Bikaner is in northwest Rajasthan, maybe 80 km from the Pakistan border, on the edge of the Thar Desert. It was founded at the site of a spring water oasis and was a stopping point for caravans along the trade routes between Central Asia and the Gujarat coast. In the Thar desert these oasis locations were vital.
The Thar Desert
The Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is a large, arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent and forms a natural boundary running along the border between India and Pakistan. With an area of more than 200,000 km2 (77,000 sq mi), within the Indian state of Rajasthan, covering the districts of Jaisalmer, Barmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur, and some region of the states of Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat. it is the world’s 18th largest subtropical desert.
Driving from Mandawa we start to see the terrain change to that of a sandy desert, interspersed with small leafy trees, maybe 12 feet high. As I looked at the trees it seemed that they might be planted, and that maybe they were tended by the local people. These are called Khejri or “Loong Tree” in Rajasthan. They are Prosopis cineraria, a species of flowering tree in the pea family, and the state tree of Rajasthan, vital to the region for animal fodder.
The desert, with Kherji trees growing in it.
The Thar Desert is now one of the most heavily populated desert areas in the world, due to population increases after the construction of the Indira Gandhi Canal in 1987, and the subsequent influx of people. New villages sprang up in the area supported by the canal, populated largely by the landless poor from neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana, who received six-hectare plots from the government to get them to relocate.
Livelihoods here are mainly agriculture and animal husbandry. Though it is a desert due to low rainfall, much of the area has a natural grass crop that historically has supported animal husbandry. Agriculture had been (until the completion of the canal) a risky proposition, with crops failing about 1/3 of the time. Animal husbandry has been the most important way of life here due to the difficult farming conditions. At present, there are ten times more animals per person in Rajasthan than the national average. The Thar region is the biggest wool-producing area in India. In the past few decades the development of canals, tube wells etc. has increased the level of agriculture here and changed the crops planted, too, so agriculture is now on the rise. This area is also India’s biggest producer and consumer of opium.
The livestock depends for grazing on common lands in villages, and herds may be driven far away during hard times, when large herds of sheep and camels are moved to forested areas of south Rajasthan or nearby states, like Madhya Pradesh, for grazing.
In this environment the Prosopis Cineraria, the Khejri Tree, is particularly important as a source of fodder. By lopping branches off the tree, about 60 kg of high quality food can be harvested each year from each tree for the animals. In addition, its seed pods are eaten by both humans and animals. Khejri pods are locally called sangri. Dried green pods are used as a delicious dried vegetable and are very costly, about Rs.400 per kg in local markets. These trees live a long time – up to 400 years in this desert environment, so planting them is a great investment for the local animal herdsman.
Below, sheep and goats are being herded by the roadside, Khejri trees in the background.
In the middle of this arid terrain there are small houses where the farmers live. A small white house, probably brick and cement, is shown below. This is a typical ‘good’ house. Naturally there are a few Khejri trees growing around it.
These round houses are made of gathered wood. These are the kind of houses that poor people live in.
Water Development in the Thar Desert
The Ganges Canal (also known as the Ganga Canal) was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Construction started in 1925 and the work completed in 1927, constructing 143 kilometers of lined canal. Waters of the Sutlej River in the state of Punjab, fed from the Himalayas, were brought to the Bikaner area. This was a result of the Maharaja trying to solve water problems that caused the district’s worst famine from 1899 to 1900.
Indira Gandhi Canal
The Indira Gandhi Canal, which began in 1958, starts a few kilometers below the confluence of the Sutlej and Beas rivers (which flow from the Himalayas)in Punjab. Though work is ongoing, the main part of the project was completed in 1987.
Irrigation is brought to the northwestern region of Rajasthan, a part of the Thar Desert. It consists of the Rajasthan feeder canal (with the first 167 km in Punjab and Haryana and the remaining 37 km in Rajasthan) and 445 km of the Rajasthan main canal which is entirely within Rajasthan.
The results from this canal are particularly noted in the Bikaner and Jaisalmer districts in west Rajasthan. Here the canal has transformed the barren deserts into rich fields. Crops of mustard, cotton, and wheat now flourish in what was before, desert.
This water flow has improved the quality of local life in the Thar, but is not without its own problems, naturally. These include seepage from canals and poor drainage, increasing salinity of the soil. These problems have been made worse by the cultivation of water-intensive cash crops such as wheat and rice.
The success may actually be due to the Saraswati River, an ancient river of India that dried up about 3500 years ago and left desert behind. This is a location of India’s ancient epic, the Mahabharata, and of the Rigveda, the oldest of the Veda-s. A huge amount of river alluvial soil has been deposited, 25 kilometers to 35 kilometers in width. While it is part of the Thar Desert, it is some of the most fertile land in the world. All that was needed was water. It is thought that this area will become like California’s Imperial Valley, one of the most productive farming areas in the world.
The Indira Gandhi Canal near Bikaner. Picture from Wikipedia:
We are getting close to Bikaner, and start seeing camel cart traffic on the road. This one is pulling a pretty heavy load. I bet there is more than 500 kg. in all the bags in the cart.
Basant Vihar Palace Hotel
We stayed in a nice hotel, done up in Rajasthani style, the Basant Vihar Palace. For most of our accommodations we depended on our tour company, Travel Matrix, and they put us into nice hotels all the way.
This was our room.
The clock in the lobby.
The Junagarh Fort
The main place we visited in Bikaner was the Junagarh Fort, which is really the combination of a fort and of wonderfully decorated palaces, now preserved as museums. These provide insight into the grandiose living style of the past Maharajas of Rajasthan. The fort is called “a paradox between medieval military architecture and beautiful interior decoration” (Footprint Travel Guides).
At the entrance to the palace area of the fort a sign gives the history of the place. If you are interested you can read the whole thing. My quick summary of Rao Bika and the founding of the Junagarh Fort is below.
Rao Bika and the Founding of Junagarh Fort
- Bikaner was founded in 1472 by Rao Bika, the second son of Rao Jodhaji, the founder of Jodhpur. Since he was the second son, and had no real chance to inherit his father’s throne, he set out with about 600 troops to make his name and to create his own kingdom. He conquered various local Jat clans and set himself up in what is now Bikaner.
- By 1467 he had built a small fort on the grounds of what is now the Junagarh Fort, called Rati Ghati.
- By 1488 he started building the city of Bikaner around the fort.
- Rao Bika brought the rivalry with the neighboring Bhati tribes to an end by marrying the daughter of Rao Shekha, the powerful Bhati chief of Pugal.
- Rao Bika’s grandfather, Rao Ranmal, had been the victim of palace intrigues. His enemies drugged him with opium and tied him to his bed with his own turban and murdered him. Because of this, Rao Bika had a special short, lightweight bed made so his feet hung over the edge. The idea was that if the same thing happened to him he would still be able to stand up and fight with it on his back. This bed is on display in the Phul Mahal in Junagarh Fort in Bikaner.
- The current Junagarth Fort was laid out in 1589 by Raja Rai Singh, the sixth ruler of Bikaner. Raja Rai Singh increased the size of the Bikaner kingdom and its revenues by the conquest of half of Marwar (including Jodhpur) and the grant by Mughal Emperor Akbar of half of Gujrat. He made made use of the funds from these for the construction of this fort.
- Despite the repeated attacks by enemies to capture the fort, it was not taken, except for a lone one-day occupation by Kamran Mirza. Kamran was the second son of the Mughal Emperor Babur who attacked Bikaner in 1534. After its construction this fort was never conquered during about 300 years of conflicts.
- The fort (and its predecessor) was residence (and palace) of 20 rulers of Bikaner, until 1902.
Important Rulers of this dynasty
- Rao Bika, founder of the lineage, ruled from 1472 to 1504, founder.
- Kalyan Mal, 5th in the lineage, ruled from 1539 to 1571, defeated invading Mughal armies, set ground work for later allied relationship with Akbar.
- Rai Singh, 6th in the lineage, ruled from 1571 to 1612, made alliance with the Mughal Empire, became Mughal emperor Akbar’s distinguished general and named the first Raja of Bikaner, expanded kingdom into Gujarat, built Junagarh Fort.
- Surat Singh, 17th in the line, ruled from 1787 to 1828, applied for British protection and in 1818 a Treaty of Perpetual Friendship was signed with the East India Company.
- Ganga Singh, 21st in the lineage, ruled from 1888 to 1943, the modernizer of Bikaner, built Ganges Canal.
To give you an idea what these Maharajas looked like, here is a picture of the 21st ruler of Bikaner, Maharaja Ganga Singh and his son, taken in 1914, from Wikipedia. I think the photo of his son is touching, a small boy dressed up in royal finery.
Exterior of the fort.
Handprints on the wall
Entering the fort, passing through one of the gates (The Daulat Pol), on the wall to the left of the archway can be seen red hand prints which represent the wives of the Maharajas of Bikaner who committed sati (self-immolation) on the funeral pyres of their husbands. I count 22 in this photo. Rajput women preferred death to dishonor and sati was a common practice before it was banned by the British. Researching on the web I have read other handprint counts ranging from 21 to 41, so I am not sure of the facts. Since there are more handprints than Maharani’s, there must have been other women committing sati. The last sati held in Junagarh Fort was committed by Maharani Deep Kaur in 1827. The act of sati was banned by the British government in that same year.
We did not see these when we were there. I found out about them during my research on the fort. The photo is from 10yearitch.com.
Entering through the Fateh Pol
We passed through a series of gates to enter, ending with this one, Fateh Pol.
Interior walls rise on two sides of us. We can see parts of what must be sections of the palace.
This is the palace area we will enter into.
We enter through this gate. Within the fort, I have read, are 37 palaces! There are so many since each Maharaja built a new one, not wanting to live in his predecessors’ rooms.
The first sight within the palace. Red sandstone from the Bikaner area (Dulmera) give the place its look.
This must be a palace building. The reason I say this is the jalies on the top floor, the latticed stone screens through which the royal women can look and not be seen.
We walk up a narrow ramp to enter the next section of the fort, the Vikram Vilas courtyard.
We enter the next courtyard, the Vikram Vilas, constructed of red sandstone available in Bikaner. (Vikram was the Sanskrit name of Rao Bika. Maybe this means that these are among the oldest of the palaces in the fort?)
A Jharokha, a window projecting from the wall of a the Vikram Vilas. A jharokha is on an upper story, overlooking an open space. They are used for observation, both from the Royals above, and so the people below can see the Royals.
This is a wonderful window clad with blue tiles from Delft, in the Netherlands, that extends above the entrance to the Sur Mandar, called the Sur Mandar Jharokha.
Karan Mahal Chowk (Courtyard)
This is the main courtyard of the fort.
The Karan Mahal was conceived by Raja Karan Singh and erected as a Public Audience Hall by Maharaja Anup Singh as a monument in his father’s memory. This courtyard is still used for special functions, like the Holi celebration, when it is filled with bright colorful powder, thrown by the participants.
In Bikaner Holi marks the beginning of one of their most important festivals, the Gangaur festival, where they celebrate Gauri, the wife of Siva, for 18 days. This is primarily a women’s celebration. From Topnews.in:
The festival is of immense significance for Rajasthani women who believe that if unmarried girls observe the rituals, they will get married to spouses of their choice. Those who are already married observe a fast seeking longevity of life for their husbands.
Gangaur festival is widely acclaimed and celebrated throughout the Rajasthan. The heritage behind the festival comes from the mythical legend of “Gan” or Lord Siva and “Gaur” or Gauri, his consort Goddess Parvati.
Legend has it that Parvati, in one of her forms as Gauri, underwent intense meditation and penance in order to win Siva as her consort.
Gangaur symbolizes marital happiness achieved by Gauri. While married women evoke the blessings of Gauri and pray for the long life of their husbands, unmarried girls pray for a good husband.
During the festival, females apply mehendi (henna) on their hands and feet. The unmarried girls spend the evening carrying ghudlias (earthen pots with a number of holes all around) on their heads with a lamp burning inside them and singing songs. Roaming around in the streets, they collect small presents of cash, sweets, jaggery, ghee and oil.
Here is a blog entry with beautiful photos of Bikaner women during this festival. Check out the photos!
This white structure, maybe you would call it a gazebo, is called a Holichok. It is where the Maharaja and Maharani would sit during the Holi festival. Thousands of people would come to the fort on Holi to throw colors with the Raja.
Chandra Mahal, built by Anup Singh and named after Maharani Chand Kanwar, has the most luxurious room in the palace, which houses gold plated deities and paintings inlaid with precious stones. In the royal bedroom, mirrors have been strategically placed so that the Maharaja could see, from his bed, any intruder entering his room. We only saw it from the outside, though.
This is also known as the Moon Palace, and features exquisite paintings on the lime plaster walls. I wish I knew more details about the architectural history of this place. These white walls with their jalis and inlaid wall patterns seem from a different era than the rest of the place.
Gaj Singh who ruled from 1746 to 1787 refurbished the Chandra Mahal.
There is a style of painting on havelis, grand mansions, that shows railroads and such. These kind of paintings are on the wall of this building. These three great modernizations of Maharaja Ganga Singh were painted on the fort wall: railroads, water supply and canals, and roads. He is shown in a photo with his son earlier in this post. He was the 21st Maharaja of Bikaner and ruled from 1887 to 1943. He ascended to the throne at the age of seven, upon the death of his uncle. He is known as the great modernizer of Bikaner.
The Karan Mahal
The Karan Mahal (Public Audience Hall) was planned by Karan Singh in c.1680 to mark his victory over the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and built in 1690 by Maharaja Anup Singh as a memorial monument of his father. It is considered as one of the most exquisite palaces, which displays the aesthetic sensibilities of the royalty of Rajasthan. It has stained glass windows and intricately carved balconies built in stone with wooden fluted columns. Later Surat Singh also added lot of glitter to this palace with inlaid polychrome glass, intricate mirror patterns, and red and gold paint. In the Coronation Chamber there is a throne on a platform with pillars on the sides .
A wall of glass encloses this area.
The throne in the Coronation Chamber.
Intricate and beautiful enamelwork on a ceiling.
The Badal Mahal is to the right of this courtyard, the Anup Mahal Courtyard.
Courtyard paved with marble tile.
Jharokha above the entrance to Rai Niwas, in the Anup Mahal Courtyard.
Jalies overlook the courtyard, about the fanciest that I have seen anywhere. I bet the gold screens were for the Maharani.
Also off the Anup Mahal Courtyard is the Anup Mahal.
Anup Mahal (Privy Council Room)
The Anup Mahal is a multi-story structure, which functioned as the administrative headquarters of the kingdom during the reign of Anup Singh. It has ornate wooden ceilings with inlaid mirrors, Italian tiles, and fine lattice jalies and balconies on the top floor. It has some gold leaf paintings. It is considered as one of the grandest constructions in the fort.
Anup Singh, who ruled from 1669–98, made substantial additions to the fort complex, with new palaces and Zenana quarters (royal dwelling for females). He refurbished the Karan Mahal to add a Diwan-i-Am (audience hall) and called it the Anup Mahal. In it is his Privy Council Room, also called the Private Council Room.
Surat Singh ruled from 1787 to 1828 and he lavishly decorated the audience hall with glass and lively paintwork, to take the form it does today.
Here is an example of the paintwork, and the throne used for the Privy Council. In front of the throne is an arcade marked off by carved marble pillars (that look golden) topped by scalloped horseshow arches. These arches are typically Arabic.
Carol and Richard standing in front of the Anup Mahal.
Karan Singh discovered an artist who excelled in a lavish style of building decoration, making golden-looking pillars, ceilings and wall decorations. The artist, Ali Raza, taught other artists of the area and a new decorative style developed. This style is used in the Anup Mahal, and Karan Mahal, and it is the basis for the ornate decorations is seen in the photos, above.
A sign gives a history of the evolution of golden works found in this palace.
Another typical kind of workmanship is the carved wooden pieces. Below is the central section of a wooden door.
In general, they went all-out on doors. Below are two enameled doors. Somebody left a water bottle in the doorway.
The Mahi Maratib, the “Insignia of the Fish” (Pisces), denoting youth, bravery, perseverance and strength, are special insignia carried after the Mughal emperor, a sign of his special rank. They are displayed here.
The sign below tells the story of special honors.
In this display case are two golden circles, called “Mohab”, meaning “stars,” and one golden fish (head), “Mahi,” standing for Pisces. When an important Mughal Emperor was coronated, the Moon was in Pisces, thus the symbolism; Moon in Pisces. They are on wooden poles and would be carried behind the Emperor in procession.
The Prime Minister would walk next. After a while he got his own special insignia based on his appointment date. The woman’s face in the picture below indicates the sign of Virgo.
A sign with more history of the fort. Read it you want.
Royal swords displayed in Rai Niwas. These Maharajas of Bikaner had the reputation as strong warriors and generals. The sword was a sign of this.
Badal Mahal or Palace of Clouds
The Badal Mahal , or Palace of Clouds, is part of the Anup Mahal extensions, off the Anup Mahal Courtyard. Besides the famous room of clouds with frescos of the Hindu god Krishna and his consort Radha amidst the rain clouds, it has, upstairs, paintings of Shekhawati chiefs paying respects to the Maharaja of Bikaner and photos of people standing on nails and swords – a display of faith and endurance.
Dungar Singh who reigned from 1872 to 1887 built the Badal Mahal, named for the painting of falling rain and clouds.
Here is the entrance.
The Hall of Clouds.
Krishna and Radha.
Krishna and Radha, again.
On the other wall is an artificial waterfall. The sound and feel of rain could be felt while in this room. We were told that the Maharaja wanted a room like this because it was rare to experience the monsoon here in the desert.
Upstairs is a bed of swords. These were used by Siddhis, an extraordinary group of people called Jasnathis – named after their founder Jasnath. With their spiritual powers or physical abilities, siddhis (which are attained through rigorous austerities), the Jasnathis are able to walk and dance on fire, swords and spikes. This exhibit shows some of the actual devices they walked on.
A photo of a man standing on the bed of swords.
A bed of nails. I had always wondered about this, thinking that maybe the nails were blunted. But no! I put my hand on this and they were needle-sharp. Ow! I have to wonder more now, but a very different kind of wondering.
A large, pleasant garden within the walls of the fort.
Jharokha above the entrance to the Rai Niwas.
Entrance to Rai Niwas, off the Anup Mahal Courtyard.
The main thing I noticed here and the special ivory sandals of one of the Maharajas.
Here they are. They are in an old style that I have seen before, with posts between the big and next toes.
On the wall is a painting of an heroic procession of a Maharaja on horseback.
Phool Mahal or Flower Palace
Entrance to Phool Mahal, built by Maharajah Rai Singh, the 14th Maharajah, in 1589. It is said to be the oldest palace in the fort.
Statue of rider and a chariot. I thought that it was Arjuna on a chariot driven by a smaller Krishna until I looked closely and saw the four arms on the rider. I don’t think Arjuna was depicted that way, so now I am not sure. I also did not see a bow, and Arjuna has one.
On display here are various interpretations of the opium plant, said to be very valuable in its medicinal properties. I read that milk from opium flower seed is a powerful aphrodisiac, when served in just the right proportion. Could that be why the Maharajas were so interested? The flowers and plants are made of tiny color glass pieces and mica shreds.
Outside the Sur Mandar.
This figure was in it. I am told by a reader that this is Lord Hanuman.
Upstairs, this is the inside of the blue tile Jharokha seen earlier in this post.
The Gaj Mandar was the private apartment of Maharaja Gaj Singh, the 14th ruler, and of his two Chief Queens, Phul Kanwar and Chand Kanwar. He also built the Karan Mahal and Phool Mahal. This was built under the supervision of an architect whom the Maharaja had personally brought from Jaipur. The walls are covered with elaborate Mughal niches and panels enclosed by a framework of marble plaster slabs, carved into Mughal open-work floral designs behind which mirrors have been placed.
To me, this seems reminiscent of the Anup Mahal, but a little less opulent.
Carol looks around.
Here is the Maharaja’s bedroom.
Outside is the bed of a guard/attendant.
Jhoola inside the Gaj Mandar. A jhoola is an Indian swing, suspended from a frame.
It is hanging from a carved wooden frame that looks like it is covered with gold leaf.
Close-up on the frame. Notice the mirrors behind each of the figures. This generous use of mirrors seems to be part of the royal idiom here, lots of light and reflections.
The royal elephant at the bottom of the supports, carrying the Maharaja or the other royalty.
Window studded with colored glass.
Above a window is a tiled section, its blue glaze showing images of other blue glazed fancy pots.
Looking down on a courtyard through one of the Jalies. This is what it would look like if you were the Queen, looking out.
Junagarh Fort Museum
This was originally the Ganga Singh Hall, where he held his Golden Jubilee as a ruler of Bikaner. The Junagarh Fort Museum was established in 1961 by Maharaja Dr.Karni Singh under the control of “Maharaja Rai Singhji Trust”.
One thing shown are various ways that a Maharaja would travel. Below is a special elephant seat, a howdah.
They use a lot of space to show a WW I plane, a Haviland DH-9 DE. Here is a sign telling about this plane. It was a war trophy given to him by the British. Actually it was the remains to two planes, that were restored into one by local craftsmen.
Here it is, the WW I biplane, the most advanced military technology of its day.
Another conveyance, a shaded platform, maybe a howdah for an elephant.
Several palanquins, to house royals to be carried by porters. This closed one would be for royal ladies, I suspect.
A palanquin for the Maharaja, with long poles so he could have many porters.
A fancy enclosed one for two people.
In the museum are a number of holy carvings and statues. I am not sure who most of them represent. These are enough different from what we see in South India that I can’t tell.
I can tell that this is Hanuman, carrying a medicinal mountain from the Himalayas, Gandhamaadana, to save Lakshman’s life .
There are many martial photos and exhibits. The photo below shows the Maharaja on the back of an elephant.
This is one of the many exhibits of weapons. These unusual weapons forming the central circle are two-handed knives. I guess to get a knife to penetrate armor, you need to use both hands.
Vikram Niwas Durbar Hall, Hall of Private Audiences
This was built by Ganga Singh, the 21st Maharaja of Bikaner, in 1896, as his hall for private audiences, where only distinguished guests were allowed to enter and meet the Maharaja.
Shown below is the sandalwood throne of Rathore Clan that belonged to the kings of Kanauj, an opium growing tribe in North India who claim to be Rajputs (the second highest warrior caste) and who founded Jodhpur. It was brought to Bikaner by Rao Bika from Jodhpur. It is said to be 1100 years old.
This throne was the source of much trouble between Bikaner and Jodhpur. It was promised to Rao Bika by his father, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, as part of an agreement between the Maharaja and his son. When the Maharaja died, the new Maharaja (Rao Bika’s older brother) refused to give it to him. This so enraged Rao Bika that he took his army to Jodhpur, fought them and seized this throne and brought it back to Bikaner. This started bad blood and conflict between Jodhpur and Bikaner that lasted for hundreds of years.
It houses many photos and paintings. This is of some young Maharaja, the conflux of wealth, power, privilege. Some people can handle all this, some just cannot.
Going through the gates to leave the fort.
National Research Center on Camels
The last thing today is a tour of the National Research Center on Camels. Bikaner is a good place for this center, being an area important for its camels.
It was Bikaner who provided the Indian camels to the British Imperial Camel Corps Brigade in World War I. (Did you know that the Brits even had a Camel Corps? I didn’t.) This was both important to the British strategic interests, and very profitable for Bikaner. In fact Bikaner already had its own Bikaner Camel Corps, founded in 1889 by Maharaja Ganga Singh, that helped the British before and during WW I, and in WW II. The Bikaner Camel Corps played a key role in the defense of the Suez Canal in 1915 when they routed Turkish troops in one of the few camel cavalry charges of WW I.
Here is their sign, explaining this Camel Research Center. Camels are very important to the poor people in Rajasthan, and this center has the intent of supporting and improving the productivity of the camel population. They have a camel-related web site, here, if you want to know more about this place.
Camels. Indian camels are all dromedaries, Camelus dromedarius, one-humped camels. Scientists think they were domesticated about 4000 years ago.
There are three breeds of camels here: Bikaneri, Jaisalmeri, and Mewari, all Rajasthani breeds. More information is on this page.
- Bikaneri, heavily built, darker in color, brown to black; used as a draft animal, pulling wagons.
- Jaisalmeri, tall with long and thin legs, light brown; used as riding animal.
- Mewari, stouter and a little shorter than Bikaneri. Well adapted to travel and carry loads across hills, almost white in color; known for milk production.
The white camel in front would be a Mewari. You can see a range of colors, so these are all three breeds.
Camel, lying down.
People riding a camel.
Even more camels, taking a drink.
The Camel Milk Parlor. We are going to get camel ice cream.
Below is our Bikaner guide, Ananda, with his camel ice cream on-a-stick. Not bad.
We went into their Camel Museum to see the exhibits. This sign shows that you can use your camel in many ways.
The history of domesticated camels, starting about 5000 years ago. Brought to India about 2500 years ago by Alexander the Great.
An aborted camel, now dried.
A chart showing the superiority of camels over bullocks for pulling a cart. The camel wins in every category!
Bikaner and its Junagarh Fort, with all its interior special areas and many palaces, was something special. Now after learning about the Gangaur festival in the springtime, we think it would be an interesting trip then, too.
Next for us is visiting the famous Rat Temple.
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