Bikaner the city of Historical reminiscences

History (History of Bikaner)

Prior to the mid 15th century, the region that is now Bikaner was a barren wilderness called Jangladesh. In 1488 Rao Bika established the city of Bikaner. Rao Bika was the second son of Maharaja Rao Jodha of the Rathor clan, the founder of Jodhpur and conquered the largely arid country in the north of Rajasthan. As the second son of Jodha, he had no chance of inheriting Jodhpur from his father or the title of Maharaja. Therefore he 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 100 years later a new fort was built about 1.5 km from the city centre which is known as the Junagarh Fort. Around 100 years after Rao Bika founded Bikaner the region's fortunes flourished under the sixth Raja, Rai Singhji. During the Mughal Empire’s rule in the country, Rai Singh accepted the suzerainty of the Mughals and held a high position of an army general in the court of Emperor Akbar and his son Emperor Jahangir. His successful military exploits, which involved winning half of Mewar kingdom for the empire, won him accolades and rewards from the Mughal emperors. He was an expert in the arts and architecture and the knowledge that he acquired during his visits abroad are amply reflected in the numerous monuments he built in the Junagarh fort.
 
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 1669–98, made substantial additions to the fort complex, with new palaces and the Zenana quarter (royal dwelling for females). He refurbished the Karan Mahal with a Diwan-i-Am (public audience hall) and called it the Anup Mahal. Gaj Singh who ruled from 1746 to 1787 refurbished the Chand Mahal (the Moon palace). Following him, Surat Singh ruled from 1787 to 1828 and he lavishly decorated the audience hall with glass and lively paintwork. Dungar Singh who reigned from 1872 to 1887 built the Badal Mahal (the weather palace) named so in view of a painting of falling rain and clouds. Ganga Singh who ruled from 1887 to 1943 built the Ganga Niwas Palace, which has towers at the entrance patio. This palace was designed by Sir Samuel Swinton Jacob. Ganga Singh’s son Sadul Singh succeeded his father in 1943 but acceded to the Union of India in 1949.

Ganga Singh has also built a new palace north of Junagarh fort which was designed and built by Swinton, the third of the new palaces built in Bikaner. He named the building Lalgarh Palace in honour of his father and moved his residence from Junagarh fort to this palace in 1902. The royal family still lives in a special suite in the Lalgarh palace, which they have converted into a heritage hotel.

Bikaner

Places to visit (Places to see in Bikaner)