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Bikaner

Bikaner shimmers a bit off the beaten path on the dunes of the Thar Desert. The city, with its imposing Rajput architecture and thriving industry, has masked its small origins since 1488. Its multi-coloured bazaars offer high quality carpets, exquisite Meenakari jewelry, embroidered Mojari footwear and Bhujia, the best loved snack of India! Bikaner may not have the golden perfection of Jaisalmer, but its handsome palaces have interiors alive with mirror-work, gold leaf and stained glass. The Rajas of Bikaner have shared a common interest in Kingdom building, most noteworthy among them Maharaja Ganga Singh (1880–1943). The unmissable Junagarh Fort contains within it a beautiful mosque, temples and palaces including Anup Mahal, Sujan Mahal, Gaj Mandir Mahal, Badal Mahal and Karan Mahal. 

Once a part of the barren region called Jangladesh, Bikaner was founded in the late 15th century by Bika, son of the Rathore king Rao Jodha (who built Jodhpur). Its magnificent isolation proved an oasis on the ancient caravan routes and it served as a prime trading center to the merchants coming from West and Central Asia. Its most famous Maharaja Ganga Singh founded many education institutes for women, brought railways and electricity, built canals, played a central role in the politics of the British Empire. During the First World War, he commanded his own camel corps and was the only non-white member of the British Imperial War Cabinet. A painting of all members of the War Cabinet, in which the dashing mustachioed Maharaja with his elegant turban holds a prominent place can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London. 

Today it is less touristy than some of Rajasthan’s other famous cities, but it is one of the main gateways for Rajasthan’s renowned desert safaris. Bikaner is famous for its superior camels - dark caramel colour, with luxuriant eyelashes - and hosts a famous camel fair, which is celebrated for three days during the full moon in January or very late December. Make time to see the sandstone Lalgarh Palace with its fine jaalis or latticework screens, and temples, including the stunning Jain Bhandasar Temple and Karni Mata Temple - this may not be for everyone - whose rodent residents are thought to be the reincarnations of departed souls. The revered Goddess Karni was said to have championed the oppressed and the temple now houses 20,000 rats who are fed, worshiped and treated as sacred.

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Client Testimonials

Ampersand’s preparation, attention to detail and interaction before and during our trip show exactly why good travel agents have a role in today’s internet booking age. They were a delight to deal with!
- Mr David Wallace, North India
Difficult to articulate just how good the service from you and your team really was. We know you will continue to do well and hope we have the chance to seek your assistance again before long.
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
I would recommend Ampersand without any hesitation!!! The best travel agent that I’ve ever had. Everything – from the individual care and attention in planning the trip, through to the efficiency of the agents on the ground in India – was handled brilliantly. An absolutely first-class service all round!
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
I had a very lovely time and was looked after splendidly. My first visit to India could not have been better, save for being longer! But I shall return at some point and I shall look to you to make the arrangements.
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
Everything you did for us whilst we were away was hugely appreciated, and Ampersand has been exemplary in every way. I'll always recommend you!
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
We had a wonderful holiday - everything was perfect. Thank you for helping us to make a thoughtful plan to enjoy and make most out of our trip. The places we visited, the guides, the transportation and driver, the hotels selected... Everything was great!
- Jaime Benitez, South India
So many highlights to choose from! The hotels were amazing but Maya Villa was a highlight… I loved just hanging out in the hammock reading my book and watching the peacocks chase the cows!
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
Without question, you put together the best trip I have ever taken. We were shown around like visiting dignitaries, the hotels were fantastic and the itinerary was just right. Everybody I know will hear about how amazing Ampersand is!
- Leslie Siben, India
Ampersand provided a bespoke and flexible holiday, tailored to my every whim. Their highly professional staff had only one goal which was to arrange an exceptional holiday and some unforgettable experiences in India. I have no hesitation in fully recommending them and they will be the first company I approach in the future - 10/10
- Anonymous, India
I thought the Ampersand team was outstanding. We couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India

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