10 December 2008 – Bikaner
We arrived in Bikaner late in the day on the 10th of December. Unfortunately, having spent an extra day in Jaisalmer after camping out in the dunes, we didn’t get to spend much time in this city. By then, we were also overdosed on forts and palaces that we were starting to look forward to our time alone on the trains without our driver who would more often than not drive us to shops where he would get commission on things we bought. Needless to say, being young and on a budget and wanting to travel light, shopping was not on our list of priorities which must’ve disappointed him somewhat.
Since we were only spending the night in Bikaner, Ramesh rushed us off to see Junagarh Fort in time for the last tour of the day. As is the case with most of the Forts in Rajasthan, the rooms inside were ornately decorated with mirrors, paintings, mosaics and silks. Our tour guide was a short-statured man in his mid to late thirties who spoke in the Queen’s English. He told us that Junagarh Fort was built in the 1500’s and he walked us in through the main gate, the Surajpol. Once inside, our guide took us around all the rooms filled with old artifacts from the 16th century as well as from colonial days. There were rifles and swords in the glass boxes and in one room, there was even an old biplane, preserved from the British era in India. In one of the rooms, the men would hold their meetings and discuss affairs of the state and although women were not allowed in the room itself, they were however allowed to listen in and interact through the latticed marble and stone screens from the balconies above.