Devikund Sagar
Courtyard of The Gajner Palace
Sand dunes of Thar desert in Bikaner
The Red City[1]
Bikaner is located in Rajasthan
Bikaner is located in India
Coordinates: 28°01′00″N 73°18′43″E / 28.01667°N 73.31194°E / 28.01667; 73.31194
Country India
Established1488; 536 years ago (1488)
Founded byRao Bika
Named forRao Bika
 • TypeMunicipal Corporation
 • BodyBikaner Municipal Corporation
 • MayorSushila Kanwar, (BJP)
 • Municipal CommissionerAshok Kumar Asija, RAS[2]
 • Total270 km2 (100 sq mi)
242 m (794 ft)
 • Total644,406
 • Density2,400/km2 (6,200/sq mi)
 • OfficialHindi[5]
 • Additional officialEnglish[5]
 • RegionalMarwari,[6] Rajasthani[7]
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Telephone code+91 151 / 0151
Vehicle registrationRJ-07
WebsiteBikaner Municipal Corporation
Bikaner District

Bikaner (pronunciation) is a city in the northwest of the state of Rajasthan, India. It is located 330 kilometres (205 mi) northwest of the state capital, Jaipur. Bikaner city is the administrative headquarters of Bikaner District and Bikaner division.

Formerly the capital of the princely Bikaner State, the city was founded by Rao Bika, a Rajput chief of the Rathore dynasty in 1488 CE[8][9] and from its small origins it has developed into the fourth largest city in Rajasthan. The Ganga Canal, completed in 1928, and the Indira Gandhi Canal, completed in 1987, facilitated its development.



The name "Bikaner" is a combination of two elements: "Bika", derived from the city's founder, Rao Bika and "Ner", which is believed to mean "place" or "city" in the local Rajasthani language. Hence, "Bikaner" translates to "the city of Bika".[citation needed]


Bikaner coat of arms
The Maharajah Ganga Singh of Bikaner (1880–1943)

Prior to the mid 15th century, the region that is now Bikaner was a barren wilderness called Jangladesh.[10][11]

Rao Bika established the city of Bikaner in 1488. He was the first son of Maharaja Rao Jodha of the Rathore clan, the founder of Jodhpur and conquered the largely arid country in the north of Rajasthan. As the first son of Jodha he wanted to have his own kingdom, not inheriting Jodhpur from his father or the title of Maharaja. He therefore decided to build his own kingdom in what is now the state of Bikaner, in the area of Jangladesh. Though it was in the Thar Desert, Bikaner was considered an oasis on the trade route between Central Asia and the Gujarat coast as it had adequate spring water. Bika's name was attached to the city he built and to the state of Bikaner ("the settlement of Bika") that he established. Bika built a fort in 1478, which is now in ruins, and a hundred years later a new fort was built about 1.5 km from the city centre, known as the Junagarh Fort.[12][13][14]

Around a century after Rao Bika founded Bikaner, the state's fortunes flourished under the sixth Raja, Rai Singhji, who ruled from 1571 to 1611. During the Mughal Empire's rule in the country, Raja Rai Singh accepted the suzerainty of the Mughals and held a high rank as an army general at the court of the Emperor Akbar and his son, the Emperor Jahangir. Rai Singh's successful military exploits, which involved winning half of Mewar kingdom for the Empire, won him accolades and rewards from the Mughal emperors. He was given the jagirs (lands) of Gujarat and Burhanpur. With the large revenue earned from these jagirs, he built the Chintamani Durg (Junagarh fort) on a plain that has an average elevation of 760 feet (230 m). He was an expert in arts and architecture, and the knowledge he acquired during his visits abroad is amply reflected in the numerous monuments he built at the Junagarh fort.[12][14][15]

Maharaja Karan Singh, who ruled from 1631 to 1639, under the suzerainty of the Mughals, built the Karan Mahal palace. Later rulers added more floors and decorations to this Mahal. Anup Singh, who ruled from 1669 to 1698, made substantial additions to the fort complex, including new palaces and the Zenana quarter, a royal dwelling for women and children. He refurbished the Karan Mahal with a Diwan-i-Am (public audience hall) and called it the Anup Mahal. Maharaja Gaj Singh, who ruled from 1746 to 1787 refurbished the Chandra Mahal (the Moon Palace).

During the 18th century, there was an internecine war between the rulers of Bikaner and Jodhpur and also amongst other thakurs, which was put down by British troops.[14]

Following Maharaja Gaj Singh, Maharaja Surat Singh ruled from 1787 to 1828 and lavishly decorated the audience hall (see illustration) with glass and lively paintwork. Under a treaty of paramountcy signed in 1818, during Maharaja Surat Singh's reign, Bikaner came under the suzerainty of the British, after which the Maharajas of Bikaner invested heavily in refurbishing Junagarh fort.[16]

Left: Lalgarh Palace, built (Indo-Saracenic style) for Maharaja Ganga Singh and named after his father, presently a heritage hotel and also a residence of the Bikaner Royal Family. Right: Ganga Singh as a member of the Imperial War Cabinet at No. 10 Downing Street, 1917.

Dungar Singh, who reigned from 1872 to 1887, built the Badal Mahal, the 'weather palace', so named in view of a painting of clouds and falling rain, a rare event in arid Bikaner.

General Maharaja Ganga Singh, who ruled from 1887 to 1943, was the best-known of the Rajasthan princes and was a favourite of the British Viceroys of India. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India, served as a member of the Imperial War Cabinet, represented India at the Imperial Conferences during the First World War and the British Empire at the Versailles Peace Conference. His contribution to the building activity in Junagarh involved separate halls for public and private audiences in the Ganga Mahal and a durbar hall for formal functions. He also built the Ganga Niwas Palace, which has towers at the entrance patio. This palace was designed by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob, the third of the new palaces built in Bikaner. He named the building Lalgarh Palace in honour of his father, and moved his main residence there from Junagarh Fort in 1902. The hall where he held his Golden Jubilee (in 1938) as Bikaner's ruler is now a museum.[14][16][17]

Ganga Singh's son, Lieutenant-General Sir Sadul Singh, the Yuvaraja of Bikaner, succeeded his father as Maharaja in 1943, but acceded his state to the Union of India in 1949. Maharaja Sadul Singh died in 1950, being succeeded in the title by his son, Karni Singh (1924–1988).[13] The Royal Family still lives in a suite in Lalgarh Palace, which they have converted into a heritage hotel.[14][16]


Sand dunes near Bikaner, Rajasthan.

Bikaner is situated in the middle of the Thar desert and has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh), bordering on a hot semi arid climate (Koppen: BSh), with very little rainfall and extreme temperatures. In summer temperatures can exceed 48 °C, and during the winter they may dip below freezing.

The climate in Bikaner is characterised by significant variations in temperature. In the summer season it is very hot when the temperatures lie in the range of 28–53.5 °C (82.4–128.3 °F). In the winter, it is fairly cold with temperatures lying in the range of −4–23.2 °C (24.8–73.8 °F).[18] Annual rainfall is in the range of 260–440 millimetres (10–17 in).[18][19] The highest ever temperature recorded is 49.5 °C (121.1 °F) on 19 May 2016 and lowest ever recorded is −4.0 °C (24.8 °F) on 26 January 1964.

Climate data for Bikaner (1981–2010, extremes 1901–2012)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32.9
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 23.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 7.3
Record low °C (°F) −4.0
Average rainfall mm (inches) 6.2
Average rainy days 0.7 1.0 0.9 1.1 1.8 2.3 5.0 3.5 2.0 0.4 0.2 0.2 19.1
Average relative humidity (%) (at 17:30 IST) 33 27 20 15 17 27 45 47 37 25 30 35 30
Average dew point °C (°F) 3
Average ultraviolet index 5 6 7 9 9 9 8 8 8 7 6 4 7
Source 1: India Meteorological Department[20][21] Time and Date (dewpoints, 2005-2015)[22]
Source 2: Weather Atlas[23]


Historical population
1891 56,300—    
1901 53,100−5.7%
1911 55,800+5.1%
1921 69,400+24.4%
1931 85,900+23.8%
1941 127,200+48.1%
1951 117,100−7.9%
1961 150,600+28.6%
1968 186,600+23.9%
1971 208,900+12.0%
1981 280,400+34.2%
1991 416,300+48.5%
2001 529,690+27.2%
2011 644,406+21.7%
Source: [24][4]
Religion in Bikaner City (2011)[25]
Religion Percent
Other or not stated

As of the 2011 Census of India the population of Bikaner city was 644,406 placing it in the top 70 major cities of India and 5th in Rajasthan. The female to male ratio in the city was 904/1,000. The literacy rate in the city was about 79%, male literacy being 87% and female literacy being 71%.[4]

Majority of the population of the city follows Hinduism, with followers of Islam a large minority. The city has a substantial followers of Jainism.[26]

Languages of Bikaner (2011)[7]

  Rajasthani (66.46%)
  Hindi (22.01%)
  Marwari (6.44%)
  Urdu (1.94%)
  Punjabi (1.26%)
  Others (1.89%)

Rajasthani is the major language spoken here, while Hindi is the language of the educated. Small communities of Punjabi speakers also live here.[7]



Bikaner railway station is a major railway junction in the North Western Railway zone of Indian Railways. The first railway link to Bikaner was established on 9 December 1891 as part of Jodhpur State Railway[27] and it has undergone many administrative modifications since then.

Today Bikaner Railway Station is efficiently well connected to National Capital Delhi and Rajasthan State's capital Jaipur along with major Indian cities.

Bikaner is well served with roads and is linked directly to Delhi and other major cities.

Central Bus Stand is the main bus station in Bikaner. It connects Bikaner to other cities in Rajasthan and nearby states via road.

Bikaner has Domestic Civil Airport Nal Airport which is located 15 km west of the city. Regular flights to Jaipur JAI and Delhi DEL commenced in 2017-18 under UDAN scheme of Narendra Modi Govt.[28][29]



The city is famous for its savoury snack Bikaneri bhujia[30] and also have geographical indication (GI) tag[31] to keep its originality intact.[32] Other special food items for which Bikaner is well known are Bajre ki Roti (Chapati made up of Pearl millet flour), Dal baati Churma, Ghevar, Halvas, Papads/Papadum, Rasgulla, Gulab Jamun, Kachori and Samosa.[33][34][35]

Places of interest


Junagarh Fort

Junagarh Fort

The Junagarh Fort was built around 1594 CE by Raja Rai Singh. The fort was originally called Chintamani. It is one of the few major forts in Rajasthan which was not built on hilly terrain. The modern city of Bikaner has developed around the fort. The fort is studded with temples, grand palaces and huge pavilions and walls. In 1961, a museum was set up by Maharaja Karni Singh.[36] Its temples and palaces are preserved as museums and provide insight into the grandiose living style of the past Maharanas of Rajasthan.

Laxmi Niwas Palace

The Laxmi Niwas Palace

The Laxmi Niwas Palace is a former residential palace built by Maharajah Ganga Singh, the ruler of the former state of Bikaner. It was designed by the British architect, Samuel Swinton Jacob in the year 1902. The style of architecture is Indo-Saracenic. It is now a luxury Heritage hotel owned by the royal family of Bikaner.

Malasar Camel Festival

Field View of International Camel Festival Malasar Photo by Harman Godara

Malasar is a famous camel festival site near Malasar Village. It is about 30 km from Bikaner.[37][38] [39][40]

Rao Bikaji's Fort


Rao Bikaji's first fort, 'Bikaji Ki Tekri' built in 1478 is now in ruins. A hundred years later a new fort was built about 1.5 km from the city centre, named Junagarh Fort.[12][13][14]

Karni Mata Temple

Karni Mata Temple of Deshnoke (Bikaner)

The Karni Mata (करणी माता) Temple or the Rat Temple of Rajasthan is situated around 30 km away from the Bikaner city and is dedicated to goddess Karni Mata, a famous mystic of her times, believed to be an incarnation of goddess Durga. The locals will be quick to point out that the creatures running around in the temple are not rats, they are kaaba. Kaabas are believed to be reincarnations of humans who had been devotees of Karni Mata, and the brevity of human life did not sufficiently satisfy their devotion.

The shrine of Karni Mata can be found in the town of Deshnoke 30 km south from Bikaner on the road to Jodhpur. Karni Mata is worshiped as an incarnation of Goddess Durga.

Mukam Bishnoi Temple


The Mukam Temple, also known as Mukti Dham Mukam, is located near Nokha. The Mukam is a holy place of 29 rules of followers of Bishnois. Bishnoi sect was founded by Guru Jambeshwar. Bishnois are very protective of nature. Mukam Mukti Dham is a Bishnoi temple built over his samadhi.


Laxminath Temple


Built by Maharaja Rao Lunkaran, Shri Laxminath Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bikaner and 4 kilometres from Junagarh Fort. Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi. The artwork inside the temple apart from the shrines is the doorway which is embellished in silver work. Festivals like Janmashtmi, Nirjala Ekadashi, Rama Navami, Diwali and Gita Jayanti are majorly celebrated at the temple.[42]

Bhandasar Jain Temple

Bhandasar Jain Temple

Bhandasar Jain Temple is known for its beautiful leaf paintings, frescoes and ornamented mirror work. This temple was constructed by Bhandasa Oswal in the 15th century. This temple is constructed using red sandstone with paintings on walls and pillars of the sanctum and mandapa. The temple is dedicated to the 5th Tirthankara sumatinatha. The temple consist of garbhagriha, antarala, mahamandapa and ardhamandapa.[43]



A variety of birds, mammals and reptiles live in Bikaner's semi-A Qrid climate. Initiatives are being taken to bring back the number of vultures which have dwindled. There are around 600 resident vultures at Jorbeer. The region is host to another 1,200 migratory vultures. Local varieties include Egyptian and King Vultures. The most common migratory vulture is Eurasian Griffon coming from Spain and Turkey. Other migratory vultures include Cinereous and Himalayan Griffons.[44][45]

Saw-scaled Viper is also native to Bikaner.[46]

Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary is located 32 km west of the Bikaner.

Animal Husbandry

National Research Centre on Equines

National Research Centre on Camels, Bikaner


National Research Centre on Camels was established in 1984 in Bikaner by the Central Government under Indian Council of Agricultural Research at the outskirts of Bikaner city to promote research and development related to camels such as effective breeding, utilisation of camel milk. Scientists engage with all stakeholders like Camel herders, traders via collaborative programmes and significant growth had been made.[47] A camel museum is available to apprise them of the developmental and research aspects of the camel in the desert ecosystem. Maharaja Ganga Singh of the Indian State of Bikaner founded Bikaner Camel Corps around 1890 and became a part of the BSF in Independent India.[48][49]

Cow sanctuary


The Rajasthan government has decided to set up its first cow sanctuary in Bikaner. It has a dedicated Ministry of Cow Husbandry. The sanctuary is likely to be set up near Amarpura village, about 70 km from Bikaner.[50]


Sardar Patel Medical College, Bikaner

Educational Institutes located in Bikaner are Sardar Patel Medical College, Government Engineering College Bikaner, Government Polytechnic College Bikaner, Maharaja Ganga Singh University, Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Swami Keshwanand Rajasthan Agricultural University, and Bikaner Technical University.[51][52][53]

Fairs and festivals


International Camel Festival


International Camel Festival is held every year in January or February. Organised by the Department of Tourism, Art and Culture, the city celebrates the festival in honour of camels.

Competitions like Mr Bikana and Miss Marwan are also held during the festival.[54][55]

International relations


Twin towns – sister cities




See also



  1. ^ Travel, D. K. (7 September 2017). DK Eyewitness Travel Guide India. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-241-32624-4.
  2. ^ "Bikaner Administration". Retrieved 15 May 2024.
  3. ^ "Bikaner and its environment". Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Bikaner City Population Census 2011". Government of India.
  5. ^ a b "52nd Report of the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities in India" (PDF). Ministry of Minority Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  6. ^ "Marwari". Ethnologue. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b c "Table C-16 Population by Mother Tongue (Urban): Rajasthan". Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India.
  8. ^ "PRACHINA - Bikaner Cultural Centre & Museum, Prachina - Cultural capital of Marwar, Bikaner Museum, Prachina Museum, Bikaner Royal family, Western influence in Bikaner, Contemporary Crafts, Bikaner Period Room, Ritual Crafts, Aristocratic Textile & Costumes, Royal Portraits, Glass and Cut Glass Objects, Decorative Wall Painting, Aristocratic Locomotive, Museum Galleries". Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  9. ^ kalaloda. "Bikaner History, India". Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  10. ^ TL, Prabhu (4 August 2019). Majestic Monuments of India: Ancient Indian Mega Structures. Nestfame Creations Pvt. Ltd.
  11. ^ Encyclopaedia Indica: Princely States in colonial India. Anmol Publications. 1996. pp. 206, 207. ISBN 978-81-7041-859-7.
  12. ^ a b c Ring, Trudy; Robert M. Salkin; Sharon La Boda (1996). International Dictionary of Historic Places: Asia and Oceania. Taylor & Francis. p. 129. ISBN 1-884964-04-4. Retrieved 7 December 2009. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  13. ^ a b c Ward, Philip (1989). Northern India, Rajasthan, Agra, Delhi: a travel guide. Pelican Publishing Company. pp. 116–119. ISBN 0-88289-753-5. Retrieved 7 December 2009. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  14. ^ a b c d e f "History". National Informatics centre, Bikaner district. Archived from the original on 12 December 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  15. ^ "Junagarh Fort, Bikaner". Archived from the original on 16 April 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009.
  16. ^ a b c Ring p.133
  17. ^ Ring p.132
  18. ^ a b "Bikaner". Archived from the original on 9 January 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  19. ^ "Climate of Bikaner". Retrieved 9 December 2009.
  20. ^ "Station: Bikaner(P.B.O) Climatological Table 1981–2010" (PDF). Climatological Normals 1981–2010. India Meteorological Department. January 2015. pp. 151–152. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  21. ^ "Extremes of Temperature & Rainfall for Indian Stations (Up to 2012)" (PDF). India Meteorological Department. December 2016. p. M176. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2020. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
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  24. ^ "INDIA : urban population". Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  25. ^ "Table C-01 Population By Religion - Rajasthan". Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India.
  26. ^ "C-01: Population by religious community - Sri Ganganagar district". Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  27. ^ "Overview Of Bikaner Division" (PDF). Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  28. ^ "Flights to Bikaner". The Times of India. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  29. ^ "Delhi-Bikaner direct flight launched". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  30. ^ "Bikaji Foods: Taking the Taste of Bikaner Global". Forbes India. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  31. ^ Journal, Geographical Indication (15 July 2015). "Intellectual Property of India" (PDF). (68): 13. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  32. ^ Daftuar, Swati (29 September 2012). "In search of Bikaneri Bhujia". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  33. ^ Desk, NewsGram (11 July 2018). "Exploring the Rajasthani Cuisine". NewsGram. Archived from the original on 27 September 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  34. ^ "The Rich delicacies of Rajasthan". (in Hindi). India Today. 14 December 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  35. ^ "Congress Prez Rahul Gandhi tastes Bikaneri Sweets". Dainik Bhaskar (in Hindi). 11 October 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  36. ^ Chowdhary, Charu (1 December 2018). "Don't miss visiting Junagarh Fort in Bikaner". Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  37. ^ Ladera, Camel Festival Ladera. "Bikaner Camel Festival 2024: Your Guide to the Ultimate Desert Extravaganza". Club Mahindra. Retrieved 29 February 2024.
  38. ^ International Camel Festival, Ladera, Malasar (29 January 2013). "International Camel Festival in Bikaner". the Times of India. Retrieved 29 February 2024.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  39. ^ Ladera Mela Ground, Camel Festival Ladera. "Village Ladera Mela Ground | Camel Festival". Camel Festival. Retrieved 29 February 2024.
  40. ^ Sharma, K. K., S. Kulshreshtha, A. R. Rahmani (2013). Faunal Heritage of Rajasthan, India: General Background and Ecology of Vertebrates. Springer Science & Business Media, New York.
  41. ^ K. S. Singh, Madan Lal Sharma, A. K. Bhatia, 1994, Haryana, Page 97.
  42. ^ "Laxminath temple". Archived from the original on 1 July 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
  44. ^ "Vultures find abode in Bikaner". The Times of India. 7 January 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
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  46. ^ Kumar, N. Shiva (1 June 2018). "Charming serpents to safety". Business Line. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  47. ^ "ICAR- National Research Center on Camels, Bikaner". Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  48. ^ "BSF camel contingent marches during India Republic Day". Hindu Business Line. 19 January 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  49. ^ "National Research Centre on Camels". Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  50. ^ "In a first, a sanctuary for cows to come up in Bikaner district". Hindustan Times. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  51. ^ "Bikaner Technical University colleges to upload attendance register daily". The Times of India. 9 August 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  52. ^ "Bikaner university says won't charge fee from transgender students". Hindustan Times. 6 November 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  53. ^ "Indian varsity awards PhD on poet's poetry". ANI News. 31 July 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  54. ^ "International camel festival in Bikaner from January 12". The New Indian Express. 27 December 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  55. ^ "Travelling in Rajasthan? Don't miss the Bikaner camel festival". Hindustan Times. 14 January 2018. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  56. ^ "Kütahya'nın 10 "kardeş şehri" var Kaynak: Kütahya'nın 10 kardeş şehri var". (in Turkish). Gündem Gazetesi. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  57. ^ "Gemellaggi e relazioni internazionali - Comune Udine". Comune di Udine. 26 October 2019. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2024.