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history

Bikaner lies north of Jodhpur, its reddish-pink stone rising out of miles of barren thorn and scrub. Rao Jodha’s sixth son, Bika (after whom the city of Bikaner is named), must have found nothing more than this wilderness when he rode out here in search of greener pastures to conquer, but he was obviously undeterred. The Rathore clansmen set out from Mandore the same year that his father shifted his capital to Jodhpur. Taking with him three hundred zealous retainers, they massacred the first opposing clan they encountered. Next they came in touch with a branch of the Bhattis of Jaisalmer who had settled in the region, and Bika married one of the daughters of the chief. Using this settlement as a base he was able to extend his sway over the entire region. Having secured the submission of the Bhattis, and later of the Jats in the region, he founded his capital Bikaner here.

Although Bikaner was intrinsically linked by blood to the rest of Rajputana, historically it charted a different course. The Rathore-Mughal friendship really flourished especially during Akbar’s reign. After the Maharaja of Jaipur and his son, Raja Rai Singh of Bikaner was the ‘highest ranked Hindu’ in Akbar’s court. Relations worsened later thanks to Aurangzeb’s bigotry, but Bikaner holds the distinction of maintaining its independence for the best part of 500 years. In a sense if Jaipur is called the pink city, Bikaner is no less with the colour a few shades deeper here, and a great deal more pervasive. Situated on elevated ground, the medieval city of Bikaner has all the romance of the Arabian nights. As you approach it, you half expect a few Rajput princes to come riding at you on their steeds, brandishing their weapons, challenging you to a duel.The fortifications of Junagarh include a 5-6 km long crenellated stone wall in rich pink sandstone.There are five gates and three sally ports, the walls varying in height from 15 feet to 30 feet.