Junagarh Fort. The fort is the main attraction in Bikaner. Built by Rai Singh in 1589, this fort is one of the few in the country that was never conquered. It is surrounded by a solid, 986m long wall, which has thirty-seven bastions and a 9m wide moat.
You can enter from the eastern gate through a series of gates. Near the second gate, Daulat Pol, are twenty-four handprints of women who performed sati (self-sacrifice) when their husbands died while defending the fort. The main entrance to the fort is Suraj Pol (Sun Gate), which has large iron spikes on the door and two painted elephants on either side.
The fort contains palaces, temples, and impressive courtyards. Different rulers expanded it over the years. Each new structure was built to be uniform to the structure to which it was connected, so the harmony of the architecture is maintained. The Karan Mahal was built after a victory over the Mughal army of Aurangzeb.
In it is the silver throne of Maharaja Karen Singh. This place was a court wherein the king met his intimate associates. It has gold-leaf paintings. Sheesh Mahal (Mirror Palace) is a room covered with mirrors. If you shine a flashlight or light a match, the light will glitter all over. The Chandra Mahal (Moon Palace) is a beautiful puja (worship) room covered with Hindu gods and goddesses.
The Anup Mahal is an exquisite and elaborately decorated hall where the king would meet important visitors. It has mosaic ceiling tiles, superb mirrors, beautiful latticework, and a large, grand carpet made by prisoners in the Bikaner jail. Coronation ceremonies were held here. The Phool Mahal (Flower Palace) has impressive Muslim paintings known as ustas, and attractive floral mirrorwork.
The Bijai Mahal, Durga Niwas, and Rang Mahal have excellent paintings and tilework. The latticework in the Ganga Niwas is excellent. The beautiful Har Mandir in the fort is dedicated to Siva. Ganga Singh Hall, which is the last place to be visited, contains a museum. It has a weapons exhibit and items that belonged to past maharajas. Inside the main gate is Abhivyakti, a handicraft shop selling goods made in the local villages around Bikaner. They sell bags, good rugs, bed covers, and cloth. The fort is open daily except Fri 9am to 5 pm; admission Rs 50, camera Rs 25, video Rs 100.