Five hundred years ago, a desert chieftain established his kingdom here, and over the centuries it has grown into an impressive town on the strength of its valorous and diplomatic resident. Bikaner city is bolstered by imposing walls and has a 16th century fort housing old palaces, temples and a mosque. Founded by Raja Rai Singh, the fort is distinguished by its long range of 37 pavilions, a line of balconies and aerial windows of varying designs. Its central fort offered the occupants safety from invaders, while inside, the rulers designed some beautiful apartments that carried echoes of opulence and in rain starved Bikaner-the images of monsoon clouds.
The city, however, has remained in many ways, timeless. Nearby is Deshnoke where, in a marble-fronted temple, rats are offered sanctuary for they are considered sacred. And at Gajner is a former hunting lodge by a lake. Conversation efforts have declared it a sanctuary. Till a few decades ago, Gajner was particularly celebrated for its imperial sandgrouse shoots, diplomatically arranged by Maharaja Ganga Singh for viceregal visitors.