rajasthan — the long hot summer; a short rainy spell when everything turns miraculously green and the lakes fill up; and the clear, comfortable winter. It is best to visit Bikaner between October and March. The festival of Holi generally falls in March, and for nearly three weeks before that, people start singing Holi songs to the beating of large frame drums call doffs. One night, on a date declared auspicious by astrologers and priests according to the lunar calendar, a doff player will begin to beat out a rhythm, then others pick it up, and male voices from different parts of the city and the surrounding villages join in. As the singers collect round campfires in various courtyards, this is the sign that winter is ending, and the wheat crop is ready for ritual harvesting on the day of Holi.

Bikaner's villages are very thinly populated, and most of the people live in urban centres. Several lovely havelis (mansions) belonging to distinguished merchant families stand in the old quarters of the walled city. Bikaner was a safe haven for rich traders and bankers in Mughal and British India, where they could leave their families while carrying on their commercial ventures in distant places. One of the finest havelis in the old town is now a small but exquisite hotel, known as Bhanwar Niwas, or Rampuria Haveli, after its owner. Open to non-residents, it provides an insight into the lifestyle of a wealthy Jain merchant family. It also has an excellent collection of artwork displayed in the guest rooms and lounges overlooking the quiet courtyard, remarkable carved sandalwood doors and windows, airy sandstone balconies, balustrades, and lacy jharokhas (latticed stone windows). Hotels in Bikaner...

Jain temples: The oldest existing structures in Bikaner are the 14th-century Jain temples built by two merchant brothers, Sandeshwar and Bhandeshwar. Neither had a son to carry on the family name, so each built a temple. The Bhandeshwar Temple stands on a high-walled plinth and has a shallow sultanate type of dome over the main entrance. Carved wooden columns with dancing figures surround a dark sanctuary with checkered gold designs, and there is a mass of reflecting mirror-work behind the marble Mahavir. The circular mandap (pavilion) features well-preserved frescoes of battles, local historical events, and parades of elephants and camels.

The nearby Neminath Sandeshwar Temple is entirely different. Its chief features are stylized enamel and gold-leaf wall paintings, and an interesting vaulted and arched ornamented ceiling. Rows of white marble statues of Jain saints line two marble altars beneath the raised lotus pedestal on which Neminath sits meditating.

Junagarh Fort: Akbar's contemporary, Raja Rai Singh, began building Bikaner's Junagarh Fort in 1587. It is one of the finest of Rajput monuments, even though it lacks the commanding hilltop site of the forts at Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Amber and Chittaurgarh.

Rai Singh's brother, Prithviraj, a poet, scholar and wit, was one of the distinguished Nine Gems of the Mughal Emperor Akbar's court. And Raja Rai Singh's eccentric youngest son, Kishen Singh, left Junagadh to establish a branch of the Bika dynasty at copper-rich Sankhu.

Junagarh is one of the few forts in India which has never been conquered, though it was often attacked. Women who committed sati down the centuries left their handprints on the wall facing the huge spiked gate leading to an eerie enclosure which opens on the main courtyard. The arrival and departure of the ruler was marked by a pair of kettle drums. Thirty-seven palaces, pavilions and temples built by stand protected different kings by massive ramparts and round towers. They are all connected by paved courtyards, painted galleries and narrow staircases which could be defended by a single warrior. Two marble fretwork windows set in a soaring sandstone wall are particularly impressive. Bikaner's crimson and saffron standard still flies over this Rathor stronghold, cared for by a family trust. Hotels in Bikaner...

Behind the multi-storied Anup Mahal facade lie well-preserved chambers where the rulers lived, surrounded by relations and retainers. From the latticed windows women watched the outside world without breaking purdah. For four centuries Junagarh was the heart of an important autonomous kingdom where the public came daily, as a matter of right, to lay their problems and petitions before their maharaja, or to eat at the communal kitchen from which no one could be turned away hungry. The fort houses a number of historic treasures which are on public display. The rarest of these is the ancient Pugal or sandalwood throne of the Kanauj kings, possibly the oldest piece of furniture existing in India. This was one of the Rathor heirlooms brought from Jodhpur by Bikaji after the deaths of his father and elder brother. Another is Bikaji's small silver-legged bed. Remembering how his grandfather, Rao Riddmall, was tied to his own bed and treacherously killed at Chittaurgarh by enemies who had hidden under the bed, Bika always slept on a low, narrow bed under which no one could hide. Sitting or sleeping on this bed is strictly taboo even for members of Bika's dynasty. Hotels in Bikaner...

The huge Ganga Niwas Durbar Hall with its carved walls and ceiling, used to be a splendid setting for ceremonies in the days of feudal rule. Royal marriages, births, and the yearly Gangaur festival are still celebrated in the Har Mandir facing the Anup Mahal courtyard, where the ancient Hiranyagarbh image of Lakshmi-Narayan, the Nav Durgas (nine Durgas) seated on a nine-petalled gold lotus, the holy Dakshina-Vrat Shankh (conch shell), and the sacred Karand casket are housed. Daily worship is performed here by hereditary priests who still serve Bikaji's descendants.

From the fort's roofs and ramparts there is a magnificent view of the crowded city, with the great Ratan Bihari Temple in the foreground. In the zenana, shady balconies and kiosks surround colourful mosaic courtyards, each different—some studded with pools and fountains to refresh the queens and princesses in the summer months. Each exuberant chaubara (four-sided open pavilion), panchbara (penthouse), and sal (gallery) is ornamented with lacquer-work, mirrored niches, floral panels, portraits and mythological scenes. The vaulted, arched, or panelled ceilings and decorated doors, each different, have to be seen to believed. The Gaj Mandir Shish Mahal (hall of mirrors) with its ivory-inlaid bed, inviting swing-seat, silver chairs, and polished wooden chests and cupboards seems ready and waiting for its master. Hotels in Bikaner...

The fort museum has a valuable collection of illuminated Sanskrit and Persian manuscripts, and miniature paintings. Some art experts rate the extremely elegant and sensitive Bikaner miniatures second only to those of the Mughal school. Outstanding examples of Rajasthani jewellery, enamelware, gold and silver boxes, ceremonial vessels hookahs, costumes, and carpets are displayed here. Historic weapons and armour include jewelled swords inscribed with the names of famous Mughal emperors or great Rajput warriors, jade and enamel hilted daggers, pistols and muskets inlaid with ivory, gold, or silver. The huge double-edged sword of Rajkumar Padam Singh is always pointed out with great pride. With this sword, which few able-bodied men can lift, Padam Singh left a dent on the sandstone pillar of Agra's Diwan-i-Aam (Hall of Public Audience) when he cut down his brother's murderer in front of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. You can also examine Mughal farmans (written orders), British treaties, decorations, medals, and other heirlooms belonging to legendary figures. The gold insignia of rank presented to Bikaner's rulers by various Mughal emperors, their gold howdahs, palanquins lined with rare brocades, and ceremonial war drums, are also displayed here. Hotels in Bikaner...

Besides being formidable fighters, the Rathors of Bikaner were sophisticated scholars and art patrons. The walls of the 17th-century Karan Mahal are so skilfully painted with gold leaf and jewel tones that it seems like outrageously expensive pietra dura inlay. The walls are not even marble, but lime plaster polished to perfection with shells. The 18th-century Phool Mahal is decorated with elaborate mirror-work, while the airy Chandra Mahal in which the maharanis lived has bas-relief friezes of Hindu gods and goddesses over every arched entrance. Hunting and polo scenes cover galleries in the male apartments. The dazzling Anup Mahal, where Bikaner's kings received kinsmen and clan chiefs, is ornamented with scarlet and gold Persian motifs repeated in the specially woven carpet. The seldom-visited chamber under the bright blue clock tower has a quaint combination of "wallfellows" — erotic Rajput paintings, Chinese wallpaper, and Dutch tiles. Together they echo the hybrid Eurasian style that swept India during the heyday of the British Raj. Hotels in Bikaner...

Lallgarh Palace: Aesthetically, few palaces in India match Bikaner's Lallgarh, now one of Rajasthan's most interesting luxury hotels. Set in the open countryside outside the city, this splendid blend of orientalist fantasy and European luxury was designed 100 years ago by Sir Swinton Jacob for Maharaja Ganga Singh, a great moderniser, soldier, and one of the signatories to the Versailles Treaty. Before World War II began, Maharaja Ganga Singh wrote to the Secretary of State for India, the Viceroy, and brother princes, advocating the merger of the princely states with a free, federal India.

Statues of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII greet visitors in Lalgarh's entrance hall. This rambling palace is built round an open garden court overlooked by the zenana (ladies' apartments) windows Local craftsmen carved the tracery of its cupolas, umbrella domes, balconies, balustrades, pillars, windows and walls with such skill that the solid red sandstone took on the look of delicate lace. Hotels in Bikaner...

A cloister of peacock arches surrounds. the stately marble courtyard of the Lazrm Bilas. The main drawing room, library, billiard room, card room, smoking room, and guest suites are located here. All have Belgian or Bohemian crystal chandeliers reflected in huge mirrors over the fireplaces, and carpets repeating the intricate ceiling carvings or moldings. The marble corridors connecting the whole palace are lined with hunting trophies, lithographs, and bronzes. The palace used to house a fabulous collection of oil paintings, Indian miniatures, Chinese jade, porcelain, hand-embroidered silk screens, Japanese eggshell enamel vases, ornamental ormolu clocks, antique silver, lamps bronzes, marbles, and cut-glass, ornaments. Maintenance problems created by the abolition of privy purses and lack of staff have led to the dispersal of this collection gathered over centuries. But the Shiv Bilas dining room (seats 400) with its hunting trophies and wild-life paintings remains unchanged. And autographed photographs of European, Asian and India royalty in crested silver frames still stand where they used to, in a reception hall near the ADC Room. Hotels in Bikaner...

Peacocks roam freely through Lallgarh's grounds, boldly venturing into verandas and posing on domes. Pigeons, parrots, blue jays, doves, bright bee-eaters, and colourful humming birds thrive here. Once goldfish and silver carp filled the lily pools, and fountains played amidst the lawns. Today, even drinking water is a problem in this drought-prone region, so the gardens are difficult to maintain. Luxury Heritage Hotels & Resorts in Bikaner...

The late Maharaja Karni Singhji, former owner of Lallgarh Palace, was a famous clay-pigeon marksman, who took part in the Olympic Games. He had also added India's only private trap and skeet shooting range to the existing sporting facilitites, where he took great pride in training aspiring sporting champions. The present owners are the Maharani of Bikaner, her two daughters and the sir Ganga Singh Trust, who continue to run the hotel business. Luxury Heritage Hotels & Resorts in Bikaner...

Manuscript library, archive and museum: The Anup Sanskrit Library museum housed at Lallgarh has one of the world's largest collections of the world's largest collection of original Sanskrit manuscript on every conceivable subject. When Maharaja Anup Singh of Bikaner captured Golconda and Bijapur in 1687 at the head of Aurangzeb's army, he saved these priceless manuscript, parchment, inscribed copper planet and gold and silver plaques engraved with entire Indian epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, or philosophical treatises like the Bhagavad Gite. Research scholars from all over the world come to consult these Sanskrit texts and to study the historical records, documents, letters, Mughal farmans , and hand-painted pictures albums stored at the Rajasthan State Archive. The Bikaner Museum has an excellent collection of sculpture, seals, domestic implements and toys from pre-Vedic archaeological finds. It also has a large collection of coins, marble, stone, and terracotta statues, handicrafts, and metalwork from every period of Indian history. There are colourful Jain, Rajput, and Mughal miniature paintings. A scale model of the former maharaja's Edwardian special train is a popular exhibit. But the real collector's items are the exquisitely carved sandalwood cities, caravans and portraits fitted into almond shells, walnuts, and dry beans, because this is now a lost art. Luxury Heritage Hotels & Resorts in Bikaner...

Modern township: The Public Park and zoo lie between the medieval city and the modern township dotted with dignified sandstone buildings, offices, colleges, schools, hospitals, and military barracks. Shady trees line wide roads around comfortable bungalows set in large gardens. All this, plus Bikaner's railways, tube wells, powerhouses, excellent club, railway workshop, wool mills, glass manufacturing and carpet weaving centres, sheep and cattle-breeding farms, orphanages and Rehabilitation centers for hearing, speech and sight impaired people, were all built by its dynamic ruler, Maharaja Ganga Singh, whose equestrians statue faces the fort as you enter the Public Park. This large park dotted with fountains, victory towers, shady kiosks, and fishponds is a welcome spot in this dusty city. People come here to take a rest, or picnic on the lawns. Many come to see the animals and birds housed in enclosures scattered round the park. Luxury Heritage Hotels & Resorts in Bikaner...

Devi Kund Sagar: Beyond the radio station stand the marble and sandstone chatris (cenotaphs) of Bikaner's rulers. Memorials carved with suns symbolise a prince's resting place. Lotus flowers commemorate princesses. Marble footprints beneath warriors on horseback denote spots sanctified by satis like Rani Deep Kanwar. To these, local people bring their offerings of coconuts, incense, lamps, and flowers. Otherwise, the peace of the place is little disturbed. Luxury Heritage Hotels & Resorts in Bikaner...

These cenotaphs are grouped round a large artifical tank. An 18th-century king built a walled enclose to protect his father's memorial . it was foretold that all the coming rulers of Bikaner would be creamed in this small enclosure over which the maharaja had set guards. And, strangely enough, with the with the cenotaph of the List ruling maharaja, Sadul Singhji, built in 1950, the enclosure is full.

Camels are seen everywhere in Bikaner, carrying people, transporting goods, pulling carts, ploughing fields, plodding patiently through trackless sands, or sitting still in camps after a hard day under the blistering sun. Camels are still very important in Rajasthan's daily life for transport, milk, meat and hides. At most festivals, fairs and weddings, people pay tribute to their importance by decking out their camels in colourful gorbunds (ornamental harness and camel accoutrements) dripping cowrie shells, coral beads, silver chains, and silk tassels. It's worth spending a little time watching the huge camel herds being watered, fed, and exercised at the State Camel Breeding Farm near Shiv Bari. Luxury Heritage Hotels & Resorts in Bikaner...

Luxury Hotels and Resorts in Bikaner / 5 Star Hotels in Bikaner

Luxury 5 star hotels in Bikaner include Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner, There are a lot of 4 and 5 star hotels in Bikaner which can be categorised in luxury segment. For more information on Bikaner contact Swan Tours - One of the leading travel agents in India.