THERE IS A LOT OF WAITING IN MY TRAVELS, I waited 2 hours for my delayed train to arrive, I waited an hour with my backpack at the entrance of the train station for my Bikaner host to come, and I waited 30 minutes for an English-speaking guide to take to the fort.
Time passes slowly when we wait, everything goes into slow motion. When we are anxious, minutes turn to hours and hours to days. Due to the poor reception at the payphone, my host was trying to tell me that he was busy, but I kept waiting at the station due to the misunderstanding. In the end, I checked into a hotel just so that I can cleanse my stinking self and get some sleep. After arriving Bikaner at 2am last night, I waited at the station’s waiting room, and shared a table to lie on with a local guy. Exhausted and smelly, I longed too much for a bed and shower, I had to leave my appointment with the host.
After properly rested, I went to the Junagarh fort, which is the main attraction in Bikaner. This impressive fort built in the 16th century has palaces and courtyards with elaborate sandstone sculptures and marble tiles. I particularly enjoyed the natural air-conditioning that the architects of the olden days invented so to keep the royals cool and happy. The museum is also very extensive, with a collection of clothings, memorabilia and photographs of the past royal families.
2km away is the grand Lallgarh Palace, which was built by one of the maharajahs and is now turned into a heritage hotel. Even with the impressive buildings, the museum here fades in comparison with the fort’s. I was the only visitor when I was there, and had to switch on the lights by myself as I when further into the exhibits.
The low coffee table that I slept for hours at the train station.
Elaborate decorations of silver, gold and glass in the fort
Royal swinging seats complete with two protective elephant statues
The Lallgarh Palace which is now a very expensive luxury hotel
BIKANER’S OLD CITY HAS A NUMBER OF OLD HAVELIS, which are beautiful mansions built by the wealthy people of yesteryears. Due to the lack of infrastructure and planning, many of these havelis have no signs, and finding them is a random chore. Walking through the old city and spotting the havelis among average-looking houses is a fun thing to do. Once you see it, you will recognize the sandstone craftmanship and beautiful patterns that once boast their owners’ wealth.
My host, Ravindra, ended up with my for dinner. He apologized for the morning drama, and told me long stories about the traditions he and his family observe until today. Hearing the Hindu caste system from his point of view, I now understand each society has its own way of protecting and preserving its people. The untouchables, according to him, is a caste where the people deal with butchering and with dead bodies. They should not be touched, because they may transmit deadly diseases to the majority of the people, and causing a serious problem.
Ravindra made my day with his deep philosophical talks about the Indian culture. Adding up with the amazing fort and museum, Bikaner’s wait seems to be worthwhile after all.
Random beautiful havelis that can be found on the streets. Built in its entirety from sandstones, the patterns are hand crafted.