Rao Bika Rathore (5 August 1438 – 17 June 1504), was the founder of the Kingdom of Bikaner in present-day Rajasthan. He was a scion of the Rathore clan of Rajputs. He was a son of Rao Jodha, founder of the kingdom of Marwar.
The History of Bikaner started from 1465 by Rao Bika Ji a Rathore Rajput, and a junior son of Rao Jodha, king of Marwar, who got provoked by a stray comment by his father, left Marwar (Jodhpur) with a small contingent of Rathore warriors (500 soldier and 100 cavalrymen) to create his own kingdom. He was accompanied by his uncle, Rawat Kandhal, who provided politico-strategic advice.
They travelled to a place known as Deshnok seeking blessings from the sage Karni Mata. Bika and Kandhal sought guidance. They trained their armies without attracting attention for 3 years at Chundasar. Rao Bika then came again and impressed by his will, Karni Mata guided him and he followed.
Encouraged by her support, Bika took advantage of the internal rivalries of the Jat clans to carve out his own territory in the “Jangladesh” region of Rajasthan and by 1485 build a small fort called Rati Ghati at the site of the city which today bears his name.
In 1488 he began the building of the city itself. In the beginning the neighboring Bhati chiefs were suspicious of the new growing power in their vicinity. Karni Mata, who had become the kuldevi of Rao Bika, brought the rivalry between the Rathores and Bhatis to an end by inspiring Rao Shekha, the powerful Bhati chief of Pugal, to marry his daughter with Rao Bika.
In 1488 itself, Bikaner was named and inaugurated by Karni Mata.
Rao Jodha supported Bika in his endeavours in return for which he made a promise to Rao Jodha never try to take the throne of Marwar. Some valuable family heirlooms which would legitimize his right to found a kingdom were promised to Bika.
But Upon Rao Jodha’s death in 1488 Rao Bika attempted to claim the heirlooms promised to him, only for his brother, Rao Suja to refuse his request. An army of estimated 80,000 men stormed the Mehrangarh Fort.
For 6 hours Bika plundered Mehrangarh fort but left his brothers unharmed and departed with only the promised heirlooms (among which were a sandalwood ’Pugal’ throne brought from Kannauj (still on display in the Junagarh fort, Bikaner), a royal umbrella, a sword and a horse of “divine origin”).
According to Lieutenant-Colonel James Tod, the spot that Rao Bika selected for his capital was the birthright of a Nehra Jat, who would only concede it for this purpose on the condition that his name should be linked in perpetuity with its surrender. Naira, or Nera, was the name of the proprietor, which Bika added to his own, thus composing that of the future capital, Bikaner.
Rao Bika had established a separate Kingdom of his along with his followers through conquest. Rao Bika died in 1504. His descendants ruled Bikaner till the Independence of India. During the time of the British raj, Bikaner had become the 6th largest princely state of India.