Bikaner Travelogues: Gajner Palace
A Sunday well spent brings a week of content. For us Sundays are hard earned break from our hectic week. We travel far enough to meet ourselves. To make best of our Sundays we try to make impromptu plans and explore the world around us. Needless to say Rajasthan in winters gets more blissfully vibrant to fill colors in our lives. No wonder, happiness is planning a trip to somewhere new with someone you love!
This weekend we planned a trip to Gajner Palace. Its just 40 odd kms from main Bikaner city. Roads are good. Although some construction works are going on but more or else, it was a fun ride. A good sunny Sunday morning in winters making car comfortably warm inside and radio playing melodious numbers with freshly brewed coffee in sipper besides you…what else you could ask for. I love chatting with my wife on such beautiful drives.
Gajner Palace was built by His Highness Maharaja Sir Ganga Singh Ji of Bikaner as a resort for hunting for royal families and their guests which was converted into hotel in 1976. We were mesmerized to see the grandeur gates at the entrance of Gajner Palace which is spread over 6000 acres. Gajner palace is filled with lush green gardens. It is a natural habitat for several Indian & migratory birds. It was after a long while that we say a pair of Wood-Peckers and Crows around us. Crows are really not that common these days.
We were surprised to see the trees in the courtyard were home to several birds like owls, parrots, etc. It was a pleasant feeling to sit there for a while and listen to chirp of those birds far away from the madding crowd of the cities.
1. There is an entry ticket of Rs 250 each if you just happen to be a visitor and not staying there. A guide escorts you around the Palace and shows Mandir Chowk, Gulab Niwas, Champa Niwas and Dungar Niwas and finally stops at the cafeteria.
2. Stay in a luxurious suite can cost you around Rs7000 to Rs8500 per night (excluding food and beverages) that too only if they are available. It is recommended to do advance bookings as most of the suites gets booked in winters.
3. Safari price: Rs 3500 per head.
4. Boating price: Rs 350 per head.
Needless to that it’s a meagre price to pay for a night stay at such a beautiful place.
The palace is an incredibly beautiful example of Rajasthani architecture but its something which we saw in other Palaces in Rajasthan. The grandeur chandelier, beautiful tiles and wonderful paintings. But it’s the peace and serenity around the palace which makes it really special. It is suggested to switch of mobile phones as you might miss something which Gajner Palace could offer you.
We reached there at around 10 am. We could not resist ourselves from ordering a cup of tea in the cafeteria. It was a memorable experience to enjoy cup of tea in courtyard of the Palace sitting just in front of the lake watching playful migratory birds. How could one resist the chance of clicking memories then!
The Palace building per se exhibits a touch Jain and Mughal architecture. The interiors are more or less in European style with exclusively designed Italian tiles. In spite of being built in British era the classical Rajasthani architectural signatures are evident. The style of big doors, windows, the royal bar and courtrooms, the jharokhas for ladies and magnificent courtyard, it was a beautiful sight! The typical style of dome shape porches and incredibly elegant designs carved on them is always something which Rajasthani architecture offers to cherish. Perhaps something which is less often seen outside Rajasthan.
Gajner palace got railway connectivity in 1922. Although only remnants of that railway station could be seen now. Gulab Niwas has 32 executive rooms which can give a memorable experience. These rooms were accommodations for railway officers in British era. The rooms are very beautifully converted into hotel rooms keeping in mind all the necessities. We loved to see those paintings and wall hangings in these rooms.
Out of four main zones, we visited Dungar Niwas first. Dungar Niwas is out of bound for visitors unless you decide to stay. It has 13 rooms which were designed to accommodate British dignitaries. Although we did not stay but there is one sample room kept open for visitors to get a glimpses of what’s there inside which they might be missing! Trust me, its worth staying overnight.
Champa Niwas is at the centre. It is around the main courtyard. Rooms are at the first floor and ground floor has royal bar. I loved the way things were designed keeping esthetics in perspective. I believe staying in Champa Niwas will be better than others as it will give clear view of the lake ahead of it.
Mandir chowk is the last area where we were escorted by the guide. It’s a very old mandir where Maharaja Ganga Singh Ji used to pray before going for hunt. Mandir complex also has a huge banyan tree. It was really nice to sit under the banyan tree and enjoy the beauty. Somehow, I was thinking that how would Maharaja Ganga Singh Ji would have felt seeing his hunting resort getting commercialized in every aspect! Well, you have to pay the price somewhere…
It was really nice to enjoy boating in Gajner lake. The boats are small one having capacity of accommodate 8-10 people. The palace gets closed at 1800H for visitors. A cultural dance show is hosted by the hotel for guests. Although we did not stay in Gajner palace to witness this dance show but I’m sure it would be a treat to watch traditional dancer performing in vibrantly colorful traditional attire. Needless to say that it would be a visual delight.
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