• Luxury Rajasthan Holiday - fine craftsmanship at the Junagarh Fort in Bikaner
  • Luxury Rajasthan Holiday - The Junagarh Fort in Bikaner
  • Luxury Rajasthan Holiday - Rats at the Karni Mati temple in Bikaner
  • Luxury Rajasthan Holiday - Equisite carvings at the palace in Bikaner
  • Luxury Rajasthan Holiday - The Camel Farm in Bikaner
  • Luxury Rajasthan Holiday - The Maharajah's quarters at the Junagarh Fort in Bikaner

Bikaner

The desert town of Bikaner is perhaps most famous for the temple situated on it's outskirts – the Karna Mati Temple, dedicated to the worship of the humble rat. Thousands upon thousands of rats live in the temple and are considered holy. Hindus bring offerings for the rats and it's certainly a sight to see, although perhaps not one for the fainthearted or those who are not so keen on rodents. Junagarh Fort is an equally impressive sight but relatively rat free.

Bikaner itself used to be (like Jaisalmer) an important stop along the trade routes for silks and spices, but these days is a sleepy town better known as the starting point for camel safaris across the dunes of the Thar dessert. Safaris are usually timed so that you can take in the beautiful hues of colours as the sun sets over the barren landscape.

More from Bikaner

Bikaner - Camel Farm

The National Camel Research Centre is located 8km from the centre of Bikaner and was founded 1984 to study all aspects of dromedaries. The centre is home to 3 different varieties of camel and also breeds camels for the Indian Army Camel Corp. The centre is open between 2pm and 6pm daily to visitors and has a small and somewhat uninspiring museum although a tour of the centre will acquaint you with the various activities of the centre and allow you to get up close to the camels. They also offer short camel rides and have a camel milk cafe, offering icecream, hot and cold beverages all made from the milk of dromedaries. If you're interested in Bactrian camels (two humps), they have a little information but no actually two hump camels as they can't survive the climate.

Bikaner - Karna Mati temple

Located 30km outside Bikaner, the Karni Mata temple is famous worldwide as the rat shrine. And rats it has, hundreds of them. It's a very surreal experience to see so many devotees queuing to pray at the small shrine with rats everywhere, wrapped round the railings dozing, lounging against the walls and feeding on the milk and grain offerings. Be aware that you do have to take off your shoes to enter the temple, you can leave them free of charge at the shoe repository, and its meant to be extremely lucky to have a rat run over your feet so if you're squeamish, make sure you take a pair of socks!

 

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