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EXPEDITION 2
 

CITIES OF
INDIA

BikanerBack

Bikaner is a vibrant, dust-swirling desert town with a fabulous fort, a refreshing outpost feel and a burgeoning tourist trade. Close to the fort lies the rickety old walled city, a medieval maze of narrow, dark and uneven streets decorated with rubbish heaps, medicine men, gambling dens, dark-red sand­stone havelis and some exquisitely painted Jain temples.  

Bikaner was founded in 1488 by Rao Bika, a descendant of Jodha, Jodhpur's founder, and was another important staging post on the great caravan trade routes. When the British arrived centuries later, the state of Bikaner exchanged its finest camels for its freedom.

Camel safaris continue to grow in popularity here, as travellers chase the silken darkness of a desert dawn without the hassle of Jaisalmar. Many travellers also come to visit the notorious Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok, 30km south, where pilgrims worship thousands of holy rats, or Kolayat, 54km south, a temple town where sadhus (spiritual men) swim in rubber tyres.

There’s a camel festival in January.

 


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