There’s not too much to the town, it is small and dry place sat in the middle of the desert but I found that it was a quiet (by Indian standards) and friendly place. The hotel we stayed in instantly reminded me of the Marigold Hotel film, and was relatively cheap if you’re on a budget. I know this was included within my tour, but if I were to visit again then it would be one of the first places I’d consider.
Family run it has been in the family for a few generations so they know what they’re doing. Surrounded by a high wall and castle like towers, you enter through an arch and into a quiet courtyard. In the reception, the walls and surfaces are covered with Indian patterns and figures. Every room is a different size and shape with what looked like antique décor. I did find that the rooms were a bit dark at times, especially as the sun set relatively early, and some of the fittings and utilises were a bit worn. However, if you’re looking for a budget hotel it is definitely more quirky and friendly then your standard place.
Other benefits were the quaint little garden, roof top balcony and pool. So if you don’t fancy venturing out for the day, you can relax within the peaceful walls of the hotel.
Personally I didn’t venture too far round the town, but one of our outings was to the local market. Here our tour guide set a challenge to see who could barter and get the most vegetables for 100Rs. And it was a surprisingly a lot! This isn’t much money (£ wise), and bartering at the local market is a great way to delve into the local culture without standing out as a tourist. Had a lot of fun doing this! Even if you don’t need veg, visiting a local market, more suited for the locals rather than tourists is great fun!
So why did we need so much veg? Well the next part of my trip was a camel safari; the main reason we stayed in Bikaner. If you don’t like camels or heights, this is probably not going to be your idea of fun as you spend several hours on them. It is normal to have to travel by car/jeep slightly into the desert where you will find your guides and ride awaiting. It’s all very authentic and slightly touristy, but you get to ride into the desert where there’s no cars, roads or thousands of people. If you’re lucky you might spot some wildlife (snakes, rabbits/hares, rats etc.). The most I saw was some eagles and a farmer with his goats, so nothing too exciting.
I would warn as well that health and safety is a little more slack in India, so be careful; the camels are high and unpredictable. Unfortunately one of my friends on the tour fell off the camel as it stood up too soon. She wasn’t seriously damaged but rode in the cart instead and I rode terrified for the next few hours.
Once we reached our destination though it was great. We met some local farmers who took all our vegetables and made a local curry and some fried veg for our meal. And it tasted DELICIOUS! Plus some local alcohol (very strong). Here we spent the night around a bonfire in some tents. It is basic so don’t expect 5* accommodation, but it’s definitely and experience you won’t get in the UK!
Things to bear in mind:
- There won’t be toilets, going au natural
- Wear long sorts or trousers as your legs with rub against the camel/saddle
- Take a hat, water and sun cream even if you ‘never burn’ as it is a long time in strong sun/heat with no shade
- Although it may be hot in the day, the temp drops quickly and a lot in the night so take layers