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Bikaner

Rao Bika and Jats founded the fourth largest city in Rajasthan, Bikaner, in the year 1488 AD. Upon insistence that his name be linked with the place for an eternity, Bika was compelled to add Nehra Jat’s (Nair or Nera) name to it, since he was the proprietor of that piece of land, and thus emerged the name Bikaner. Many associate what you call “namkeen” snacks and sweets with the city of Bikaner.

In Bikaner, you will find the Ganga Canal and the Indira Gandhi Canal, which have both contributed to facilitate farming activities with respect to crops like mustard, wheat, groundnut and cotton. Also prevalent here are the industries of wool production and the mining industry for gypsum, plaster of Paris and bentonite.

Equally noteworthy here is that Bikaner is often considered as the ‘camel country’ for its abundance of camels. Places in Bikaner worth a visit include Junagarh Fort, Lalgarh Palace and the Laxmi Niwas Palace. Other places you could possibly also check out would be the Camel Research Farm, Kalibangan, Rampuria Havelis and the Lakshminath Temple.

DESHNOK
Deshnok is a village 30 km south of Bikaner. Visiting the Karni Mata temple is not for the faint hearted. Here, the ‘holy’ rats are believed to be the incarnations of the storytellers and have free reign over the temple. It is said that Karni Mata performed many miracles during her life-time. When her youngest son, Lakhan, drowned, Karni Mata ordered Yama, the god of Death, to bring him back to life. Yama replied that even though he was incapable of this request, since Karni Mata was an incarnation of Durga, she herself could restore Lakhan's life. She succeeded and made a promise that her family members would no longer die, but would be incarnated as kabas (rats).

The temple is an important place of pilgrimage. In order to protect the rats, a wire grill has been placed over the courtyard from birds of prey and other predators. It is considered quite fortunate to have a kaba run across your feet and to view a white kaba is quite rarity and is considered good for your spiritual progress.