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Which is better Jodhpur or Bikaner?

Discussion in 'Rajasthan' started by ShrishtiJay, Jan 19, 2017.

  1. ShrishtiJay

    ShrishtiJay New Member

    I am going to Jaipur with my husband for seven days. We are thinking about the second destination in Rajasthan, and the two destinations we have thought about are Jodhpur and Bikaner.

    We would like to know which is better Jodhpur or Bikaner?

    We are interested in sightseeing and seeing the different things there from lakes to historical places.

    We plan to spend around 4-5 days at the second destination.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hi, welcome to the forum!



    In a way, Jodhpur and Bikaner is related to one another. How so? Well, Jodhpur was founded by Maharaja Rao Jodha in the middle of the 14th century. It served as the Rajput king's capital during his lifetime. Bikaner, on the other hand, was founded by Rao Bika, the first son of Maharaja Rao Jodha, during the last quarter of the 14th century. Initially though, Bikaner was known as Jangladesh, owned by various rulers of the Jat dynasty, prior to the conquering of Rao Bika of the region. In the following years, tragic wars occurred between the two regions, which begun as a rift between the father and son, Rao Jodha and Rao Bika.

    With under 300 kilometres of distance between them, which of these two destinations deserve your visit? A tough yet necessary question, especially for those who don't have much time to explore both regions. Jodhpur is also known as the Blue City of Rajasthan, owing to the blue houses surrounding the main fort of the city. A small town, where you can reach one point to the other in just a few minutes, Jodhpur marvels the tourist in its heritage sites and customs that are still preserved. Narrow alleyways, temples and various street markets line its streets, making the experience of exploring the city even more captivating and exciting. No matter where you look, whichever angle you see, there's much history and culture to revel in the city of Jodhpur.

    Bikaner is located to the north of Jodhpur, an enchanting destination that receives less of the spotlight in the state. It is far from the maddening crowds of popular cities in the state but still boasts of stunning architectural structures like a fort and some palaces, as well as havelis. It is less developed though so tourist infrastructures are more limited here. Oh, and let's not forget, the addictive Bikaneri Bhujia, a delectable snack made from moth beans, gram flour and various spices, originated in this region. For the off the beaten track travellers, Bikaner is a place worth considering, as it is not yet commercialised as a tourist destination. The culture, heritage and tradition of the locals remain intact over the years, it's the place where you can enjoy the rural vibe of Rajasthan.

    Jodhpur or Bikaner? (A Comparison Guide)

    1. Ease of Access
    • Jodhpur - Jodhpur is easily accessible, whether you're going by air, by rail or by bus. By air, the city has its own airport, the Jodhpur Domestic Airport, which is about six kilometres away from the centre of Jodhpur. The airport is directly connected to airports of cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur. If you're coming from abroad, you can reach any of these international airports and then book a connecting flight to Jodhpur proper. From the airport, you can easily ride a taxi or auto rickshaw to reach the city proper. By rail, the Jodhpur Junction Railway Station is the main railway link of Jodhpur to and from areas like Chennai, Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai and other cities. The railway station is located eight kilometres away from the city centre of Jodhpur so you need to ride an auto rickshaw or taxi to reach the latter. By bus, Jodhpur is directly connected to Delhi by Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation (RSRTC) buses. Timings vary but they're usually around early in the morning and early in the evening. Journey duration can be as long as 15 hours though. You can also reach Jodhpur by bus from Jaipur, as the RSRTC also operates many buses for this route, as well as from other cities in Rajasthan. You can also hire a taxi or private vehicle to take you to Jodhpur from any other city in India. If you prefer driving on your own, you can also do so by accessing the National Highway 8 and National Highway 14. As of now, there are road constructions around Jaipur, which you would pass by en route to Jodhpur, that can lead to some traffic jams in your road trip.
    Jodhpur Railway Station
    • Bikaner - In contrast, Bikaner might be a bit more complicated to reach than Jodhpur. For one, it doesn't have its own airport, the nearest ones are the Jodhpur Domestic Airport (249 Kilometres) and the Jaipur Domestic Airport (348 Kilometres). Thus, if going by air, you can opt to reach either Jodhpur or Jaipur first and from any of these cities, take a bus reaching Bikaner. Rail journey is more preferred by travellers, as Bikaner has the Bikaner Junction Railway Station. It is directly connected to cities like Agra, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Mumbai. The railway station is just 1.3 kilometres away from the city centre of Bikaner. You can easily ride an auto rickshaw or taxi to reach your hotel from the railway station. For bus journey, there are RSRTC-operated buses running from Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Delhi, Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur to Bikaner proper. If going by road, there are various routes that one can take to reach Bikaner from Delhi or other cities of Rajasthan. However, the best one would be the National Highway 8 route, passing by Chandwaji en route. Though slightly longer, this route has the best road conditions that can make your road trip smoother and more convenient.
    Bikaner Railway Station

    2. Best Time to Visit
    • Jodhpur - Jodhpur has a hot semi-arid climate that persists all-year round. Summer season, from March to June, can be extremely hot, with temperatures exceeding 40°C. Monsoon season, from July to September, can be wet and humid, making sightseeing even more uncomfortable. Thus, the best time to visit Jodhpur is during the winter season, from October to February. During these months, temperatures remain around 25°C to 35°C, pleasant enough for sightseeing. Rain showers rarely occur so you can enjoy other activities in the region too. It is also the best time for a camel safari, as the Thar Desert is at its best condition during winter. Sandstorms are lesser and you can even enjoy the cooler breeze during this time.
    • Bikaner - Bikaner experiences the same semi-arid climate but it has extreme climatic conditions as compared to Jodhpur. Summer season, extends from March to June as well, is extremely hot, with temperatures around 40°C, but can sometimes reach beyond that as well. Bikaner is known for having the highest temperatures in the state and summer sightseeing can be unpleasant due to the heat. Monsoons, extending from July to September, has lower temperatures, around 30°C to 38°C. July is usually the wettest month but average rainfall during this month doesn't exceed 150 mm. Both these months are inappropriate for sightseeing, especially if you come from a region with colder climates. The last season is winter, from October to February. By this time, temperatures range around 20°C to 25°C. The months of December, January and February can also experience temperatures below 10°C. For sightseeing and exploring the rich heritage of Bikaner, the winter season would be the best time for that. However, you need to pack light to heavy woollens as the night time temperatures can go even lower.
    3. Places to See
    • Jodhpur - The main attraction of Jodhpur is none other than the Mehrangarh Fort. This fortress was built by Rao Jodha in the middle of the 14th century but contributions from succeeding rulers also flank the structures inside the fort. Interestingly, the fort was built in a land where a hermit used to live. Angered, the hermit cursed the land with drought for the years to come. The Maharaja Rao Jodha appeased the hermit but the curse cannot be taken back and only a human sacrifice can balance it. A brave man, Raja Ram Meghwal, sacrificed his life for the curse to be lifted and you can spot his memorial on one of the gateways of the fort, the Dedh Kambra Pol. Standing on top of a hillock, the fort provides a commanding view of the city of Jodhpur. For many years, it served its purpose of guarding the city from attacks. There are many structures worth visiting inside, like the lavish Phool Mahal, the palanquin and jewellery gallery of Dhaulat Khana and the exquisite Jhanki Mahal. While the fort highlights the glorious era of the Rajputs, it also highlights the tragedies that occurred in this era, like the sacrifice of Raja Ram Meghwal, or the practice of sati back then. Outside the fort, you can also visit the Jaswant Thada, a memorial built by Maharaja Sardar Singh for his father, Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The structure is fairly newer built around the end of the 18th century. As you enter the cenotaph premises, the pure red exteriors would greet you, standing in contrast with the pure white memorials. Make sure you visit the cenotaph during the day, as you can spot the reflection of the sun from the thin walls of the white marble cenotaphs. Into the Sadar Bazaar and the Old Clock Tower, pass a few narrow alleyways to reach the Toor Ji Ka Jhalra, which is a 6th century ancient stepwell. Unlike other stepwells of the region, this one retains intact and even has bluish waters teeming with fish. Climb the steps downwards and relish in the natural calming waters and ancient architecture of the stepwell. There's also the Umaid Bhawan Palace, built by Umaid Singh during the early 19th century. This lavish palace has now been converted into a heritage hotel, though the museum remains open for visitors. The museum showcases the truly wealthy lifestyle of the maharajas back then, with the collections of vintage cars, paintings, coins and clocks. Finally, for wildlife and nature lovers, you can also visit the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, as well as the Balsamand Lake and Garden.
    Jaswant Thada in Jodhpur (Image from Kevin Jones)
    • Bikaner - The main attraction of Bikaner is also a fortress, known as the Junagarh Fort. In contrast, it is smaller and was not built by Rao Bika, instead, it was Raja Rai Singhji that built this magnificent fortress. This makes the fort a bit newer, built around the middle of the 15th century only. From the outside, the fort is a stark red and you enter through a zig-zag staircase, filled with intricate lattice works. The structures inside are white, as they were made from marble, which provides a nice contrast to the walls. You can explore palaces like the flowery Phool Mahal or the glittery Anup Mahal inside. You can also visit the Pracheena, which is the museum showcasing the artefacts of the royal family. You can spot various rare items like intricately designed mirrors, ancient weaponries and textiles. Make your way into the narrow streets of Bikaner, to its southern side and you would reach the Bhandasar Jain Temple. This Jain temple was built even before the city of Bikaner was founded, by an old merchant named Bhandasar Oswal. With its towering shikhara and pure white facade, it's impossible to miss. An interesting story behind the temple is that its foundation is said to have been laid using pure ghee, hence the floors of the temple lays in oil during hot summer months. Every inch of the temple is filled with exquisite carvings and Usta artwork. The Lalgarh Palace is also a must visit, and much like the palace in Jodhpur, it has been converted into a heritage hotel. There's a small museum though where non-staying guests can enter, showcasing artefacts from the royal era, in the form of costumes, jewelries and armouries. If you still have the time, a bit further from the city centre is the Royal Cenotaphs. These set of chhatris are dedicated to the royals of Bikaner. They boast of intricate archways and highly ornamented ceilings. Other places worth visiting in Bikaner are the National Research Centre for Camels and the Gajner Lake.
    Anup Mahal in Bikaner (Image from Flicka)

    4. Things to Do
    • Jodhpur - Do you want to enjoy a bird's eye view of the entire Mehrangarh Fort? Well, luckily, Flying Fox operates zip lining activities within the fort area. Zip lining across the old fort walls, then into small lakes and rocky outcrops can give one an exhilarating and fun adventure. For something more adventurous, try out paragliding, which is operated by Sky Ventures, outside the city of Jodhpur, in a village called Agolai. Even for a novice paraglider or someone who isn't too confident, you can enjoy this activity with the help of a professional through tandem paragliding. If you want to explore the sand dunes of Jodhpur, you can also do so, as there are many tour agencies, hotels and even locals that can arrange this activity for you. Choose between an adventurous jeep safari or a more laid-back camel safari. Maybe you want to gaze under the stars while in the desert, that's possible too, by staying in one of the numerous desert camps of Jodhpur. For a taste of the real rural life, explore the nearby villages of Jodhpur like Marwar and Bishnoi. You can interact with the locals here and get to know more about their desert life. So as you can see, aside from sightseeing, Jodhpur has various activities to keep you busy for a few days.
    • Bikaner - As compared to Jodhpur, Bikaner has less activities to offer for tourists. You can enjoy a distinct desert safari here though, because this side of Rajasthan is relatively unexplored as compared to the desert areas of Jodhpur or even Jaisalmer. Desert safaris are usually done on a camel, visiting remote regions of the sand dunes. Experience camping under the skies, with just you, the desert and your tents. With music and performances around the bonfire, a camping experience can't be more authentic than this. You can also set out to explore the rural villages near Bikaner, like the villages of Bhadla and Raisar. You can witness how locals live their daily lives while in the desert.
    5. Staying Options
    • Jodhpur - There are over a hundred hotels in Jodhpur, not yet including the guest houses and home stays. If you are on a tight budget, even with just Rs. 1,500 per night, you can find decent hotels in the city. Govind Hotel has nightly rates under Rs. 1,000 per night, they provide clean and comfy rooms at such affordable rates. Hotel AR Excellency is another good option, which even has its own in-house restaurant. Nightly rates here range around Rs. 1,600 to Rs. 2,000. For good mid-range options, you can try out Hotel Kiran Vilas or Shanti Bhawan Heritage Hotel, which have rates under Rs. 3,000 per night. There are only two luxury or five-star hotels in Jodhpur, Vivanta By Taj Hari Mahal and Umaid Bhawan Palace. The former have room rates under Rs. 10,000 per night while the latter has room rates above Rs. 35,000 per night. If you want a more homely vibe, guest houses like Royal Heritage Guest House and Dylan Guest House have rates under Rs. 700 per night.
    • Bikaner - There are fewer staying options in Bikaner than in Jodhpur. For budget hotel options, Hotel Harasar Haveli and Hotel Jaswant Bhawan are good options. Their rates are under Rs. 1,500 per night and can provide you with the basic amenities that you might need. If you have around Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,000 per night, you can make do with mid-range options like Hotel Desert Winds and Hotel Maharaj Ganga Mahal. There are no five-star properties in Bikaner but there are some four-star options like Vesta Bikaner Palace and Narendra Bhawan, which cost around Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 7,000 per night. Guest houses like Vino Guest House and Chandra Niwas Guest House have nightly rates under Rs. 500. Though options are lesser here, the rates are slightly lower than in Jodhpur.
    6. Transportation Options
    • Jodhpur - Jodhpur has very narrow lanes so the best way of getting around is by auto rickshaws or by foot. Auto rickshaws here aren't metered so you need to negotiate a price beforehand. You can also opt for getting around by foot, though it can take more time this way. There are taxis all around the city, but they can only get to some wider areas. Buses also ply in the city, or from Jodhpur to other cities of Rajasthan. For the intercity buses though, their timings aren't fixed nor do they have extensive schedules. Jodhpur also has tongas, also known as horse-driven carriages, but only in some parts of it, specifically in the Old City. Though not a main means of transportation, tongas can be a fun way of experiencing the older way of travelling in the city.
    • Bikaner - There are only two ways of navigating around Bikaner by public transport, either in auto rickshaws or cabs. The former is more affordable and they can navigate through the narrow alleyways of Bikaner. You can even hire one for your whole day of tour, just negotiate for a price beforehand. Cabs can be more convenient and comfortable but you still have to walk for some distances because some areas of Bikaner are too narrow for cabs to enter. This is also the more expensive option so only resort to this if you have money to spare. Further, you can easily access the fort area and Old City area by walking as well.
    7. Stay Duration
    • Jodhpur - Jodhpur can be explored within two to three days completely. You can allot a whole day for the Mehrangarh Fort, to enjoy poking through its hidden nooks and corners. The next day can be allotted for the other attractions mentioned above. For the last day, you can allot your desert safari and shopping during this time. You can include another day or two for an indulging desert camping experience. With about four to five days on hand, that's enough time to explore the city of Jodhpur.
    • Bikaner - For Bikaner, even just two days would be enough to explore it. You can combine a trip for the Junagarh Fort and Bhandasar Jain Temple together. Then, for all the other attractions, allot another day for it. If you want to indulge in activities like camel safari or village touring, then add in another day for your trip. With about four to five days on hand, you can even spend an overnight camping trip in the desert of Bikaner.
    8. Excursions
    • Jodhpur - There are some nearby places that one can visit while in Jodhpur. There's Osian, just around 65 kilometres away from Jodhpur. This city is known for its collection of Jain temples. Worth mentioning is the Sachiya Mata Temple, built by Parmar King Upendre during the 10th century. The temple has a stone facade and interior, ornamented by intricate carvings. You can also visit the village of Kumbhalgarh, about 188 kilometres away from Jodhpur. This village is known for the Kumbhalgarh Fort, the second longest fort in the world after the Great Wall of China. Approaching the fort needs to be done by foot, about 250 steps but the journey is very much rewarding, as you can enjoy the view of the village below from the top. Finally, there's the artificial sand dunes village of Khimsar, just 98 kilometres away from Jodhpur.
    Kumbhalgarh Fort (Image from Milind)
    • Bikaner - Just 31 kilometres away from Bikaner is the village of Deshnok, where the famed Karni Mata Temple is located. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Karni Mata and is known for its thousands of mice, mainly in black colour. If you are able to spot a white mouse here, it's believed to be a sign of good luck. Another place that you can visit is Gajner, which is around 46 kilometres away from Bikaner. The main attraction here is the Gajner Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can spot wild animals like foxes and deers while on a safari. Finally, about 217 kilometres away from Bikaner is Nawalgarh. This was the home of the Marwaris, sometimes, the city is referred to as the Open Air Museum of Rajasthan. It is home to various havelis, like Aath Haveli and Morarka Haveli, which has on display on its walls various frescoes depicting life during the earlier times, as well as religious topics.
    Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok.jpg
    Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok (Image from Bhups)


    Generally, both Jodhpur and Bikaner are off the usual tourist paths in Rajasthan. Jodhpur is a bit more developed and commercialized but nowhere as chaotic or bustling as Jaipur. The city gives one a great glimpse of the former glory of the Jodha dynasty. It combines a mixture of both heritage and adventure, a place where you can relish in the past but still have some thrilling activities to enjoy. Reaching the city is quite easy, as it has its own airport and railway station. The magnificent Mehrangarh Fort can surely mesmerise you, from its architecture, to its lavish collection of artifacts. If you want to stray away from the usual touristy destinations but don't want to wander too offbeat, Jodhpur is a great choice for that.

    On the other hand, Bikaner is less developed and definitely not commercialized. It has less of the tourists so everything here is a bit more laid-back and off the beaten track. While the Junagarh Fort is smaller, it does give one a glimpse of the architectural style of Raja Rai Singhji and the other succeeding rulers. The best way to reach the city is by rail, since it doesn't have its own airport yet. The nearby Karni Mata Temple is also a favorite attraction amongst tourists and even pilgrims. It is surely different from any other temple in India, an experience that you can't have in any other place. If you want a place that can give you serenity and peace amongst others, Bikaner is a great choice for that.

    I hope this helps you!:)