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Bikaner, in northwest Rajasthan, offers one of the best ways to travel back in time into the lavish, lush, and ornate world of the Mughal emperors, with a visit to the incomparable Junagarh Fort.  Far from an obsolete military base, Junagarh is a unique architectural ensemble comprising over 5 hectares (13 acres) of interconnected palaces, temples, and museums.  The sumptuous interiors are richly decorated in a myriad of styles, reflecting the changing tastes of sixteen generations of Bikaner rulers over four centuries. 

Bikaner rose to power and influence in the fifteenth century from a small oasis on the trade route between Rajasthan and Central Asia through the wastelands of the Thar Desert.  Rao Bika founded the princely state in 1486 and his royal descendants forged strong ties with the Mughal rulers, securing positions of influence and importance over the next century.  The Mughals gifted the talented and visionary ruler of Bikaner, Raja Rai Singhji with extensive lands.  From this lucrative revenue, Rai Singhji began construction on the fort, which was originally called Chintamani.  The fort today is the epicenter of the city, around which modern-day Bikaner grew over the subsequent four centuries. 

The lavish decor perhaps belies the fact that the Junagarh Fort was a highly effective military base, sustaining and resisting all but one attack, which resulted in a single day’s occupation by Kamran Mirza.  Junagarh’s strategic walls are 40 feet high and 14-½ feet wide surrounded by a 20-foot moat and capped by 37 bastions.

Inside the red sandstone stronghold lie a treasure-trove richly decorated secular palaces and temples sacred to both Hindus and Janes.   The interiors represent a wide range of regional styles, but dominant are the Mughal, with its stucco, stone inlaid work, and intricate wall painting; and the Gujarati where stone mosaic and detailed lattice work prevail. The vibrant colors of the typical Rajasthani painting school are extracted from minerals, precious stones, and seashells.

Spend a day living the lush life of a Mughal emperor when you visit Bikaner and Junagarh on Alexander + Robert’s Journey to Rajasthan, which also visits Jodhpur, and 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Speak to one of our knowledgeable reservation agents about your trip to India today.

Posted: 9/6/2016 11:02:01 AM by Alexander + Roberts

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