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Monday, November 26, 2007

Desert Circuit of Rajasthan

Desert Circuit of Rajasthan
Covers Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, Barmer, Osian, Balsamand, Mandore, Ludurva, Kolayat and Devi Kund...

Desert Circuit Desert - a landscape that, with the shifting of the dunes, alters in degree but not in kind. The desert circuit is marked by a rustic charm. Arid, hot and sparse in population, the circuit joins many distinctly different tourist spots that remind an outsider of the tales that are heard so often in the folk songs of Rajasthan.

Adorned by glorious places, forts, temples and a market place which is a haven for bargainers, Jodhpur is a first step by a visitor into the glory of the past. The main attractions are the Mehrangarh fort, Jaswant Thada, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Girdikot, Mandore and Kailana Lake.

Jaisalmer was founded in 1155 A.D. by Rao Jaisal a Bhati Rajput ruler. The former capital was at Ludurva. Yellow sandstone walled fort seems to be an abrupt vertical extension of the desert. The citadel houses. interalia, exquisitely carved havelis and fine Jain temples. Godsisar lake, royal cenotaphs at Bada Bagh, Ludurva and the fossil park - Aakal, are worth a visit, too.

Panoramic Gadsisar Lake, Jaisalmer Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur Toran Dwar, Jain Temple, Ludurva

Situated at the northern node of the desert triangle and directly on the ancient caravan route, Bikaner was founded by Rao Bika, the son of Rao Jodha, the founder of Jodhpur in 1488 A.D. More popularly called camel country, the city is renouned for the best riding camels in the world. Areas of interest are the Junagarh fort, Lalgarh palace, karni Mata temple at Deshnok, Gajner and Kolayat.

A small town, engulfed by the desert, Barmer is famous for handblock printing and carved wooden furniture. The Tilwara cattle fair is the best time to visit Barmer to get an insight into the life of the folk in a desert environment. From the literary and epigraphical sources, it appears that the early name of the town was 'Vagbhatameru'. It is said to have been founded in the 13th century A.D.

Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur Temple Complex, Osian Balsamand Lake


Air: Flights are available from Delhi, Mumbai, Udaipur and Jaipur.
Rail: There are direct rail connections with important cities of the country including Delhi, Calcutta, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Bikaner etc.
Road: Jodhpur can also be reached through a network of road connections. Some key distances are: Delhi 597 kms., Udaipur 260 kms., Jaipur 336 kms.


Arched Staircase, Osian OSIAN

Osian is situated 65 kms. to the north west of Jodhpur.

HISTORY: Osian known as Ukeshpur in ancient times, is a land of temples. It was a Brahamanical centre and later, Jainism also flourished here as is evident from the remnants of medieval temples. The Oswals trace their origin from this place.

MAIN ATTRACTIONS: Osian is a major site, containing monuments spanning five centuries of artistic evolution. There are several beautiful temples and shrines, oldest amongst them being the Sun temple. The doorway to this temple is one of the finest to be seen anywhere in India.

The Harihara I temple, dating back to 750 A.D., is a 'panchayatan' temple which means that a central shrine is surrounded by four other smaller ones. It stands on a beautifully decorated terrace with thirteen niches built into its sides. The main temple carries some excellent early figural sculptures including the Krishna Leela frieze. The Harihara III temple was built around 800 A.D. The walls of its rectangular sanctum carry exuberant decoration, tastefully executed. There is an open hall , the aisles of which have been provided with a beautiful sloping ceiling supported by rafters, shaped like 'nagas'. Harihara III is one of the finest examples in India of exuberance going hand in hand with architectural strength. Harihara III is a somewhat less well - finished copy of Harihara I.

Apart from this there is the main Sun temple and other temples such as Vishnu temples III, IV & V, which are also worth seeing for their ancient architectural beauty. A unique feature of these temples is the most of them face the west.

Cenotaphs, Mandore Lake, Kolayat Chinkara, Desert National Park



5 kms. away, lies a pretty lake with a pleasure on its banks. These are built around the artificial lake constructed in 1159 A.D. The gardens were developed later.


8 kms. from Jodhpur lies the ancient capital of Marwar. It contains the cenotaphs of Jodhpur rulers and sixteen figures carved out a single rock depicting popular folk deities. The area is surrounded by a landscaped garden with high rock terraces. AN ideal picnic spot.


Air: Jodhpur, 285 kms., is the most convenient airport.
Rail: Rail connection with Jodhpur.
Road: A good network of roads joins Jaisalmer with many destinations in Rajasthan.

Ornately Carved Gateway, Ludurva LUDURVA

Ludurva (Lodorva) is about 16 kms. north - west of Jaisalmer. It is a town of great antiquity. Ludurva was the capital of Bhati Rajputs before Rawal Jaisal founded Jaisalmer in 1155 A.D. Ludurva was a flourishing town in 10th and 11th century A.D. It was a centre art and architecture. The exquisite carvings and other remains of ancient monuments provide a glimpse of Ludurva's glorious past.


17 kms. The fossils at the Park, 180 million cataclysms that have taken place in the Thar desert. Timings : 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.


45 kms. The Desert National Park, with its rolling landscape of sand dunes and scrub covered hills commands a panoramic view. The variety of wildlife here includes the Great Indian Bustard, chinkara, desert fox etc.


Air: The nearest airport is Jodhpur, 243 kms.
Rail: Bikaner is connected with Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bhatinda, Howrah and all the major cities of India.
Road: Bikaner is connected by road with the major cities of India. Some important distances are: Delhi, 470 kms.; Jaipur, 321 kms.; Jaisalmer, 333kms. Bikaner is on National Highways No. 11 and 15.

Lalgarh Palace, Bikaner Junagarh Fort, Bikaner Cenotaphs, Devi Kund, Bikaner



Kolayat is situated 45 kms. south - west of Bikaner.

HISTORY: Kolayat is known far and wide for its holy tank and it is a convergence point for pilgrims from all over the country. The tank situated along a temple of Kapil Muni, regarded as the originator of the Sankhya system of Indian philosophy, is the central feature of the place. Another important feature of Kolayat is the annual fair held during Oct. - Nov. (full moon of the Kartik month) which attracts lakhs of pilgrims and tourists.

Kapil Muni Temple, Kolayat DEVI KUND

9 kms. from Bikaner is a royal crematorium with several cenotaphs. Many decorated chhatris have been built in memory of the rulers. Maharaja Surat Singh's chhatris is built entirely of white marble with spectacular Rajput paintings on its ceiling.


This sanctuary, 32 kms. away, is located on the Jaisalmer road. The woods have a number of nilgai or the blue bull, chinkara, blackbuck, wild boar and flocks of imperial sand grouse living here.



Situated on the banks of the river Ghaggar , Hanumangarh is a flourishing town and is the headquarters of the district with the same name. The old name of this place was 'Bhatner'. It was ruled by the Bhati Rajputs for a long period. It was named Hanumangarh in 1805 A.D. because it was captured by Maharaja Surat Singh of Bikaner in that year on a Tuesday, a day sacred to Lord Hanuman. The Bhatner fort is very old and has a long and glorious history.


Extensive remains of the pre-Harappan and Harappan civilizations have been found at this place in Hanumangarh district. This makes it an area of those interested in the evolution of human civilisation.


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