- Visit Junagarh fort, Deshnoke temple
- Experiential visit to Chokhi Dhani ethnic village
- Experiential visit to the Camel breeding centre
- Sightseeing of Mandawa Fort, Gulab Rai Haveli, Goenka Double Haveli and Bansidhar Nawetia Haveli
- All inclusive tour
- Daily blog
- GPS access to whereabouts of the group
- Full time tour escort of the duration of the tour
- Experienced English speaking guides for sightseeing
Day 01: Delhi / Bikaner (500 kms / 10-12 hrs approx)
Depart at 0600 hours from your school this morning for the exciting drive to Bikaner. Lunch and tea will be provided enroute.
The city was founded by Rajput Rao Bika in 1486 and from its small origins it has developed into the fifth largest city in Rajasthan. The Ganges Canal, completed in 1928, and the Indira Gandhi Canal, completed in 1987, facilitated its development.
Bikaner is famous for sweets and namkeens.
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. Apparently, 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 second son of Maharaja Rao Jodha of the Rathore clan, the founder of Jodhpur and conquered the largely arid country in the north of Rajasthan. As the second son of Joda he had no chance of 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.
On arrival, check in at your hotel and freshen up before dinner.
Overnight, at your hotel.
Day 02: Bikaner
In the morning after breakfast proceed for a sightseeing trip of the city. Explore Junagarh Fort, Deshnoke temple and the Camel breeding farm.
One of the few forts in India which stands undefeated even today after five centuries of its construction, Junagarh Fort is a mesmerising structure. Built by Raja Rai Singh somewhere between 1571 and 1612, Junagarh Fort also has a beautiful museum within its precincts. The tours here are totally government run and if you don’t understand Hindi, it’s better to rent an audio guide in the language of your choice.
Bikaner’s history is inextricably linked with that of its ruling family and their seat of power, the Junagarh Fort. The kingdom had been established in 1489, by Rao Bika, at a site called Rati Ghati (now on the outskirts of the city). This original fort soon outlived its purpose; only fragments of its original walls survive. A century later, in 1589, Raja Rai Singh commenced the building of the more spacious and strategically superior Junagarh Fort, which was completed in 5 years. With this new citadel, Bikaner shifted to its present location. The red sandstone fort lies at the centre of Bikaner. At first glance, it appears to be a low mass of buildings, which, though impressive, do not exactly have a majestic mien. But in an almost flat country surrounded by shifting sands, the royals could hardly find a naturally imposing site. Enter through its stone elephant flanked gates, past the handprints of ranis whose lives were forced to culminate in sati, and you come to the impressive ceremonial courtyard, where you get the first glimpse of the architectural treasures of Junagarh.
Nestled in a quiet corner of the Junagarh Fort, the Prachina Museum is worth a visit to get a taste of what true aristocracy means. Take a look at the china cups the Maharajas had tea in and see the finery which their queens once wore. From carpets to jewellery and photographs of royals, this place symbolises all the grandeur we associate with royalty and is worth a visit purely for the ‘fascination factor’ it holds. There is also a henna artist who sits near the entrance to the museum, where you can get some beautiful Mehendi designs to adorn your hands!
The Fort Museum has an extensive collection of illuminated manuscripts, jewellery, jars, carpets, weapons, treaties, decorations & Farmans (King’s Orders).
Legend has it the Karni Mata was a Hindu sage who was considered the reincarnation of Goddess Durga. When one of her sons, Laxman, drowned in a tank, she implored Yamraj, the God of Death to send him back. Moved by the pleas of the mourning mother, Yamraj gave life to Laxman and also bestowed upon him the boon of being born a rat in all his successive births. Thus, this temple came to be populated by rats, whose count today stands at no less than 20,000. So much for its history and origins, now comes the experience.
When standing at the threshold of the temple, you will see a number of black rats scurrying around busily, with no care for the people walking by. We are not lying when we say that your first impulse will be to turn around and run for your life when this sight greets you, but you have to stay on! Walk in and for the first few minutes you will feel like a ballet dancer, reluctant to put any part of your foot down other than the toes! A little time goes by and you will probably ease in enough to be able to walk easily and you would have entered the main shrine by then, where you can see an army of rats up to their daily chores.
Enjoy the invigorating Aarti and make a Parikrama of the temple and that’s when you will find yourself at the place where prasad is being prepared. Though it may seem a little disturbing, this is the place where you will observe a beautiful coexistence of man and rodent, where he is cooking and stirring and the animal is hopping about freely, as if contributing to the preparation in his own small way. Just in front of this place you will find the huge saucers of milk being shared by a number of rats, one of the sights which is iconic of this temple.
Camel breeding farm – At Jorbeer, 10 km from Bikaner, is a breeding farm for the ship of the desert. It was launched in 1984. An elite flock of Bikaneri, Jaisalmeri and Kachchhi camel has been developed and are maintained at the centre.
Scientists at the centre, using molecular markers, have successfully identified genetic variations within and between camel breeds. They have also produced two camel calves using the technique of embryo transfer. The Centre has also generated useful information on double-humped camel found in Nubra Valley of Ladakh.
Overnight at hotel in Bikaner.
Day 03: Bikaner / Mandawa (200 Kms / 03 – 04 hrs approx)
In the morning after breakfast drive to Mandawa. On arrival at Mandawa check in at hotel and have Lunch.
In the afternoon after lunch proceed to visit Mandawa Fort, located in the very heart of Mandawa and a classic example of the famed Rajput style of architecture. It houses many beautiful paintings and frescoes that dazzle the eyes & now been converted into a heritage hotel. Gulab Rai Haveli built in the year 1870 that has some of the best murals in Shekhawati on both the exterior & interior walls with elephants & camels on its façade. Goenka Double Haveli, built in the year 1890, with monumental frescoes of elephants & horses decorating its façade. Bansidhar Newatia Haveli built in the year 1921 combines traditional frescoes of horses & elephants with those depicting a young boy using a phone plus opulent touring cars & the Wright Brother’s plane.
Overnight, at your hotel in Mandawa.
Day 04: Mandawa / Delhi (260 kms / 06 – 07 Hrs)
In the morning after breakfast proceed to visit remaining havelis of Shekhawati area and return back to hotel for lunch.
After lunch drive to Delhi. Tea will be served enroute.
- Accommodation at hotel mentioned above on double/triple/quad sharing basis.
- Air conditioned deluxe coach for the duration of the tour.
- Meals including breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner as mentioned in the itinerary.
- Sightseeing with all entrance tickets as per the itinerary.
- English speaking local guides, for sightseeing and excursions as per program.
- Services of a tour escort for the duration of the tour.
- Daily blog.
- GPS access to know the whereabouts of the group.
- Travel insuarance.
- All applicable taxes.
- Any expenses of personal nature, such as telephone bills, laundry bills, tips at hotels and restaurants.
- Any camera fee to the places of visits.
- Any other expenses of similar nature.