- Bikaner is a very small town. There aren’t many hotels here but we are staying in our first converted royal palace into a hotel. The grounds and gardens (peacocks roaming) are beautiful. The rooms are oddly shaped since they are designed within the existing structure. The king of Bikaner still owns the palace and hotel. Rajasthan state has 59 royal families who are titular only. They are very rich and propertied to this day. The billardroom has about 24 whole animal skins with heads (mainly tigers) hanging on the walls. These are interspersed with mounted animal heads (cape buffalo, wharthogs, deer). The king in the 20’s and 30’s was an avid hunter.
Bikaner Fort is the most preserved and intact Fort we have visited. The king set up a trust for the upkeep of his property. All funds collected go back into the trust. The Rajasthan kings are all Moghul (Muslim) kings. We hear a lot of “calls to prayer” blasting. Today the area is about 50% Hindu, 40% Muslim, the rest are Christian, Jain. The architecture was allowed to incorporate Hindu architectural elements or Hindu Islamic. Some of the kings took on Christian and Hindu wives. The English left Rajasthan alone. Nothing changed, no British architecture.
Old Bikaner’s marketplace was great. All attached photos are of marketplace. Being off the tourist path, this was a local marketplace without tourist trinkets, pushy merchants, and no kids with their hands out. It was an experience walking their streets.
Tomorrow we are off to Jaisalmer. A long 6 hr. drive. Desert area 100 miles from border with Pakistan and about 175 miles from Lahore.