|Junagarh Fort, Bikaner|
The large fort precinct is studded with palaces, temples, and pavilions. Karan Mahal or the Public Audience Hall has stained glass windows and intricately carved balconies built in stone. Phool Mahal or the Flower Palace is the oldest part of the palace. Anup Mahal is a multi-storey structure which functioned as the administrative headquarters of the kingdom. Chandra Mahal houses gold-plated deities and paintings inlaid with precious stones. In the royal bedroom, mirrors have been strategically placed so that no intruder could escape the eyes of the Maharaja. Ganga Mahal has a large durbar hall which houses the museum. The museum has exhibits of war weaponry and also an aeroplane from the World War I which is said to be still functional and well maintained. Badal Mahal or the Weather Palace houses various paintings. The Fort also has a fort museum which houses various paintings, royal costumes, headgears, jewels, cutlery, crystals, etc.
Another attraction of Bikaner is the Deshnok Karni Mata Temple which is at a distance of 30 km from Bikaner along Jodhpur road. It is also famous as the Rat Temple. Here, one will find hundreds of rats running about almost every part of the temple. Rats are considered to be the incarnations of the Mata's followers. Legend has it that Karni Mata who lived sometime in the 14th century, performed many a miracle during her life-time. When her youngest son died, Karni Mata asked Yamraj, the God of death, to bring him back to life.
In Bikaner we were put up at a heritage hotel called the Basant Vihar Palace. The rooms were very well done, very comfortable, making one feel like a part of the ancient royal family, but the food was so-so.
Do not miss the quaint little shop on Station Road, from where Haldiram first started his venture into the food business.