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Honey Chitkara Mar 31 2014

How can I plan a short trip to places around Bikaner?

Benazir Khan Mar 31 2014
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

There is now no dearth of accommodation in Bikaner, though there is usually a dearth of tourists. Even so, getting rooms can sometimes be a problem since Bikaner and its palaces are often used for locations for shooting Bollywood films. Till recently with ITC, Lallgarh Palace (Tel: +91-151-2540202-07; Tariff: INR 5,000 -25,000) continues to be run by the trust under which it is managed.

Within the same complex, though, is Laxmi Niwas Palace (Tel: +91-151-2521189; Tariff: INR 8,000 - 25,000), perhaps the most beautiful wing of Lallgarh Palace. There are a large number of hunting trophies in the bar and conference rooms. The ownership represents new money, so don’t expect old-world courtesies and you won’t be disappointed. Next door, adjoining the Zenana Bagh of Lallgarh Palace is Maharaja Ganga Singh’s sandstone Basant Vihar Palace (Tel: +91-151-2250675; Tariff: INR 1,900-2,800), converted into a heritage hotel in 1993 by the House of Bikaji of namkeen fame.

A photo of Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner (by Archan dave)

The glitzy Raj Vilas Palace (Tel: +91-151-2525901-03; Tariff: INR 3,800 - 5,300) is one of Bikaner’s new heritage hotels. It once housed the Resident and Agent to
the Governor General of India. Bhanwar Niwas Haveli (Tel: +91-151-2529323;
Tariff: INR 6,000-14,000) is one of the city’s heritage havelis, built by the
Rampuria family in 1927 and now converted into a hotel. Guests who have stayed here swear by its charm.

Karni Bhawan (Tel: +91-151-2524701-06; Tariff: INR 3,000-5,000) is an art deco
bungalow with a pleasing old-fashioned ambience. Hotel Maru Udyan (Tel:
+91-151-2101735; Tariff: INR 2,300) on NH11 and RTDC’s Dhola Maru (Tel: +91-151-2529621; Tariff: INR 1,100-1,850) in Sadul Ganj are among several cheaper options.

A photo of traditional Bikaneri kachoris (by Harsha K R)

In the absence of a local clientele, there are no standalone restaurants in Bikaner.
Your best bet, therefore, are the hotel dining rooms. While some provide excellent vegetarian cuisine (Bhanwar Niwas in particular), the dining halls at the Laxmi Niwas are so well appointed that it doesn't matter what you order — it is the atmosphere that beckons.

While most of the hotel restaurants serve a pan-Indian meal at best, they can rustle up Rajasthani specialities on request (worth the effort). If you’re into snacking, Bikaner can offer you a vast choice, though Station Road is best for its spicy samosas, kachoris and hot mirchi-vadas, followed by some soothing ras malai as salve for your singed tongue!

Deshnoke (23 km)

In surprising Bikaner District, it should not be extraordinary to find a temple
dedicated almost entirely to rats. The Karni Mata Temple at Deshnoke is known by the sobriquet of ‘Temple of Rats’. Since it was Karni Mata who had bestowed her blessings on Rao Bika, the royal family has always held the saint goddess in high regard. It’s not clear how the rodents became an integral part of this temple, but thousands overrun the place today.

A photo of the Karni Mata Temple in Deshnoke (by dalbera)

Apparently the temple books include a budget to feed them, and they are protected from predators by the staff. If you step on one and kill it, you will be struck by grave misfortune — unless, of course, you choose to make up for it by presenting
the temple a rat made of gold! If you manage to overcome your fear of trampling the rats long enough, look up to notice the beautifully carved marble façade and silver doors of the temple.

◆Timings 6 am-9.30 pm

There are no hotels in Deshnoke, only a few dharamshalas for backpackers, so your best bet is to make a day trip of it. Deshnoke is a short drive away on the Bikaner-Nokha Road.

Gajner (32 km)

The private hunting preserve of the royal family of Bikaner, 32 km from Junagarh, Gajner was developed under Maharaja Ganga Singh into the finest sand grouse shooting reserve in the country. The palace, built to front an artificial lake, attracted wintering birds from distant Siberia, and a variety of deer. Shooting is, of course, prohibited now.

A photo of Gajner (by Daniel Villafruela)

The ownership of Gajner no longer lies with the Rathores either, having been bought up some while back by the Maharana of Udaipur. Run as a heritage hotel, the Gajner hunting lodge is perfect for a quiet holiday in truly regal surroundings.
Enjoy views of spectacular sunrises and sunsets from the deck, while the solarpowered boat on the lake can get you within a few feet of the waterbirds at the Gajner Palace (Tel: +91-1534-275061; Tariff: INR 6,000-8,000).

◆Entry fee INR 100 for those just wanting a ‘dekko’ of the palace The old railway saloon service might once again link Gajner and Bikaner, an experience worth waiting for. Until then, drive down NH15 (Bikaner-Jaisalmer Highway) to Gajner.

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