Bikaner, the red city • Rajasthan, India

Immerse yourself in the grandeur of India's vibrant past. We invite you to watch a spectacular six-minute tour of the historic city of Bikaner, Rajasthan. Wander through the narrow lanes of the city, marvel at the remarkable facades of the Havelis, and feel the echoes of history in the majestic walls of Junagarh Fort. Witness how time has intricately woven itself into the city's fabric, offering a story at every corner. The video is accompanied by an insightful text, unravelling the rich history of Bikaner, from the advent of the Silk Road to the cultural wealth brought by merchant caravans. Don't miss out on this exquisite, well-crafted journey, narrated and visualized in a compact time frame of less than six minutes. Embrace the history, celebrate the culture, and explore the architectural brilliance of Bikaner - a gem in the heart of Rajasthan.

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip India • Rajasthan and Varanasi (EN)

vimeo chapterA click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Rajasthan • state of northwest India in India. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.

Reading the text below will help you better understand the historical context of the sites shown in this video.
Chapters: 

00:40 • Fronts of Havelis

01:30 • Junagarh Fort

 

Rajasthan 

Rajasthan is certainly the most visited Indian state by tourists. It is also one of the poorest and this tourist windfall does it the greatest good. 

The semi-desert aridity of this state located in northwestern India is largely responsible for this situation. 

Bikaner 

Bikaner is the city one of the last important cities before Jaisalmer and the Thar desert. The fact of being a little out of the way compared to the traditional circuits puts it a little sheltered from mass tourism. 

If Jodhpur is called "the blue city" and Jaipur "the pink city", Bikaner could be nicknamed "the red city". 

Like all cities in Rajasthan, Bikaner is very lively and colorful. The women there wear brightly colored sarees and many of the facades are richly decorated, witnesses of the time of the splendor brought by the silk road to northern India. Located between China and Persia and Europe, northern India was a must for wealthy merchant caravans. 

 

History of Bikaner 

 

 

Bikaner is a historic city located in the state of Rajasthan in northwestern India. It was founded in 1488 by Rao Bika, the younger son of King Rao Jodha of Jodhpur. The city was built on flat, arid land that was once a desert. Over the centuries, Bikaner has become an important commercial and cultural city in the region. 

 

Over the following centuries, Bikaner became an important center of trade and cultural exchange between Rajasthan, Punjab and Sindh. The city was ruled by the Rathore dynasty for over four centuries. Bikaner rulers were patrons of arts and culture, and constructed many historic buildings in the city, including forts, palaces, and temples. 

 

One of the most famous landmarks in Bikaner is Junagarh Fort, built in the 16th century by Prince Raja Rai Singh. The fort is surrounded by massive moats and ramparts, and is home to many beautifully decorated palaces and temples. The Lalgarh Palace, built in the early 20th century, is another important historical building in the city. 

 

Today, Bikaner is a popular tourist destination due to its rich and well-preserved cultural and architectural heritage. The city is also known for its unique food specialties, including savory snacks (bhujia) and sweets (rasgulla). 

 

Bikaner was a famous cultural center renowned for the quality of its goldsmiths, weavers and perfumers. 

 

Junagarh fort 

 

Who says rich merchants and caravans on the Silk Road also says the presence of a fort to protect this trade. Bikaner is no exception to this rule. 

The city has the wonderful Junagarh Fort. 

Junagarh Fort is one of Bikaner's most famous landmarks and one of the best preserved forts in India. It was built in the 16th century by Prince Raja Rai Singh of the Rathore dynasty, who ruled the Bikaner region for over four centuries. 

 

The fort also houses several museums, which display a collection of costumes, weapons, paintings, and other artifacts related to the history and culture of the Bikaner region. 

 

One of the most famous palaces inside the fort is the Phool Mahal Palace, which was built for royal ceremonies. It is adorned with frescoes and mirrors, and the ceilings are painted with floral designs in gold. 

 

Junagarh Fort is an outstanding example of ancient and medieval Indian military and palace architecture, and a visit to this historic site is a must for tourists visiting the city of Bikaner. 

 

 

Sati 

At the entrance to the fort, we see casts of hands on a wall. Feminists will appreciate, but it was a tradition in Rajasthan for the wives of maharajahs who died in combat to commit suicide by setting themselves on the stake of their husbands. Hand casts were made before the ceremony to perpetuate their memory. 

 

The immolation of wives on their husband's funeral pyre was a common practice in parts of ancient and medieval India, known as sati. According to belief, this practice was seen as an act of devotion to her husband and a means of securing a place in the celestial kingdom. 

It is said that women who practiced sati left their handprints on the wall of the fort before going to the funeral pyre. The handprints are therefore considered a silent testimony to this ancient practice. 

Today, the handprints are kept and protected in Junagarh Fort, and are a poignant testimony to a practice that is now considered cruel and archaic.

 

Spoken comments in the film: 

The city of Bikaner was founded in 1448 by Raho Bika, to whom it owes its name. It has nearly 700,000 inhabitants. Located in the Thar Desert and on one of the Silk Roads, it offers tourist interest, in addition to the facades of the havelis, as the traditional residences of prosperous merchants in the region are called, including the magnificent Junagarh Fort.

 

These women's hands molded on the walls of the Junagarh fort recall an old tradition, fortunately disappeared nowadays, which wanted the wives of high dignitaries to immolate themselves on the stake of their deceased husband, often killed in battle.

 

Music:

 (Inde)  - Les Musiciens du Désert - Raga Soratha (Papaiya Pyara Ré), Ocora (558523)

What's the weather like in Bikaner?

Spoken comments in the film: 

The city of Bikaner was founded in 1448 by Raho Bika, to whom it owes its name. It has nearly 700,000 inhabitants. Located in the Thar Desert and on one of the Silk Roads, it offers tourist interest, in addition to the facades of the havelis, as the traditional residences of prosperous merchants in the region are called, including the magnificent Junagarh Fort.

 

These women's hands molded on the walls of the Junagarh fort recall an old tradition, fortunately disappeared nowadays, which wanted the wives of high dignitaries to immolate themselves on the stake of their deceased husband, often killed in battle.

haveli facade, Bikaner, Rajasthan • India
Haveli in the center of town, Bikaner • India • Rajasthan

Haveli in the center of town

remarkable haveli on a street corner, Bikaner • India • Rajasthan

remarkable haveli on a street corner

cast of hands of maharajah women sacrificed at the stake of their husbands, Bikaner • India • Rajasthan

cast of hands of maharajah women sacrificed at the stake of their husbands

restoration work on the fort, Bikaner • India • Rajasthan

restoration work on the fort

Bikaner, Rajasthan, India

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