Bikaner & Junagarh Fort – Rajasthan Road Trip – Day 2
So, we were finally in Bikaner on our day 2 of the Rajasthan Road Trip. Bikaner was formerly the capital of the princely state of Bikaner. The city was founded by Rao Bika in 1486. From its small origins, Bikaner has developed into the fifth largest city in Rajasthan. It is a clean city and easy to get around.
Bikaner is a vibrant, dust-swirling desert town with a fabulous fort and an energising outpost feel. It’s less dominated by tourism than many other Rajasthan cities, though it has plenty of hotels and a busy camel-safari scene, which attracts plenty of travellers looking to avoid the crowding that occasionally occurs around Jaisalmer-based safaris.
We had pitched our tents in Hotel Harasar Haveli in Bikaner. Its one of the old Havelis now turned into a hotel. Our room was big, comfortable and clean. For dining, the hotel had a rooftop restaurant that serves some nice food. Day 2 Breakfast was a humble meal of masala omelette made with onions, ginger and green chillies downed with a few cups of coffee.
The Visit to Junagarh Fort
Temperatures were high in Bikaner on Day 2. Yet, I ventured out for a visit to the famed Junagarh Fort. Junagarh Fort is one of the few major forts in Rajasthan that is not built on a hilltop. Spread over 5.28 hectares this imposing fort precinct is dotted with several palaces, temples and pavilions – all extremely exquisitely done. the motifs that adorn the walls of the royal quarters make your jaw drop and render you utterly speechless.
There are religious figurines in almost all the walkways with presiding deities being installed at several places. The collections on display include royal possessions from the armoury (notable was a horse and another elephant mounted rifle), the wardrobe, silver palanquins, citations, honours, gifts from other states amongst much much more. The display is spectacular and showcases the rich heritage of the Rathors of Junagarh with a lot of elan.
My modest but full flavoured lunch was that of thin crisp tandoori rotis and Gatta kadhi. It was accompanied by buttermilk and onions & green chillis on the side. Unlike the ones we get in Jaipur, these were a bit on the harder side, but absolutely well done in a slightly sour gravy.
It was evening but the temperature in Bikaner was still around 39 degrees. We decided to stay indoors and order room service. A delightful (bit salty) plate of pakoris made from potatoes, onions, spinach and chillies handled the snacks bit. The high point was the pudina chutney that unwrapped its flavours bit by bit. Unlike any other eaten by me before, this was an absolutely fresh taste. I inquired about the local cuisine only to be told very graciously that the cuisine in the city is basically adapted.
The only two things indigenous to Bikaner which was confirmed by more than one sources were the Bhujia and Rasgollas. So we ordered a tandoori chicken. We were not expecting a great dish but what we had was very good. The chicken due to lack of atmospheric moisture was dry and crisp on the outside but maintained its juicy character on the inside. It was a good pick.
Something we experimented the previous night as well at Harasar Haveli, Bikaner. We got the gravy of mutton curry reduced to a masala. It was a splendidly spicy dish that landed up on our table. The masala was just right with the chilli quotient and the meat was falling off the bone. It retained its bite too which is the way I like it. We dipped crispy tandoori rotis and it was gone in no time. We had a feastful day. Enjoy the photos.