The depression has been killing me for the long time. It was more of a battle that I was fighting within myself, the heart brain conflict you can say, but more or less it was a conquest of evil over good and I was going through a lot of pain. Well for pain, it accumulates to my alcohol addiction, which I know is bad but gives me relief for the time being, and work schedule. The new job and the designation aspires me to do more but not getting much time for myself to explore and do more creative work is exactly very frustrating. It looks good in the starting phase but not for very long. I needed a break and that was all running at the back of my mind even when I was presenting some marketing pitch ideas. And I got one.
This time the focus was solely on discovering a city which I visited as a child and not since then, ever, until this time. Most of the time what happens is that I run after the mountains, the clouds, the greenery and the complete serenity but this time it was the barrenness if the desert that was calling me and hence I embarked on my journey to Bikaner in the state of Rajasthan, India. The city has a royal heritage and it is said that this is the very city which is the entry point of the Thar Desert. India as a country has diverse climate and regions and only one desert i.e. the Thar Desert. I stay in New Delhi, because of the job that I do and the journey took some 7 hours by train to reach the Bikaner railway station. The journey was comfortable. Indian railways are impressive to many extents, the people and the landscape to everything. I interacted with some of the people who travel by that very train and sharing a cigarette with someone whom I never knew and I will never see, on a running train, was simply awesome.
Bikaner is one of the princely cities of Rajasthan. The city has its royal heritage dating back to the 1450s. It is said that Rao Bikaji is the founder of this city. Rao Bikaji was one of the five sons of Rao Jodhaji, who infact is the founder of the city of Jodhpur. When Bikaji arrived far and east leaving his father’s kingdom over a heated argument, he arrived in Bikaner and established the city and made it his kingdom. He built the ornate forts and other castles of the city, built primarily of red sandstone that withstood the passage of time. Today, the Indian government and the trustees of the forts spent lump sum amounts in their maintenance and also aid comes from the Indian government and the government of Rajasthan.
This fort holds the prestige of never been conquered and not even during the British rule. The fort was built by Raja Rai Singh during 1540s and has since then played a prominent part to contribute to the history of India. Bikaner as a princely state was always held of high grandeur until it got merged with the Indian union of states and territories post-independence during 1947 to 1948. The royal family of Bikaner used to live in this fort and rule the entire north western region of Rajasthan. The construction of the fort is believed to be so royal that in those times that marbles were specially imported from Rome to lay the foundation of the floors. Special Mughal craftsmen and architects were called to design the monuments and arches. This fort is stupendous in many extents and forget not, this fort has one of the two fighter planes that was used during World War I. The British gifted this to the then ruler of Bikaner for his loyal services. The rulers of Bikaner were believed to be loyal devotees of Karni Mata. Today it is commonly called the rat temple and lies some 45kms south of the city. Due to lack of time and unpleasant heat during day time, I could not manage to visit the temple but remains in my bucket list.
These are the places where the kings and queens were cremated. The royal cenotaphs are located some 8kms west of the city on the highway connecting Bikaner to the state capital Jaipur. The road to this place is extremely barren and arid landscape plus hot sands are a disaster, but worth relishing every now and then. Don’t forget to carry your polarized shades and plenty of drinking water if you want to visit these cenotaphs. Well history says that, it is simply a burial ground. But the architecture and the blend of Mughal and Persian plus Rajput arts make this place worth a visit. The cenotaphs are a shinigexample of Rajasthani arts and culture. It is also known as Devi Kund Sagar, which a lake that’s almost dried up. The cremation/burial ground is just adjacent to this lake. The floral patterns are seen throughout the place and during summer months, when you might be resting under one of the cenotaphs, sighting a peacock resting by your side is a common scenario. I missed the peacock though.
#KoteGate Market Place
Due to shortage of time and struggling finances, I had to call off the trip. Two important palaces I had to leave, primarily because those were closed on those two days and secondly I struggled with my expenditure. The market place around Kote Gate is highly vibrant and the most thriving one in Bikaner. It is believed to be one of the oldest market place of the city. From shops serving snacks and sweets to jewelry and clothing and garments, everything is available in those lanes surrounding the gate. This place is highly popular for the history buffs since the lanes are centuries old and the pillars of the old lanes have seen it all. Also for shopaholics, this, this, this is the place where you can spend heavily from buying some local food to souvenirs.
This is the most prominent Jain temple of the city and dates back centuries. It is believed that this temple has its existence prior to the formation of the present city. As I stated before that when the king fled the kingdom of Jodhpur to establish his own city in the far North West, he took shelter in this very temple as he and his army was thirsty and already many of his men died of hunger. It is believed that once a priest met a rich businessman of those times and he was told to keep a valuable object that the priest owned. But somehow the businessman lost it and when the priest demanded its return he was unable to give it to him and the priest said that to avenge the disappointment a temple must be built. Hence the merchant started construction of this temple. The entire depiction of arts, culture, sins and righteousness in Hinduism and Jainism is depicted in the walls of the temple. It is one place which just cannot be missed, especially those who love arts and wall paintings.
That’s much of it. This trip was mostly of a self-time-needed break for me. I wish I could have more time and sincerely wish that I could have spent less on buying good whiskey and rum. Being frugal is good but for unplanned trips when come to a sudden halt due to shortage of money, the reckoning comes that, what if had I been thrifty?
Bikaner is a place which can be covered in 3 to 4 days if the trip be taken on a luxurious scale. Else 2 days is maximum to cover the length and breadth of the city. It is a small city well connected by railways and roads to the rest of the country and is a military base for both the army and the air force. So, sighting army convoys and jeeps is a common sight. Yet, nothing to worry about, everything is okay for tourists. So do let me know if anyone is planning a trip to this city anytime soon, would be super happy to accompany you.