The Best of MARWAR in Ten days - Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Barmer

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  • This comprehensive piece tells you what to see in Marwar and has links to place wise photo albums too.

 

I visited Marwar in February 2013 for the 3 day Jaisalmer Desert Festival and used the trip to see the region. Reached Jodhpur at 6.30 am by train. Got into a taxi immediately. Our first stop was Nagaur. Marwar is best seen by driving through it. Roads were good and weather great.

 

Piece divided into four parts, one for each city and around. In every city gives places to see, highlighted in blue and album links. What I missed seeing indicated separately.  

Day-wise program: Day 1 & 2 Bikaner. Day 3 Bikaner, Gajner Palace & drive to Jaisalmer. Day 4-6 Jaisalmer. Day 7 Barmer. Day 8-10 Jodhpur.

 

Distances: Jodhpur to Bikaner 252 kms, Bikaner to Jaisalmer 331 kms, to Barmer 156 kms and then to Jodhpur 198 kms.

 

1. Day 1 & 2 Nagaur, Karni Mata Mandir, Bikaner. 2 nights Bikaner

 

Had lovely paranthas for breakfast enroute to Nagaur. It is about a two hour’s drive from Jodhpur. Headed straight to the fort, then Cattle Fair and lastly Mirchi bazaar.

 

The Ahhichatragarh Fort Nagaur is a medium size fort. A well planned Mughal Garden retains its old pleasant appearance even today. Paintings are a must see. The Maharaja of Jodhpur’s hotel wing have residential tents inside fort. The city is best visited during the Ramdeoji Ka mela and Tejaji ka mela (fair) in February and August respectively.

 

Pictures of Nagaur Fort

 

The cattle fair is held every February. Look for Nagaur Ox, Black stallion, camels by gypsy. Spend time walking around fair area – I saw a lady saving her husband from others with whom he had got into a fight. The red chillies market is worth a dekko for size of chillies.

 

Pictures of Cattle fair 

 

Keep about two hours to see the fort. It is worthy of a visit.

 

Rats at Karni Mata Mandir near Bikaner

 

Karni Mata Mandir is about one hour from Nagaur. The deity here is an incarnation of Ma Durga. It is the only temple where rats are worshipped and considered auspicious to have prasad that was nibbled by rats. Note the town was never hit by plague. If you see a white rat consider yourself lucky as it is considered to be an incarnation of Karni Mata and her sons. In temple corridors be sure you do not step on a rat.

 

Temple has a richly carved entrance with silver doors. Keep an hour to see the temple that was constructed in the early 20th century by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner.

The Karni Mata Fair is a bi-annual event held during the two Navratras.

 

To know all about the story of worship of rats and Karni Mata Mandir

Pictures of Karna Mata Mandir

 

Karni Mata to Bikaner is slightly over an hour’s drive. I checked into the Rajasthan Tourism Hotel - simple, clean, functional with good food.

 

Next morning visited the famous Junagarh Fort. It opens at 10 am. Keep 3-4 hours. In the fort complex are some magnificent palaces like Anup Mahal, Badal Mahal, Chandra Mahal, Ganga Niwas and Rang Mahal or palace of pleasure. There is a section where arms are displayed. Very well maintained. Must see. Movie Manikarnika-The Queen of Jhansi was shot there.

 

Pictures of Junagarh Fort

Pictures of Junagarh Fort Part 2 i.e. arms display

 

Karan Mahal in Junagarh Fort

 

Post lunch went to Lallgarh Palace Hotel. This grand palace is an architectural masterpiece in red sandstone. It was built in 1902 by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the memory of his father Maharaja Lall Singh. Sir Swinton Jacob designed this oriental fantasy. This architecture is a fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European architecture. The exterior contrasts dramatically with the oriental interiors and amenities. The palace has beautiful latticework and filigree work, and an amazing collection of paintings. Do see Maharaja’s train.

 

Pictures of Lallgarh Palace Hotel

 

To see royal costumes visit the well maintained Prachina Museum in the palace complex.

 

Pictures of Prachina Museum

 

In the evening went to the National Research Centre on Camel and Devi Kund i.e. Chhatris. Besides a camel ride, had ice-cream made out of camel milk (lovely) and bought gifts made out of camel leather. Interesting and worth a visit.

 

Devi Kund is 8 kms from Bikaner and is the royal crematorium. Each chhatri (cenotaph) is dedicated to the memory of a ruler of the Bikaji dynasty. The chhatri of Maharaj Suraj Singh is a fine e.g. of architecture of that era, do see the Rajput paintings on its ceilings. It also has chhatris of 22 female members of the royal family prior to Maharaj Gaj Sigh Ji, who committed sati. There is one chhatri of a SATA (male Sati) of a ruler. 

 

Next went to Bhandeshwar Jain Mandir, a 15th century Jain temple i.e. the oldest monument in Bikaner. There is Ganga Government Museum in town, not impressive then.

 

In January there is a Camel Race organised by the state tourism department. Bikaner is known for its SevChaat, and Rasgullas.

 

Missed seeing  sand dunes and Rampura Group of Havelis. It is made of dulmera (red) stone. The jharokas (casements), entrances, latticed windows, etc are simply exotic. Also see havelis of Kotharis, Vaids and Dagas.

Picture of Bikaner City

 

Gajner Palace & Lake

 

Left Bikaner by about 10 am and headed to Gajner Palace  that is about an hour away. It is on the banks of a lake. Close by is a Sanctuary that is home to the nilgai, chinkara, black buck, wild boar, flocks of imperial sand grouse and many other species of migratory birds that make the forest their winter home. I was happy to see so much water and greenery. The palace is converted into a hotel know, palace rooms nice. Went boating in the lake loved it. 

 

Pictures of Gajner Palace Hotel

 

Next halt was the holy town of Kolayatji. It reminded me of Pushkar because of its huge lake. “History tells us that Kapil Muni, the advocate of Shankya Yoga, was so mesmerised by the serenity of this place that he interrupted here and stopped to carry out tapasya (penance) for the redemption of the world.” Town has temples, ghats and the sacred lake. Loved it.

 

To see pics of Kolayatji

 

I was keen to see the Indira Gandhi Canal and its impact on areas where it flows. So took a detour. The area along the road and canal were lush green. When we turned right saw kms of sand within which there were numerous solar power plants.

 

Pictures of Indira Gandhi Canal near Bikaner

 

To know all about what to see in and around Bikaner, visit Rajasthan Tourism site

 

Enroute was hoping to see Pokhran Fort but it had got dark. Pokaran is also renowned for its furniture and crafts for interior decoration. The fort is located about one and a half kilometres from the bus stand and has an assortment of weaponry, brocade clothes and various games of dice and dominoes on display.

 

Enroute was lucky to visit RAMDEVRA Mandir. It is 12 kms from Pokhran. It is devoted to renowned saint Baba Ramdevji. The temple is the eternal resting place of Baba Ramdevji, who is worshipped by Hindus and Jains alike. Between August and September a Ramdevra Fair is held, attracts devotees in large numbers who sing devotional songs all night.

 

Dandiya Gair Dance, Jaisalmer Desert Festival  

 

2. Day 3 night to 6 Jaisalmer, 4 nights Jaisalmer

 

Bhati Rajput ruler Rawal Jaisal was looking for a new location to set up his capital when he came across sage Eesul. The sage told him about Krishna’s prophecy which said that a descendant of his Yaduvanshi clan would found a new kingdom on the same spot. Thus, in 1156 R Jaisal constructed a mud fort, named it Jaisalmer after himself & made it his capital.

 

We reached Jaisalmer at about one am, checked into the Rajasthan Tourism Hotel. Again good place to stay, nice rooms and good food. I spent three days in Jaisalmer for the Desert Festival. The festival is held in February every year, dates for 2019 are 17-19.

 

Festival started with inauguration on day one morning (lovely dances and local women dressed up in traditional clothing), followed by dance/musical programs every evening. Loved these musical programs. Day two morning was camel race by BSF. Day three evening was at Sam Dunes ie about 40 kms from Jaisalmer. Festival included turban tying, longest moustache competition, superb folk dance and fire dance on the last day.

 

To see pictures of festival click on People of Marwar link below

 

Jaisalmer Fort. It is also called Sonar Quila. Museum inside fort is ok. It is one of the few forts where people continue to live to this day. Sunset view from fort is very nice.

 

Do visit Jain Temple inside the fort. The temple is dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras Rikhabdevi and Shambhavdevji. Like other structures in Jaisalmer it is made out of yellow sandstone. They have been built in the famed Dilwara Temple Mount Abu style.

 

Pics of Jaisalmer Fort

 

Places to see are morning aarti at Ramgarh temple, Patwon-Ki-Haveli, Deewan Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli, and Deewan Salim Singh Ki Haveli. At the Government Museum see Rajasthan’s state bird Godawan. Also see the five-storeyed Badal Mahal (Cloud Palace) and visit Sadar Bazaar.

 

Havelis of Jaisalmer pics

 

Bada Bagh  is six kms north of Jaisalmer on way to Ramgarh. Royal cenotaphs with carved images of late Maharawals and their families are seen. Vyas Chhatris are located in Bada Bagh. Vyas Chhatri is one of the most beautiful examples of Rajasthani architecture. This old Brahmin cemetery is dedicated to Veda Vyaas who wrote the epic Mahabharata. It is also the sunset point of Jaisalmer.

 

Gadsisar Lake Lovely to see rising sun reflections in the lake ka waters. It was made in the 14th century by Maharaja Gadsi Singh. Close by is Jaisalmer Folklore Museum and Desert Culture Centre and Museum.

 

Do eat local food at one of the thali restaurants. Very nice.  

 

Pics of Jaisalmer City

 

Kalbelia dance by Hungarian, part of Kalunath Jogi group, Sam Dunes

 

Outside Jaisalmer

 

Kuldhara and Khabha    are medieval deserted village of Paliwal Community. 84 villages were abandoned by Paliwal Brahmins overnight, out of which the two most prominent villages are Kuldhara and Khabha located about 18 and 30 kms respectively from Jaisalmer. The ruins of Kuldhara and Khabha exhibit the architectural excellence of those times and are an attraction for peace-lovers, photographers and movie makers. Must see, go early morning.

 

Jain Temple Lodurva   is 16 kms away. It is newly rebuilt. Saw lots of peacocks around the temple. We went early morning, was chilly and nice. Devout must visit. 

 

Pics of Lodurva Temple

 

Tanot Mandir is 120 kms away. The early morning drive was awesome. There are windmills and windmills. Tanot Mata is considered to be a reincarnation of Goddess Hinglaj. It is said that during the 1965 India Pakistan war Tanot was under heavy attack and shelling. However, none of the shells or bombs fired at the temple exploded. This increased people’s faith in this mandir. Post war the Border Security Force rebuilt the temple and manages it today.

 

20 kms ahead is the international border. One needs to get permission to visit. Honestly nothing much to see unless just seeing a border excites you.

 

Pics Tanot Mandir

 

From Tanot Mandir took a slight detour to reach Longewal. It is here that the Battle of Longewal was fought on 4th December 1971 when about 100 Indian soldiers halted the advancing troops of about 2,000 Pakistani soldiers and 60 tanks.

 

Pics Longewal Memorial

 

You will see lots of villages during the drive from Jaisalmer to Tanot temple and back. Stop by and check their homes, interesting. To get access keep your camera in or the women will shun you and have a lady as part of your group.

 

Banjara community chant when wood is burnt. Later dance on fire. 

 

Sam Dunes   was day three of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival. There was a camel race about 3’ish after which evening dance & music program started. It is in the midst of nowhere with sand and chilly weather company. Loved every minute that I spent there. 

 

Fire Dance is a must see. It starts with burning of wood during which there is chanting with music – loved hearing them chant. After wood is burnt they dance. It is said that the power to dance on burnt wood comes through intense chanting.  

 

There are hotels and tents where you can stay. Do spent a night and gaze at the stars. One km away from Khuri village, patches of sand dunes attract lots of tourists. Sunset is worth seeing.

 

Missed seeing Puppet Shows + Desert National Park 45 kms – blackbuck, chinkara and desert fox + The Wood Fossil Park i.e. 15 kms away + Jaisalmer War Museum + Akal Wood Fossil Park + Baisakhi has a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is 16 kms away. It attracts a large number of devotees on full moon day of Baisakh when devotees take a holy dip.

 

Pics Sam Sand Dunes

 

People of Marwar photo collection has large number of pics of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival. U can see men with large moustaches, folk dance and ladies in local dress with lots of jewellery.

 

People of MARWAR Pics

 

Keep four to six days for Jaisalmer depending on how much you wish to see.

 

To know all about what to see in Jaisalmer and around visit Rajasthan Tourism site.

 

 Village near Barmer, ladies do applique work for NGO Gramin Vikas

 

3. Barmer Day 7 Night Jodhpur

 

Left Jaisalmer at 9.15 am and reached Barmer about 12ish. Once on the camel trade route, the area is rich in craft that includes wood carving, embroidery work and ajrak prints.

 

The main purpose of visiting Barmer was to see work of an NGO, Gramin Vikas and Chetana Sansthan, that is into appliqué work and textiles. They took me to two villages where women do applique work. Found village women to be very enterprising and confident. They insisted I have lunch, made yummie kadhi & bajre ki roti. See album. The lady who heads the NGO was featured on the India Today cover (December 2018) issue titled Bharat.

 

Pics of Barmer Textiles

 

We finished village visit by about 3.30 pm after which left for Kiradu Temples i.e. 35 kms away. Have no words to describe these temples. They are made in Solanki style of architecture, are 5 temples dedicated to Lord Shiva of which the Someshvara temple is the most remarkable.

 

Kiradu Temple Barmer Pics

 

Missed seeing woodcarving for which Barmer is famous, Sadar Bazaar i.e. a centre for embroidery + Barmer Fort & Garh Temple, Shri Nakoda Jain Temple (first built 3rd century), Devaka Sun Temple (first built 12-13th century), Rani Bhatiyani Temple in Jasol, Juna Fort and Temple and Mahabar Sand Dunes. Vijay Laxmi Handicrafts is a good shop to buy from.

 

Keep two days for Barmer if you wish to see it properly.

 

To know all about Barmer, visit Rajasthan Tourism site.

 

Mehrangarh Fort Jodhpur

 

4. Jodhpur Days 8 to 10, 3 nights 

 

I spent three days in Jodhpur – The Blue City and found it less. Perhaps could have planned it better. Personal meetings took nearly a day.

 

Jodhpur is known for its rare breed of horses  known as Marwari or Malani. Jodhpur traces its history back to 1459 A.D. Rao Jodha, the chief of the Rathore Clan is credited with the origin of Jodhpur. The city was built in place of the earlier capital of Mandore in the state of Manwar. It is believed that the relics of Mandore can still be heard in its gardens. 

 

Day one morning went to meet a friend who has set up a management college some 40 kms away, afternoon went to Mehrangarh Fort and Heritage walk. Came back to fort at about 9 pm for a breadth taking view of the city.  

 

Day two left for Osian to see the Jain and Mata temples. On way back went to Mandore Fort. Thereafter went to village Sarasar, 30 kms away, to meet Prajapati who makes super Dhurries.

Day three reached Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel before 6 am to click pictures. After breakfast, went to meet a friend who makes furniture for exports. Early evening went to Jaswant Thada and from there went to the station for an evening train back home. Now the details.

 

Mehrangarh Fort  was built atop a 150m high hill in 1459 by Rao Jodha. Do see its museum that houses armoury, artefacts and war booty. There is a good collection of elephant seats (howdahs) and palanquins. A room has miniature paintings Marwar style of the 18-19th centuries.

 

Phool Mahal is the grandest of Mehrangarh's period rooms. It was in all likelihood a private and exclusive chamber of pleasure dancing girls. The Jhanki Mahal, from where the royal ladies watched the official proceedings, in the courtyard, today houses a rich collection of the royal cradles. The fort is known for its exquisite latticed windows, carved panels and intricately decorated windows.

 

Visit the Chamundi Mataji Mandir who is the Ishta Devi of the Royal family. One gets a wonderful view of the city from there. Visit Ranisar and Padmasar, adjacent lakes near the Fateh Pole, which were constructed in 1459.

 

Jaswant Thada is the graceful marble cenotaph of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. It was built towards the end of the 19th century as a tribute to the leader Jaswant Singh.

 

Visit the Chokhleo Bagh which sits at the foot of Mehrangarh Fort. This over 200 year old garden, complete with scents, sounds, and textures of a garden of the 19th century Marwar has been turned into a Botanical Museum by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust by planting and in-situ displaying, exquisite endemically historically flora of the Marwar region.

 

Pics of Mehrangarh Fort

 

Spent a couple of hours walking in the busy Sadar Bazaar, great place to shop. See Ghanta Ghar, also known as the clock tower of Rajasthan.

 

Missed seeing Mahamandir Temple. Situated on Mandore road, it is supported by 84 pillars and ornamented with detailed designs and figures depicting various postures of Yoga.

 

Mandaleshwar Mandir. Built in 923 A.D. it is the oldest temple in city. Walls of temple have some beautiful paintings of Shiva and Parvati.

 

Masuria Hill is the one of three most beautiful gardens of Rajasthan. It is popular among the devotees of the centuries-old temple dedicated to local deity Baba Ramdev.

 

Umaid Bhawan Palace was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh in 1929 to counter a famine that hit the state then.

 

Pics of Umaid Bhawan Palace

 

Can visit the Government Museum, Umaid Bhawan Palace Museum and Govt Bangrur Museum. The palace museum has a nice collection of wall clocks.

 

Missed seeing  Kherjala Fort 85 kms away + Guda, a Bishnoi Village + Kailana Lake i.e. very beautiful + Somnath Temple - temple of Lord Shiva is famous for its historical background and sculptures. It is situated in the middle of the Pali City and was built by the King of Gujarat in 1920 + Terah Tali - The village Padarla is famous for its Terah Tali Dance all over the world because of its unique style.

 

Village Safari. Start with Khejarli (25 kms), next is potter’s village of Singhasini (27 kms), shepherd’s village at Rebari and Bishnoi village of Guda. Then is Kankani i.e. known for lovely terracotta work and block printing.

 

Read about the Eco-religion of the Bishnois

 

Chhatri Mandore Fort 

 

Outside Jodhpur

 

Visited Osian 65 kms. It is famous for its Jain and Sachiya Mata Temple mandirs. The highlight of this place is its camel ride at the time of the sunset. Missed going  to the sand dunes. 

 

The Jain Mandir  is very popular with devotees. The toran is a must see. It is famous for murti of Bhagwan Mahavir, in the sanctum, which is said to be made of cow’s milk and mud, with a coat of gold.

 

Pics of Osian Jain Mandir

 

The Sachayee Mata Mandir is the most important of the 16 Hindu temples here.

 

Pics of Sachiya Mata Mandir

 

Next was Mandore Fort. It has beautiful gardens, older part in ruins but worth visiting. It has dewals or cenotaphs of Jodhpur’s former rulers. Unlike the original chhatri-shaped cenotaphs that are typical of Rajasthan, these are built along the lines of Hindu temples. The Hall of Heroes and the Shrine of the Three Hundred Million Gods are worth a look.

 

Pics of Mandore Fort

 

Village Sarasar for Dhurries. Prajapati came up the hard way and has now made a name for himself. You can buy online-captions have the details. Many in village make dhurries.

 

Pics of Dhurries Jodhpur

 

To know all about Jodhpur and around visit Rajasthan Tourism site.

 

If you wish to hire a taxi recommend the person I used. His name is Lalit Singh 91 9352739277 and 91 9571750291. Very good service and knows his way around.

 

Some information taken from the Rajasthan Tourism website, sometimes verbatim, so a reader gets comprehensive information. URL is http://www.tourism.rajasthan.gov.in

 

India mein Marwar nahin dekha tho kya dekha. Marwar is awesome – lovely people, great drives, colourful, lots of history and super place to shop.

 

Author is a travel photojournalist and founder www.esamskriti.com