Vibrant deserts, majestic forts, a beautifully built city makes visiting Bikaner a worthwhile experience. The city is adorned with spectacularly tall forts that spell out the opulence of the rulers of the time. Besides the historical grandeur, the city is also known for its delicious food. In the ancient times, Bikaner used to be the only camel breeding region in India.
About the Festival
The camel is the most revered animal in this region, making transport and trade feasible. Surviving in the desert, without the camel would have been a tough alternative. To pay tribute to this animal, a camel festival is held annually across Rajasthan. However, not every city’s festival is as famous as the Camel Festival of Bikaner. The camel bred in this region have also been a part of the Indian Army. An entire regiment is made up of them, mostly under the Border Security Forces.
When is the Festival
The Bikaner Camel Festival is a two days affair, celebrated in the cold winter of January.
Highlights of the Festival
The festivities start off with a parade of beautifully adorned camels against the backdrop of the Junagarh Fort. The celebrations also include camel races, fur cutting design competitions, camel milking, the best-bred camel competition, camel beauty pageants, camel rides amongst others.
Rajasthani fairs are incomplete without performances by folk dancers, folk musician, servings of tasty traditional food along with multiple souvenir shops, housing some crafty creations.
Tourist attractions near the Festival
Bikaner is known for the 16th-century Junagarh Fort, a huge complex of ornate buildings and halls. A trip to Bikaner is incomplete without a visit to this majestic fortress. Within the fort, the Prachina Museum displays traditional textiles and royal portraits. Next visit the Gajner Palace, a quaint structure built on the banks of river Gajner. Located in thick vegetation, the palace is an ideal place for birdwatching. The Karni Mata Temple is a very famous temple situated at Deshnoke which is 30 kms from Bikaner. The temple is famous all over India for having 20,000 black rats that lives in the temple and are revered. These rats are considered holy and are called as “kabbas”. Finally, end your day with a camel safari in the sand dunes against the setting sun.
Travel tips for the Festival
The month of January notices a good dip in the temperatures in Rajasthan. Especially from late evenings to early mornings. It is advisable to pack enough warm clothes.
How to reach
The nearest airport from Bikaner is the Jodhpur Airport, which is at a distance of around 250 kms from the main city. The Jodhpur Airport has regular air connectivity to major Indian cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore which in turn have excellent international air connectivity. There are a few buses that travel on this route from the Jodhpur Airport. Other alternative would be to book prepaid taxis.
Bikaner has two major railway stations, Bikaner Junction and Lalgarh Railway Station. Both stations are located at about 6 kms from the main city center and are well-connected with major Indian cities. There are frequent trains from Delhi, Jodhpur, Mumbai, Kolkata among other cities.
Bikaner is well-connected to every city in Rajasthan by road. There are frequent Volvo and other buses which run along the route.