Okay, I will begin with a shameless confession. We used Bikaner as our base during our Northern Rajasthan trip but did not get a chance to fully explore it. We plan to go back in a couple of months and do justice. So, why did I not wait to publish this post? The answer is simple – the peak tourist season in Rajasthan is from October to February (and travel planning usually starts in July/August), and so if you are thinking about visiting Rajasthan during this time, a question might arise in your mind on whether or not this city is worth visiting. While a detailed post will be in pending until we go back, this post will be slightly different – a photo essay specifically geared towards Junagarh Fort.
Junagarh Fort is special for several reasons – other than the initial short incline climb while entering the fort area, the most beautiful parts of the fort can be seen on flat ground. If you want to explore further, you can climb up — 2 flights of stairs is the maximum — which makes it one of the most accessible forts we have seen thus far (in Rajasthan). Plan to spend 2 1/2 to 3 hours exploring the fort. You need to use the official guide to enter the fort, but, inevitably, the group tends to break apart and people tend to wander off on their own. The guides though are amazing if you want to stick with them and understand the history of the fort.
The other places we visited briefly in Bikaner include: Laxmi Niwas Palace where we enjoyed a nice Rajasthani lunch, the shopping area Kote Gate Market and sand stretches outside the city.
While in Bikaner, even though we did not spend time at the camel research centre, we enjoyed fresh camel milk every single morning thanks to a person helping us. It is really amazing … tastes almost like cow milk! We definitely plan to visit the centre during our next visit.
So, would I stop at or skip Bikaner?
My personal opinion is this :
If I can spare at least a day, I would definitely stop by. If you enjoy seeing ornate buildings then this is definitely up there (more than Jodhpur or Jaisalmer forts). The interiors do come across as a hodgepodge of styles (mostly because each successive generation seems to have added their own touch & flavour to the fort) but more importantly, it gives you an idea of how the kings tried to implement what they saw or heard about regarding life and styles in other parts of the world (e.g. french country style tiles, Italian marble, etc.). So, if you are an interior designer or love architecture, then definitely do check out Bikaner.