Bikaner is a city in the northwest of the state of Rajasthan in northern India. It is located 330 kilometres (205 mi) northwest of the state capital, Jaipur. Bikaner city is the administrative headquarters of Bikaner District and Bikaner division.Formerly the capital of the princely state of Bikaner, the city was founded by Rao Bika in 1486 and from its small origins it has developed into the fourth largest city in Rajasthan. The Ganges Canal, completed in 1928, and the Indira Gandhi Canal, completed in 1987, facilitated its development.
Prior to the mid 15th century, the region that is now Bikaner was a barren wilderness called Jangladesh. In 1488 Rao Bika established the city of Bikaner. According to James Tod, the spot which Bika selected for his capital, was the birthright of a Nehra Jat, who would only concede it for this purpose on the condition that his name should be linked in perpetuity with its surrender. Naira, or Nera, was the name of the proprietor, which Bika added to his own, thus composing that of the future capital, Bikaner. Rao Bika was the first son of Maharaja Rao Jodha of the Rathor clan, the founder of Jodhpur and conquered the largely arid country in the north of Rajasthan. As the first son of Jodha he wanted to have his own kingdom, not inheriting Jodhpur from his father or the title of Maharaja. He therefore decided to build his own kingdom in what is now the state of Bikaner in the area of Jungladesh. Though it was in the Thar Desert, Bikaner was considered an oasis on the trade route between Central Asia and the Gujarat coast as it had adequate spring water. Bika’s name was attached to the city he built and to the state of Bikaner (“the settlement of Bika”) that he established. Bika built a fort in 1478, which is now in ruins, and a hundred years later a new fort was built about 1.5 km from the city centre, known as the Junagarh Fort.Ganga Singh’s son, Lieutenant-General Sir Sadul Singh, the Yuvaraja of Bikaner, succeeded his father as Maharaja in 1943, but acceded his state to the Union of India in 1949. Maharaja Sadul Singh died in 1950, being succeeded in the title by his son, Karni Singh (1924-1988).The Royal Family still lives in a suite in Lalgarh Palace, which they have converted into a heritage hotel.
The internal transport system in Bikaner consists of autorickshaws. Bikaner railway station is on the Jodhpur-Bathinda line. Bikaner is connected to some of major Indian cities via broad gauge railway. The city has direct rail connections to Sri Ganganagar, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Alwar, Bhubaneswar, Sambalpur, Bilaspur, Kanpur, Agra, Jalandhar, Baroda, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Jaipur, Surat, Gurgaon, Jalandhar, Puri, Coimbatore, Thiruvananthapuram, Chandigarh, Kota, Kollam, Jammu, Jodhpur and Ahmedabad, Pune, Indore, Vijayawada. However, there is no rail connectivity for other major Indian cities like Silchar, Indore, Jhansi, Ranchi, Bhopal, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Kurukshetra, Faridabad.Bikaner is well served with roads and is linked directly to Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Alwar, Ludhiana, Sri Ganganagar, Bhatinda, Ambala, Ahmedabad, Haridwar, Jodhpur, and many other cities. National highways 11, 15, and 89 meet at Bikaner.
Bikaner is situated in the middle of the Thar desert and has a hot semi-arid climate with very little rainfall and extreme temperatures. In summer temperatures can exceed 45 °C, and during the winter they may dip below freezing.
The 3 most well known sights in Bikaner are its Fort, Camel Breeding Centre and, nearby at Deshnok, the famous Karnimata Rat Temple. But perhaps the best thing of all about Bikaner is the Old City area, alive with traders and shoppers but remarkably unaffected by tourism.
There are also some truly spectacular heritage accommodation options in Bikaner.