India on the Road
From Jaipur to Bikaner on National Highway 11
Route: Jaipur to Bikaner via Palsana-Lachmangarh Sikar-Fatehpur-Ratnagarh-Lachharsar-Bigga-Jodhasar-Naurangdesar-Bikaner
Distance: 321 Kms. on National Highway 11
Driving Time: 6-7 Hours
The state of Rajasthan is India at its exotic and colorful best. This is the home of the gallant Rajputs, a group of warrior clans who have controlled this part of India for thousands of years with a charisma and chivalry that is comparable to the medieval European knights. The landscape of Rajasthan is replete with battle scared forts that are a clear reminder to the state’s warlike past. The state’s exotic atmosphere extends to far more than just splendid forts and palaces, as the native Rajasthanis themselves are a brilliant splash of colors.
Geographically Rajasthan is a somewhat dry and inhospitable destination but it’s very varied. The 321 Kms. drive from Jaipur, the picturesque capital of the princely state to the desert town of Bikaner is one of the most captivating road journeys in the state of Rajasthan. En-route one passes by colorful Rajasthani villages, medieval towns, forts, palaces and desert landscape all of which makes the journey a very rewarding experience for visitors.
The capital of Rajasthan is popularly referred to as the “Pink City” due to the pink colored sandstone with which a vast majority of the edifices in the “Old City” was built. The city itself is located in the midst of a desert - like landscape and is surrounded with barren hills that lends a unique charm to the city of Jaipur. Over the past few decades, Jaipur has become a much sought after tourist destination for both Indian and the discerning foreign tourists who set up base in Jaipur to explore the rest of the princely state of Rajasthan.
This incredible city was built by the great Rajput warrior-astronomer Maharaja Jai Singh and the entire town planning is based on the ancient Hindu treatise called “Shilpa Shastra”. From the bustling bazaars to the magnificent palatial edifices like the Hawa Mahal and the City Palace, Jaipur still remains an enigma for many.
What to See:
Old City area, Palace of the Winds or Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Jantar Mantar or the Observatory, Nahargarh Fort, Central Museum, the Ram Niwas Garden, Modern Art Gallery, Chandra Mahal, Mubarak Mahal, Dewan – I – Khas, Diwan – E – Aam, Govindji Mandir, Jai Mahal, Garden of Shishodiya Queen, Garden of Vidyadharji, Albert Hall Museum, Birla Temple
Where to Stay:
Alisar Hotel, Bharat Mahal Palace, Bissau Palace, Chirmi Palace, Diggi Palace, Hari Mahal Palace, Lal Mahal Palace, Mandawa Haveli, Naila Bagh Palace, Narain Niwas Palace, Raj Mahal Palace, Raj Palace Hotel, Ramgarh Lodge, Ratan Haveli, Saba Haveli, Samode Bagh, Samode Haveli, Samode Palace, Shahapura House, SMS Hotel, Sugan Niwas Palace.
Chandragupt, Hawa Mahal, Holiday Inn, Bella Casa, Choki Dhani, Clarks Amer, Country Inn & Suites, Jai Mahal Palace, Jaipur Palace, Le Meredien, Hotel Man Singh, Rajputana Palace, Rambagh Palace, Shiv Vilas, Maurya Palace, Maya international, Park Prime, The Wall Street Hotel, Trident Hilton Jaipur.
Budget Category Hotels
RTDC Gangaur, Arya Niwas, Indiana Classic, Empire Regency, Jaipur Inn, Jas Villas, Maharani Plaza, Madhubani, RTDC Hotel Teej, HR Palace, residency Inn.
Where to Eat:
Jaipur STD: 0141
Given the fact that large parts of Rajasthan are desert-like with just a handful of grain varieties like wheat, maize, millets, corn, pulses, beans and lentils that are produced in this state, it is amazing to find out how in spite of the state’s barren landscape, its people have invented some of the most delicious cuisines to indulge in.
A list of some of the renowned restaurants of Jaipur are listed below:
Turning Point (521453), The Temptations (2370129), The Royal’s Fast Food (2565659), Surya Mahal (2369840), Shivir Restaurant (2378771), Pizza Hut (2362055), Laxmi Mishtan Bhandar (2565844), Kalpvriksh (2740741), Jharokha (2550616), Garden Court Restaurant (2378771), Dholamaru (2550616), Copper Chimney (2372275), Chanakya (2376161), Niros (2374493), Natraj (2375804), Mohan restaurant (2404099), Flight View (2722057), Chaitanya (2375623).
What to Buy:
Jaipur is renowned the world over for precious stones which are much cheaper here than anywhere else in India. The bustling Johari Bazar is great for shopping, as are those located at City Palace and Hawa Mahal that sells everything from ethnic Rajasthani jewelry to textile prints and Rajasthani handicraft items.
Leaving the cobbled alleyways of Jaipur behind, as you proceed on your journey to Bikaner on NH 11, you pass by the the district of Sikar and drive through the Shekhawati region, which is basically a semi-arid stretch known for its rich virile past. The earliest mention of Shekhawati is found in the Hindu epic Ramayana and the people of Shekhawati are known for their valor and bravery.
The journey takes you through some of the most beautiful parts of Rajasthan and you will come across ancient havelis as well as long stretches of desolate landscapes interrupted by the occassional rural Rajasthani hamlets. The sight of the local women folks going about their daily chores dressed in all their finery, wearing bright colored Ghagras, Surma on their eyes, ethnic nose ring and jewelry along with the ubiquitous Mehendi applied on their palms is straight out of a Fantasy Hollywood blockbuster. No wonder this part of Rajasthan is gradually beginning to attract the attention of the Film Producers as some of the most dramatic shooting locales have been spotted in this part of Rajasthan.
The desert town of Bikaner is a center of art and culture in the state of Rajasthan and is located in the midst of the Thar Desert. The water from the Ganga canal has aided the growth of agriculture. Bikaner is renowned for its impregnable fortified walls and in the days of yore used to be an integral part of the Old Caravan Route. The city with its 7 Kms. long fortified wall with its five entry points and dating back to the 18th century is the chief attraction of Bikaner. Over the years due to its proximity to the Thar Desert, the adventurous Western tourists have made Bikaner a much sought after Desert Tourism destination and Bikaner is used as a base from which to embark on an enchanting Camel Safari.
What to See:
Junagarh Fort, Lalgarh Palace, Ganga Golden Jubilee museum, Bhand Sagar Temple, Devi Kund, Camel Breeding Farm, Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary, Bika Ki Tekri and Karni Mata Temple.
Where to Stay:
Gajner Palace, Laxmi Niwas Palace, Karni Bhawan Palace, Maan Bilas Palace, Lalgarh Palace, Bhairon Vilas palace, Bhanwar Niwas, Hotel Sagar, Harasar Haveli, Meghsar Castle, Rajvilas Palace, Peepermint Hotel.
Where to Eat:
Being a remote desert city, Bikaner may not have the international cuisine to boast of, but that doesn’t mean it is short of its local flavors. From the traditional peanut butters to the more elaborate Daal Bati Churma along with the mouthwatering Kari Sangri and specially flavored Lassi makes for a truly sumptuous desert spread. In the Non-Veg category “Laal Mass” wherein the lamb is cooked to perfection by the local chefs is a much preferred by the visitors as well as the locals.
Some of Bikaner’s popular eating joints are – Amber, Harasar Haveli, Joshi, Chotu Motu Sweet Shop, Mehfil, Lalgarh Palace Hotel and Annapurna.
What to Buy:
Handicraft items made of Camel skin are a rage with the tourists. Intricately designed purses, shoes, cushions, leather chairs etc are readily available at the shops in the neighborhood of KEM Road. The Bikaneri sweets are renowned the world over and so is the Bikaneri Bhojiya. Don’t miss out on the specialty Bikaneri Tea made of Camel milk.