Gajner Palace

By Sanjeev Nayyar | 2013

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35 kms from Bikaner is Gajner Palace. It is 2-3 kms off the highway. When I entered the area it was green, cool, noise of chirping birds that made me wonder if I was in the wasteland area of Rajasthan. Palace was built by Bikaner Maharaja Ganga Singhji on the edge of a lake. As you walk past reception you walk into this open area that you see in pic which has a overhang of trees. Walk straight out into a huge garden, lake on right and dining hall. On your right is Dungar Niwas which has 13 historical suites.

Person you see in centre of pic is walking out of the huge open area that you saw in earlier pic. This area is called Mandir Chowk, adjoins the lake with a lovely fountain in the centre. The palace has a historic railway station, that I missed seeing, which connected it to Bikaner by rail laid out in 1922. Hotel also has Gulab Niwas (used by railway officers) and Champa Niwas (the recently built section). The Palace Hotel is run by HRH Group of Hotels Udaipur i.e. the Maharana of Mewar.

Another view of Mandir Chowk with ancient temple in centre, right of pic is lake, left of pic is original entrance, east facing. When I visit places like Gajner realize that India has so much to offer, if only we marketed the country better and made it safer esp. for foreign tourists. Gajner was established by Rao Chanda, the great grandfather of the founder of Bikaner, Rao Bika. A tank was built on this property to store water, as this was a halting point enroute to Jaisalmer. Over time, Maharaja Gaj Singh (1745-1787) built a palace for his bride and called it Jal Mahal with a durbar hall known as Pachis Chowk, which means 25 metres.

A view of the lake from Gajner Palace. It is a huge lake with greenery on all sides. Part of the complex is a 6,000 acre wild life sanctuary. U can go for nature walks, desert safaris, boat-rides (solar powered boat), sanctuary dinners etc. ''Sri Ganga Singh was a avid wildlife conservator. He introduced different breeds of deer and birds into the state sanctuaries, had wildlife preserves replanted, and ensured that wardens were posted to prevent poaching.''

Entrance to Dungar Niwas, main part of the palace where suites are located. On its left is Champa Niwas and right Mandir Chowk. Before you enter palace to read about Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary Click here

Maharaja Karni Singh, grandson of Sri Ganga Singh, converted the hunting preserve of Gajner in to a wildlife sanctuary, a haven to endangered antelopes like the chinkara, black buck, blue bull as well as other rare animals.'' As you enter Dungar Niwas on ground floor is room that is a sitting area that you see. During drought that plagued North India in 1899, the Gaj Sagar dried totally, Ganga Singhji took this chance to deepen the lake and widen its catchment area until it could hold a 2 year water supply after a good monsoon.

Make it a point to have dinner in the Sand Dunes near Gajner sanctuary. Met some tourists who did it, had words of praise. I missed it given my hectic travel schedule. In November there is a Desert Dance Festival organised by the hotel. U see Gajner Palace from the lake. It was converted into a hotel in 1976. This is Dungar Niwas which contains 13 suites whose pics you shall see later. Structure is made in pink sandstone.

Walk away from Dungar Niwas for a few minutes you come to the Dining Hall. Has a old world charm. ''The sanctuary has Indian Hares, Nilgai (Blue Bulls), Desert Foxes, Chinkaras, Black Bucks, Wild Boars, Deer and Antelopes.''

Minutes away from Dungar Niwas is this sitting area. Reminded me of a similar sitting area on the banks of Picchola Lake, City Palace complex Udaipur. Spent a few minutes here, was lovely even at 1 pm. Saw many bird enthusiasts in the hotel. The tennis courts have a beautiful veranda pavilion constructing using ancient Hindu architectural blueprints - missed this.

We now see some of the suites in Dungar Niwas. Very well maintained with a great view of Gajner Lake. Visualize the place to be quite romantic with the setting sun''s rays falling into the room. Rooms have a old world charm with modern amenities. eSamskriti did not accept any hospitality for covering the hotel. Our aim is to promote tourism for the benefit of all esp. the local community. Do visit the bar known as Mrigthrishna that has magnificent chandeliers and hand painted ceilings - missed seeing this.

"Corridor on the first floor of Dungar Niwas. ''The sanctuary also has a sizable population of Waterfowls, Indian Houbara Bustards and Demoiselle Cranes.'' To see pics of Lallgarh Palace Bikaner Click here "

Another suite in Dungar Niwas. Best time to visit is from September to March. If you are driving from Gajner to Jailsamer stop by at Phalodi, the city of richly carved havelis. Close to it is the village of Khichan, which is a proud host of migratory cranes, locally called as Kurjan. To see pics of Karni Mata Mandir Click here

Lawn as you walk to the left of the main entrance area. Loved the place. Green, quiet, birds all around, serene. A great place to relax, cutt off from the world and enjoy. Recommend. To see pics of Jungarh Fort Bikaner Click here

Outside the Dungar Niwas are some more rooms that you see in the picture. To know more about Gajner Palace hotel, rates Click here

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