We have been telling you about the amazing Havelis and Palaces of Rajasthan. If you are an art lover, curious traveler or just an explorer, next up on your travel list should be Bikaner! Top among things to see in Bikaner is Rampuria Haveli.
Like many other cities in Rajasthan, Bikaner too was a princely state. Powerful rich families lived there and the citizens lived in harmony and peace. Rajasthan is a desert, an arid state with extreme weather conditions. It has been a challenging place to live since centuries. The lack of water and the climate was bound to make citizens suffer. It was also impossible to grow vegetation or food nearby. No wonder that when princes or monarchs found a habitable city, they started to put roots down there. In the early 14th century, Rao Bika wanted to expand his kingdom. The son of popular and legendary ruler Maharaja Rao Jodha, he had a vast heritage and kingdom under his belt. Maharaja Rao Jodha was the founder and ruler of Jodhpur, a huge kingdom in Rajasthan. Like the child of any successful and powerful person, Rao Bika struggled to establish his own identity. He wanted to be something other than just the son of the King. He wanted to create his own kingdom, away from his father’s glory. That is why he decided to set his sights on another kingdom. He went in search of a habitable and safe city. His travels took him far and wide across the state of Rajasthan. It was in 1478 that he finally found what he was looking for. He found a safe haven, a sustainable and habitable place for his people. Thus, he formed the city of Bikaner (city or community of Bika). He built a strong fort that was the center of the city and slowly people began to live there.
Through the centuries, Bikaner passed on from ruler to ruler and finally fell under the British rule. Like other princely states, the British left the royal family in peace as long as they followed them. Bikaner remained a major trade city and route between Central Asia and the rest of India. The British authorities encouraged trade since it benefited their coffers. The British knew the city’s importance and encouraged the local rulers to strengthen its defense, amenities, and structures. To keep their defenses intact and in optimum shape, the British and the local rulers also worked to fortify the Fort or Junagarh Fort as it came to be known.
While you have to see the Junagarh Fort and the Laxmi Niwas Palace, there is another attraction you can’t miss. Rampuria Haveli or Rampuria Havelis is the city’s definitive structure known and loved by everyone. As you know, Haveli is a traditional large mansion constructed in the olden era. Rampuria Haveli or Rampuria Havelis is the name given to a cluster of Havelis built by the King of Bikaner. He ordered these Havelis for merchants and invited them to stay and do business in Bikaner. Merchants brought commerce and business which led to the expansion of the city’s finances. The strongest and richest merchant family were the Rampuria and hence the name. Each Haveli has a separate name but it has been eroded or forgotten over time. Rampuria Haveli was built with the distinctive red sandstone that stands out against the clear blue sky on a summer’s day.