3 January, 2019
We are quite lucky to be in India, which is so diverse that you can get to view many different worlds within the country itself. This also means that we have so many different religious and cultural festivals as well. However, to add to the attractions of these religious festivals, we also have a lot more cultural festivals as well as tourism-oriented ones in each state. We read about the Rann Utsav, in the white salt desert of Kutch, and Dasara Utsav in Mysore.
In the same way, we also have the Camel Festival coming up in Bikaner, in Rajasthan, which is held every year. This is a lively and colorful festival scheduled for the 12th and the 13th of this month, just before the Sankranthi festival kicks in. Perhaps, it may be a good idea to spend this Makar Sankranthi in Rangeelo Rajasthan, watching or even flying colorful kites. You will find the extremely hospitable locals say “Padhaaro Mahrey Des” and “ Khamma Gani,” as they proudly take you through their rich heritage of the bygone era of kings, forts, palaces, lakes and more.
History of Bikaner
Bikaner was a vibrant, flourishing trade city of the medieval period, founded by Prince Bika in 1488, the son of Rao Jodha of Marwar. It is situated directly on the ancient caravan routes that were used for linking Central or West Asia and North India and hence became a trade center. The city is surrounded by Thar desert, but is considered an oasis and is a fortified city, with impressive architectural structures spread across. It is around 330 km away from the capital city of Jaipur. The Ganges Canal and the Indira Gandhi Canal have aided development in this city, and it is now the fourth largest city of Rajasthan.
The places of interest around here are the ruins of the Rao Bikaji’s Fort, the Junagarh Fort, and the Laxmi Niwas Palace, apart from the temples of Karni Mata, the Mukam Bishnoi, Laxminath and Bhandasar Jain. The Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary situated close by, provides you a glimpse into the many animal and bird varieties. There is also the National Research Centre on Camels founded by the Government of India, to promote research and development related to camels.
The Camel Festival
Being the city that celebrates camels, this festival provides you a glimpse into its unique culture, and many events are lined up for the two days. There is a ceremonial procession, a band recital by the army, camel rides, camel decoration, and fur cutting competitions, camel dance competition, etc. The evening is dotted by a variety of cultural performances by the local folk artists as well as those from other parts of India.
The second day, tourists are taken on a heritage walk and can take part in unique competitions like tug of war, turban tying, water pot race, etc., besides getting to watch villagers wrestling, Kabaddi and camel dance competitions. There will also be a fire dance as well as a fireworks display. The two-day event closes once the prize distributions for all the events are done. Tourists both Indian as well as International participate in these events and get to see a glimpse of the local Rajasthani culture as well as cuisine. A few other side events are also planned to keep the tourists engaged. All in all, it promises to be true once in a lifetime kind of opportunity that can help you make the most of this Makar Sankranthi.
How to reach?
If you wish to go for a package tour, there are many operators including the official Rajasthan tourism department that provides packages specific to this event. However, if you wish to travel independently, the closest airport happens to be that of Jodhpur, around 251 km away. It is easy to get a cab or take a bus to Bikaner from the airport.
For those wishing to travel by road, regular buses ply to Bikaner from cities like Delhi, Jodhpur, Agra, Ajmer, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, and Kota. You may choose to check out the options, depending on where you are traveling from. By Rail, you could get down at Bikaner Junction or Lalgarh Railway Station, each of which is connected to rail routes from almost all major cities like Delhi, Punjab, Jodhpur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Guwahati.
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